Sunday, October 4, 2009

Silvanus360 Software for Recyclers

Silvanus360 Software for Recyclers. Enables recyclers to manage internal operations, performance, and processes. Recycler software enables recyclers to connect to collectors, report to manufacturers and government with auditable source, downstream, reports, and governments forms. Enables recyclers to manage drivers, dispatch, and collection events. The most powerful software for recyclers just got better . . .

Monday, May 11, 2009

Eliminate Bottlenecks for Process Improvements

Bottlenecks are easy to identify in manufacturing and production environments, but challenging to correct. Automation alone will not eliminate bottlenecks to achieve optimum performance. Addressing every step in the process and the contributing factors enables real process improvements to occur. In office environments the bottlenecks are often a result of bad habits that arise from good intentions. How do we create bottlenecks and adjust delays that result from too much dependence on authorizations, approvals, and assignments to top performers?

Once upon a time . . .

A manufacturer invested millions of dollars to purchase and install state of the art automated robotic equipment on an assembly line. The upgrades included new conveyor belts to move material quickly down the line and cameras to capture movement with electronic eyes. Computer controlled robotic arms replaced workers who had been with the company for many years. Mechanical arms hummed with life, capable of moving five times faster than the human counterparts that they replaced. The mechanical arms were intended to deliver consistent quality, precision, and performance. The manufacturer spent hundreds of thousands of dollars per machine to replace personnel. The machines would work longer hours and take fewer breaks, even with the faster pace.

After installation was complete, the manufacturer hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony with champagne for the local reporters. The company shareholders were ecstatic about the new projections. Longer hours of operation coupled with the speed of the new equipment gave rise to promising revenue projections. The machines would run for twelve hour shifts, a contrast to the typical eight hour shifts that the factory workers had maintained with manual labor. To increase production with manual labor the factory ran a second shift, and in extreme circumstances, a third shift. With the new equipment the factory would operate twelve hour shifts as standard procedure and could nearly double that for a full twenty four hour day when necessary. The equipment needed only a few engineers to keep it company whenever extra shifts would be necessary. The executives and the shareholders bubbled with enthusiasm.

Six Months Later . . .

The production numbers at the end of the first month after installation showed minor improvement. In the second month after installation the production numbers again made minor gains, but were not rising rapidly enough to meet the expectations of management. At the end of three months the production increases seemed to plateau and did not improve beyond the achievements of the second month. As the numbers rolled in for the fourth, fifth, and sixth months the factory management became increasingly concerned. The automated production processes were running at one and one half times the rate of the manual production processes. The fifty percent gains showed improvement to slowly pay back the significant investment in technology, but considerably less than the projected amount or pace. At twelve hours per shift and five times the capacity, it was presumed that the new equipment would empower the factory to deliver much greater numbers.

The management team initiated an immediate investigation to determine the cause of the unimpressive performance and to make plans for improvement. After much research, the management team hired a retired factory foreman as a consultant. The foreman had been with the company for almost twenty years and responsible for designing many previous process improvements. The foreman had voiced many concerns when the factory announced automation, but his concerns were dismissed at the time as comments from a disgruntled employee. Despite the experts, the engineers, and the blueprints, the foreman had predicted only moderate improvements in productivity. When the factory management was dismayed to discover the incredible accuracy of the former foreman's predictions, they were compelled to hire him to help them address the dire situation.

The factory management tensely detailed the production numbers and soured over reports for the former foreman. The management produced charts, checklists, and financial projections. Engineers pointed to the capabilities of the equipment operating at less than peak potential. The former foreman listened politely to the presentations and then asked to walk the factory floor. Armed with only a pad of paper, a pencil, and a stopwatch, the foreman strolled to front of the line. Shaking hands with his former colleagues, the foreman watched them load materials on the line. The employees carefully coordinated the complicated dance of moving materials from loading docks and inventory to the production line. The foreman studied the process for less than twenty minutes with took nearly as many notes.

