Hank Moore

The Big Picture of Business – Corporate Cultures Reflect Business Progress and Growth.

Organizations should coordinate management skills into its overall corporate strategy, in order to satisfy customer needs profitably, draw together the components for practical strategies and implement strategic requirements to impact the business. This is my review of how management styles have evolved.

In the period that predated scientific management, the Captain of Industry style prevailed. Prior to 1885, the kings of industry were rulers, as had been land barons of earlier years. Policies were dictated, and people complied. Some captains were notoriously ruthless. Others like Rockefeller, Carnegie and Ford channeled their wealth and power into giving back to the communities. It was an era of self-made millionaires and the people who toiled in their mills.

From 1885-1910, the labor movement gathered steam. Negotiations and collective bargaining focused on conditions for workers and physical plant environments. In this era, business fully segued from an agricultural-based economy to an industrial-based reality.

As a reaction to industrial reforms and the strength of unions, a Hard Nosed style of leadership was prominent from 1910-1939, management’s attempt to take stronger hands, recapture some of the Captain of Industry style and build solidity into an economy plagued by the Depression. This is an important phase to remember because it is the mindset of addictive organizations.

The Human Relations style of management flourished from 1940-1964. Under it, people were managed. Processes were managed as collections of people. Employees began having greater says in the execution of policies. Yet, the rank and file employees at this point were not involved in creating policies, least of all strategies and methodologies.

Management by Objectives came into vogue in 1965 and was the prevailing leadership style until 1990. In this era, business started embracing formal planning. Other important components of business (training, marketing, research, team building and productivity) were all accomplished according to goals, objectives and tactics.

Most corporate leaders are two management styles behind. Those who matured in the era of the Human Relations style of management were still clinging to value systems of Hard Nosed. They were not just “old school.” They went to the school that was torn down to build the old school.

Executives who were educated in the Management by Objectives era were still recalling value systems of their parents’ generation before it. Baby boomers with a Depression-era frugality and value of tight resources are more likely to take a bean counter-focused approach to business. That’s my concern that financial-only focus without regard to other corporate dynamics bespeaks of hostile takeovers, ill-advised rollups and corporate raider activity in search of acquiring existing books of business.

To follow through the premise, younger executives who were educated and came of age during the early years of Customer Focused Management had still not comprehended and embraced its tenets. As a result, the bust and subsequent financial scandals occurred. In a nutshell, the “new school” of managers did not think that corporate protocols and strategies related to them. The game was to just write the rules as they rolled along. Such thinking always invites disaster, as so many of their stockholders found out. Given that various management eras are still reflected in the new order of business, we must learn from each and move forward.

In 1991, Customer Focused Management became the standard. In a highly competitive business environment, every dynamic of a successful organization must be geared toward ultimate customers. Customer focused management goes far beyond just smiling, answering queries and communicating with buyers. It transcends service and quality. Every organization has customers, clients, stakeholders, financiers, volunteers, supporters or other categories of ‘affected constituencies.’

Companies must change their focus from products and processes to the values shared with customers. Everyone with whom you conduct business is a customer or referral source of someone else. The service that we get from some people, we pass along to others. Customer service is a continuum of human behaviors, shared with those whom we meet.

Customers are the lifeblood of every business. Employees depend upon customers for their paychecks. Yet, you wouldn’t know the correlation when poor customer service is rendered. Employees of many companies behave as though customers are a bother, do not heed their concerns and do not take suggestions for improvement.

There is no business that cannot undergo some improvement in its customer orientation. Being the recipient of bad service elsewhere must inspire us to do better for our own customers. The more that one sees poor customer service and customer neglect in other companies, we must avoid the pitfalls and traps in our own companies.

If problems are handled only through form letters, subordinates or call centers, then management is the real cause of the problem. Customer focused management begins and ends at top management. Management should speak personally with customers, to set a good example for employees. If management is complacent or non-participatory, then it will be reflected by behavior and actions of the employees.

Any company can benefit from having an advisory board, which is an objective and insightful source of sensitivity toward customer needs, interests and concerns. The successful business must put the customer into a co-destiny relationship. Customers want to build relationships, and it is the obligation of the business to prove that it is worthy.

