Dollar Time

Dollar Time

We are all on “lock down” today. Some of us are working from home, using communications and virtual software tools, while some of us are going into the office or workplace. Let’s use this time as effectively as possible. So, if you have time think about your job. What can you do, should you do, to make it better? What do we do to eliminate duplications, minimize mistakes, decrease expenses, increase sales? Make a list, talk with your coworkers about it. Let’s do something different this time. Send me your ideas. Send it to ron@learningwithoutscars.com. After a week or so I will consolidate all these ideas and put them in a table and send them back to you. Then you can look into making the necessary changes that you identified or someone else suggested. Let’s make time as effective as we can.

The Time is Now.

We Have Been Here Before

We Have Been Here Before

Over the past two decades we have confronted three separate events that changed how we looked at our businesses.

In 1999/2000 we faced the Y2K problem. Our business systems were designed without sufficient foresight and we needed to make comprehensive changes swiftly and effectively. We did.

In 2008 we dealt with the Financial Crisis. Our markets for equipment dropped, depending on location, up to 50%. We had to adapt our businesses to survive in this harsh new reality. We did.

Now in 2020 we are confronted with a Worldwide Health Crisis. The Covid-19 problem. I have no doubt we will overcome this crisis as well.

The leadership in the USA, federal, state and local, have acted decisively and comprehensively. Think about everything that has been done.

  • We shut our borders down, first to China and now to the European Union. This kept out people who, unknowingly or not, carried the virus. We kept them out.
  • We identified the high-risk individuals. We quarantined them.
  • We designed a test for this specific virus once we received the biology from China.
  • We modified lab testing and established a nation-wide testing protocol.
  • We created drive through capabilities to conduct this testing in convenient locations.
  • We now are testing dozens of drugs to find a cure for the virus.
  • We have passed emergency legislation in the senate to assist affected people and businesses.
  • We have declared a state of emergency in nearly ten different states.

Private and public businesses have acted as well. This situation is extremely fluid and changes daily nearly everywhere, if not hourly. This is when we need sensible, thoughtful, calm and strong leadership. Can we count you in that group?

The Time is Now.

What Will We Learn from this Crisis?

What Will We Learn from this Crisis?

There is a Persian Proverb I am reminded of this week.

The man who knows not, but knows not that he knows not, is a fool. Shun him.

The man who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is a student. Teach him.

The man who knows, but knows not that he knows, is asleep. Awaken him.

The man who knows, and knows that he knows, is a teacher. Learn from him.

I wonder: am I a fool or a student? Am I asleep or am I a teacher? What are you?

When we return to a normal life again, as we will, I wonder what we will do differently from what we did before this crisis? Will we continue swimming with the current and go along to get along? Or will we pay attention to the world around us in a more profound manner?

Bill Gates was on TED in 2014 talking about exactly about this type of viral invasion and what it would do to the world. Did anyone listen and do anything? That is what I mean. But on a smaller scale in our world of capital equipment.

  • Will our dealer management systems continue to copy manual systems or will they finally reach their potential to radically transform how business is conducted? Or will a screen continue to be an electronic form?
  • Will our processes and procedures be what we have always done in the past? Or will we challenge ourselves to think about things differently?
  • Will we finally learn how to find every part every customer wants the same day that they want it? Or will we pay lip service to that concept saying “oh well, why try it when it can’t be done?”
  • Will we develop an accurate population of working machines so that we can help our customers with their owning and operating costs? Or will we say that it is too much work?
  • Will we monitor the operations of every working machine with the goal of identifying erratic activity before it becomes costly? Or will we think that is interfering with our customers too much?

Those are five very simple illustrations of questions I ask myself. What will we have learned in our forced time at home with our families? Of course, it will be a relief to get back to normal, whatever that means. But please don’t waste that time. Think about the anxiety you were feeling. Think about the unknown that existed. How long will those feelings linger? What will we do? Will our children’s loss of these three or four months of schooling hurt them for the rest of their lives? You know it will.

So how will we conduct ourselves at work when we return? Will it be the same as before or will we try to make it better? The choice is yours.

The Time is Now.

Competence and Recognition

Competence and Recognition

With so many learning opportunities available over the internet and very few of these classes earning University or Colleges credits directly many institutions have devised a method to recognize individual student competencies.

They are using badges.

While with our accreditation by IACET we will be able to offer Continuous Education Units, which lead to college and technical school credits, we fell it is necessary and important to recognize specific skills within our learning programs.