Having briefly monitored the front of the process, the former foreman walked to the end of the line. Product came swiftly to the end of the line, where it was staged for inspection and packaging. Robotic arms hummed and carried completed product from one station to another with speed and dexterity. The equipment sped product to packaging and then slowed to a stop as it waited for the packaging process to complete. The automated processes shuffled, sorted, and separated the product into lines for packaging. Employees rushed to keep up with the productivity of the equipment, but inevitably, the conveyors would slow as product became backlogged in the packaging process. The packaging process moved at the same pace that the foreman recognized for many previous years. The former foreman thanked each of the dedicated employees as he patted them on the back as he made his final notes.

Factory Bottlenecks . . .

The factory management was only slightly relieved to know that the equipment was truly capable of achieving the predicted production estimates. Unfortunately, as the foreman explained, the equipment would not achieve full potential without considerable changes to the packaging processes at the end of the line. The foreman clearly identified bottlenecks in the process that limited the throughput. The robotic arms and the fast moving conveyors could not possible push product any faster than ability to take it off the end of the line. The engineering effort at each stage in the process remained limited by the packaging at the end of the process. Limited increases in production were the result of the longer hours of operation, not the speed of the equipment.

With the help of the experienced former foreman, the factory management adjusted the packaging processes and installed new lines to accommodate enhanced productivity. But the foreman cautioned the factory management and shareholders not to celebrate too quickly. Even as new processes were being implemented to improve packaging, the line would not move any faster than the ability to load materials at the front of the line. To keep up with the capacity of the automation, the supply of materials would need to be adjusted as well. Fixing a bottleneck at the end of the process would enable faster throughput and nearly double the current rate of production. Improving access to materials would overcome bottlenecks at the beginning of the process, resolving limitations and doubling capacity once again.

The factory management soon learned that adjusting processes to eliminate bottlenecks is a continuous process improvement. As each bottleneck was discovered and adjusted, new bottlenecks became evident. Identifying and improving the slowest part of any process is not the result of manual or automated processes. Eliminating bottlenecks requires understanding the capacity of every step and every person in the process.

Office Bottlenecks . . .

Bottlenecks are not limited to factory production but also occur in other processes. For example, processes that rely on teams, departments, and individuals are ripe grounds for bottlenecks. If a process requires a group of people to rely on the results of another group, individual, or system then there is potential for a bottleneck to occur. Any step in the process that is limited by the output or results from another contributor is a potential for bottleneck. In every business and process there are dependencies, and such dependencies do not mandate bottlenecks, but these are the places to look for them. If a job does not start because documentation is not complete, that is a bottleneck. If an action cannot be processed because it is waiting for input, that is a bottleneck. If functions cannot be performed because they are dependent upon authorization, review, approval, or other response, that is a bottleneck.

Some bottlenecks are inserted by design as a check and balance to assure quality. That is a mistake. If the assurance of quality is dependent upon stopping the progress of your productivity then you have some other serious problems. To assume that a bottleneck is required as a stopgap measure to inspect, approve, or otherwise control the process means that the designer of the process has allowed and accepted inferior performance. Rather than stop or slow the process, why not speed up the inspection, authorization, or approval processes? Powerfully productive organizations do not allow inferior performance and do not allow excuses for bottlenecks to justify lower productivity. If the capacity of many is dictated by the capacity or even the controls of a few, then you have not only allowed but also inherently designed additional costs and competitive weakness into your process. If inspections, authorizations, and approvals are slowing your response time, then do something about it!

Good intentions often lead to bad habits. This is evident when bottlenecks occur from relying too heavily on highly productive individuals or systems. It is common practice to place more responsibility on an individual if that person consistently demonstrates the capacity for it. This is not intended to imply a judgment on any individual talents because each person has a unique combination of strengths and experience. It is inevitable that some individuals are more adept at certain tasks than other individuals. The natural tendency is to continually rely on the top performers. This can quickly become a dangerous habit as the workload for the top performers continues to increase disproportionately. So what should you do about it? Workload should be consciously and intentionally proportioned to encourage the development of all performers and to give top performers some time to expand capabilities or work on urgent priorities. Do not overload top performers with the intention to just get the job done because this short-sighted approach creates the risk of burning out the top performers, and it means that your resources will be limited in the event of an emergency. Let's be honest, you do have top performers as demonstrated by yearly performance reviews. It is inevitable that your organization will have some emergencies, big or small, from time to time. Make sure that your top performers have the bandwidth to address your biggest issues or unexpected emergencies. Who do you want to give a little extra time to for creativity? Who do you want to be available in case of emergency? How are you structuring workload and bottlenecks to create good habits?