Customer focused management is the antithesis to the traits of bad business, such as the failure to deliver what was promised, bait and switch advertising and a failure to handle mistakes and complaints in a timely, equitable and customer-friendly manner. Customer focused management is dedicated to providing members with an opportunity to identify, document and establish best practices through benchmarking to increase value, efficiencies and profits.

About the Author

Hank MoorePower Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.

Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.

Power Stars to Light the Business Flame is now out in all three e-book formats: iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.

Hank Moore

The Big Picture of Business – The Future Has Moved… and Left No Forwarding Address.

Futurism is one of the most misunderstood concepts. It is not about gazing into crystal balls or reading tea leaves. It is not about vendor ‘solutions’ that quickly apply band-aid surgery toward organizational symptoms. Futurism is not an academic exercise that borders on the esoteric or gets stuck in the realm of hypothesis.

Futurism is an all-encompassing concept that must look at all aspects of the organization… first at the Big Picture and then at the pieces as they relate to the whole. One plans for business success through careful strategy.

Futurism is a connected series of strategies, methodologies and actions which will poise any organization to weather the forces of change. It is an ongoing process of evaluation, planning, tactical actions and benchmarking accomplishments. Futurism is a continuum of thinking and reasoning skills, judicious activities, shared leadership and an accent upon ethics and quality.

Quotes on The Future

  • “The future ain’t what it used to be.” Yogi Berra
  • “The future is not a gift. It is an achievement.” Robert F. Kennedy
  • “I never think of the future. It comes soon enough. The distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” Albert Einstein
  • “Tomorrow is another day.” Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind
  • “The future will one day be the present and will seem as unimportant as the present does now.” W. Somerset Maugham
  • “You ain’t heard nothing yet, folks.” Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer (1927)
  • “I like the dreams of the future better that the history of the past.” Thomas Jefferson
  • “The fellow who can only see a week ahead is always the popular fellow, for he is looking with the crowd. But the one that can see years ahead, he has a telescope but he can’t make anybody believe that he has it.” Will Rogers
  • “The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Arthur C. Clarke, Technology and the Future
  • “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” Alan Kay
  • “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” Abraham Lincoln
  • “There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.” Graham Greene
  • “Upper classes are a nation’s past; the middle class is its future.” Ayn Rand
  • “The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.” Winston Churchill
  • “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” Malcolm X””
  • “All human situations have their inconveniences. We feel those of the present but neither see nor feel those of the future; and hence we often make troublesome changes without amendment, and frequently for the worse.” Benjamin Franklin
  • “It is because modern education is so seldom inspired by a great hope that it so seldom achieves great results. The wish to preserve the past rather that the hope of creating the future dominates the minds of those who control the teaching of the young.” Bertrand Russell
  • “Many people think that if they were only in some other place, or had some other job, they would be happy. Well, that is doubtful. So get as much happiness out of what you are doing as you can and don’t put off being happy until some future date.” Dale Carnegie
  • “Look not mournfully into the Past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the Present. In is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy Future, without fear, and a manly heart.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Futurism, The Future

I offer nine of my own definitions for the process of capturing and building a shared Vision for organizations to chart their next 10+ years. Each one gets progressively more sophisticated:

  1. Futurism: what you will do and become… rather than what it is to be. What you can and are committed to accomplishing…rather than what mysteriously lies ahead.
  2. Futurism: leaders and organizations taking personal responsibility and accountability for what happens. Abdicating to someone or something else does not constitute Futurism and, in fact, sets the organization backward.
  3. Futurism: learns from and benefits from the past… a powerful teaching tool. Yesterdayism means giving new definitions to old ideas…giving new meanings to familiar premises. One must understand events, cycles, trends and subtle nuances because they will recur.
  4. Futurism: seeing clearly your perspectives and those of others. Capitalizing upon change, rather than becoming a by-product of it. Recognizing what change is and what it can do for your organization.
  5. Futurism: an ongoing quest toward wisdom. Commitments to learning, which creates knowledge, which inspire insights, which culminate in wisdom. It is more than just being taught or informed.
  6. Futurism: ideas that inspire, manage and benchmark change. The ingredients may include such sophisticated business concepts as change management, crisis management and preparedness, streamlining operations, empowerment of people, marketplace development, organizational evolution and vision.
  7. Futurism: developing thinking and reasoning skills, rather than dwelling just upon techniques and processes. The following concepts do not constitute Futurism by themselves: sales, technology, re-engineering, marketing, research, training, operations, administration. They are pieces of a much larger mosaic and should be seen as such. Futurism embodies thought processes that create and energize the mosaic.
  8. Futurism: watching other people changing and capitalizing upon it. Understanding from where we came, in order to posture where we are headed. Creating organizational vision, which sets the stage for all activities, processes, accomplishments and goals. Efforts must be realistic, and all must be held accountable.
  9. Futurism: the foresight to develop hindsight that creates insight into the future.

