Fred J. Conforti, Beyond Goals…Beyond LEAN
In over thirty years of starting, managing, growing, buying, and selling companies, along with a decade of consulting for more than a dozen companies, I have observed and catalogued the attributes that are most problematic for an enterprise to be successful. Any one of these shortcomings alone is not so bad. However, there can be several of these shortcomings that become apparent to one looking for them—but to which management may be oblivious.
These are all significant problems. And they are the contributing causes of less than stellar performance. You will, more than likely, recognize several of these shortcomings in your company, therein lays the very opportunity to improve. None of these shortcomings is unresolvable. There just needs to be leadership, dedication, and a well-designed and executed Plan to fix them.
Shortcomings most often seen in more than a dozen companies and the percentage of the times present:
CEO has little counsel except a quarterly board meeting— 100%
Few metrics other than a monthly financial— almost 100%
Lack of a documented plan of any sort— almost 100%
Lacking marketing or social media management— about 90%
Not spending money to make money— almost 90%
Management not in touch with the operations— about 80%
Communication is lacking— about 80%
Little or no accountability— almost 80%
Peter Principle – ha ving incompetent manager(s)— almost 80%
Wrong/no priorities— almost 80%
Lack of organization in reporting structure and activities— almost 80%
Making “acceptable” excuses for nonperformance— over 70%
No real dedication to Lean practices— over 70%
Poor to no knowledge of true costs— over 70%
CEOs not managing in the trenches— about 70%
Poorly trained, understaffed sales team— about 60%
One that doesn’t occur as often but is devastating is a dysfunctional team.
On the other hand I find:
Employees really caring— almost 100%
Employees can really care about their company despite disenchantment and frustration. So if the employees really care, where’s the disconnect? Why aren’t the customers ecstatic, the morale better, and the bottom line healthier?
In these situations let’s let review the company’s vision and then let the customers, employees and market give us insights.
Begin with what you want the company to be in five or ten years.
CEOs carry the banner and burden of sponsoring and promoting that vision. If you cannot verbalize or document a description of what the company should look like in one, two, five, or ten years, how can your management team try to get there?
No matter how good your company’s results are at this time, the company should not be reaching its vision. If it is, the vision was definitely not set broadly enough.
Once the vision is firmly set, it is time to see where you are. You can do this by examining yourself (as you’re seen by others), your customers’ attitudes about the company, Your employee’s attitudes about the culture and performance of the company and lastly having the managers explore strengths weaknesses, opportunities and threats using four diagnostic techniques.
The four diagnostic methods are:
a personal 360° review,
a customer survey,
an Operating Dynamics Survey, and
a SWOT exercise.
Now, armed with all of these inputs, you can see the myriad of opportunities to improve the company. To organize these opportunities requires a methodology that will lead to a structured Plan. This methodology is the Prescription Process leading to a Plan which will be described in our next blog.
The Plan is the thread that holds the facets and the fabric of the company together. It is what gives everyone a direction, a schedule, and an opportunity to shine. It interweaves disparate efforts into a cloak exhibiting organization, purpose, and progress. It gives those with little earlier recognition a platform to perform upon and gain recognition. No one can hide under this cloak, yet all can shine within it.
About the Author
Fred J. Conforti was president and cofounder of First Alert, the leading home detector brand. He founded System Sensor, which is now owned by Honeywell, and Wyreless Access, which is now part of Ingersoll Rand. He received an MBA from Northwestern University and his bachelor of science in electrical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology. He currently consults by mentoring presidents of companies and has just released a book on managing business titled, Beyond Goals…Beyond LEAN. The book is available from Amazon.