High Performing Contract - July 2010
July 2010 – Issue 82
This e-newsletter is dedicated to supporting High-Performing Contractors and all contractors working to become one. Written by Dennis Sowards
Meetings are necessary, and yet are often a waste of time and resources. Senior managers spends much of their day in meetings. Some research estimates it as high as 60 to 75%. These meetings are expensive. Consider the cost of a one hour meeting of 12 executive managers. It isn’t just the cost of time spent in the meeting, but the lost opportunity to do something else.
Effective teamwork requires good communications, and meetings are a very effective way to communicate to groups of people. If communication was straightforward and one-way, one could probably communicate well by text, email or posters. But it isn’t! Effective communication happens when there is much dialogue between players, discussion, questions, and answers shared and commitments made. Body language and tone of voice also contribute toward effective communication.
So we have the opposing forces. Meetings are a waste of time and yet meetings are necessary to create collaboration and synergism. The solutions is to not hold unnecessary meetings and to make the ones we do hold more effective.
Here are 10.5 suggestions to do this:
1. Clearly define the purpose for the meeting. Don’t hold a meeting if you don’t have to. Determine the expected outcomes to help clarify the reason for meeting. Is the outcome mostly to download info – one-way information transfer? Maybe this meeting is not needed – just distribute the information. If the purpose of the meeting is to find a root cause of a problem, make a decision, or pull-plan a job then hold the meeting.
2. Start meetings on time; delaying the meeting only rewards latecomers. Consider changing the start time to an unusual number so people will take notice. Start at 11:46 AM or 8:24 AM.
3. Send out the meeting’s detailed agenda (what, how, who and time) in advance. Post the agenda on a white board or flip chart and refer to it during the meeting to maintain or regain focus.
4. Make a list of action items that come up during the meeting and review the list at the end. Include who is to do what by when. Write the actions on a white board or flip chart as each surfaces during the meeting so everyone can see the commitments.
5. If you are the meeting chair and a key issue is to be discussed on which you have strong opinion, ask another person to facilitate that part the meeting. Invite someone who is more neutral. This allows you to share your views.
6. Have a code of conduct and get everyone’s agreement to live it. Enforce it throughout the meeting. Post it during the meeting and refer to is as needed. Email me for a free copy of a good meeting Code of Conduct.
7. Use a ‘bin’ or ‘parking lot’ to store topics that surface during the meeting that you defer to another meeting or time. Cover priority topics first, based on the purpose of the meeting.
8. If one person dominates the discussion (hopefully not you), suggest taking turns and allow everyone to express his or her opinion.
9. When making a decision on a key issue, announce up-front if the decision is to be made by consensus or if you, as manager, are seeking everyone’s opinion, but will make the decision yourself. [If you have already decided what to do, tell them and discuss how to implement it. Don’t fake a group decision process when it is already made.]
10. Use the time allotted for the meeting. If you must go longer ask for permission of the group or reschedule the meeting.
10.5 Do a Plus–Delta at the end of the meeting. Ask what worked and what could have been done differently to make the meeting even more useful. This helps participants take ownership in the success of the meeting.
Meetings can be more effective and efficient. It requires planning and execution just like running a productive project.
Strategic Planning - Exploit Your Competitor's Weakness and Make it Your Strength
“Study how your primary competitors conduct business and identify their shortcomings in product quality and customer service. Talk to prospective customers and listen closely to any beefs they may have. Find ways to make these deficiencies your own company's strengths.
When Mal Mixon first took the helm of Invacare, he looked for ways to challenge the wheelchair market leader at the time, Everest & Jennings. E&J then controlled 80 percent of the wheelchair market. After studying his competitor, Mal launched a series of initiatives. He realized a glaring weakness for E&J was their product delivery time and that, when personal mobility is at stake, people want that wheelchair now. He expanded the company's warehousing and distribution network to offer quicker delivery times than his competitors - only one day after order placement. He also included financing options, volume discounts, cooperative advertising funds, and prepaid freight. Mal's bold management decisions eventually catapulted Invacare to the top, usurping E&J. Invacare today generates annual sales of $1.8 billion.”
Source: Five Strategies to Give Your Business a Competitive Edge This Year, Buck the Conventional Wisdom by Renee Martin - IndustryWeek, Wednesday, April 14, 2010
In construction we can also apply this approach. We can learn from our customers what they dislike about the ways other contractors do things. It might be how they do their bids; how they file change orders; how they fail to communicate job status; or even how they handle job close out. Beating the competition isn’t just about better pricing. What can you do to better serve your customers?
You may be interested in attending one of these training seminars by Dennis Sowards:
July 14, 2010 – Introduction to Lean – Full Day - Pasadena, CA – sponsor: LCI- LA Chapter, Registration details are at: http://lci-la-07-14-2010.eventbrite.com
Sept. 2, 2010 – Lean Works in HVAC Service – Webinar – Sponsor SMACNA
Sept. 30, 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/ <file://localhost/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
Thought for the day
Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
For more information about the High-Performing Contractor assessment process contact Dennis Sowards at 480-835-1185
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