StrategyDriven Expert Contributor Hank Moore

The Big Picture of Business- Evergreen Business Strategies. Digest of Take-Aways From 36 Articles.

Last month, we celebrated the third anniversary of this magazine. My article was about the significance of anniversaries as important milestones. I am the only columnist who has been in every issue of this magazine. My articles reflect the Big Picture of Business. After that, the niche writers cover their areas.

This is the second part of the anniversary celebration. It seems fitting to reprise key take-away comments from the last three years, as a digest to apply to ultimate business success.

The biggest problem with business, in a one-sentence capsule, is: People exhibit misplaced priorities and impatience, seeking profit and power, possessing unrealistic views of purpose, and not fully willing to do the things necessary to sustain orderly growth and long-term success.

What organizations and individuals started out to become and what we’ve evolved into being are decidedly different things. The path toward progress takes many turns, expected and unexpected. How we evolve reflects the teachings, experiences and instincts that are not part of formal education.

Take ownership of planning programs, rather than abdicate them to human resources or accounting people. Predict the biggest crises that can beset your company. 85% of the time, you’ll prevent them from occurring. Challenge yourself to succeed by taking a Big Picture look…while others are still thinking and acting small-time. Your biggest resource is a wide scope…and the daring to visualize success and then all of its components.

An Institutional Review is a look at activities that contribute to an organization’s success and well-being. This transcends a traditional audit and identifies factors that already contribute well to the organization, rather than simply looking for ways to cut, curtail or penalize. It is more than just trimming the fat and criticizing incorrect activities in the organizational structure. This review is the basis for most elements that will appear in a strategic plan, including the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, actions, challenges, teamwork, change management, commitment, future trends and external forces.

Finely develop skills in every aspect of the organization, beyond the scope of professional training. Amplify upon philosophies of others. Mentoring, creating and leading have become the primary emphasis for your career. Never stop paying dues, learning and growing professionally. Develop and share own philosophies. Long-term track record, unlike anything accomplished by any other individual, all contributing toward organizational philosophy, purpose, vision, quality of life, ethics, long-term growth.

Niche consultants place emphasis in the areas where they have training, expertise and staff support for implementation…and will market their services accordingly. An accounting firm may suggest that an economic forecast is a full-scope business plan (which it is not). A trainer may recommend courses for human behavior, believing that these constitute a Visioning process (of which they are a small part). Marketers might contend that the latest advertising campaign is equivalent to re-engineering the client company (though the two concepts are light years apart). Niche consultants believe these things to be true, within their frames of reference. They sell what they need to sell, rather than what the client really needs. Let the buyer beware.

No entity can operate without affecting or being affected by its communities. Business must behave like a guest in its communities, never failing to give potlache or return courtesies. Community acceptance for one project does not mean than the job of community relations has been completed. It is not ‘insurance’ that can be bought overnight. It is tied to the bottom line and must be treated accordingly, with the resources and expertise to do it effectively. It is a bond of trust that, if violated, will haunt the business. If steadily built, the trust can be exponentially parlayed into successful long-term business relationships.

The hot new idea is to focus on depth-and-substance…not on flash-and-sizzle. Those who proclaim that hot ideas make good coaches, then they are vendors selling flavors of the month…not seasoned business advisors. If coaching is based only on hot ideas, it is nothing more than hucksterism. Coaching must be a thorough process of guiding the client through the levels of accomplishment.

Customer Focused Management is a concept that goes far beyond just smiling, answering queries and communicating with buyers. It transcends customer service training. In today’s highly competitive business environment, every dynamic of a successful organization must be toward ultimate customers. Companies must change their focus from products and processes toward the values which they share with customers. Customer Focused Management goes beyond just the dynamics of service and quality.

One learns three times more from failure than success. One learns three times more clearly when witnessing and analyzing the failures of others they know or have followed. History teaches us about cycles, trends, misapplications of resources, wrong approaches and vacuums of thought. People must apply history to their own lives-situations. If we document our own successes, then these case studies will make us more successful in the future.

