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.

The Other Side

The Other Side

We have learned and we need to act. We need strong positive leadership now more than ever: clarity of message, cascading and direct communication, basic management methods, understanding, acceptance and commitment.

There is very little we can control at this point. That is creating problems for everyone. Fear is everywhere. People don’t respond well to fear. We have to provide confident leadership. This too will pass.

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.

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.

Attracting and Retaining Employees

Attracting and Retaining Employees

 

On January 25th 2016 we published the first blog called Memorable Moments. It dealt with my early years and life. It stopped with the line “That was the beginning of the end.” And it was also the end of the beginning of my life.

Hewitt Equipment provided me with a tremendous opportunity. I was hired on a twelve-month contract. My mission was to find and fix what they felt was a problem with the computer system application in use to manage parts inventories. When I found the fix and got it implemented my job was completed unless we both agreed that I should stay.

This was the point at which I was given a gift of learning. A senior partner from Urwick Currie, his name was David Steele, was tasked with teaching me everything I needed to know about inventory management and business systems to manage parts inventories. He spent one day a week, all day, with me and only me. How many people are given that type of opportunity? I received this opportunity because of my university programs majoring in Mathematics and Physics, with minors in Statistics and Computer Science. In the early days of computer applications mathematics was heavily involved. For instance, there was no square root operator in the computer systems at that time. In using Machine Language, COBOL or FORTRAN programming languages, you had to develop a mathematical model to calculate a square root. Without totally boring you there was an error in the formulas used. The number “10” was put into the program instead of “1.” This meant that the Order Quantity for each part put on a stock order was too high by a factor of about 3.17.

I also was given an opportunity to go to Caterpillar in Peoria and meet with the Parts Management (Bob Kirk) and some of the founders of Dealer Data Processing (Larry Noe). We were going to build an interactive model to simulate our parts business under variable order point and order quantity conditions. Both of these men were extremely talented in their fields and took the time to deal with me even though I was only 22. I am told by coworkers at the time that I was a very impatient pushy person. That clearly is a description with which I will disagree. I mention this because of the view that the leadership and team members have about millennials and the younger workers in the Industry. I don’t think they are any different than I was at the same age.

That first six months left me with a hunger for more. I was a new hire. I was given a specific mission, a project if you will. It had clarity, a very clear objective and time line. I was given specialized training, by the consulting firm and Caterpillar experts. I was given a free hand. I had to make a presentation to the executive and make my case and get the changes I wanted to get made approved. I felt that I had a purpose and an important task.

How do we go about attracting and retaining these new employees? These younger workers? They are our future. I think we better figure out what we are going to do and how to get this plan implemented. Don’t you?

The Time is NOW.

Reflections

Reflections

We have written over the past three or four weeks about coaching and leadership. Perhaps it is time to reflect a bit on this.

It all starts with each of us wanting to do a good job. That comes from active and passive participation in the work that we do and the life that we live. Perhaps the work portion of our lives is the easier one. The life we live can be either very challenging or you become a victim of circumstances and you let those circumstances dominate your life. In other words, you give up on yourself. That goes to the Nike tag line “Just Do It.” Jimmy Valvano, when he was in the latter stages of his fight with cancer, gives us a better approach. “Never Give Up.” No matter what you face you can overcome it if you give it a good and honest fight. Learn more, train more, practice more, listen more, dream more, care more.

Eleanor Roosevelt is famous for her quote of “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” It always intrigues me as to why some people let that happen to them. Why is that?

Curiosity is another attribute that I believe is critical to our beings. We can learn through asking “why,” and children spend more than a year of their early lives doing nothing but ask that question. Quoting Ted Kennedy at the funeral of his brother Robert, “Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.” This is something I believe we should take more to heart. Why do we do what we do? Why do we do things this way? How long have we done things this way? I came to an epiphany when I started studying change in a serious way. We are taught to resist change in every manner possible. From how we are parented with specific rules – don’t do that – to our schooling – this is how you do that – to our jobs – how we are taught to do our jobs. All of those lead us to be somewhat resistant to or suspicious of change. Japanese culture introduced me to Kaizen. Change everything you do, make it better or easier or more efficient, every day, if even just a tiny bit. That to me is a more reasonable approach to life.

Another aspect of leadership and coaching is that we must create followers before anything else will happen. That seems to be quite obvious but many of us fail at this when we start issuing mandates and “orders.” How many people will follow you because they want to if you are all about giving orders? Simon Sinek in his book “Leaders Eat Last” uses in the foreword a Lt General from the Marine Corps who describes meal time in the Marines. The enlisted men and served first and they eat first. Keep them happy and healthy and things will be alright.