Words of Wisdom

"You may delay, but time will not."- Benjamin Franklin

"Delay always breeds danger; and to protract a great design is often to ruin it."- Miguel de Cervantes

"Good intentions often lead to bad habits.”- John Mehrmann

The Trusted Advocate by John Mehrmann is On Sale Now in the United Kingdom

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Winning Strategies for a Tough Economy

Challenges create opportunities, and this is particularly relevant during tough economic conditions. It is not enough to review your own internal cost cutting measures. A global economic crisis demands attention to the needs of clients, consumers, and your strategic partners. To look out for your future means looking outside your company and adjusting your internal strategy to accommodate future growth.

Summing It Up in Two Statistics

A survey by Harris Interactive revealed that 52% of customers responded that Outstanding Service is the number one reason for doing business with a company. 38% responded that Lowest Price is the number one reason to do business with a company. What does overwhelming statistic mean in a strategic sense? It is simple, while striving to reduce cost and offer a competitively priced product or solution, do not sacrifice your customer service or you will be the one ultimately paying the price.

Top Tips

Cost cutting cannot make up for economic challenges if the reductions impact your ability to generate revenue. When revenue and consumer spending is scarce, it is even more important to leverage your organization's ability to create new opportunities and to satisfy existing customers. Consider new services from within your organization and from innovative partners to stimulate your own economic recovery by offering outsourcing and cost cutting opportunities to your clients. Clients and consumers are willing to investigate low cost customer satisfying options that they may have ignored during better conditions. Helping customers cut costs may create new service revenues for your company.

Don't discontinue any existing customer initiatives during uncertain economic times. If necessary, adjust the scope or the schedule of your initiatives to accommodate your budget or your client's budget. Demonstrate your commitment to your clients and your willingness to persevere.

Proactively communicate with your customers. Maintain a strong relationship and do not allow an opportunity for your competition to steal your clients. Furthermore, make sure that you are aware of the financial conditions of your clients. Help your customer to deal with economic challenges, and be aware of how the profitability of your customers will impact your own business trends.

Organizations and consumers are much more deliberate about purchasing decisions during uncertain economic times. Provide adequate information for your customers to make informed decisions, and provide economic comparisons to demonstrate your competitive virtues. Make it easy for your customers to recognize the financial benefits of your products or services in comparison to competition, alternatives, or lack of action. Sometimes a lack of purchase, or lack of investment, can have detrimental fiscal impact on your clients, Make it easy for your customers to justify the decision to invest in you.

When budgets and pocketbooks are tight, purchasing decisions are often delayed. During these conditions, it is even more important to nurture your pipeline and to maintain a stream of communications with prospects and the market. Many organizations reduce marketing and communications budgets to cut expenses when time are tough. There may be discounts available for advertising. Look for opportunities to convey your message, especially for the gaps created by suddenly absent competitors.

Monitor the return on your marketing and service investments. Identify those opportunities that have the highest yield for both short term and long term profitability. Shift your investments to the areas with the highest returns and lowest risk.

Invest in innovation and technology. Improving your infrastructure should improve internal efficiency with applicable automation, and investments should also improve customer satisfaction. Some IT investments directly impact your customers, and some improvements enable the internal resources to better monitor and be responsive to the needs of customers. Before slashing a program from your IT budget, consider how it will impact the ability to take care of customers, and how that reflects on your ability to sustain the revenue that comes from loyal customers. Customers will remember your actions long after the economic hardships have receded. Your communications and your commitments to your customers will be remembered long after the pains of the uncertain economic turmoil if forgotten.

IT Investments

TechWeb Research asked the question, "How important are each of the following business imperatives in terms of priorities that your IT organization must support?" The results of this survey were published as "The State of Business".