About the Author

Hank MoorePower Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.

Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.

Power Stars to Light the Business Flame is now out in all three e-book formats: iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.

Hank Moore

The Big Picture of Business – How to Maximize Trade Show Exposure

The number of companies participating in trade shows increases each year. While sales objectives are most common, trade shows may also be behavior, product, distribution or marketing oriented. Booth exhibitions at trade shows are viable and cost-effective sales tools to:

  • Achieve new customers, in order to grow and increase profits.
  • Introduce new products. Most of the visitors come to see what’s new.
  • Target a select group of visitors.
  • Allow your staff to interface with the public.
  • Perform informal market research.
  • Educate the public about what your company and your industry do.
  • Enhance your company’s image.
  • Assess competition and the overall business climate.

Trade shows generate sales leads at a lower cost per contact than a typical sales call. Research shows that industrial sales calls costing $252 to reach a prospect, with 4.6 follow-up calls necessary to book an order = $1,158. At a trade show, you might spend $133 to reach a prospect, with .8 follow-up calls necessary to book an order = $334.

Exhibits can be designed to appeal to all the senses: sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. Research shows that 75% of what show visitors recall after expos is what company representatives told them.

Exhibiting in business-to-business shows requires different skills and approaches. The objective should be qualifying prospects, rather than selling. One meets more business prospects in a faster period of time at a trade show. Today’s customers are becoming increasingly complex and more difficult to identify. They are knowledgeable, sophisticated and have increased expectations about what they want. Customers are now under more pressure to act immediately.

These pointers are offered to prospective exhibitors before the show:

  • Determine your correct mission for participating.
  • Evaluate each trade show for what it contributes to your sales objective.
  • Determine who you want as key prospects.
  • Delineate other categories of visitors, and develop a strategy for maximizing your time with key prospects.
  • Develop action plans for accomplishing your goals and getting the right people to visit with your company at the show.
  • Be sure that booth personnel understand what they are responsible for…and what they are selling. Untrained staff can lose qualified prospects and leads.
  • Employ professional counsel to format your exhibit, thus maximizing your investment.
  • Keep labor costs to a minimum.
  • Be sure that every member of your company is aware of the exhibit. Encourage all to invite prospects and to attend themselves, even if not involved in exhibiting.
  • Market your presence at the show in advance via mailings, distribution of VIP tickets and inclusion of your booth in advertising. Invite your current clients to visit your booth. Most attendees go to the shows in response to invitations to visit specific exhibitors. * Notify your trade media that you will participate. Engage public relations professionals to publicize your involvement.
  • Work closely with the show’s management. They too are interested in the same audiences as you: attendees and the media. Invite the board of the sponsoring organization to visit your booth.

These pointers are offered in order to maximize the way in which you should exhibit the product-service:

  • * Graphically describe and show what you do. Don’t expect the product to show itself. Don’t expect people to know about you already. This is a fresh opportunity for you to communicate.
  • Keep your focus upon your products, rather than pretentious displays.
  • Keep the booth simple, clean and organized.
  • Give facts and simple explanations of your products. Since many visitors may be unfamiliar, don’t assume that they know what you do.
  • Ask questions and listen. Don’t concentrate on giving a sales pitch.
  • Good lighting, decoration and booth dress are always relevant to the product.
  • Show a maximum number of products.
  • A good demonstration convinces visitors that your product is all you claim it is.
  • Show what the product can do for them and what it has done for others.
  • Give samples, if possible.
  • Encourage audience participation.
  • Distribute professionally-produced, factual literature, or don’t give out any literature.
  • Use video as interactive demonstration elements, augmented by signage.
  • Collect business cards, as the basis for follow-up activities.
  • Make appointments to have in-depth presentations to serious prospects.
  • Trade show selling requires high energy levels. Booth people must be pro-active, greet all prospects and learn how to qualify.
  • Approach large numbers of people within short periods of time, determining how to best process each contact.

