Change is Never Straight

Controlled chaos is a normative term in the management of change.  Change is never straight.  Change defies a linear constraint.  Change is messy and change is curved.   Leaders must be curved people.

Mentoring a growth team, we reviewed normal impact of change on the growth leader.  In this model vision leads to planning and implementation leads to problems and pressures leads to perseverance leads to accomplishment and success leads to celebration and rejoicing leads to increased vision.  Or you can choose crisis instead of perseverance which leads to exhaustion and withdrawal can lead to restoration can lead to increased vision.  Or crisis can abort the progress.  There are hundreds of divergent paths that may happen.  Change is messy and curves a lot.

Change is not for straight line people.  They are good at regular performance and processes.  Change bothers them.  A leader must learn to be a curved person.  Change is inevitable and needed. Leaders lead through the curves.

There is one major curve in change you should explore and master.  It is the curve between your starting level of productivity and your landing level of productivity.  In that curve lies all the potential for disaster and triumph.  In that curve many leaders lose sight of vision.  In that curve success is assured and failure is certain.  Master the curve and master change.

Starting Level: Preceding productivity curve is your present level of productivity and accomplishment.  How successful are you?  What are your measurements?  Know them and get them recorded. changecurve

Plan: Now, plan the change that you intend to take your business or other endeavor into the next level of productivity.  Go from 100 widgets a day to 200 widgets a day.  Add a new product line while keeping current production levels on others.  Penetrate a new market.  Implement improvement in service.  Change for growth.

 Launch: Launch the change.  Communicate, take action, and plunge into the change.  Paralysis by analysis is deadly.  There is a moment and point of demarcation.  Take it.  Fall off the mountain.  That’s right fall off the mountain of your current productivity level.

Freefall:  Change causes freefall.  Problems come from change. Teams get confused.  Productivity decreases while people absorb new information.  The right screw becomes the wrong screw.  Questions abound.  Production plummets.  This was in your plan, right?  You made allowance for this, correct?  No?  Whoops.  Fingers get pointed.  Doubt crawls up the ladder to challenge the change rationale.

Adjust:  Light shines.  People push through learning curves.  The services straighten out on the planned track.  There is smiling in the camp instead of groaning.  You knew you would get here, you just wished it had happened on schedule and without the problems.  The changes begin to push productivity above your starting level.

Landing Level:  Why endure the pain of change?  Reach new levels.  Plan diligently.  Execute well.  Adapt strong.  Obtain outcomes.  Receive reward.  Of course, it does not always look so pretty.  You might drag onto the landing level scarred and scattered.

Summary:  This conversation is one I’ve had with hundreds of learning leaders.  Every new leader expects smooth change, gets into the curve, panics, and needs some encouragement.  Have your eyes open when you enter the change curve.  You still might get blindsided, but you will be ready.  Adapt with good and frequent communication and intentional feedback points.   Go ahead and fall off the mountain.  The landing spot is higher than where you stand.

The People We Serve… Consider Well..

The People We Serve… Consider Well… This is a great comment on the Print Production Professionals group  from one looking for great service.

Jayne Bennett • I believe solid relationships are built on positive working experiences, mutual education and growing trust. Suppliers can create those positive working experiences through performance and service. They can also earn my respect when they bring me up to speed on something they offer or can offer ways to enhance what I do for my clients/end users. Brownie points if they try and understand my clients’ needs and industry/marketing challenges. They can establish, nurture and grow trust through performance, honesty and integrity.

Yes, folks, price is important! It always will be. But it’s not the only game in town and buyers who look solely to price aren’t adding ANY value as a buyer. As a buyer, I try and hold up my end of the teeter-totter by sourcing judiciously (let’s face it–as a supplier, you do NOT want to get another quote you know you aren’t suited for–it’s a waste of your time), communicating thoroughly and honestly and being a fair, but admittedly demanding, customer.

In my opinion as a buyer, you can build strong relationships and still get the pricing and service you need–there is no need for browbeating and haggling. I source to those who are equipped and able to do the job–the competitive pricing flows from there. My vendor pool is bidding on work that suits their shop, not to try and put a number under my nose and hope I bite this time. In fact, when you have to perform the impossible, isn’t it great to have someone in your corner who WANTS to make you look good vs. one that grudgingly has to do so because it’s a “good job to get in this market?