Improving Customer Responsiveness: 64% High Importance, 30% Medium Importance, 6% Low Importance

Reducing Costs: 63% High Importance, 32% Medium Importance, 5% Low Importance

Speeding Product Delivery to Market: 57% High Importance, 33% Medium Importance, 10% Low Importance

More Agile and Streamlined Integrated Supply Chains: 41% High Importance, 48% Medium Importance, 23% Low Importance

Global / International Expansion: 38% High Importance, 27% Medium Importance, 35% Low Importance

Integration due to Mergers and Acquisitions: 24% High Importance, 40% Medium Importance, 36% Low Importance

How would you rate each of these areas with regards to importance?

How do you think that you organization rates the importance of each of these areas?

How do you demonstrate the importance of these areas in your decisions, your budget, and your strategic initiatives? Customers will make their current and future purchasing decisions based on the communications and decisions that you demonstrate today.


Words of Wisdom

"Technology is a way of organizing the universe so that man doesn't have to experience it."- Max Frisch

"For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press three."- Alice Khan

"Letting your customers set your standards is a dangerous game, because the race to the bottom is pretty easy to win. Setting your own standards--and living up to them--is a better way to profit. Not to mention a better way to make your day worth all the effort you put into it.”- Seth Godin


Friday, May 8, 2009

You are the Company

Do you sometimes feel disillusioned about your company, insecure about your career advancement, or distraught by economic challenges? Do you wonder if your contributions are perceived as valuable, or question your own sense of purpose? Do you think that the company is responsible and should be doing something about the situation? You are the company.

When the Going Gets Tough. . .

Downsizing, rightsizing, and reorganization are pleasant terms for lay-offs. Salary adjustments, benefits reductions, eliminating overtime, hiring freeze, and mandatory vacations are symptoms of cost containment measures. Sometimes tough decisions in the company can make global economic conditions a little too close to home. You may have lost friends and colleagues during reorganization, or your pay may have been adjusted, or you may wonder about the security of your career. A natural reaction is to blame the company, to feel fear in the stability of the company, or to feel that the company has let you down. The problem with blaming the company or holding the company responsible is that it belies the very nature of employment, because you are the company.

If you are part of an organization and you have felt the impact of losing friends and colleagues, then you have first-hand experience to appreciate the magnitude of the contributions that other people make to an organization. It hurts to see good friends lose their jobs, even the ones that complained about those jobs in the past. There is shared burden of the responsibilities that must be achieved, even when there are fewer people in the organization to do them. Tough times can make the environment challenging and sometimes threatening. You may be looking to other individuals for reassurance, solace, or inspiration. Most likely, there are many other people who are looking for the same things from you. You have the opportunity and the responsibility to have as much impact as those around you, and more than those who have gone before you. You are the company.

Regardless of the size of the company, or your tenure, or your position, you are an important part of the organization. If you are a sole proprietor or a consultant, then you may very well be the entire company. If you are part of a larger organization, no matter what you do, there are others counting on you. It does not matter if you have been in your position for six weeks, six months, or six years, your contributions are important to the success of the organization and thereby affect everyone in it. Your contributions are valuable, and your demeanor has a significant impact on everyone around you. People are counting on you, because you are the company.

You are the Handshake to Vendors and Partners. . .

Do you interact with current or potential vendors, partners, service providers? To the outside world, your commitments and your actions are inseparable from the company. Vendors and partners will form an opinion of everyone in the company based on the experiences of interacting with you personally. It is presumed that your attitude and your reliability are formed by the culture of the organization and are representative of the value instilled by company policy. Your attitude is synonymous with the demeanor of the organization. If you are trustworthy, compassionate, consistent, and fair, then vendors and partners will expect the same to be true of nearly everyone in the company. Moreover, your actions and attitude can even overcome inadequacies in other areas of the organization and renew confidence with vendors and partners, because you are the company.

No amount of advertising dollars, marketing, or branding will overcome personal interaction and experience. You can put perfume on a pig, but it is still a pig. No logo, slogan, or rhetoric can compensate for poor performance, dishonesty, or a negative personal experience. On the other hand, earning a reputation as a reputable individual, a knowledgeable resource, and a dedicated partner are individual qualities that are powerful endorsements for the organization. Quality individuals are necessary assets to an organization, and much more valuable than a good logo or slogan. Good partners build lasting and mutually beneficial relationships. Good personnel are able to identify mutually rewarding relationships with partners, and great personnel know how to identify and deal with unfair or unreasonable partnerships. Creating, managing, and nourishing mutually rewarding relationships requires skill, experience, talent, and determination. To those vendors and partners you are more than the handshake, you are the company.

