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Find and Develop Skills

Find and Develop Skills

Founder and Managing Member Ron Slee writes about how we can find and develop the skills we need in life. He brings the idea of Ikigai to bear on this crucial and timely subject.

How do we find and develop the skills to provide us the best possible life? 

I have written often about happiness. From the philosopher Tom Morris and his book Plato’s Lemonade stand to The Art of Happiness at Work it is clear I want people to be happy in their lives. This I find out is a Japanese word – Ikigai. It is a word that is the meaning of life. It is what gets you out of bed in the morning.

Ikigai is the center of a circle that touches on four basic elements.

 

This is a very simple graphic, isn’t it? I would like everyone to be doing what they love, what they are good at and what the world needs. And clearly you need to be paid for it. 

One of my first clients in 1980 was a cancer survivor. His name was Ron Miller. He was an extraordinary man in his early 30’s who gave Caterpillar fits. He was the largest broker of Caterpillar equipment in the world. He hired me to put him in the parts and service business so that he could feel he was a pseud CAT Dealer. He was quite force. My family and I were living in Vancouver, BC and I was working for Finning Tractor. I was effectively, or not, running the parts business for them in British Columbia and the Yukon Territory. We had fifty-three stores then and my job had become babysitting and politics and I neither liked nor was I any good at either. Ronnie successfully lured me away and that was the beginning of my consulting life. I remember as if it were yesterday sitting at the poolside in his building with my wife and daughter Caroline who was about four years old at the time. Ronnie had lost a leg to cancer and Caroline was fascinated with the “six-dollar man.” 

I have met many gifted people in my life and Ronnie Miller was clearly one of them. He once told me that there were three words that he used to quide his life. Happiness, Effectiveness and Making Money. He said each day he tried to be happy and be effective and make money. I have never forgotten that lesson.

I am not as successful at living u0p to that as I would like but I continue to try. Notice he said “effective” not efficient. Two different words. He was all about doing the right thing. Not doint things right. That is a very telling statement. It fits into my mantra of doing your best, doing wha is right and honoring the golden rule. Simple things.

But let us return to Ikigai.

  • What You love to do REQUIRES Passion and Mission.
  • What The World Needs REQUIRESs Mission and Vocation.
  • What You can be paid for REQUIRES Professionalism and Vocation.
  • What You are Good at REQUIRES Passion and Professionalism. 

The British journalist Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called Outliers. In it he proposed that it takes 10,000 hours to be good at something and succeed at whatever it is. Aristotle said “We are what we do repeatedly.” There are many wonderful books written around the same theme. I was a swimmer in my youth. I swam hours and hours each day for years to get good at it. And I did get good at it.

When I started at a Caterpillar Dealership in Quebec, Canada, in 1969 I had the Senior partner from a consulting company spend one day a week, all day with just me, to show me and teach me about inventory management and systems. I had a passion to get good at what I did. Ad I did get good at it.

Along the way I had very talented people step up and help me get better at everything I did. Bob Kirk who was the “guru” of inventory management for Caterpillar took me under his wing. Larry Noe, one of the founders of Caterpillar Dealer Data Processing di the same. I don’t know why they did that but they did. Similarly, although later Roger Fay, who was responsible for the Caterpillar parts business in “Caterpillar Americas,” Canada, Mexico, Central and South America did the same. I will never forget those men. The truly “paid it forward.”      

So, what was my passion? To do the right thing and to do things right. It started with swimming and my coach would watch where I put my hand in the water and wasn’t happy until I did it right. It continues today with everyone who influences my thinking about doing everything I do a little bit better. The “Kaizen” way.  

That takes me to Professionalism. That is tough. It is a matter of opinion. I hate that. I don’t like opinions I like facts. 

But let’s look at professionalism.

Professionals are:

  • Competent
  • Reliable
  • Communicate well
  • Poised
  • Ethical
  • Organized
  • Accountable

As a consultant I have to be viewed by my clients in a specific manner:

  • I have to have oral and written skills
  • I have to have observation skills
  • I have to have problem solving skills
  • I have to have people skills
  • I have to have organizational skills
  • I have to have time management skills
  • I have to be objective
  • I have to be independent.

Once have become established I have to have references that will attest to my skills. That is my professionalism.

Let’s return one more time to Ikigai.

I am passionate about what do. It shows. I love it.

I have a mission. I have goals and purpose.

I have to be professional.

I have to make money.

In my life, professionally and personally I live Ikigai. I would hope that each of you would be in the same place. It is not easy and there are many roadblocks. But don’t give up. It is worth the pain and struggle to get there. I promise you that once you get there you will be happy and life and long and fruitful life.  