Research shows that trade show booths that have dishes of candy tend to draw twice the number of visitors than those without candy.

The value of premium giveaways lies in lasting impressions, increased name identification and paves the way for faster follow-ups with prospects.

These observations and recommendations are made for booth exhibit personnel:

  • Booth personnel must be equipped to give precise, detailed information on your product.
  • Train booth attendants for show duty. If possible, stage a dress rehearsal. Follow procedures for literature distribution, trash cleanup, conversation and public demeanor.
  • Work out approach statements in advance. Have talking points in writing. Follow a step-by-step process.
  • Staff with a technical representative, as well as a greeter. You can never have enough well-trained people at the show.
  • Avoid the high-pressure approach.
  • Do not smoke, drink or eat in the booth.
  • Booth personnel should look and act the part. Stand up straight. Keep your hands out of your pockets. Use approachable body language. Do not sit down unless you are with a client.
  • Dress conservatively.
  • Keep small talk with other booth personnel to a minimum.
  • Arrange and follow duty schedules. Keep staff alert and on their toes.
  • Make booth visitors feel welcome at all times.

Lead collection and follow-ups must be treated seriously. After the show is over, don’t forget to follow through on details, promises and intentions:

  • Send follow-up letters to each visitor who left a business card.
  • Send out requested additional materials within one week after the show.
  • Set a lead follow-up program, since early response is vital. Follow up on sales leads for at least two years after the show.
  • Evaluate your results.

Your company’s commitment to participate in trade shows represents a big step. You should always want to improve the exhibit each time, thus insuring a return on the investment. The process of strategizing your exhibit relates directly to your company’s promotional and business development philosophy. This process inevitably makes every company’s marketing position much stronger.

About the Author

Hank MoorePower Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.

Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.

Power Stars to Light the Business Flame is now out in all three e-book formats: iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.

Hank Moore

The Big Picture of Business – Business Success Checklist

When you own and operate a business you need to have certain procedures for an efficient and seamless function. Sometimes the difficulty of managing your time makes for a haphazard operation. An inefficient operation results in unproductive activities which often miss the point and worse yet, result in wasted time and wasted resources.

One of the ways in which you can optimize your business activities would be the focus and attention to detail that a checklist can stimulate. Here is my own business success checklist that will help you optimize your activities for a more efficient and purpose oriented endeavor. Success is inevitable.

Clearly defined purpose.
Having a clearly defined purpose will focus your activities to a customer-oriented perspective. When a business loses sight of the customer and what they really need they often run into difficulties. Your clearly defined purpose can also center the attention and be a source of inspiration for your employees.

Provide leadership.
A leader’s purpose and job is to give direction and purpose and motivate his people. Leaders must also provide support for the emotional needs of their employees while they are at work and even sometimes when they bring personal concerns to the working place. The business absolutely needs energetic and emotionally mature leaders for it to prosper.

Focus on excellence.
When a company is content with being merely mediocre it may survive but it will never do extremely well. The company must have an emphasis on high standards, a desire to create and give value to customers, accountability to the employers and to your customers, and the drive to learn. If these are incorporated into the culture of your company a culture of excellence in all things will soon be prevalent.

Plan for the future.
When your business has contingency plans for future scenarios you will seldom be caught by surprise. You never know when the next big recession will hit. Most successful businesses have planned responses to most scenarios because they took the time to think “What If”. It is important to identify swings and trends so that innovation can remain a strength of your business.

Instill discipline.
This is often an unpopular issue but this is a critical matter. The sharp focus and direction on your objectives and goals can only be maintained with constant monitoring of your procedures and processes. Whether your focus is on customer service, profits, investing, marketing, or company growth a constant awareness of your current position in relation to where you want to be is essential.

Business Success Checklist

1. The business you’re in

  • Study and refine your own core business characteristics.
  • Understand “The Business You’re In” and how it fits into the core business.
  • Design and re-engineering of products-services.
  • Development of technical abilities, specialties and expertise.
  • Utilization of industry consultants or technical specialists.
  • Development of core business supplier relationships.
  • Make investments toward quality controls.