You are the Face and the Voice to Customers. . .

With customers and clients there are two primary activities during which you are the face of the voice of the company. You are the face and the voice of the company when you are asking the prospective customer to buy from you, or you are the face and voice of the company when you are asking the customer to buy from you again. Sales and marketing activities are intended to convince a prospect that purchasing goods or services from the company is not only a good idea, but the best idea. Sometimes the sales representative is the only face or voice that a customer will ever associate with a company on a personal level. This is a very big responsibility. Sometimes sales occur through a channel, which means that the company sales representative must effectively communicate, motivate, and enable a channel partner to sell goods or services on his or he behalf. This is a special talent, because the person and company acting on behalf of the sales representative must have complete confidence in the person that they are dealing with, so the channel partner can pass on this confidence through the channel and to the ultimate customer. Such confidence comes from relationships that established between people, not between buildings, logos, or contracts. To customers and channel partners, the face and the voice of the sales representative are the face and voice of the company.

Customer service and operations activities are intended to convince existing customers that the original investment commitment was the best idea, and that it would be a good idea to do it again. Customer Service and operations are responsible for protecting the company reputation, delivering on commitments, and enabling repeat sales. The sales, operations, and service departments must be synchronized and aligned in an organization to voice accurate expectations and commitment, and then to deliver them. In many cases, the only personal interaction that occurs with a company may be the result of a problem or a service event. The responsiveness, compassion, and resolution are representative of the entire organization. Empowering customer service demonstrates commitment to live up to expectations. Compassion demonstrates care, and cements a lasting relationship when reliable results are produced. To the customer, the customer service experience is the face and the voice of the company.

With Great Power comes Great Responsibility. . .

Your decisions, actions, and reactions have tremendous impact on your colleagues, partners, and customers. Your decisions may directly impact a partner today, or the performance of your responsibilities may influence the response of a colleague or customer tomorrow. It is important to recognize the value of your contributions. Your comments, optimism, and enthusiasm may be the motivation that someone else needs right at this very moment. Acting with determination and commitment demonstrates leadership and responsibility that both internal and external customers are actively searching for right now. You have the ability to influence relationships and reputation with and within your company. It does not matter how important or insignificant you may have thought your job duties to be. What matters is how much you personally can contribute to the success of your colleagues, your partners, and yourself, because you are the company.

Footnote to Job Hunters . . .

If you are in career transition and looking for your next company, remember that you are your own company. Treat your career transition with the same diligence and commitment that you would treat job responsibilities. Develop an active campaign to promote your capabilities, nurture communications with former colleagues, and maintain a rigorous and disciplined schedule to invest your time in locating an opportunity to advance your career. As with any job, there will be some setbacks and disappointments. Some tasks are not as enjoyable as others in the doing of them, but may be equally satisfying on the completion of them. When hunting for your next job, treat the transition as part of your career development. Learn to market yourself, sell your capabilities, and take care of prospective employers as your customers. The commitment and discipline that you put into the career transition is often reflected in the attributes of the organization that recognizes these qualities in you. If you want the next company to see the quality in you, then let them see that you are your company.


Words of Wisdom

"Sometimes we think that we are holding bronze and only realize that it was Gold when we do not have it anymore. Treat everyone like Gold, and most often they will show you the Gold within them."- Samson Eshetu

"Customers don't distinguish between you and the organization you work for. Nor should they. To your customer's way of thinking, you are the company. Customers don't know how things get done behind doors marked 'employees only'. They don't know your areas of responsibility, your job description, or what you can and cannot personally do for them. And they don't care. To customers, those things are your business, not theirs."- Ron Zemke, author of 'Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service'

"You don't have to spend a jillion dollars on advertising to get your word out. What matters is that customers have a good experience with your product at every single point of contact. We completely obsess about execution. Doing good is good business.”- David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue Airlines

"Others can stop you temporarily - you are the only one who can do it permanently.”- Zig Ziglar, author of 'See You at the Top'


Monday, April 13, 2009

Reorganizing the Organization after Reorganization

Reorganization and downsizing create new challenges within an organization. Staff reductions can be very hard working on all employees. When the cause of layoffs is the result of economic pressure, there is nobody to blame and no fault to be found, but there is responsibility to the remaining colleagues to pull together and forge a strong foundation for the future. What should you do under these circumstances?