The Time is Now.

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Likes and Dislikes

Likes and Dislikes

Founder and Managing Member Ron Slee talks about the significance of like and dislikes when highlighting the ways we listen to our customers.

We Listen to our Customers.

We are all in the customer service business. Everyone that I know and have worked with is in a constant state of asking for help. We all ask our customers – what do you need and want from us.

In the Employee Development world, we have to listen many different influencers. The education world as to what the latest and greatest advancements in learning and retention of skills and knowledge. The Learning Management Software world to a stay current with everything going on in internet-based teaching tools. The Dealer Business Systems to be aware of the latest developments in what operational tools are available to dealers, wholesalers, manufacturers and OEM’s so that our subject specific classes are always exposing our students to what systems and processes they will be working with. The specialized software suppliers from Sales Force and CRM, Telematics and Sensors in equipment that can monitor the health of a specific piece of equipment, Maintenance tools to determine when each service interval is expected and schedule parts, labor and equipment to be available when necessary. Artificial Intelligence and all of the Data Management tools to allow information to be obtained that is useful and timely. And many more.

Most importantly we want to listen to our CUSTOMERS.

I learned that early in my life when I was being coached as a swimmer. My coach was constantly asking me to do different things with my head, my arms, my hands, my legs, my hips and my feet. He was looking for the right place for my body in the water for all of these “things.” I would be giving him my feedback and the clock would be giving us another piece of information.

It seemed so natural to me to ask questions. Then when I started teaching, I was constantly asking questions. I didn’t think anything of it until one of my bosses told me that I was using the “Socratic Method” in teaching. I had to research that and found he was right. I never really gave my class the answers to the questions I was asking. I would keep asking questions and in the dialogue that we had, teacher and students, we would come up with the answer together. I thought then, and continue to think the same today, this is the way that I would teach and that this method was a better learning tool for my students.

In my years at dealerships, I was probably a real pain as I was constantly asking why. Why do we do it this way? Why not this way? I used to ask my team members what they liked about how I worked with them. What they liked, what they didn’t like, and what didn’t matter.

When I started in our Consulting business nothing changed, although it was now expected with the job that there would be questions.

It seems that I like to know what other people are thinking about almost everything that they deal with in their lives.

When we set up our first employee development business, Quest, Learning Centers, in 1994 I started with the creation of our textbooks and our class structures. Then I ASKED.  I asked a group of executives and owners and managers to come to a class that I had created, at their expense, and get their feedback. Our first classes were three days long, it was twenty-four hours of learning. We called it “What it Looks Like When it is Right.” After all the discussions and suggestions and comments we ended up with two-day classes providing fifteen ours of learning. I will be forever grateful to those individuals for their help.

Today we offer Blogs, Podcasts, Newsletters, Audio Learning and Suggested Reading Lists as Resources to our students, our CUSTOMERS. We now have at the bottom of each screen a question for the reader

It’s a LIKE button, for feedback – thumbs up or down.

I most humbly ask each of you to let us know what you think. It would be really very helpful. You will see this on most every page that you could look at on the website.

The Time is Now.

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What’s Next?

What’s Next?

As 2021 winds down it is time for some reflection and some contemplation. What have we been able to get done in 2021 and what is next for us in 2022?

There has been a lot of confusion this year, wouldn’t you say? Politically, economically, and socially. Perhaps many of us ourselves have been confused. At Learning Without Scars we have been very busy.

  1. We received our IACET Approved provider accreditation.
  2. We revamped our website.
  3. We expanded on the Resources available to our followers.
  4. We introduced Podcasts to our audience.
  5. We added more Contributors to our blogs and podcasts.
  6. We created a Quarterly Newsletter.
  7. We created Audio Learning in multiple languages.
  8. We rounded out our Subject Specific Classes at 108 subjects available.
  9. We rounded out our Job Function Assessments at 18 available.
  10. We made available all of our Job Function Assessments in French and Spanish.
  11. We made our Parts Subject Specific Classes in French.
  12. We create Partnerships with Service Providers, Associations and Consulting Groups.

Now that is a Dozen Items to contend with and it is a list that we take a lot of pride in sharing with you. Ross Atkinson has been a large part of this work and we are most appreciative of having him participating with us in our business. I would like to extend our most sincere thanks to Norma Robbins and Louise Duranleau for their work in providing us the translations and audio tracks for the job function assessments and subject specific classes. And finally, to Caroline Slee-Poulos for her untiring work on working with IACET and completing our accreditation after nearly three years of work. My thanks to all of you.

Yet there are miles to go before we rest.

