35 WAYS TO KILL IDEAS

There are 35 ways to kill ideas. The one rule that that I found to be most important is the “one person, one vote” rule. Just because someone has a bigger business card than someone else does not make their opinion more important. If they have a valid reason for not doing something, then it is their responsibility to explain or show data why that should not be done to the rest of the team.

1)  Don’t be ridiculous.

2)  We tried that before.

3)  It costs too much.

4)  It can’t be done.

5)  That’s beyond our/your responsibility.

6)  It’s too radical a change.

7)  We don’t have the time.

8)  That will make other equipment obsolete.

9)  We’re too small/big for it.

10)  That’s not our problem.

11)  We’ve never done it before.

12)  Let’s get back to reality.

13)  Why change it; it’s still working OK.

14)  You’re two years ahead of your time.

15)  We’re not ready for that.

16)  It isn’t in the budget.

17)  Can’t teach old dogs new tricks.

18)  Do the best you can with what you’ve got.

19)  Too hard to sell.

20)  Top management would never go for it.

21)  We’ll be the laughing stock.

22)  Let’s shelve it for the time being.

23)  We did all right without it.

24)  Has anyone else ever tried it?

25)  It won’t work in our industry.

26)  Will you guarantee it will work?

27)  That’s the way we’ve always done it.

28)  What we have is good enough.

29)  But we would also have to change the

30)  It’s in our future plans.

31)  We’ll have somebody study that problem.

32)  It’s against our policy.

33)  The supplier would never do that.

34)  The customer wouldn’t accept that.

35)  When did you become the expert?

The organization as a whole needs to embrace the same philosophy, or shall we say, methodology. If you implement a bunch of bureaucratic processes and introduce new, challenging tools without explanation, you will alienate the organization
and create resistance to the concept. Start with communication about why you are implementing the new processes and new tools. Make it user-friendly and a part of your implementation plan. Show them how implementation of this new initiative will make their lives better.

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“Say what you mean, and do what you say”

“We are only as strong as the people we surround ourselves with”, “Great minds think alike” and “We are only as good as our weakest link”. All great quotes that can guide everyone who adopts them well, at work and in life. Each of these quotes have this trite in common. “Say what you mean, mean what you say, and do what you say you’ll do”. For more than twenty-five years having the information to make quick decisions has been the key to my success. In motorsports cars travel at 293 feet per second. Quick, good information is crucial. Trust in your people is the difference between winning and losing. More importantly, people that you can rely on to do what they say they will do, so as no one gets hurt.

There is a common belief that we need to know all the answers to have success in life. When asked a question, we don’t know, coming up with any answer, even if it is not correct, to avoid what we believe will leave us looking foolish. The problem with this approach is that many of the world’s most successful people know that they don’t need to have all the answers to gain success, and what’s more, they use it to their advantage. Much like I did in motorsports, we have subject matter experts in their field. For example, Henry Ford proved in his libel trial after the first word war, having a solid team of people who round out your knowledge is far more important than having all the answers.

If you say what you mean, but you don’t mean what you say, what have you gained or what has the person you’re speaking with gained? If you don’t do what you say you’re going to do, your credibility decreases. You have probably been told that lying is wrong, but then telling a white lie seems necessary to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. The truth isn’t always the nicest answer. It might not be what someone wants to hear. But it helps others to make key decisions that impact the whole team. Solid actions and good information makes life easier and much more productive. This especially includes being honest with yourself.

We now live in the greatest time to be alive. We have answers at our finger tips. We can gain any knowledge we please within seconds if we wish. We just need everyone working together, saying what you mean, mean what you say, and doing what you say you’ll do. The only thing that separates us now, is the actions we take. So, I will leave you with this parting thought:

“What action are you taking today to do what you say?”

Yours in charge,

Troy Selberg

Older ERP systems cause many challenges

successToday’s speed of change places stress on business processes. Worker expectations have changed on how they want to engage with business systems, and customers have changed how they want to engage with businesses.