Exec/Direct: Effective In House Printing: Customers Are People

Image

Changing Views

A large retailer directed that every time the word “customer” appears in their marketing it was to be replaced with “people”.  Dehumanizing people is a common characteristic of service organizations.  Historical IT organizations like the term “user” for those that come to them for service.  In Plant and other inside department service teams can get lax in how we view those that provide for our livelihood.  Maybe over time the word “customer” has become too common.  Smart organizations serve people.  People need relationship.

Celebrations of 100%

The phone call was from the manager of one my largest customers.  Usually that call meant some service glitch had occurred.  This time it was different.  She called to tell me that her group had been doing 100% of their business with us for the last six months.  She had not told us.  She had just done it.  Her team loved it.  They loved our people.

Could she come and have a surprise party and celebrate with the team?  Her team and my team together?  Of course.  I love the pictures of that moment.  The smiles had taken years of service and listening and adapting.  But here they were.  These moments are repeatable.

Organizations Are Different

In the university organization relationship development with Athletics, Admissions, Administration, Alumni, and Academics brings big results.  A good friend with over twenty years of good success in a private university taught me that cultural specific.  People have cultures and ways of grouping themselves.  Be attentive.  Both at the executive and ordering customer level, this is critical.  Universities have their own culture that needs stroked and attended.

In corporate America relationship development can vary greatly.  But every organization has the C Suite.  CEO, COO, CIO, CTO, CSO, CRO, CMO, and CFO have some commonalities and some differences.  Executives look for risk reduction, human resource optimization, cost containment, budget stability and predictability, and revenue growth.  Those are common concerns.  Yet, ever executive has a focus area.  Marketing, finance, sales, information, security, risk, operations, technology, and the Executive Officer each have nuances of interest alongside the commonalities.  A smart In Plant studies and meets the needs of the executive organization.

Family companies can differ from stock public owned companies.  The dynamics are different.  The people act differently and have different priorities.  Get specific to your organization.

Industries can differ.  An insurance or finance oriented company looks at minute details and tends to attract analytical managers.  A retail organization is geared for change and adaptation.  Smart departments adapt to the differences evident in the people in the organization.

So How Do You Humanize the Customer?

Working with a university in-plant, my estimate is that they can double and even triple effectiveness and “share of wallet” in existing relationships by tuning into the “voice of the customer”.    Too often, we get focused on the differences we have with those that come to us for service.  Why not look at the similarities?  Why not find the connections we have and commonalities?  Humanize your view of the people you serve.

They have a message to deliver to a group and a response they would like.  Whether it is a course pack for a law professor or a direct personalized mailer for a sales organization, there is a reason for the communication going out on paper and a response that is wanted.  Isn’t that what all of us do all day?  We communicate in order to get a response.  Focus on what that person is looking to accomplish.

The people you serve have demands and pressures.  Sound familiar?  The In-Plant is constantly pushed to deadlines.  It is the last lap in a long race for any organization or company.  The people who we serve are under similar pressures to perform.  Relate.

The people you serve have families and lives outside of their work.  When working with one marketing manager, it was joy to listen as she shared about her husband and children and community activities.  They were different priorities than my life, but most similar in many ways.  The relationship built understanding from family to the work place.

Gain Efficiencies on Trust

Steven Covey is known for his premier work on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  His son is known for his work on the Speed of Trust.  Trust built through relationship can enable great communication between “customer” and “service team”.  End to end high speed communication chains in a print service team and customer relationship ensures minimum loss of time and minimum waste in execution.

Enabled service that lives in a humanized relationship with those served provides a value to an organization that is inestimable.  The value of those that serve with the maximum vested interest at heart of those they serve as people not “users” cannot be measured in dollars.  The people served are empowered at a new level that just is hard to convey.  Those people end up bringing double to quadruple the business to the service team.  Maybe you can have a 100% party.

Light Bulb Moments – Empowered In-Plant Printers

What was that “light-bulb” moment that had the greatest success on your operation?

People serve people?

Online really does work?

I can help others grow?

What Makes A Successful In-Plant Printer Successful?

Finding the right mix of product and service alongside an appreciative customer base helps every in-plant prosper.  Listen as these successful managers tell their stories.  This is one of an insightful series filmed at GraphExpo in 2012.

How can you make the changes needed?

Where will you get the people?

How will you train them?

Responsibility, Sustainability and Print; Just a Thought….

