High Performing Contractor Sep 2010 #84
Fall is here and besides football and hunting, that means companies start thinking about their strategic plans – current and future. Most leaders become less excited when they evaluate their current plans and discover they are not on track or have already missed their deadlines. Research shows that companies, who have and implement strategic plans, are many times more successful than those that meander through with no plans other than to get the next job. Research also shows many companies fail at strategic planning. To be a high-performing contractor one needs to plan strategically and not fail. So why do strategic initiatives fail? I suggest 6.5 possible reasons:
The strategy is not clearly communicated or deployed to those doing the work every day and those directing the front line workers were never clear on what the strategic plans were or why. At best they were casually introduced to the plan and little was explained then and less since.
No key champions to drive the initiative forward. No one “owns” it.
No success measures were identified, posted and reviewed regularly.
The strategic initiatives did not align with current company policies, especially with how employees are rewarded and recognized.
Under budgeted. The initiative may call for expansion into a new line of work (service), which requires start up capital such as service vans & equipment. No budget was allocated.
The plans try to do too much. Like trying to chase all rabbits instead of focusing on a few you end up catching none. You don’t need to be the best bakery in the country, just be the best on your block.
6.5. Senior management did not stay the course. Success plans only happen when
senior leaders make it their priority every day, not a passing fad.
So are all strategic plans failures? The ones leaders really want to happen do. It takes work, constant and consistent communications and persistence and, did I say work! This differentiates high-performing contractors from all the rest. Their leaders focus on what needs to happen strategically and they remain focused to see it through.
What are you doing to make your strategic plans succeed?
Customer Focused - How to Be an Optimist (Without Being an Idiot)
Ann Handley is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs and she had great insight into how to be optimistic even in today’s negative new world.
“If an optimist had his left arm chewed off by an alligator, he might say, in a pleasant and hopeful voice, ‘Well, this isn’t too bad. I don’t have my left arm anymore, but at least nobody will ever ask me whether I am right-handed or left-handed,’ but most of us would say something more along the lines of ‘Aaaaah! My arm! My Arm!’”—Lemony Snicket
“It’s easy to mock an optimist, isn’t it?
“Yet optimism is one of the key strategies for overcoming fear, anxiety, frustration and skepticism in order to make a small business thrive, argue Clate Mask and Scott Martineau in their new book, Conquer the Chaos: How to Grow a Successful Small Business (Wiley, 2010).
“The key, however, is to practice not unbridled, idealistic, romantic notions of cheerfully annoying optimism, but rather to practice ‘disciplined optimism.’
“’Disciplined optimism,’ Clate and Scott say, inspires you to maintain confidence and get to work removing whatever obstacle is in your way. It allows you to own the problem, and do something about it, because you have a sense that doing so gets you closer to your ultimate goal.
“The authors define disciplined optimism as ‘faith you will prevail plus discipline to confront the brutal facts.’ In other words, disciplined optimists do something about the little black rain cloud over their heads—they erect a very large umbrella, say—while blind optimists simply sit in the muddy puddle and cheerfully wish for the rain to stop (and then get wet and chilled and distraught when it doesn’t).
“A good way for small business owners to practice disciplined optimism is to spend some time with unhappy customers. It stings when a customer complains about our product or services, and it’s easy to get incensed, defensive, and, ultimately, be simply unresponsive.
“A disciplined optimist, however, assures an irate customer that they both want the same thing: A seamless customer experience. So the optimist (1) apologizes for the malfunction or disappointment; and (2) thanks the customer for bringing the issue to his or her attention so that the business can make this right and help future customers avoid the same frustrations.
“The key here, however, is the bigger picture: Responding with confidence and enthusiasm, not just going through the mechanics of fixing an issue, because you see customer issues and other roadblocks as entirely fixable things that, once corrected, hasten the progress toward your long-term goal, Clate and Scott point out.
“In a larger context, too, it’s hard to maintain disciplined optimism with all of persistent business pressures that make up our workdays—competitive threats, cash flow worries, an underperforming employee, competitive threats, limited resources—or on those days when business feels more like a battle than an adventure. Some days, you need a shot glass full of optimism just to get through the afternoon. But the disciplined kind—not the clueless kind that makes you smile blithely and ultimately give up because things don’t change the way you want them to.