Are you experiencing a large turnover of salespeople? Have you done everything within your control to set your staff up for success? The buck stops with you. If you inherently have poor performers, then you have to exercise your authority to either attempt to fix the situation through development or purchase updated technology systems to help assist.

Salespeople should be rewarded for good results and held accountable for underperforming. This is a fact of C-level Management. Check for areas of improvement in your hiring process, your onboarding process, your sales process, your sales meetings, your coaching ability and your leadership. Any one of these can have a tremendous impact on the performance of your sales team. However, even with the best processes in business, you’ll still have to hold your salespeople accountable at some point.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is business process management software that allows your business to use a system of integrated applications to manage the business and automate many back office functions related to technology, services and human resources. An up-to-date ERP system with a key measurable for all departments in your business is key. One key part of any good ERP is a CRM. A Customer Relationship Management System normally consists of sales force automation, marketing automation and customer support. As part of ERP, CRM is one of the key ERP pillars, with the other key pillars being financial accounting, distribution or supply chain management, manufacturing and human resources/payroll.

A CRM can be described as the development and implementation of a strategy for handling interactions with past, existing or future customers. It covers all customer-oriented activities from potential market identification through to customer loyalty retention. It is technology enabled and involves data capture and analysis, information generation and distribution, and customer-oriented activity. CRM has a central database and integrates with an ERP system and different channels of interaction. CRM involves different participants and has the ability to manage these participants.

Having a plan and setting goals are essential parts of improving accountability. It is crucial for salespeople to establish a set of daily, weekly and monthly benchmarks that help them measure and manage their ultimate goal. If the goal of each salesperson is to sell “X”, don’t focus on the end goal. Monitor the activities that will help them reach that goal. It also helps if the salespeople are included in setting the goals. If you do this, they should have a personal stake in the outcome. Without inclusion, salespeople will figure out the best excuses in the world about why they can’t meet their goals.

Over the past decade technology has transformed the broader world of business and consumer applications. Workers interact through mobile devices and social media, with applications increasingly connected over the web. No matter what business or industry you are in, at some point someone will ask, “Is it time to change our ERP, or should we continue with our current system?” This is not an easy question to answer. If you decide to keep your current system you risk falling behind technologically and functionally. On the other hand, if you decide to change your ERP, you will be faced with making a large investment, undergo varying degrees of disruption to your organization, and risk a failed implementation.

What is the right answer for your company?  Each company’s evaluation process will led it through examinations of its own unique problems. Older ERP systems cause many challenges for organizations. Inefficient business processes are often dictated by these systems and are supplemented by workarounds created by inventive users to maximize personal productivity. Check your accountability system on a regular bases. Technoligy is changing faster and faster everyday. After all, its on you to help your team succeed!

Clear Communication

road signs to success

If you and your employees were both asked what’s most important for them to achieve this year, would your answers match?  If you don’t communicate clear expectations with visibility to accountability for employees, and ensure everyone shares an understanding of what success looks like in each role, you’re falling down on one of your most important jobs as a leader.

If you’re like most leaders, you think a lot about whether your employees are being as productive as needed.  But have you ever looked at the other side of that equation and wondered if you’re standing in the way of their productivity yourself?

One mistake business leaders make when their employees are not meeting performance, attitude or competency expectations is to shift the work burden from the shoulders of the unsatisfactory employees onto the shoulders of the company’s best workers.  Ultimately, this type of management is nothing short of irresponsible.  With this reasoning, not only do you compromise the strong employees’ ability to meet their own performance objectives, but you also risk burdening them to the point where they leave your employment.  Should that occur, you would be faced with a staff comprised exclusively of incompetent employees.

One of the best ways I have found to keep employees on track and self-motivated is by setting clear goals and expectations. These goals and expectations set with visibility and accountability, when enabled by a platform like an ERP system, will allow employees to take action to resolve issues themselves.  From my experience, this approach has translated to unbelievable loyalty, work ethic and positive growth across many different business disciplines.  When we make it our policy to care about our employees, something really cool happens–they start to truly care about your customers.  That’s when the magic happens, because “caring” is part of an overall successful business culture.  It is contagious and profitable, overall it just feels good!