  1. In 2022 we expect to complete all classes in Spanish, French and English.
  2. We are modifying all subject specific classes to provide multiple quizzes in each class. These quizzes are aimed at improving learning and knowledge retention.
  3. We are working with Industry Associations to provide their members access to all of our learning products.
  4. We are working with Equipment Manufacturers to provide training to their dealership field personnel
  5. We are working with Systems Suppliers to provide training to their sales teams and support personnel.
  6. We will start working with Technical and Vocational Schools to introduce our subject specific classes into their curriculum for mechanical and technical training.
  7. We will be introducing new Products in the Learning area; – new Subject Specific Classes and more Job Function Assessments
  8. We will be adding new Zoom Offerings with panels of subject matter experts providing discussion on specific subjects and specific books that we are discussing.
  9. We will be looking to creating an industry wide Job Certification Program.
  10. We will accelerate our marketing activities with email blasts, e-books and snail mail programs.
  11. We will continue to improve the depth and breadth of our reporting to assist our clients in keeping track of the progress of their employees who are enrolled in LWS products.
  12. We will closely monitor our compliance with IACET requirements and keep them current with our activities.

While we are getting all of that done, we also intend to have thousands of individuals take Job Function Assessments and enroll in Subject Specific Classes.

We would not be in the position we are now, of being the supplier of the most comprehensive list of training products and employee development programs in the industry, were it not for the invaluable assistance we have received from you, our clients. Your suggestions and questions are all taken seriously and without your input and involvement we would never have gotten this far down the road. From our start with Quest Learning Centers in 1994, which provided Classroom Programs and Webinars, to Learning Without Scars, which is focused on Internet Based Learning we have depended heavily on your support.

Our purpose as a business is very simple.

We provide complementary resources to assist each individual to find their potential with blogs, podcasts, audio learning, suggested reading lists, newsletters and job function assessments. Then we give each person a pathway to achieving their potential through the use of Skill Level Pathways. To the thousands of you who have taken assessments and classes with us we say thank you. We know you are making a difference in your lives both personally and professionally through your commitment to excellence. We wish you all the success that you are dreaming about in your life. Your individual happiness is a true sign of a successful life. Thank you as well.

I want to close this blog, our last for the year, with a quotation from our Mascot, “Socrates.”

Socrates Says – Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for.

The Time is Now.

Did you enjoy this blog? Read more great blog posts here.
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Thoughts on Our Resources

Thoughts on our Resources

I don’t know if you have noticed but we have been quite busy over the past few months. I wanted to bring it to your attention and provide you with some suggestions going forward.

As you know at Learning Without Scars, we have three purposes and main goals.

  1. To transfer wisdom and knowledge from Thought Leaders and Experienced Executives and others through our Blogs, Podcasts, Newsletters and Audio Learning. You should register for the Blogs and Subscribe to the Newsletters. The Podcasts and Audio Learning segments are separate issues.
  2. To provide objective evaluations of the knowledge and skills of the employees in Product Support Job Functions with our Job Specific Skills Assessments. These assessments provide a score and allow us to customize specific learning paths based on the employee scores.
  3. To provide Subject Specific Classes tied to Departments and specific Job Functions. These classes can be assigned to employees based on their scores from the Job Function Skill Assessments. The Education Community classifies knowledge levels in four categories; Developing, Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced. We have determined eight classes for each developmental level for each Job Function.

I would like to direct you to “The Resources” tab on the home page @ www.learningwithoutscars.com.

You will see a dropdown that lists off everything under that tab. Go first to Contributors. We have been able to engage a series of highly skilled and talented people who share their knowledge, experience and wisdom with us. These skills and that knowledge and wisdom comes to you free of charge. But there is a caveat to that. Reading through a blog you will find that there are suggestions and ideas for you to consider. This is not reading the Sunday Paper and moving on. This might require you to make changes ton something in your operations. We hope so as our Contributors have “been there done that.” As you scroll down through the Contributors you have a brief biography of the individual and a picture to see not just their work. Then you will see the most recent three Blog posts and Podcasts.

Then if you go back up to the Resources tab and slide down to Blogs you will see our Socrates Says Blog series. There are some 900 different blog posts there for you to read through. We are creating better search criteria for you so that you will be able to find more easily what you are looking for in the blogs. While you are there, PLEASE take a moment and subscribe to the blog. All you have to do is provide us your email address then you will receive the blogs when they are posted automatically. We typically post blogs on Tuesday. Normally we have two blogs each Tuesday. If it becomes too much for you simply unsubscribe.