The question is continually asked for printers, “What is the cheapest way I can print?” Another form of that question is, “What is the cost?”

Cost is relative. Sure, you need the best price. But you also need the most sustainable price. You also need the best price over time. A quick cheap solution may produce enormous waste in cost and environment over time. Printing 50,000 that are stored on the shelf and only half is used is really the price divided by 25,000. So a $50,000 job for a run on which only 25,000 will ever be used cost $2.00 a piece and damages the environment unnecessarily.  Maybe you need to run 5,000 at a time at a cost of $1.10 a piece.  If you succeed and need more, you can go up to the 50,000 and beyond based on profitability not cost of piece thinking.  Chances are running digital fits. If you go to 30,000, you still have only spent $31,000 dollars and have not waste and no unnecessary environmental impact. You save money. The environment is handled responsibly.  What a deal.  Read the blog. Be responsible.

I’m not saying go out and buy the equipment being promoted here. But follow the logic.  Stretch your mind as a buyer and person who uses print when you are talking to those that serve you. Read this blog.

The Digital Nirvana » Blog Archive » Responsibility, Sustainability and Print.

via Responsibility, Sustainability and Print; Just a Thought…..

Removing WorkFlow Constraints = $$$: Six Core Areas of Print Cost Optimization and Efficiency for Executives

ImageEvery organization needs improvementEvery executive needs to perform with velocity and validity.  Velocity means right timing.  Validity means right area.  Over time and travel, it has been my experience that any operation can gain a 25% improvement in costs and performance through some basic approaches.  Most don’t believe it.  That includes the one that just improved.  Yet, most remain semi-productive behind walls of indecision and fear.

The language of growth resistance is well documented. 

  • We’ve done that before and it didn’t work.
  • So and So would never approve that.
  • You don’t understand MY situation, we are different.
  • Oh, that’s just the article of the week program, we don’t need that.

On and on it goes.  The language of fear and resistance is pervasive, stifling, entitlement driven, and deadly in the long run.  It is valid.  Yes, many times each of those statements has been true.  That does not make them true in every situation and certainly does not excuse using them to resist thinking creatively and cooperatively to build new solutions fit to present demands.

WorkFlow Barriers

So, let’s explore the first area where an executive, manager, or director can assist so an in-plant can develop greater value for an organization and move from being a cost to a benefit.  That is the focus.  Get the in-plant into a benefit position for the organization.  Eliminating costs is a dreary and sometimes necessary effort.  Yet, the real focus is to improve the bottom line.  The real need is to broaden the gap between expense and revenue.

You Need Print 

Every organization has needs for print and related services.  The needs vary according to the demands of the recipients of the product or service the organization delivers.  The needs vary based on the methods of marketing and sales and support that are in motion and planned.  Meeting those needs effectively and efficiently and responsibly with attention to compliance becomes the challenge for the in-plant operation.

WorkFlow Release

The first stop on improvement is workflow efficiency.  This area has been overanalyzed in the industry to the point of becoming high centered in detail approaches.  Most plant managers and team members have a great grasp on what could be done to improve efficiency.  Most plant managers and team members do not have a great grasp on how that will improve the service for the people needing access and turnaround.  There is no reason to simply save time and steps.  The need is to gain improvements that return value for people.

Simple, Simple, Simple

Loaded in my phone/camera are pictures of many shops located in many settings.  There are ten times as many of these in the gallery of photos in my mind.  Short ceilings, cramped corners, stacked supplies, dangerous aisles, and overheated equipment plague my mind.  Whew!  How in the world do we get into these situations?  What was that last person thinking when they reduced access to the supplies the operator needs 10 times a shift?  It is not usually expensive to resolve some of these items.  The human factor becomes the biggest blockade.  Convincing people that life can be better and less hectic and reduce costs for the client is the tough road.  Trust me.  Sometimes a little reorganization of equipment and supplies to fit the workload of the current and planned product production can return dollars in reduced bad runs, faster turns, less utilities, and better uptime on equipment to allow increased volume.  Costs go down quickly and morale goes up just as quick.

Smiling Servants Stimulate 

Good morale reduces costs and improves revenue.  In a production shop, parties and warm and fuzzy photo moments are not the quickest way to morale improvement.  Give a production worker the right tools and the right training and a person to serve and get out of the way.  The fastest route to morale improvement is workflow blockage removal.  You need to “get ‘er done”.   Bring on the orders and allow top performers to serve with excellence.

