Looking Forward to the Future

Looking Forward to the Future

These have been unbelievably difficult times. Since we became aware of this Virus the world has been devastated and the lives of many people lost. Those of us lucky enough to have remained healthy have had to be “Locked Down.” We human beings are social people and this has been an extremely difficult time. Many people do not have jobs that translate well to working from home, and are unable to work. They have lost their ability to support themselves. Even with the incredible flow of money from the Federal Government there is widespread fear in their hearts. They are unsure of their ability to be able to eat and live through this catastrophe.

Let’s never forget the pain from this event. We should not just return to our lives as they were in the past. This can be an opportunity for us, even though it has come with pain and upheaval and fear.

Let’s look at our actions. What have we done since the shutdown of our country? How did you and your loved ones get through the days and weeks and months that have passed? How did we care for others in need? We are a resilient people that do not take things lightly. Nor do we give up.

We are going to be stronger as a people, as a nation. We will not be dependent on a foreign source for critical items. Our supply chains are going to change. The international elites that have driven the world for the past seventy years have been exposed. They had no loyalty to anything but money and their power. That goes for many of those in the so-called “deep state.” The unelected technocrats that have been running the government. George Friedman’s book, which I have mentioned previously, “The Storm Before the Calm,” describes this quite convincingly.

But that is the world over which we have little control. We need to pay attention to the world over which we have some control. We must learn from this event and make ourselves better. For some time, I have been lamenting the imbalance between our investments in technology and sociology. We have forgotten the fundamental truth. We are PEOPLE FIRST.

Let’s help each other more. Let’s be more attentive to the needs and wants of our employees. Let’s bring back a spirit of “serving.” Let’s cooperate with each other rather than compete with each other. Let’s never forget how vulnerable we were when this was happening and in fact that we always are vulnerable as individuals. Let’s be honest, with everyone including ourselves. Let’s be responsible for ourselves and accountable for our performance. And let’s step up and be people of character. That’s how this country was built. That is the way we used to be. Let’s get started on the path to a brighter future.

The Time is Now.

Business Models

Business Models

Since 1980 when Ronald Reagan and Paul Volcker fixed the high levels of inflation with a drastic increase in interest rates we have been operating on a “cost control driven” business model.

This model now needs to have a dramatic review and update.

  • I don’t believe anyone can make money by reducing costs alone.
  • We are driven by sales per employee metrics to the point of obsession.
  • We have beat up supply chains to extract costs.
  • Just in time inventories supply chains are the norm.
  • We have “computerized” business processes, moving a paper form to an input screen. We have not improved them.
  • We have concluded that market coverage is too expensive and seen precipitous reductions in market share as competitors have taken our customers by simply calling on them.
  • We have taken on incredible levels of risk thinking low interest rates are with us forever.
  • Rental inventories have grown and money has been made without the offset to risk abatement.
  • With market changes the escape valve for too much inventory is nowhere in sight.

Now is not the time to have the technocrats and managers, alone, determine what needs to be done to improve business. Now is the time to include and involve every single employee in this effort. Never forget that the employee doing the job should be the one that knows that job better than anyone else and to ignore them is not only wrong but truly a shame.

The Time is Now.

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.

 

Education Made Social

Education Made Social

We seem to be in a quandary these days. Either we are engrossed in our telephones or social media getting high on endorphins every time we get a hit or a wave, or we are self-absorbed in thoughts about where we are and what we will do in life. It is a complicated time. This year we are going to attempt to break through this wall of uncertainty. We want to make our learning platform social.

This year we are going to create “Chat Rooms.” There will be one for each operational discipline in a dealership. Parts, Service, Product Support Sales and Marketing. The purpose is to provide a resource to our students, and other interested people, to pose a question and start a “chat” on various thoughts and ideas pertaining to the point at hand. We will also be involved in these chat rooms so we can stay current on the thinking of our student base and their market place.

We will also begin a new “Podcast.” This will be a monthly event once we get it together and understand how to create the podcast and make it a “must hear event.” I will be having a brief discussion sometimes on a “Zoom” meeting so that there can be a “virtual” in person interaction. Sometimes, I will just do this on a telephone call. We will conduct these podcasts with people who I consider to be thought leaders, industry leaders and sometimes people who happen to be very curious.