2. Running the business

  • Objective analysis of how the organization has operated to date.
  • Formalize the organizational structure.
  • Document practices, procedures, operations and structure in writing.
  • Communicate policies and procedures to employees.
  • Physical plant is regularly studied, updated and modified.
  • Distribution standards are documented, practiced and measured.
  • Time management and “just in time” concepts are applied.
  • Plans are in writing to address inventories and reducing surplus.
  • Legal compliance and precautions plan is annually updated, with measurable goals.
  • Outsourcing, privatizing and collaborating plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Purchasing plan (with processes and vendor lists) is in writing.
  • Repair and maintenance contracts are routinely maintained.
  • Purchase and lease of equipment plan is annually updated, with measurable goals.
  • Continuous quality improvement plan is annually updated, with measurable goals.

3. Financial

  • Cost containment is one (but not the only) factor of company operations.
  • Each product-service is budgeted.
  • Long-term investments plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Assets are adequately valued and managed.
  • Cash flow, forecasting and budgeting are consistently monitored.
  • Written, consistent policies with payables and receivables are followed.
  • Strategic Plan includes provisions for refinancing, equity and debt financing.
  • Accounting firm utilization plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Banking and investing plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Payables plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Receivables plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Finance charges are negotiated.
  • Insurance plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Benefits plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.

4. People

  • Corporate culture reflects a formal Visioning Program.
  • Employees know their jobs, are empowered to make decisions and have high morale in carrying the company banner forward.
  • Top management has as a priority the need to develop and practice People development, skills and team building responsibilities.
  • Human Resources program is active, professional and responsive to the organization.
  • Incentives-rewards-bonus plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Personnel Policies and Procedures are written, and distributed to all employees.
  • Each employee has his-her own Position Results Oriented Description plan.
  • Training plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Professional development plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.

5. Business development

  • All members of top management have Business Development responsibilities.
  • Company has and regularly fine-tunes a communications strategy.
  • Sales plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Marketing plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Advertising plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Public relations plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Research plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Marketplace development plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Creative collaborator-vendor plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.

6. Body of Knowledge

  • Consultant plan is annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Performance reviews are conducted annually updated, with realistic, measurable goals.
  • Company learns how to benefit from changes.
  • Organization predicts and stays ahead of trends.
  • The company leads the industry.
  • Everything that goes on outside our company affects our business.
  • Willingness to invest in research.
  • Commitment toward collaboration and working with other companies.
  • Maintains active government and regulator relations program.
  • Maintains active community relations program.

7. The Big Picture

  • Shared Vision is crafted, articulated and followed.
  • Ongoing emphasis upon updating, fine-tuning and improving the corporate culture.
  • CEO accepts and ideas and philosophies with employees and stakeholders.
  • Creative business practices are most welcome here.
  • Strategic planning is viewed as vital to business survival and future success.
  • Outside-the-box thinking does indeed apply to us and will be sought.
  • The organization maintains and lives by an ethics statement.
  • The organization subscribes to continuous quality improvement ideologies-processes.
  • Maintains active crisis preparedness and prevention program.

About the Author

Hank MoorePower Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.

Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.

Power Stars to Light the Business Flame is now out in all three e-book formats: iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.

Hank Moore

The Big Picture of Business – Quality is Important for Business: Real Quality vs. Arbitrary Metrics

There’s this thing that websites do. They use the term ‘metrics’ out of context. Their metrics are arbitrary, and they jerk the chains of sellers with figures that are unsubstantiated. They arbitrarily disable accounts. Sadly, this is what is thought of as “quality” in the digital age.

Websites that sell products are digital platforms, not the arbitrators of quality in the business world.

Metrics are easily skewed and do not reflect the overall customer satisfaction. A criticism of performance metrics is that when the value of information is computed using mathematical methods, it shows that even performance metrics professionals choose measures that have little value. This is referred to as the ‘measurement inversion.’ Metrics seem to emphasize what organizations find immediately measurable — even if those are low value — and tend to ignore high value measurements simply because they seem harder to measure (whether they are or not).

To correct for the measurement inversion other methods, like applied information economics, introduce the ‘value of information analysis’ step in the process so that metrics focus on high-value measures. Organizations where this has been applied find that they define completely different metrics than they otherwise would have and, often, fewer metrics.