The importance of a tool that sets expectations and offers visibility, measurements and control cannot be underestimated.  The choice is yours:  empower and enable your organization to become GREAT.

Adjusting the Kinks

 

back bone

I regularly see a chiropractor. In fact, my family and I swear by him. He has helped us correct everything from reoccurring ear infections, pains from car accidents, and general wellness care. It is his job to adjust all the kinks so that our bodies work as efficiently as possible. It is mind blowing to me that one small adjustment can truly enrich my entire body. It really is just that simple!

It is no different in the business world. One small communication issue can severely impair a business if it is not dealt with.  Outdated policies and procedures can cripple a company. One of the most common things I find in companies, is outdated technology that causes employees to consistently repeat tasks that in this technological age, could be easily automated. Imagine the amount those repetitive tasks could be costing your company. Each of these examples, could be a kink in your business. Do you think it is time to have your company adjusted?

Often times, those issues can be fixed very easily. The value lies in taking the time to start by examining the backbone of your company. Just like our spine, your company’s backbone it its nerve center. From there, examine the extremities of your business. These are your marketing, sales, IT, HR departments and the like. When you find something that is no longer efficient, outdated, or generally out of whack, fix it.  Sounds like common sense, I get it! However, companies everywhere are skipping this important step in the wellness plan of their businesses.  Don’t let a little kink throw off the whole balance of your workplace!

Do You Speak Gen Z?

cracker jacksDo you speak Gen Z? In the multicultural world that we live in today, companies are communicating in more than just their home language to reach customers, clients, and even employees. It is also important to recognize that the newest generations of people speak, read, learn, purchase, and entertain themselves mostly through what they can do on their latest smartphone. Is this creating a “language barrier” in your business?

The Frito-Lay Corporation announced last week that they were no longer going to place toys inside their boxes of Cracker Jack’s. Instead, they will be placing a code for “mobile digital experiences.” Making this radical change, speaks directly to the Gen Z demographic.

In 1974, my dad owned two Shell Gas Stations. At that time, Shell Stations were giving away a free Hot Wheels Car with every fill up. This was the beginning of a very important marketing shift. Companies began to see that marketing directly to children allowed for a significant increase in sales. In the 80’s and 90’s, fast food chains began to give away toys with their kid’s meals. These types of youth-targeted marketing tactics are highly successful. But, times they are a changing! Gen Z kids, see the world through their phone or tablet screens. Companies are starting to notice the value shifting from things like toys and treats to items that add value directly their mobile devices. This plays right into this generation’s need for instant gratification. Very soon, this generation will be entering into the work force in droves. Meaning companies are going to need to shift their ways of thinking and communicating to effectively mentor, manage, and market to these screen loving young people.

To stay successful, you have to stay current. Being current today, means touching people through a screen. This involves your marketing, research and development, human resources and everything in between needing to rapidly become fluent in the digital language.

While I am sure that we will soon be hearing a degree of backlash about Frito Lay’s decision, mostly from toy collectors and parents of kids too small to be independently digital, I am personally excited that a company of their size recognizes that they have to speak the language! Don’t let this language barrier get in the way of your best!

Don’t miss your Exit

Exit StrategyMy first question in any business conversion: “What is your Exit Strategy?” Without that answer our chat has no path, is without direction and has little to no success upon its conclusion. One definition of “Exit Strategy” is defined by John Hawkey, the author of Exit Strategy Planning: Grooming Your Business for Sale or Succession, “An exit strategy is a means of leaving one’s current situation, either after a predetermined objective has been achieved, or as a strategy to mitigate failure.”

People start companies for different reasons which can influence their exit strategy. The truth is that many small business owners have no exit strategy for their businesses in the event of their disability, retirement, or death. It isn’t surprising small business owners focus their energies on business survival, future growth, and even remaining active in business after retirement. However, a business exit strategy not only means having a plan for the unexpected, including financial hardship, injury, disability and even death, it also means having a plan for the succession or transfer of ownership of your business when it comes time to hang up your hat and retire. Some plans may include:

– Selling a portion of your company in the public markets in an IPO.