Deadly Organization

In a healthcare campus, our shop was located next to the morgue.  That thought can be quite a downer.  One worker complained when a nurse stepped in and asked her to hold a lifeless baby while she finished other arrangements.  Whew!  Some shops have bigger issues than others.   But worse than the morgue was the fact that the equipment was placed badly for heat exhaust and the air temperatures and volumes needed to operate were inadequate.  The team was in a constant state of fear a piece of equipment would be impacted and production would slow or halt.  No one can be productive living in fear of the unknown.  A little creative rerouting of cooling supply arranged by engineering alleviated the heat overload.  Some quick rearranging of equipment between 2am and 4am one morning brought more air flow sensibility.  An almost no-cost solution gained days a week of equipment uptime and brought pride back to the production team.  The doctors and nurses and administrative staff began getting what they needed to do their jobs more effectively for patients.   New work requests began to flood the shop as reliability of service returned.

Lively Results

Process documentation is not an option.  In an insurance group, we discovered there was no integrated production plan understandable by the entire team.  Every person on every shift had a different interpretation of how to get the job done, what was priority, and who else was to blame for every issue.  No one really knew when work would come out of the shop once it went in.  Ten day turnarounds were not uncommon.  You probably have worked with groups like this.  They are great people buried in an inadequate process built over time and patched together like Frankenstein with each change in organization need and chaos and priority of the day.

You are not going to get the full answer in this short article to how we solved this problem.  But, I will tell you, it was the team that solved it.  I will tell you they began working through point to point touch solutions and tracking.  I will tell you they talked to the people receiving their services and included them in prioritization based on business impact not personal departmental preferences.  I will tell you it takes executive support.

Oh, the team went to 8-72 hour predictable and communicated turnarounds on ten times the volume with the same staffing and equipment levels.  You would love to get that wouldn’t you?  The cost / benefit impact on company overall services became more than the cost to run the plant.  Think this way.  The beginning cost was $2000x and the volume was 1000x.  The resulting cost was $1001x and the volume was 10,000x.  Pent up demand was going to over-sourcers at higher costs.  The unseen expense to the organization of many departments having to arrange outside services couple with dollars buried in hidden budget line items was huge.  It went away.

Rapid workflow benefits your ability to work on the next area.  You can’t get buried in workflow improvements.  It is just one area needing attention.  There is a balance and every area needs attention all the time.  Next, we’ll talk about value add.  It has to improve.

Responsibility and Sustainability

Pain Points

Profitable cost reduction in print and communication services.

pyramid

Every executive is tasked with reducing costs and increasing profit.  We can forget.   The press of managing the budget can get tied into just meeting the plan instead of achieving the underlying goals.  An officer has a fiduciary responsibility to increase shareholder equity.  You can’t just “manage the budget”.  It needs to improve impact on the bottom line.

Print services is one of those areas that just seems to take money and not give a return.  That is a shame.  Print services can be such a profit booster, when rightly implemented and attached to corporate initiatives.

Last week my partner and I reviewed two university in-plants.  They were ivy league and state.  In just a few hours we were able to isolate incredible opportunity to both reduce costs and expand profitable services.  You just have to know where to look.

I’ve written quite a lot lately about business plans and new product development.  Those were the subjects taught at GraphExpo and are being reviewed by hundreds of folks daily.  Some of the feedback I get is a need to be able to assess a print services operation and come up with a viable action plan to improve impact on the bottom line.  Too often managers and consultants are looking to survive.  You need to thrive.  There is no reason not to thrive.  The opportunities are amazing.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore how to thrive.

There is no reason to just get along.  There is no reason to roll over to conventional strategy of limiting the benefit of your overall communications engine through bad sourcing decisions and coagulation of IT, marketing, and print services.  Where you source your print and communication services is a growth decision not a cost cutting decision.  You can throttle your progress engine by making this decision incorrectly.  Done correctly, you will cut costs, improve service, increase access to effective communications and be a hero.  Done incorrectly, you will cut short term costs and produce blockages in your growth and communications engine and frustrations for marketing and sales and the data miners.  You cannot grow using yesterday’s wisdom in a thriving world of interactive print, direct, indirect, social, online, mobile, and mass virile and viral communications.

Related:

Responsibility and Sustainability

Removing Workflow Constraints

Pain Points