Responsibility to the Remaining Staff

Recognize the emotional consequences of reorganization. Significant restructuring impacts nearly every individual in the organization. Friendships that have been forged in daily interactions and mutual support are suddenly separated when one entity remains and another party is asked to leave. This inevitably impacts mental and emotional motivation.

Even without personal bonds of friendship or camaraderie, significant reductions in manpower result in substantial adjustments of workload. Just because the organization is capitulated to reduce operating expense does not mean that the amount of work has decreased. On the contrary, the nature of change means that there is more work and more responsibility, because the act of change requires effort. This means that the original workload is increased by the work of change. This also means that individuals may be required to absorb additional responsibilities even as they are learning them. There are fewer people to share the burden of the rate of change and the workload. The pressure felt by each person can be overwhelming at times.

It is important to recognize the psychological, emotional, and physical strain that is shared across the organization. While coping with the loss of colleagues, individuals inevitably question the security of their own position. It is not unusual for a reorganization to include other cost cutting changes, including adjustments to salaries or benefits, setting limits on work hours, or forced use of vacations. Sometimes the seemingly subtle acts of eliminating coffee, artwork, bottled water, or office aesthetics can send a loud message of fear and concern for the future. As a manager, leader, or colleague, it is important to recognize the signs of impact on everyone in the organization and to be prepared to respond accordingly.

How to Respond

Be open and honest in communications that relate to the stability and the future of the organization. If the cost cutting measures are over, then let it be known. If the expense reductions are targeted to reach a specific goal, then share the goal with the organization and share the effort to achieve the goals. Give employees and colleagues a venue to express concerns, vent frustration in proper and private setting, and collaborate on methods to counteract the stress.

Position Profiles

Each department should have well defined profiles of each position. A position profile consists of documented routines, responsibilities, and levels of authority. Immediately after a reorganization, these position profiles should be distributed and revised accordingly. Work assignments can be restructured and reallocated with documented clarity and explanation. As roles change, the new guardians of the responsibilities have documented instructions to follow, accompanied with guidelines, schedules, metrics, and reports of previous performance. It makes the transfer of responsibilities easier to manage and quicker to come up to speed.

Position Profiles are very different from job descriptions. A job description is typically a bulleted list of activities that may be performed by a particular job title, and the list of desired qualifications. This comes in handy when posting a position for hire, but is entirely inadequate as a position profile. A position profile should describe in detail the daily, weekly, or monthly routines performed by a person in a position. The position profile should include the metrics to measure performance, so there is an understanding as to determining the effectiveness of the job performed. The position profile should include a clearly defined level of authority for making decisions relevant to the completion of job related activities. For example, does this position have the authority to make a final decision, recommend, or influence a decision that has economic impact? It is good to have these things defined, especially when someone new inherits the responsibilities.

Uh-oh, if you do not currently have profiles, don't panic. This is as good a time as any to start creating them. If you do not have position profiles before the dust settles on the reorganization, then begin by asking each person to document a list of duties and responsibilities. When responsibilities are defined, review them as a group or department to make sure that nothing was overlooked. It is always surprising for individuals to realize how much each person contributes that may not have been fully recognized. When each person is confident that the lists are complete then begin to identify the metrics and goals associated with the performance of responsibilities. Goals may be based on time, schedules, financial metrics, or merely completion. Then define the level of authority associated with each task. Finally, create a step-by-step process that can be followed by another person. As you can imagine, such detailed profiles also come in handy when one person needs to fill in for another person during vacation and holidays.