Learning should not just be between a student and a teacher it needs to become a part of our lives. Self-improvement is a necessity with the rapidly changing world we live in today.

The Time is Now.

 

Leadership in the New Reality

Leadership in the New Reality

 

 

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Lt. General Russel L. Honore U.S. Army Retired. He talked specifically about “Leadership in the New Normal” and “Don’t Get Stuck on Stupid.” Both of those subjects triggered thoughts and memories. (You can get both subjects as books)

After the disaster of 911 in the United States I gave talks at associations and dealer meetings around North America and Europe on what I called “The New Reality.” These talks were met with mixed reviews, some positive and others not so much. Let me take a deeper dive into why we had different views with a quote from George Friedman. “The mortal enemies of intelligence are time and wishful thinking.”

The New Normal the General is asking us to consider consists of some of the amazing changes we have seen in our world over the past twenty years; the nearly instantaneous transmission of information, the extreme population densities we are experiencing in cities, the extraordinary interconnectedness and mutual dependence of business; the rise of terrorism, and the growing ranks of the poor.

I ask often, with the trillions of dollars spent on technology over the past two decades, how much has been spent on sociology to understand what people will be going through with Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality and Autonomous Vehicles.

The New Reality from my perspective involves our ability to attract and retain talented employees from an ever-declining working population and the generational differences between the “Baby Boomers” and “Millennials.”

This is where I ask people to consider what we call “Sacred Cows.”

At the start of every classroom training session I have conducted over the past fifty years I have asked for three definitions.

  • What is the definition if Ignorance?
  • What is the definition of Stupidity?
  • What is the definition of Insanity?
  • Ignorance is not knowing what to do.
  • Stupidity is knowing what to do but not doing it.
  • Insanity is continuing to do what you have always done and expecting different results.

This takes me to the core of my work today. Everyone needs to be constantly investing their time in improving themselves professionally and personally. If you don’t continue to adapt to this new reality you will become irrelevant. Is that something that you aspire to?

The Time is Now.

The Virtual Classroom Programs

Virtual Classroom – The VCR Programs

For those of you following this blog or students of our classes, you are well aware of our offerings. The LOD – Learning On Demand which is a series of subject specific classes. These are the building blocks for all of our learning programs. Then there is the job specific series of classes, the PSP Planned Specific Programs. Next is the leadership series within the PLP Planned Learning Programs. Finally, we come to the Virtual Classroom Programs the VCR’s.

We announced last year that the VCR programs would be kicked off in 2020. Well here we are. In April we will be delivering on our promise and put the VCR programs into the market.

Each VCR consists of five subject classes. There are three levels of these programs. This is for up and coming employees, people who can offer more than the traditional employee. The “fast track” employees. Their learning is rounded out with a PLP on Final Staging. Watch our short video below explaining this exciting program.

The Time is now.

 

 

Goals – Passion – Struggles

Goals – Passion – Struggles

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting a gentleman by the name of Ed Wallace. He is he author of many books as well as being on the faculty of Drexel’s LeBow College of Business and Villanova University’s Human Resources Master’s Program.

In his book “Business Relationships That Last” he talks about five steps to transform contacts into high-performing relationships. It is a great read.

In it he talks about GPS. No, not the type in your car or on your telephone, GPS in your relationships with people. He is telling us that if you are perceived by people, your customers, your co-workers, your family and friends, to be interested in and helping them deal with their goals and passions and struggles you are on the way to building a strong relationship with them. There is a problem with this though isn’t there? People generally will not share their goals, passions and struggles. They have to have developed trust with you first.

You develop trust in how you communicate with them and how you are as a person. Do you care about them? Do you listen to them when they are talking? No, I mean LISTEN to them not just hearing them. It is about who you are as a person. Are you capable in what you do, your competence? Are you credible? Do you know what it is that you are talking about and are you believable? These are very simple attributes that I am sure each of you have in a large quantity.

Read the book, have a fresh look then at how you operate. It will be worth your while. You will be building better relationships every day. You will be more conscious of how you are being with others. That is a terrific beginning, isn’t it?

The Time is Now.