I have a reading list on my consulting web site, www.rjslee.com, I call it the reading list for interested people. There are many wonderful books with incredibly meaningful suggestions and ideas to think about. Patrick Lenioni comes to mind with his books – The Three Signs of a Miserable Job and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Easy to read parables with incredibly helpful advice. There are many more books there to enjoy and learn from for interested people. There are also over twenty years of monthly columns, from Industry publications, on the parts and service and product support sales and marketing subjects.

However, in each of my classroom sessions I always ask how many have read a business book that will help them with their jobs. In the last month or quarter. Sadly, not many hands go up.
Another thing that I like to do at each class is to ask some questions. That is the Socratic method to teaching.

 What is the definition of Ignorance?
 What is the definition of Stupidity?
 What is the definition of Insanity?

This causes some difficulty for the room. Ignorance is not knowing what to do. Stupidity is knowing what to do and not doing it. Insanity is continuing to do with you have always done expecting different results. I then tell them that at the end of the class they will no long be ignorant because they will know what to do. I leave them with the last two choices – Stupidity or Insanity. No one in the room is insane so in truth I am challenging them to take advantage of what they have learned and do something with it. If they don’t, well, that is plain stupid, isn’t it?

The Time is NOW.

Branding #MondayBlogs

In our Industry, we can identify a brand with a logo, a color, a certain type of visible air filter on a piece of equipment.

But how often do we stop to realize that we are our own brand?  Who we are and what we do, the ways in which we do our work, reflect our individual brand.

Your brand matters.  It matters to your customers, to your team, and to your store.

For this week’s Socrates Says, we are sharing some words of wisdom on your own brand in the video below.

The time is now.

 

Friday Filosophy #2016-20

Every now and then a little humility is a good thing. Not the artificial, superficial kind, but the real heartfelt humility.  For our Friday Filosophy #2016-20 on a loose schedule, we are taking a look at humility.

 Humility is the true key to success. Successful people lose their way at times. They often embrace and overindulge from the fruits of success. Humility halts this arrogance and self-indulging trap. Humble people share the credit and wealth, remaining focused and hungry to continue the journey of success.

Rick Pitino

 

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.

C.S. Lewis

 

It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.

Saint Augustine

 

It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.

Yogi Berra

 

Nothing is more deceitful than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.

Jane Austen

 

I believe the first test of a truly great man is his humility.

John Rushkin

 

True humility is contentment.

Henri Frederic Amiel

 

Humility is a great quality of leadership which derives respect and not just fear and hatred.

Yousef Munayyer

 

The time is now.

Friday Filosophy #2015-27 A Midsummer’s Blog

I’m not trying to be Shakespeare with that title, but Friday Filosophy #2015-27 is A Midsummer’s Blog on all of the joys of the season we’re in.

The middle of summer is upon us and I am pleased to bring back a mid-summer’s blog for your consideration. One of the things I truly enjoyed growing up were my summers in the Laurentians north of Montreal. My mother was able to find and purchase an old house, built in 1908, for the family to spend school holidays at every year. My father commuted on Wednesday and the weekends from his “city” job.

As a result of that I grew up on a lake. The country club was a very basic offering. We had swimming, tennis and diving lessons for $5.00/month. The golf course was $16.00 a season for youth under 16 years of age. It was a fantastic opportunity.

So I had two lives: the summer place which was for fun, the city place which was for work.

Here are some thoughts for you on summertime.

 

Summer means happy times and good sunshine. It means going to the beach, going to Disneyland, having fun.

Brian Wilson

 

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching clouds float across the sky is by no means a waste of time.

John Lubbock

 

Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it.

Russell Baker

 

Summer is the annual permission slip to be lazy. To do nothing and have it count for something. To lie in the grass and count the stars. To sit on a branch and study the clouds.

Regina Brett

 

In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.

Albert Camus

 

Tears are the summer showers to the soul.

Albert Austin

 

Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air and you.

Langston Hughes

 

Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.

Sam Keen

 

Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the most beautiful words in the English language.

Henry James

 

People take pictures of the summer, just in case something thought they had missed it, and to prove that it really existed.

Ray Davies

 

Oh, summer night,

Has a smile of light,

And she sits on a sapphire throne.

Bryan Procter

 

I hope you each have taken time this summer to slow down and enjoy. I remember having blood shot eyes most of the time from playing underwater tag with my friend Cliff and seeing rainbows around the sun all the time.

See you in September.

The time is now.

Friday Filosophy #2015-17

When I check the tally of these posts, the year seems to be going quickly.  This is #2015-17 of our Friday Filosophy.

 

The beginning is the most important part of the work.

Plato

 

Choice, not circumstances, determines your success.

Author Unknown

 

The great artist and thinker are the simplifiers

Henry Frederic Amiel

 

The time is now.