The task of creating position profiles can bring a sense of purpose and clarity during a period of change and uncertainty. It encourages each person to reflect on new responsibilities in a very focused and structured manner. The documentation brings clarity to the position, and mutual understanding with management. Assigning and understanding the performance metrics are equally important for mutual alignment in anticipation of reviews and performance appraisals. Having a defined method of measuring tasks takes all the guesswork and effort out of creating fair performance appraisals.

Where to Find Short Term Success

The most powerful ideas for short term success and immediate impact will come from the employees. Listen to the creative ideas of the people who have the responsibility for getting the job done on a daily basis. Inevitably there is a wealth of creative ideas to automate processes, streamline workflow, and integrate activities. Create opportunities for employees to collaborate on ideas that can make their routines more effective and efficient. Create a platform to recognize and reward collaborative teams for developing cost cutting, performance enhancing, or streamlined processes. Collaborate with colleagues to do the same.

Where to Find Long Term Success

Powerful concepts for long term success will come from clients and partners. Listen to the voice of your customers, their needs, and their requirements. It is important to be aware of how economic pressures are impacting your clients, and it is just as important to recognize when clients are experiencing new growth. Look for partners to help meet the needs of customers today, and develop a platform to be ahead of your competitors in the future. Investing in innovative strategic platforms today enables an organization to race past the competition in the coming months. Be aware of the innovation and be prepared to work with experienced partners. Having the right strategic partner and platform can empower an organization to stay ahead of client needs and the competition.

Good Times are Good, but Bad Times Make Us Better

It is easy to be complacent during periods of successive growth and profitability. Global stock markets have demonstrated the degree to which rising promise and good fortune can mask a multitude of shortcomings, bad decisions, or impractical investments. In some very public instances, bad business practices were exposed by a rapid decline in fortunes. While the good times make it easy to share enthusiasm and success, it is the bad times that require organizations and individuals to reflect and make necessary changes. When these changes are planned and practical, the adjustments forge a stronger foundation for the future. It is a time to be internally honest about the requirements for survival. It is a time for teams and partners to collaborate for maximum performance, efficiency, and productivity. The tough periods offer an excuse to address our sense of purpose and to jettison distractions that interfere with the real requirements.

There is a very common pattern that exists with organizations and individuals. Greater accomplishments are often realized after a period of great challenge. Sustained periods of success and good times typically graduate into a plateau of complacency. The person or organization is satisfied with status quo or mild growth, and the satiated appetite loses the hunger to achieve. However, after a period of sharp decline, the natural response is to reorganize and adjust to rebuild. When the adjustment and planning are augmented by sustained effort, the new successes inevitably surpass the previous plateaus. A period of great challenge is indeed an opportunity to reinvent and renew that passion that propelled your previous successes. Turn the concern into a burning fire of desire to succeed, and share the passion.


Words of Wisdom

"The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution."- Bertrand Russell

"Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind. To the fearful it is threatening because it means that things may get worse. To the hopeful it is encouraging because things may get better. To the confident it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better."- King Whitney Jr

"Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don't fight them. Just find a different way to stand.”- Oprah Winfrey


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Preparing for Your Next Job

When in-between jobs and preparing for your next career, make amends for the sacrifices of the last one.

Write It Down

Make a personal journal of your transition experience. Keep track of daily events and observations that may result in new opportunities for you. What job postings or recommendations got your attention each day? Keep clippings from newspapers and printed copies of lists or reference information from web sites in an organized manner so this information is readily available at your fingertips. Treat this information gathering as your own research project. As you investigate, more opportunities will become available to you. Don't lose an opportunity simply because you lost track of it.

Get Connected

Network like your income depended on it! That means reaching out to friends, former colleagues, and even former competitors. It means that the time that you spent investing in your company and your reputation will pay dividends.

There are many ways to work with your network. Social networking sites can be either helpful or harmful. LinkedIn helps to maintain professional relationships, keep track of former colleagues as they move from one company to another, and meet professionals with similar group interests. LinkedIn also offers an invaluable tool for sharing endorsements and testimonials. Giving and receiving endorsements with the online utility is a tremendous way to provide an immediate reference, and to demonstrate your own connection with similar respected professionals. It is common to use LinkedIn endorsements as references attached to resumes, making the job of checking references very easy for recruiters and human resource professionals. Giving endorsements is a way to demonstrate your personal connection to a respected peer, and often results in a similar favorable response.