“So how do you nurture disciplined optimism within yourself? How do you make an effort to be more of a half-full, and less of a half-empty, kind of person? Here are eight ideas, based on Clate and Scott’s advice in their book as well as my own two pesos.
- Face the problem (and quickly). Go to work right away.
- Rewind. Go back and address situations you wish you’d handled differently. It’s never too late (well, it’s never too late at least to try.)
- Rewire your brain. Be conscious of your negative thoughts. Boot them out of your brain and make room for positive thoughts.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. Believe in yourself and what you are doing, but don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Read customer testimonials.
- Give a compliment. Spread sunshine yourself by telling someone what a great job they are doing. You’ll feel better about yourself, too.
- Fake it ‘til you make it. This old catchphrase is a great way to shake up your behavior. Imitating optimism will generate real optimism by producing success; that in turn reinforces your optimism.
- Be grateful.
“What about you? Are you a so-called disciplined optimist? How do you maintain it?”
Source: Open Small Business - June 2010 by Ann Handley
“In construction we seem to be solving the same problems over and over. While it may be because we have lots of employee turnover and we don’t share lessons learned (causing new people to repeat the same mistakes), it may also be because most of our solutions are not getting to the root cause of the problem.
“The following are some obvious facts about problems:
Problems happen all the time. They are big and small. Some are worth investing time to resolve and some are not.
Everyone deals with problems, only the dead no longer have them.
As individuals, we usually learn from problems and don’t repeat the same ones ourselves.
As companies and project teams we don’t usually learn well from each other.
Often we put Band-Aids on problems only to see them resurface later. The problem with problems is that we only know that we have found the root cause when it never happens again.
“While we usually don’t know the root cause of a problem starting out, there are methods that can help us focus quickly and effectively on the cause. Here are some tools to help get to the root cause.
Ask why five times
“We can ask why five times to find the probable root cause. First of all, notice that this is not ask “who” five times. Managers have a tendency to look for someone to blame when problems happen. A better approach is to ask why or even how the problem happened.
One cannot stop at the first level answer.
Here’s an example: If the answer to the question, ‘Why did the machine brake down?’ is ‘because it was rusty,’ then the next question should be, ‘Why was it rusty (we don’t buy equipment that is rusty)?’
“If the answer to that is ‘because it was rained on,’ then the next question should be, ‘Why was it exposed to the rain?’ If the answer is ‘because we do not store the machine in a rain sheltered area,’ the next question is where and how the machine should be properly stored.”
Read the rest of the article - Getting to the Root Cause of the problem by Dennis Sowards in the August 2010 issue of Contractor Magazine page 68. View it on-line at http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/06b7c86c#/06b7c86c/1
If you need help or training on Root Cause Analysis – contact Dennis Sowards.
You may be interested in attending one of these learning opportunities led by Dennis Sowards:
Sept 23, 2010 – Lean Construction – It can work for you - Phoenix, AZ, Sponsor: PIPE & 469 JAC, contact Cathy Mayeux at 480.966.0377 or CMayeux@pipetrust.org
Oct. 11, 2010 - Lean Principles Based on Kaizen Blitz - at the Industrial Contractors Forum of the SMACNA 2010 National Convention, Phoenix AZ. Contact: https://www.smacna.org/events/annualconvention/
Oct. 21, 2010 – Gaining Customer Loyalty by Design - Phoenix, AZ, Sponsor: PIPE & 469 JAC, contact Cathy Mayeux at 480.966.0377 or CMayeux@pipetrust.org
Oct. 29, 2010 – Lean in Construction and Lean applied to Service at PHCC National Convention, Las Vegas.
Nov. 17, 2010 – Lean in Service Webinar – sponsored by PHCC.
Thought for the day
When a customer calls and has a question, a concern or a complaint, the first words out of your mouth set the tone for the transaction. And those words lay the foundation for the future of the relationship. The bad news: More than 90 percent of the people in sales or service don't give an answer; they give an excuse. The only good news is that 80 percent of the 90 percent is your competition.
- Jeffrey Gitomer
For more information about the High-Performing Contractor assessment process contact Dennis Sowards at 480-835-1185
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