– Having another company purchase your business, a “strategic acquisition.”

– Make the business your “cash cow” by finding someone you trust to run it for you.

– Selling the company to the next generation, also known as a “management buyout.”

– The often-overlooked exit strategy of simply to shutting down, closing the business doors, and liquidating remaining assets.

For some, an exit strategy sounds negative. Actually, the best reason for an exit strategy is to plan how to optimize a good situation, rather than get out of a bad one. This allows you to run your business and focus efforts on things that make it more appealing and compelling to the short list of acquirers or buyers. Success starts with a plan that may include creating a peer board, upgrading financial reporting systems, or defining internal operations and training manuals.

Once your exit plan is defined, your marketing approach will need some tweaking. Marketing your company for growth is slightly different than the approach needed in presenting it to potential strategic buyers or investors. First things first; make sure you fully understand and can explain where you are right now. What customers do you have and how do they behave? What marketing are you doing, and what’s working? What’s happening in the marketplace and what are your competitors doing? What marketing methods are available?

Planning your exit is a big undertaking that affects employees, your business structure, its assets, and your tax obligation. Before you embark on your exit strategy, be sure to engage your lawyer and even a business evaluation expert like myself.  That way, you will be sure that you have explored all the options available to you.

Cheers,

Troy Selberg

Positive results of Accountability

accountabilityAccountability means being held answerable for accomplishing a goal or assignment. Unfortunately, the word “accountability” often connotes punishment or negative consequences. On the other hand, if approached correctly, accountability can produce positive, valuable results.

The positive results of practicing a constructive approach to accountability include:

  • improved performance,
  • more employee participation and involvement,
  • increased feelings of competency,
  • increased employee commitment to the work,
  • more creativity and innovation, and
  • higher employee morale and satisfaction with the work.

These positive results occur when employees view accountability programs as helpful and progressive methods of assigning and completing work.

Overall, shifting to constructive accountability may require a culture change, but managers will find the results well worth the effort.

The Voices

baseballForeign announcers have called American sporting events for years, but recently have been glorified for their electric calls. We might have no clue what they’re saying, but the calls are always entertaining. The Kansas City Royals defeated the New York Mets 7-2 to clinch the World Series early Monday. This is the team’s first World Series title since 1985. Mets first baseman, Lucas Duda’s, throw to the plate was off-line, and the crowd’s energy at Citi Field deflated as the Mets saw another late-inning lead slip away. These events sounded super crazy exciting when covered by South American commentators. Sunday’s NASCAR action of Matt Kenseth crashing Joey Logano was no exception. A Japanese announcer gave his account of the melee between the two at Martinsville with massive screams from the booth.

How do your Employees, Customers and Venders view your decisions when it comes to company policy? What can we learn from other cultures views on sporting events that translate into the culture of running our businesses?

Makes you ponder what your customers think of your marketing or what your employees maybe saying about the company’s direction. One thing is for certain, change is constant. If we are not keeping up with trends, market demographics and technology advancements, we could very well find ourselves out of business before we know it.

Some of the ways I have personally found to better understand the cultures of a company are to:

  • Spend 1-2 hours per week working with a different department lead.
  • Take an employee to lunch each week to learn more about them, their family and their views on the company.
  • Meet with one supplier/vendor per week to talk about your partnership and how you both can work better together to make the relationship stronger.
  • Visit by traveling to customers and really listen to their concerns and their needs. Tour their facilities and meet the teams that support the partnership.

Here’s an idea… just let passionate fans announce and give commentary. Everything is too dull and politically correct anyways. LOL….

We are not going to let fans call sporting events no more than we are going to let others have free rein of the business. But we are open to hear what others have to say. It’s called the voice of the people. The people that make your business what it is, the employees, customers and suppliers, those people should have the loudest voices. So get up from behind that desk and go hear the excitement of others!

“Listen twice as much as you talk and others will hear twice as much as you say.” –Nido R. Qubein-