Next are Podcasts. Go back to the Resources tab on the Banner line at the top of the screen and slide down to Podcasts. We are very pleased we just had our 1000th download of one of our Podcasts. Not bad in only three or four months. We are really pleased that so many skilled people have agreed to spend time with me talking about various subjects of interest to the Product Support world. We cover HR issues with two very talented people, Sonya Law from Australia and Bruce Baker from Canada. We cover Technology with four very talented people in Dan Slusarchuk from Oklahoma, Dale Hanna from Arizona, Ross Atkinson from Canada and Alex Schuessler from New York. We cover dealer operations with Steve Day from Alabama and Brad Stimmel from North Caroline, and Ryszard Chciuk from Poland. Ed Gordon and Ed Wallace two men who were once College professors weigh in on Workplace Development and the Skilled Workforce as well as Relationship Management and Selling. There are more. Our Podcasts started out running between 40 and 50 minutes. We covered a lot of content. About ix weeks ago we surveyed our viewership and the results indicated that the audience wanted shorter Podcasts. We now offer 10-to-20-minute Podcasts. I hope you enjoy them.

Continuing on this path, go to Resources again and slide down to Newsletters. We started producing a Newsletter July 1st, 2021. They run quarterly so our second Newsletter went out October 1st 2021. We are currently putting the next Newsletter together which will be published and released January 1st 2022. We are becoming better at developing the Newsletter and have modified how we bring them to you so that you can maximize the benefit they provide you. Today we provide the Newsletter in several pieces to allow you more flexibility in how you use it. You receive the Newsletter in your email if you SUBSCRIBE to it (please take a moment and do that for us). The Newsletter is split into six pieces. We start by highlighting an individual from history who has had an overly large impact on humanity. This includes several significant quotations from that individual. Then we provide a short position paper on where we stand with Learning Without Scars. Then we move into the meat of the Newsletter. We have four sections that are highlighted for you; Parts, Service, Selling and Marketing, and Business. Then we close with a reading list of books that I have been reading in my work to stay current with what is going on in our Industry in Business and other fast-moving areas like technology or Cyber Security or Artificial Intelligence. Each of the four section you can obtain in a pdf format by clicking on the statement near the end of that section. These pdfs are intended for you to share with your teams to allow them to read them and then have a discussion on what the subject matter means to your operation. Ideally each of those employees will obtain their own subscription.

Finally, we are in a Beta test with a Company in the UAE that has developed an AI tool to convert word documents to audio tracks in multiple languages. We currently have 50 audio tracks up in US and UK English with another ten or so coming shortly. This is a beneficial tool for people to get an idea of the content of learning before taking classes and assessments. We are hopeful but very optimistic this will work for us and can be expanded.

So, there you have a more detailed explanation of our Resources. There is a lot of material there for you to consider. Everything in our Resources is something that is in place in dealerships and businesses worldwide. None of this is “pie in the sky” it is all in place in business today.

And don’t forget our big news.

Effective November 1, 2021, Learning Without Scars became fully accredited as a provider of continuing education through the International Accreditors of Continuing Education and Training (IACET). This accreditation sets us apart in our field: we are the first and only education provider in our industry to hold outside accreditation. From this point forward, all students will receive CEUs when they take a course through Learning Without Scars. Now we begin the critical work of collaborating with technical schools and professional associations to develop ongoing programs for all students.

We are pleased and proud to welcome you to Learning Without Scars: an IACET accredited education provider.

The Time is Now.

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Keeping Up-to-Date and Current in a Learning Business

Keeping Up-To- Date and Current in a Learning Business

I read this article recently and wanted to share it with all of you. It presents some interesting perspectives on employee development and learning. I hope you enjoy it.

To adapt to technology disruptions and meet the modern-day learners’ demands, many organizations are looking at modernizing their existing learning material.

But modernization is not only about repackaging an ‘old wine in a new bottle’, but it should ideally be looked at as a transformational strategy to deliver business results by creating new and unique experiences for the learners. In fact, it should be embraced as an opportunity:

  • For business leaders to align strategic objectives
  • For L&D heads to transition from a culture of training to a culture of learning
  • For HR as an ongoing upskilling initiative
  • For people leaders to provide learning in the flow of work

Having said the above, modernization comes with its fair share of challenges. In order to arrive at a robust and proven modernization framework that can be successfully implemented, it is absolutely essential to spend efforts on understanding the key factors that are driving the need for modernization. Here are a couple of factors that could be considered while designing a modernization strategy:

Technology disruptions

There are multiple technology disruptions that are happening all around us. Technology in itself has undergone numerous transformational processes impacting the way learning is delivered, perceived, and consumed. While organizations need to leverage technology to meet the need of the hour; the modernization strategy has to factor in this reality by future-proofing the content for new technological disruptions.