We have identified five skill sets that need further recognition. They are Sales, Finance, Operations, Leadership and Customer Service. We are using the same approach as was used to develop our Skills Assessments. We are selecting 60 questions from the 2,400 questions used in our Skills Assessments and selecting them according to their relevance to the skill sets listed above. We will offer Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze Skill Set Badges.

Each learner then will be able to follow classes related to their job function, perform a skills assessment related to that same job as well as be able to be recognized as to their individual level of competence on specific skills sets.

This will be a first in our Industry. We are proud of this accomplishment and hat it will mean to our hardworking heroes in the parts, service and product support sales world.

The Time is Now.

 

Time is the Enemy

Time is the Enemy

Each day it is important that we check to see how we are doing? We must start with what I call the “critical few.” They are the measures that determine if the department or business is in good shape or not. And we must review our position with them every day.

Alongside those “critical few” we must have performance standards. Being simplistic I want to look at the “critical few” against the standards in a very basic manner – meeting the standards or not. Green or Red.

And I do this every day. It is the first hour of my day. If everything is Green then I can get on with my day. If any of them are Red then there is work to do. Contact the individual who is responsible for the item and communicate. Ask some questions, is this anecdotal, what caused the aberration, is it an anomaly or ongoing, what do we need to do to improve the results and get back to standard. A series of questions. This should end up with a plan to get back on track and back to standard.

But it must be every day. Consistently and constantly. Otherwise you aren’t in control of you job function. You are out of control. You will never have enough time to keep up with everything that happens to you on a daily basis.

The Time is Now.

Thank You for a Transformative 2019

Thank You for a Transformative 2019

I would like to personally extend to you all of the best for the holiday season. Further I wish all of you the best year end closing one decade, the 2019s and opening another decade, the 2020s. Happy New Year.

We have had a very significant year at Learning Without Scars.

  • We have completed all of the LOD’s, Learning on Demand, for all departments. There are eighty of them.
  • We have completed all of the PSP’s, Planned Specific Programs, for all departments. There are twenty-one of them.
  • We have completed all of the PLP’s, Planned Learning Programs, for all departments. There are eight of them.
  • We have introduced the CSA program. The Comprehensive Skills Assessments. There are eight of them.
  • We have introduced the French Learning Programs.
  • We have introduced the Spanish Learning Programs.

We are very optimistic that 2020 will show a further dramatic transformation.

We are also optimistic that 2020 will see us receive accreditation from IACET and be able to issue CEU’s (Continuous Education Units) for all of our classes to our customers allowing our programs to work toward college and vocational school credits.

I am sure you have had many happenings this past year.

We will be taking a short break from the blog and this will be the last one for 2019. I look forward to picking up with you again in early January. Thanks for everything and all the best to each and everyone of you aand your families

The Time is Now.

Making Education Relevant

Making Education Relevant

Sebastian Thrun viewed by many as the father on internet-based learning notes that only 10% of the online students actually complete the classes when they are free. So now he charges for his courses.

Although the results on completion are much better when the students have to pay something, I believe that it misses the point.

How do we get each individual in the world we live in today to want to invest in themselves, to invest their time, in making themselves better? How do we get people to want to spend time on their own professional and personal growth?

We are moving rapidly to, what I call a “Self-Led” world. It is conceivable that with AI and all of the advances with technology that 50% of the population will not have any work to do. We will need to be “Self-Led” internally motivated if we want to be able to have some sort of societal contribution.

I hope you enjoy this next film.

The Time is Now.

The CSA – Comprehensive Skills Assessment

The CSA – Comprehensive Skills Assessment

Our Comprehensive Skills Assessments (CSA) are job specific and specialized subject matter evaluations of the skills and knowledge of the individuals on the job today.

Comprehensive Skills Assessments (CSA) from Learning Without Scars offer a structured tool to evaluate the specific knowledge of each employee in the dealership. Following the introduction of our learning programs and the use of a class ending “Assessment” many dealerships have noticed the benefit to a clear understanding of the job-related skills and knowledge of each employee. As a result, dealers asked us to produce a product that will help them determine the specific training needs for each employee. The Comprehensive Skills Assessments (CSA) is that program.

The CSA can serve a variety of needs within a dealership.

  • These assessments can be used, in conjunction with background checks and interviews, to screen applicants before they are hired.
  • They can also be used in the annual performance review with each employee.
  • They can even be used as a foundation piece of information related to the wages and salaries paid to the employees.
  • Finally, and this is the genesis of the creation of the Comprehensive Skills Assessment, the assessment has been developed to be used to create a specific employee development program for each employee in the parts and service business teams.

