Solomon Bruce Consulting Blog

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mistakes are Good!

     Mistakes are good!  Oh, are they?  Why do you say that?  Let us explain.

      We had some embroidery work done on some jackets for our firm today.  The embroidery firm had the pattern we wanted and we went over the color combination on the thread about 3 times.  OK, no problem, right?  Wrong.  When the product came back from production, it was clear that 3 colors of thread were used, not the 2 that we specified.
       OK, how did this happen we asked?  Ummmm-- we did not catch it was the answer.   The machine made the mistake?  Oh, really?  Who was watching the machine?    OK-- that was not the answer we were expecting, however, that was the answer we received.  The next step was that we can redo the work.  Well, OK, sure, that can be done.  However, logistically, that was not the option that we were seeking.  So, now, what do we do?
        Well, we decided to take the garments, with the three different color threads on the logo and give it a try.  Well, why not?  The color differences are minimal, they are distinguishable to a very, very discerning eye, however, most folks would probably not catch the differences in the colors.
         Why we were willing to accept the error was simple.  To have it done over again was an option, however, we questioned the efficacy of doing that.  The truth of the matter is that it cost $7.50 to have the garment embroidered.  Sure, it only took 7 minutes to do it, however, it would probably 3 times that long to remove the wrong color thread and have the work reaccomplished.
          Another idea that came up was, give it a shot and see what others say.  Perhaps we should use a different color combination on our embroidered products and maybe three colors is good.  We don't know until we try and see.  Was there any material damage done to either the logo, the garment or our image?  We don't think so.  However, we won't know until we display the logo out in public.  When you see our consultants out the next few weeks, look closely at their logo wear.  See if you can see any differences in the logo colors.  If so, identify it to the  consultant.  He/she will buy you lunch at your choice of dining establishment!
          What we learned in this glitch was that perhaps, we need to try other color patterns.  We may need to try other ideas.  We won't know if they work until we try, so, we tried here!  See our consultants out and about.  Look at the logo wear.  If the logo wear colors are different, identify that, and you have a free lunch.  How can you go wrong?

Monday, December 17, 2012

The New Cell Phone Policy

     We visited with a business owner the other day who was talking about establishing a cell phone policy for his employees.
      He is in the service business (hospitality).  He employs many individuals who have constant and frequent interaction with the public.  Some of his clients have commented on the fact that the service providers (his staffers) were always on the cell phone, either texting, looking at pictures or in some other fashion, not providing support and service to his clients.  The business owner followed up on this and determined that this was true.  Thus, the dilemma on how to proceed with his staff.
      Now, as you might imagine, there are couple of different ways in which to proceed.  The "fiat" from top down is one-- this will not work with the millennial generation employee today, however, this is one way in which to do it.
        However, this business owner determined that a more pragmatic way was to have a discussion with all of the staff and point out what the customers had commented.  He did that.  Interestingly, what he found was that many of the staff were unaware of what they were perceived to be doing!  Umm-- well, so be it.  If they are unaware of what they are doing, they are unaware of what they are doing!
        After all the staff had input and were made aware of the challenges that the owner identified, the decision made was that staff were to use the cell phone in a discrete manner, out of customer view, on a limited time basis, when business was slow--not when the whole store was filled with clients.
        In our mind, this makes good sense.  Why?  Well, a couple of reasons.  One-- the staff was involved in the solution-- they have "buy in" to the problem and they have buy in to fixing the problem.  Secondly-- in today's world, we are all attached to some type of social media device-- be it a Blackberry, a Droid, an I Phone, tablet, laptop or kindle.  To say that not being able to use any of these devices anytime during the shift would be an effort in futility.  OK, you can have the policy, but if nobody pays attention to it, then defacto, you don't have a policy.
         This business owner has been quite happy with the results.  So have his clients.  In fact, he felt that the staff, now more aware of their behavior on using social media devices, has reduced their use as opposed to before, using it all the time.
          Think about this solution-- this may be one that you wish to establish in your business.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Ritualistic Christmas Party

   Now that the holidays are here, there is usually many holiday parties.  Some are big, some are small, some are fun and some are horrible.
    Several years ago, a senior executive in a firm elected not to have a Christmas party.  He told the senior staff that there would be no party this particular year.  Company performance, though not sterling was above average, with some small spurts of profitability!
    All of the senior staff elected to  attend and participate in other events until the call came from the bosses' secretary asking, "What would like to have for dinner on Thursday?"  Huh, "What is going on Thursday" was the question?  The question was repeated a second time.  The secretary, feigning surprise tried her best cover up the great faux pas of her boss.  Everyone elected something to eat and attended the function.
     Was the function fun and exciting?  Well, you can guess that the answer was NO, not really, it was not.  Well, why not?
      Here is the "rest of the story."  The bosses' wife had told everyone that the party was going to happen and she was looking forward to visiting with everyone.  She had made it a point in the 3 weeks before the date to see many folks and share how excited she was about the party.  Sadly, the boss had failed to tell her that he elected not have a party that particular year.

        OK, if you are the boss-- decide if you are going to have a party.  It does not need to be expensive or extravagant.  Your people will know if you really enjoy the party or are just "going through the motions."  Hopefully, you will have as much fun as the employees have.
         I recall one business owner who had a wonderful employee party at a local hotel.  The food was good, his wife passed out many gifts and several employees were rewarded for their terms of service.  This was a fun Christmas party to attend.  Everyone enjoyed themselves.
         The parties that are no fun for anyone are the ones that nobody wants to attend, nobody has a fun time and there is some unwritten "expectation" on attending.  It is far better to do nothing than do something that nobody enjoys!  For many, this is the only time of the year that they go out for a fun time.  If you are the boss, make it fun for all-- you will be amazed at how many folks will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Kinross Core Values

     Kinross Gold Corporation runs the Fort Knox Gold Mine near Fairbanks, Alaska.  The mine, located 26 miles North of Fairbanks is one of the best producing gold mines in Alaska.  The company is run with four (4) core values.  Those values are:
                      A.  Putting People First
                      B.  Outstanding Corporate Citizenship
                      C.  High Performance Culture
                      D.  Rigorous Financial Discipline
        Each business and managerial decision is made, in view of these four core values.  As we read this, the thought occurs "what are your core values?"
         Does your firm have core values?  If not, why not?  Perhaps these are some core values that you may wish to consider.
         A.  Put people first.  Seems like common sense-- do what is best for the person, either the client or the employee.  If you do this, you will see handsome dividends, even though it may cost more initially.
          B.  Outstanding Corporate Citizenship.  Do you give back to the community?  The food bank?  The Homeless shelter?  The Secret Santa program?  The truth is that it makes no difference what program you give to, as a member of the community, you need to give back.  If you live in the community, you need to share what you have been given with the community.
         C.  High Performance Culture.  Establish high standards and hold everyone to them.  Notice, we did not say impossible standards-- high standards.  Using core value A, Putting People First and holding high standards/high performance results in actions and changes that are not often discovered.  Everyone likes a high performance culture-- the expectations are higher, however, the rewards are also higher.
         D.  Rigorous Financial Discipline.  Make sure that every decision made has a rigorous financial thread through it.  If it does not make good financial sense, don't do it.  Ask the hard financial questions all the time-- it does make a difference.
       Kimross Gold Corporation is a very successful mining company.  Your company can be just as successful, perhaps on a different scale, however, the principles are exactly the same.  Think about it-- if it works for a big company, rest assured that it will work for you as well.