Skill Gaps

The Covid 19 pandemic has suddenly accelerated the need for new workforce skills. According to a new McKinsey Global Survey on future workforce needs, nearly nine in ten executives and managers say their organizations either face skill gaps already or expect gaps to develop within the next five years. Owing to the new generation of learners and needs of modern-day workplace, new skill areas are popping up regularly. Closing on the skills gap and enabling employee growth should be one of the strategic themes of the modernization initiative.

The Modern-day Learner

The profile, preference and habits of learners keep on changing because society, workplace, and technology continue to evolve. While the modernization initiative should account for the needs of the modern-day learner, it should not be limited just to millennials and Gen Z. It should be more holistic, starting right from the baby boomers.

Maintenance

As content owners, one of the key things is to ensure that we are able to maintain content that we are developing. For instance, a pharma company has to ensure that the content is updated as per latest FDA regulations. The other aspect of maintenance is the variety of technology infrastructure that is being used to deliver content. Today you might have a SCORM LMS in place and you design and develop content for it, but tomorrow, if an xAPI compliant LMS comes into picture, the requirement would be to pass data into the Learning Record Store (LRS) of the LMS. The modernization strategy should account for such technology changes and make content available in a format which could be easily transitioned.

Have you come across any other factors which might be driving the need for content modernization? You can write to us at info@harbingerlearning.com and we would be happy to have a conversation.

The author of this article, Rahul, is a digital learning enthusiast and is passionate about helping organizations and leaders solve challenges around learner engagement and student outcomes through intervention of learning technologies. In a career span of over 15 years in the digital learning space, he has helped a host of global organizations and educational institutions in implementing new initiatives around their digital learning strategy.

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The Digital Dealership, Your Audience: Strategic Segmentation Part 1

The Digital Dealership, Your Audience: Strategic Segmentation Part 1

In tonight’s blog post, guest writer Mets Kramer continues his exploration of the digital dealership. Part 1 of a series, tonight we look at strategic segmentation of your audience.

You customers are only a small part of your Audience

All of us have heard the term “audience” over the last few years.  Long gone is the past association of audience with something the queen granted or with sitcom television.  An audience is no longer a small group of people because the internet has grown everyone’s audience.

Yet, even with the automatic growth of everyone’s audience, many dealers don’t think about their audience as they build their digital dealership.  Many of us think about our customers as audience.   Customers come through the door, call our phones and send us emails.  Our customers work with us daily, weekly or monthly as they use the equipment they purchased, or are looking for newer equipment.   Still, our customers are only part of our audience, even if they are a small and important subgroup.

The broader concept of audience is important for us to consider in several ways.  It’s important first when planning our marketing, second in designing operations and finally in developing our strategy.   For this article let’s start with Strategy, since it lays the groundwork for the rest.

The first thing to think about is how will you define or identify your audience.  What groups of people and companies will you want to draw in and communicate with?   This will vary depending on the type of dealership you have, and will need to be adjusted, as you reconsider who your audience is.  This is called segmentation.

For example, for a few large, well-established dealers the audience tends to be fairly set.  It typically consists of all the users of their brand of equipment, in their territory.  Potentially it might only include those customers with accounts in the dealer’s business system.  Another example is a smaller farm and yard equipment dealership.  Here the number of interactions with each customer will be lower, and the dealership needs to find new customers constantly.   A strategic approach to audience segmentation will be different for both these example dealers, but for both, clearly defining it lays the ground work for their business.

To define a dealership’s focus audience, we need to determine what audience segments fit into your strategy.  Start with these 3 audience segments or categories.   How important is each to your business?

  1. Repeat or Existing Customers
  2. Prospect Customers
  3. Unknown Audience (This is typically where your new leads come from)

Next, consider where your audience members are.

Are they:   Local, Regional, National or even farther?  How far do you want to reach? How will your strategy differ for those near you and those far away?

With all the audience segments identified, and priority segments selected, we can create a strategy for each of them.

For each segment the dealership wants to reach, 4 main things must be considered.   First the message, next the communication channels and third the response method.  The final item to be considered is an important part of what makes your dealership the Digital Dealership, it is the integration of known audience information with each strategy.

In creating the strategy dealers need to think about the message.   This is often the product they want to communicate to each audience segment.  Is the product the machine, the dealer’s experience or something else?   Many dealers think they are selling equipment when a significant aspect of value is the dealership.  When communicating to unknown audience members, they merely provide the details of a machine in inventory, they forget to include the more important value the dealership brings.

The strategy should consider the channel for communication.   Dealers should understand what digital channels and platforms their target audience segments are on, where the audience will see or receive the message.  Channels include traditional communications, social media, email etc.  Depending on the product and the audience segment, different channels should be used.  Don’t use the same channel for everything and assume your message reaches the audience.