These skills assessments are only available through our online learning platform. The following film will give you a deeper understanding of the many benefits of our CSA programs.

The Time is Now.

 

Leaders with Skills and Knowledge – the PLP

Leaders With Skills and Knowledge – the PLP.

We started our journey of assisting in employee development in the early 1990s with the management training programs we developed for the Parts and Service Teams. We created two-day classroom programs for executives, management, supervision and first line team leaders. These classes focused on operations, finance, selling and management supplemented with a manual of roughly 200 pages in length.

What we didn’t do was offer a test for each program and progress testing to plant the knowledge more deeply into the student’s mind. You will find another blog post later this week from the wonderful book “Make It Stick” which is aimed at “The Science of Successful Learning.”

The Quest, Learning Centers, classroom courses were developed and then tested with executives who sat through the programs as they were being developed to assist us in how these programs were created.

Since the inception of these leadership classes we have had the opportunity to teach more than 4,000 dealer employees.

This film will define and describe how the PLP – Planned Learning Programs, classes work. Each one covers ten classes and provides twenty hours of training. The PLP programs are three years and covers thirty classes with sixty hours of knowledge transfer.

With the PLP’s we have a twenty question, multiple choice exam at the conclusion and also put forward “quizzes” three or four times through the learning experience. These “tests” are aimed, as indicated above, at implanting the knowledge more completely into the students’ mind. The science of learning tells us that testing stops almost completely forgetting the content of the class.   

The film you are about to see, which is the final program in the troika of learning and will give you an explanation of the PLP Program. I hope you enjoy it.

The Time is Now.

The Infinite Game – Simon Sinek

The Infinite Game – Simon Sinek

Branch Operations.

In most dealerships the senior management structures are similar. There is a President, perhaps a CEO, in larger dealers a COO, followed by the Departmental Executives. There are numerous customer facing functions, and support facing functions.

The “Executives” focus on goals and objectives and market share. That is important, performance matters. Everything looks at goals and objectives: financial performance, sales, gross profit, expense control. All are very important. What about the Customer Experience? Who is responsible for ensuring that the Customer is at the forefront of everything that we do?

Who is the person that creates the “vision” for the dealership? Who is it that inspires every employee to be driven to get better at what they do – at “delighting” the customer?

This is an area that Simon Sinek points at in his recent book “The Infinite Game.”

He posits that we are all too concentrated on winning and avoiding losses. We are focused on the short term with no real attention paid to the future. But he isn’t talking about next year or the year beyond. He is talking in terms in decades. How can we make our businesses sustainable over time?    

This caused me some interesting reflection time. Most of you know I swam when I was a young person. Swimming is all about improving your own performance and less about “beating” the other swimmers in your race. I think that gave me a focus that was somewhat different than my peers. I was always about making everything better. There was no such thing as “best.” That is a “point in time.” Think about GE under Jack Welsh, arguable one of their best leaders to date. He was always about the short term. His comment was “Isn’t long term just a series of short terms?” Well to be honest it isn’t. As a result, GE since he left has had serious performance failures. Jim Collins, author of “Built to Last” among others, famously compared two companies in the same Industry and pointed at similar things. Most of our businesses focus on the short term. A study by McKinsey reported that the average life span of a S&P company has dropped since the 1950’s, over a span of fifty years, from sixty-one years to eighteen years today. Harvard Business Review, and many others, report that 70% – 90% of acquisitions fail. A rather serious statement on the ability of business to merge two businesses together.

Sinek contends that is because of our focus on the short term at the expense of the long term. In his book “Start With Why,” on of the most watched TED Talks ever he says; “Most people know What They Do, some can even tell you How they do it, but very few people can tell you Why they do it. It isn’t about making money.

“The Infinite Game” uses the United States as an example of a “Business.” It started with the War of Independence. The Declaration of Independence was not a statement of getting rid of the control of the country by Great Britain. It was about “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” That made the effort worthwhile. They then got to work on writing the Constitution which set out a series of enduring principles to protect and advance their big, bold, and idealistic vision of the future. That is a future that we still strive to achieve and will constantly be aiming at that vision. It is not an end game it is a journey.

In order to stay in the game long term, to stay in business, long term we must be good operationally at all of those win/lose games we play; market share, gross margin and expense control, asset management, etc.. That this is critical, is something on which we can all agree. But in order to have long term sustainable success it is also about the culture of the company. What makes each employee strive to be better at what they do in order to satisfy their customers.      

I highly recommend that you read “The Infinite Game” by Simon Sinek. It might provoke you to reevaluate your view on how your business operates. 

The Time is Now.