Quality is not something that managers assign others to achieve. It is a mindset that permeates organizations from top-down as well as bottom-up. Rather than assume all is wrong or right with an organization and take a defensive posture, management must view quality as essential to their economic survival or growth. Quality entails four concepts:

  • Success is determined by conformity to requirements.
  • Quality is achieved through prevention, not appraisal. The quality audit by objective outside communications counsel is merely the beginning of a process.
  • The quality performance standard is zero defects. That means doing things correctly the first time, without wasting counter-productive time in cleaning up mistakes.
  • Nonconformance is costly. Make-good efforts cost more on the back end than doing things right on the front end.

Organizations measure quality by overall involvement. It is not enough for management to endorse quality programs; they must actively participate.

Quality should be viewed as a journey, rather than a destination. It applies to service industries and manufacturing operations. Even non-profit and public sector organizations must utilize quality approaches for staff and volunteer councils/boards.

Employees must buy into the process by offering constructive input. All ideas are worthy of consideration. Life-threatening experiences (loss of business or market share, economic recession) signal the urgency for the team to collaborate.

Empowerment of employees means they accept the challenges and consequences. They must view the company as a consumer would… being as discerning about buying their own services as they are about fine dining, premium clothing, gifts for friends, a car or a home.

What if we were all paid based upon customer perceptions of our service? That would make each of us more attentive to what we offer and whether our value is correctly perceived.

Each member of an organization must view himself/herself as having customers. Each must be seen as a profit center and as having something valuable to contribute to the overall group. Each is a link that lets down the whole chain by failing to uphold their part.

What is missing in most organizations is the willingness to move forward, not the availability of information or room/desire for improvement. Willingness requires complete and never-ending commitment by management. The first time the organization tolerates anything less than 100 percent, it is on the road back to mediocrity.

The most common pitfalls toward success include:

  • Taking a piecemeal approach to quality.
  • Thinking that quality needs apply to some other department, company or industry, not your own.
  • Thinking that you are already doing things ‘the quality way.’
  • Failing to address structural flaws that fuel the problems.
  • Focusing upon esoteric techniques, rather than true reasons for instilling quality.
  • Saying that something is being done when it is not.
  • Failing to engage customers and suppliers into the process.
  • Failing to emphasize training.
  • Setting goals that are too low.
  • Communicating poorly with the organization and its publics. Without employee communications, suggestion boxes, publications, training videos, speeches and other professionally prepared instruments, the company is fooling itself and its customers about the commitment to quality. Without good communication from the outset, the program will never be understood and accepted.

Quality improvement is the only action that can simultaneously win the support of customers, employees, investors, media and the public. Productivity translates to profitability in an advantageous climate in which to function.

Investment Toward Economic Survival and Growth

Research shows the by-product costs of poor quality are high for any business, up to 40 percent. Lack of attentiveness to quality has cost the United States its global marketplace dominance. Other nations preceded the U.S. in adopting the quality process and overtook our nation in many areas.

In 1981, more than 70 percent of U.S. automobiles realized defects within six months of purchase. That figure has now dropped below 40 percent, compared with just under 30 percent in Japanese cars. Had quality been a focus in Detroit years earlier, then the obvious would not have transpired.

The Japanese have always viewed quality as a national issue… not just an individual company matter. The real victim of America’s late entry into the quality process was every employee whose livelihood was endangered. Consumers did not worry; they simply bought goods and services elsewhere.

Success via competitiveness has many dimensions:

  • Production efficiency became America’s focus by the 1950’s.
  • Marketing’s importance was fully embraced in the 1960’s. Marketing departments deal most often and immediately with the side effects of poor quality.
  • The 1970’s brought the first wave of strategic planning. Without mapping a course, how can any organization reach a destination?
  • The 1980’s brought us the quality process… which is the bow that wraps a package containing the other three elements. At the start of the decade, many executives viewed the quality process with indifference or fear. By decade’s end, virtually all (92 percent) agreed that quality is the main prescription for survival.

Though quality is one element of competitiveness, it cannot cover defects in the other areas. The quality audit by objective outside communications counsel can also examine the production, marketing and strategic planning functions.

Companies must place demands upon their own organizations to embrace customer service tenets. Satisfied customers talk to others… encouraging them to buy based upon quality of the company. Dissatisfied customers will aggressively discourage higher numbers of prospects from buying.