An often-forgotten aspect of communicating with the audience is the response method.   Typically, the faster the response from the dealer is the better.  Also, the response method should more closely matched the original communication method.  For example, if people are reading your email, they likely want to respond the same way.   We often see dealers mismatching the channel and the response method and seeing poor engagement.

Finally, before we can look at marketing and operations in the next article, we always need to consider the most important aspect of the Digital Dealership, the use of information. This starts by having clear strategies for each segment.  By using the information already known about the audience to fine tune the strategy, we get a much more targeted strategy.   For example, sending marketing campaigns to customers and prospect customers about a new backhoe, to customers known to have backhoes of a replacement age.   Image if your next email campaign started with “Hi Mets, because you currently own a 2012 Case 580SN, we’d like to share information on this 2017 CAT 430F.

In my next article I’ll continue and look specifically at Marketing and advertising to segmented audiences.  I’ll also post a work sheet for your dealership to work through to get started.

Mets Kramer

Mets.kramer@strategicevolutions.ca

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From Paper to Glass

From Paper to Glass

In a recent Podcast with Alex Schuessler, we were talking about technology and the changes that have taken place in the marketplace within our Industry. I have long used the example of the Steam Engine being replaced by the Electric Engine of how we resist changes. Yes, the tool was changed – the engine – but the methods and procedures did not change for a generation. Changing the tool was traumatic enough for the leadership of the day. They couldn’t handle that much change in their lives.

Fast forward to the current situation and the area of technology. The Large Computers arrived in larger businesses sold by consultants for the most part. Thus, a new tool was introduced to the market. We wrote everything on our usual forms and sent the “paper” documents to what was then called “Data Processing.” The information on the paper was punched onto cards. These cards were then processed through readers and then passed on to the computer for processing. The computer was then used to print a report of what was punched into the cards and processed that was sent back to the originator or the document in the first place. This was a lot of extra work. It was justified in the speed with which it could be processed once it was corrected.

The computers changed and the need for punched cards was eliminated when we had the arrival of “Computer Terminals.” This is the beginning of what Alex dubbed the “Paper to Glass” transition. It is a beautiful description of what has happened in dealer business systems, we have taken the older processes and procedures and methods of writing things on a piece of paper and instead of writing them down we have typed the information into a computer screen, from writing on a piece of paper to typing on a screen of glass. Rather a good precise description. This is exactly the same as changing the Steam Engine to an Electric Engine.

Typically, a generation is described as twenty years. With the dates of the 1960’s as the starting point for computers to the 2020’s we are talking about taking three generations to adapt and adjust or methods compared to one generation in the 1800’s. How smart do we appear to be now?

I have talked for years, perhaps decades about the three questions that a customer asks when they need to purchase parts from a dealer. Have you got it? How much is it? How long do I have to wait to get it? I believe that is very straight forward. These are the same questions I have when I want to purchase something. BUT. The first question someone asks when a customer calls into a dealer to order parts or walks into the business is never one of those three questions listed above. No, the first question we ask is “Who are you?” We need to know that because the first thing we have to enter on the glass is the customer number. It is very similar to writing the customer number of the order parts sales order form. Does that sound like progress? Or have we simply gone from paper to glass? Can’t we do better than that?

If we look at the service department, we have similar issues. We need to conduct an inspection, either with telematics and sensors or a physical inspection, to determine what is wrong. Then create a quotation, which in most cases is an estimate. Then determine the time line for the repair, establish a schedule, assign the work and complete the work to fix the problem. Of course, it is more complicated than simply finding what part is required to compete a repair but that sounds like a paper to glass transition to me. What about standard times and flat rate pricing? What about understanding objectively the technical skills of each technician and assigning someone to complete the job who has those skills?

I can go on and on in this vein.

Today we have a smaller number of DMS providers in the industry; CDK, DIS, EBS, e-emphasis, Infor, JD Edwards, Oracle, SAP, XAPT and others. (I am sure I missed a few) Each of them is based on the Paper to Glass process.

The real dilemma in all of this to me is that when you change your DMS it is not the cost of the hardware or even of the software that is the real expense. No, it is the retraining of all of your employees in the new methods that are being introduced. Then you go through the curtain on never wanting to go through that change again. It was so painful.

So, Alex called this “Paper to Glass” and he is in the Technology aspect of the industry. I think he is on to something very important and we will talk about this more as time passes.

The Time is Now.

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The Future Work Place

The Future Work Place

The Future Work Place – What Will it Look Like?