Social networking can be harmful when the social aspect of the online community demonstrates habits or characteristics which may not be desired by potential employers. There are a multitude of incidents in which individuals have lost job opportunities, and lost jobs, as a direct result of pictures and comments posted on social networking sites. While it may be all in good fun to post pictures or comments of friends and family in various embarrassing situations, there are many employers that now use these online references to determine how a potential candidate's behavior may reflect on the organization. It is a great opportunity for a company to avoid hiring a potentially embarrassing candidate by discovering the embarrassing content that is already available on the world-wide-web. Treat your friends and online social contacts with courtesy and respect, and ask for the same considerations in return.

Variations of Your Theme

Make a variety of versions of your resume. When submitting your resume, make sure that it matches the job opening and contains many of the same keywords. It is a common mistake to work diligently to create the one perceived perfect version of your resume. You may toil for days to get all of the information and details sorted in the manner that you believe are the best representation of your talents and experiences. In reality, the individuals at most companies are not interested in finding the candidate with the most impressive resume, but those hiring individuals are interested in finding the candidate that is best suited to fill the responsibilities of the position. That means that it is far more important for your resume to fit the needs of the position than for your resume to fit your own needs.

Start with a version of your resume and then make several variations on your theme. When preparing to submit your resume for a particular position, read the job description very carefully and highlight the pertinent keywords. Then, review your resume and your real personal experience to identify how those keywords relate to your previous work experience. Try to use those keywords in describing your own achievements, and create a version of your resume that is tailored specifically for the open position. Make sure that you keep a copy of that version of your resume, perhaps even name the document with the name of the company and position for which you wish to interview. When your opportunity to interview arises, be sure to review your customized resume and take a copy with you.

Before the Interview

Before going on an interview, study the company history, mission statement, and culture. Study the company competition. Why are they filing this position? Be prepared to have an intelligent conversation about the company and the position. Be prepared to present your ideas regarding how your experience and capabilities will contribute to achieve the goals of the company. Identify the key strengths from your resume that you think may have caught the attention of the interviewer, and be prepared to discuss them in detail. Prepare questions about the company, culture, and the other people in the area of responsibility. It is not enough to fill the position with your personal attributes and to be the right person for the job, but you must also be the right person to fit in the mix of the other personnel who are already in the organization. Prepare yourself to be that person.

Do It Now

Do something positive for yourself. When you were actively working at your position, there were many things that you probably wished you could do if you only had the time. Guess what, now you have the time! Do you remember how you always wanted to lose weight and get in shape, but you were always too busy to go for a walk or do a little exercise? Do you remember those books that you thought would be good to read, but you never had the peace and quiet to sit down with them? Do you remember how much you wish that you had time to complete that project around the house? Sure, it may be hard to get the energy and enthusiasm to get yourself started on any of those things right now. You have the time, and your excuses are gone, but you don't feel the desire to start doing them right away. Is that the case with you? What's wrong with this picture? Go do it, and start today! You will be amazed at how much this simple act of personal courage can change your life. Use the time that you have now to do those things that you always wanted to do, and then when your next career starts to consume your time, you will discover that you can always preserve the time that you need to do these projects. Once you start to exercise, you will always find time for it. Once you start to read or do projects around the house, you will discover that working will not get in the way of doing those things again. This is your chance to make a tremendous change in your life. Don't miss out on this opportunity.

Do It for Someone Else

Just as you make time to do something for yourself, make time to do something special for someone else. This could be calling an old acquaintance to renew a friendship. This could be contacting a former colleague to offer assistance or encouragement to them during the job hunt and career transition. This could be volunteering to help at a community event, or making a contribution to a special cause. Act as a consultant, volunteer your services, or share your experience with a former colleague. Whenever possible, use your talents, experience, and capabilities to help others. You may be waiting for your next employer to apply your skills, but you can keep them sharp by using them to help other individuals or organization in the interim. Volunteer a portion of your time to apply your skills and in the process everyone is rewarded.


Words of Wisdom

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly."- Woody Allen

"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; In practice, there is."- Chuck Reid

"If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise.”- Robert Fritz