The mark of any professional is the manner in which he/she corrects mistakes. Most often, this means correcting misperceptions about company attitude, rather than the condition of goods. The faster the correction, the better the level of satisfaction. Quality is the sum of impressions made on the customer.

Payroll is the biggest overhead item. Improvement can be quantified by increased productivity, reduced turnover and heightened employee morale.

The empowered team is trusted to seek quality on their own. Bad managers will fall by the wayside. Employees who do not pull their share will stick out like sore thumbs. The team will not be judged by the superstars but, instead, by the average. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

In order to complete the chain, organizations must insist that suppliers, professional services counselors and vendors show demonstrated quality programs, as well as ethics statements. Educational and incentive programs should be implemented.

During tough economic times, investment in a quality program is not costly. Anyone who is unwilling to spend for quality is hastening company decline.

Business Strategy Steers the Quality Process

Quality is one of the most vital ingredients of competitive success. Total Quality Management (TQM) is recognized as a prerequisite for survival. One fourth of all corporations now administer quality programs.

The focus on quality has gone beyond the finished product and addresses all processes throughout the organization. Evaluating quality is not just a question of meeting customers’ expectations… but rather exceeding them.

Paying attention to quality can realize:

  • Lower operating costs. Research shows they can be cut in half.
  • Premium pricing for preferred goods/services.
  • Customer retention.
  • Enhanced reputation.
  • Access to global markets.
  • Faster innovation.
  • Higher sales.
  • Higher return on investments. TQM has increased profitability in some corporations up to six times.

Total Quality Management is customer-focused and strategy-directed. It is a top management activity… steered by public relations counselors. The human relations component is strong, but quality programs are substantially communications-driven.

The successful quality program empowers employees, who will achieve quality on their own. The more positive results are shown, the more universal will be participation. The quality process must have substance–not just rhetoric–in order to build momentum. There are no magic shortcuts. If the process is given proper attention and support by top management, it is a money maker.

How to Institute a Quality Program

Much has been written about Total Quality Management. Change is painful for most people but is necessary. Conducting “business as usual” means standing still… which means losing ground while other companies move forward.

Quality does not mean that true perfection will exist. It is simply a commitment to keep the wheels of progress at top-of-mind motion.

To change and improve requires methodically and systematically undertaking actions that will make your company ‘world class.’ These actions include:

  • Education.
  • Communication.
  • Reward and recognition.
  • Employee suggestion systems.
  • Involvement teams.
  • Benchmark measurements of accomplishments.
  • Statistical management methods.

Research shows that most companies implement quality programs as a reaction to a perceived negative image. Data is gathered in scattered areas, usually to produce flashy charts for customers. Because upper management does not know which programs to implement, the quality process stagnates.

Doing things for the wrong reasons or to temporarily pacify someone else spells failure. There are no quick fixes. Applying band-aids will just reopen the wounds at a later date. Quality can never be identified too broadly enough.

In order to put a quality program into place, the following steps must be taken:

  • Study the activities of admired companies. Interview them to provide insight. Set meetings to review what works for them. Read case studies of Malcolm Baldridge Award winners. Companies can and should be role models for each other.
  • Retain outside experts. Quality programs are communications driven and should be captained by public relations counsel who possess this expertise. They will conduct communications audits and strategic planning. This is not something that can be conducted alone by internal human resources departments. Good experts will tell you the hard facts and what needs to be done.
  • Research drives most communications programs. Commission customer and employee surveys. It will provide comparisons between the realities and perceptions that are held.
  • Ask counsel to write a plan of action for putting the quality program into place.
  • Assemble an internal quality team… making sure that all major departments are represented. Together with outside counsel, this committee will pursue its objectives, per the written agenda.
  • Set realistic timelines for putting recommendations into place.
  • Set schedules for routine review of the process. This includes repeating surveys to assure that you are making adequate progress.

By successfully combining employee involvement, process improvement, customer focus and demonstrated management endorsement, any company can succeed at quality. Even on a limited investment, quality can be attained.

The challenge is to discover what mix of price and quality the customer wants and to deliver it. Slogans only create adversarial relationships. Once the system owns up to its shortcomings and responsibilities, then a true quality process will occur. Failure to read the ‘handwriting on the wall’ will thwart company growth and, thus, the overall economy.

About the Author

Hank MoorePower Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.

Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.

Power Stars to Light the Business Flame is now out in all three e-book formats: iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.