The Pandemic has had a devastating impact on life around the world. Many of us have lost close friends, co-workers, associates and family members. It has been very personal. On top of that many of us have had either short term or long-term changes in our jobs as well as in the nature of our work. And interestingly some of us have reevaluated our lives and how we live them. It has been a very dramatic change in almost all of what we got used to prior to the Pandemic.

Now I have questions. What will be the future of our work? Will we work from home or in the office, or some hybrid? Obviously, technology will play a much larger role in our work and home lives. We can already see rather stark statistics. Ed Gordon has been publishing and providing us with blogs called Job Shock. He is pointing to the difficulties that the education work is having providing work ready people to the work place. Education has changed and is undergoing serious challenges where standardized testing is going away and not being used by universities for admission purposes in many cases. The value provided by the ACT and SAT tests and even Briggs-Myers are being challenged. Diversity issues have become much more important in the work place. Demographics are working against us as baby boomers are leaving the work force. Then we see an amazing fact: currently there are ten million job openings in the US, which is more than the total number of unemployed people looking for work. So yes, I do have questions.

Even before the pandemic things were changing but it was slow, as in most changes. Four-day work weeks were becoming more common. Second and even Third shifts were becoming more common in distribution and other Industries that had not seen much in the way of the shift world. The generational stress between the baby boomers who expected people working in the office was pitted against the Millennials and GenX who wanted the opportunity to work remotely.

A recent Gallup survey found that 40% of the US workforce was actively looking for a change in their jobs. The main reason being that the employees did not feel engaged. Into that mix comes the Society for Human Resource Management. They are suggesting that flexible work arrangement can provide several advantages.

  • Improved Employee Retention
  • More Success in Recruiting
  • Reduced Hiring and Training Expenses
  • Improved Employee Productivity
  • More Diversity in the Workforce
  • Increased Employee Engagement

Harvard Business School, in recent research, found that 81% of employees either didn’t want to go back to the office or would prefer a hybrid schedule going forward. So, we are going through another change where business will have to support employees who can and want to work at home.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s when the rate of change was slower employers were able to find the required skills outside the company and hire the skills required. That is no longer the case. Yet many companies are still in denial and refuse to spend money training their current employees.

Then the recent McKinsey Global Survey states that 69% of the reported respondents reported an increase in skill building. This pandemic has disrupted the skills foundation dramatically and companies are starting to acknowledge that they need to build new skills internally. Skills are lacking in empathy and leadership, adaptability and communications and problem solving. Critical thinking skills are seriously missing. According to Deloitte it can cost six times more to hire externally than to develop skills by training internally.

All of this is pointing to a serious challenge to our leaders. One that they have not had to face and deal with in their careers. The most important asset in any business is their employees. Yet this is the one asset that leadership has completely disregarded. They hire people and then leave them alone. If the skills required are no longer available, they get rid of the current worker and hire new people. It has been true and, in their minds, working for over three decades. This is no longer working. It should never have been the strategy. People are the most important asset in any way you look at it. And please don’t forget that this need for employee development is at every level in a business, from the owner to the least important job function.

I have advocated for years that we have skill sets tied to job functions. We put our assessment programs in place specifically to address this issue. We also wanted depth charts like in sports. Who is in line to follow the current leadership? We wanted succession planning. We also wanted annual performance reviews. These reviews allow positive discussions with each employee to determine the needs and wants of each employee. They provide an audience for discussions on continuous improvement. We have a lot of talent in our employees. Everyone of them. You all know I am interested in helping people identify their potential and then help everyone achieve that potential.

We must get going. Time is passing. And time is an element we don’t get back.

The Future Workplace will embrace new thinking. It will experiment more. We will try things. We have to make more progress in improving everything we do for our employees and our customers and our suppliers. We have to provide an environment where everyone wants to learn. We have to stop reacting and start innovating. We need to be able to adapt more readily. Some people call it agility. I call it basic common sense.

As a teacher I have always said common sense isn’t particularly common. Today we have a huge opportunity to turn the negativity since March 2020 into a positive response. Making the future of our desires and abilities. Are you ready?

The Time is Now.

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Friday Filosophy v.10.08.2021

FRIDAY FILOSOPHY v.10.08.2021

We have been focused on individuals in our Friday Filosophy. I am shifting this week to deal with personal issues, our lives. Over time there have been wonderful individuals who have made powerful statements regarding life. Perhaps some reflection on these people and these quotations is warranted. Enjoy

 

  • Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. Marie Curie
  • We do not remember days, we remember moments. Cesare Pavese
  • The truth is you don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. Life is a crazy ride, and nothing is guaranteed. Eminem
  • Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. Buddha
  • Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans. John Lennon
  • He who has a why to live can bear almost any how. Friedrich Nietzsche
  • Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor. Sholom Aleichem
  • Life is a song – sing it. Life is a game – play it. Life is a challenge – meet it. Life is a dream – realize it. Life is a sacrifice – offer it. Life is love – enjoy it. Sai Baba
  • Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself. Harvey Fierstein
  • Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you’re living? Bob Marley
  • Every man dies. Not every man really lives. William Wallace
  • Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. George Bernard Shaw
  • When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’. Erma Bombeck
  • A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives. Jackie Robinson
  • The only disability in life is a bad attitude. Scott Hamilton
  • Growth is the only evidence of life. John Henry Newman
  • Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them. Dalai Lama

The Time is Now.

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Time Is a Problem

Time Is a Problem

 

Are We Simply Solving Problems All Day?

Over a year ago I wrote in a blog that Time Was Your Enemy. The other day Mets Kramer and I were recording a Podcast on the Digital Dealership and we spoke about two companies who we think do a good job at a lot of things; Amazon and Google.

Amazon has data. Lots and lots of data. They have made data analytics into an art form. They know what every customer looked at and what they did with it. They know every vendor and how they perform. They are constantly “tweaking” things to provide a better customer experience. They are constantly working on their business.

Google gets revenue from their customer search information. What were you looking at and where were you? And they are constantly improving their systems and process. It is reported that they spend 70% of their investments on their current operations. Making sure it runs in the best way possible across all platforms. They spend 20% of their investments on continuous improvements projects identified by their employees. The final 10% of their investment goes to what they call “Moonshots.” Ideas from their employees that might or might not be successful. They are constantly working on their business.

As we continued talking about them, we shifted to what we do in our businesses. We called it as we saw it. We are problem solvers. We put out fires. That led us to reviewing the firefighters and how they do their job. Statistically it is said that 5% of the firefighters’ time is spent fighting fires. The other 95% is doing things aimed at preventing fires. They are constantly working on their business.

Shifting back to our Industry we concluded that we were spending 95% of our time fighting fires and very little time on trying to eliminate problems. We are working “IN” the business not “ON” the business.

The other blog from me recently is about the workforce and what is happening in that aspect of our businesses. We have rarely any succession plan. We rarely do annual performance reviews. We rarely if ever do exit interviews to find out why employees are leaving and what ideas and thoughts, they have to make the job they are leaving better. We just continue what we have always done. Solve problems. In fact, Mets suggested that we self-correct as an Industry. There is a lot of pressure in problem solving all day long. We separate from people who cannot work under that kind of constant pressure. We also employ people who are used to repetitive work. Process orders, give quotations and availability checks. Give status reports on work in process. But who is there out there who is employed to identify continuous improvement ideas?

When Six Sigma was implemented, many dealerships created job functions outside of the normal day to day problem solving work to have their lives be dependent on finding ways to make things better. Who do you have doing that work today? What changes are you making to your processes and procedures and your methods? Who is analyzing your data to identify customer activity? Who is researching the changing buying habits of your customers?

That led me to this blog. I think we have a lot of work to do. Don’t get me wrong many of you have done a wonderful job in customer service. You make a fair amount of pretax income. You support your employees and they in turn support your customers and vendors. On the surface things look OK. But like a duck swimming in the river. It looks calm on top of the water but that duck is working hard at paddling away underwater.

Becoming a Digital Dealer is of critical importance if we want to stay abreast of the market and the trends in customer purchasing. It is said that 73% of the people charged with the responsibility of purchasing things in business today is done by millennials. Further 50% of the millennials do their purchasing online. How does that fit into your business model? Are your employee’s serving customers as they have always done? What percentage of your parts business is coming to you via the internet? What percentage of your customers have millennials doing their purchasing? Do you see the dilemma that I see?

Over the last fifty years from work that I have done over that period of time I have watched market share for parts drop by 50%, market share for labor drops of 30%. Have you noticed that yourself? Do you know your parts or labor market share? From my work in the industry there are very few, less than 10% of the dealers, that I have worked with, that know their market share. To make matters worse they don’t have current and accurate machine population lists by customer either. That is the most basic piece of data that we have in our industry and it is clearly the most important.

I will close with the truth that keeps me going. Everyone wants to do a good job. I believe that to my core. BUT. Everyone has to know what doing a good job looks like. Amazon and Google have shown us the way. Our job is constantly changing as is our market. Are our dealerships constantly changing, constantly improving the processes and systems for their customers? Sadly, I don’t think we are. Now is clearly the time to have the discipline and the personal character to work on the business not simply in the business. Now is the time to eliminate problems not simply solve them. It is clearly up to you.

The Time is Now.

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