There comes a point when the pieces fit. One becomes fully actualized and is able to approach their life’s Body of Work. That moment comes after years of trial and error, experiences, insights, successes and failures. As one matures, survives, life becomes a giant reflection. We appreciate the journey because we understand it much better. We know where we’ve gone because we know the twists and turns in the road there. Nobody, including ourselves, could have predicted every curve along the way.

Success and failure…it’s a matter of perspectives. Out of every 10 transactions in our lives, five will be unqualified successes. One will be a failure. Two will depend upon the circumstances. If approached responsibly, they will become successful. If approached irresponsibly, they will turn into failures. Two will either be successful or will fail, based strictly upon the person’s attitude. A 90% success rate for a person with a good attitude and responsible behavior is unbeatable. There is no such thing as perfection. Continuous quality improvement means that we benchmark accomplishments and set the next reach a little further.

Professionals who succeed the most are the products of mentoring. The mentor is a resource for business trends, societal issues and opportunities. The mentor becomes a role model, offering insights about their own life-career. This reflection shows the mentee levels of thinking and perception which were not previously available. The mentor is an advocate for progress and change. Such work empowers the mentee to hear, accept, believe and get results. The sharing of trust and ideas leads to developing business philosophies.

Visioning is the process where good ideas become something more. It is a catalyst toward long-term evaluation, planning and implementation. It is a vantage point by which forward-thinking organizations ask: What will we look like in the future? What do we want to become? How will we evolve? Vision is a realistic picture of what is possible.

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.

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor Hank Moore

The Big Picture of Business- When the Rules Don’t Fit the Game, Corporate Cultures Reflect Business Progress and Growth

Every business, company or organization goes through cycles in its evolution. At any point, each program or business unit is in a different phase from the others. Every astute organization assesses the status of each branch on its Business Tree™ and orients its management and team members to meet constant changes and fluctuations.

It’s not that some organizations ‘click’ and others do not. Multiple factors cause momentum, or the lack thereof. As companies operate, all make honest and predictable mistakes. Those with a willingness to learn from the mistakes and pursue growth will be successful. Others will remain stuck in frames of mind that set themselves up for the next round of defeat or, at best, partial-success.

The saddest fact is that businesses do not always know that they’re doing anything wrong. They do not realize that a Big Picture must exist or what it could look like. They have not been taught or challenged on how to craft a Big Picture. Managers, by default, see ‘band-aid surgery’ as the only remedy for problems… but only when problems are so evident as to require action.

Is it any wonder that organizations stray off course? Perhaps no course was ever charted. Perhaps the order of business was to put out fires as they arose, rather than practicing preventive safety on the kindling organization. That’s how Business Trees in the forest burn.

This chapter studies obsolete management styles and corporate cultures that exist in the minds of out-of-touch management. Reliance upon many of these management tenets subsequently brought Enron and many others down.

This includes the characteristics of addictive organizations, their processes, promises and forms. It reviews the Addictive System, the company way and the organization as an addict. This chapter studies communications, thinking processes, management processes, self-inflicted crises and structural components of companies that go bad, or maybe never do what it takes to be good. Topics discussed include the society that produced business scandals, accountants and auditors, pedestals upon which CEOs are placed, spin doctoring, compensations and accountability issues with managers.

Companies are collections of individuals who possess fatal flaws of thinking. They come from different backgrounds and are products of a pop culture that puts its priorities and glories in the wrong places… a society that worships flash-and-sizzle over substance.

Characteristics of Corporate Arrogance:

  • Support others who are like-minded to themselves.
  • Scapegoat people who are the messengers of change.
  • Blame others who cannot or will not defend themselves.
  • Find public and vocal ways of placing blame upon others.
  • Shame those people who make them accountable.
  • Neither attends to details nor to pursue a Big Picture.
  • Perpetuate co-dependencies.
  • Selectively forgets the good that occurs.
  • Find three wrongs for every right.
  • Do little or nothing.
  • At all costs, fight change… in every shape, form or concept.
  • Making the wrong choices.
  • Inability to listen. Refusal to hear what is said.
  • Stubbornness.
  • Listening to the wrong people.
  • Failure to change. Fear of change.
  • Comfort level with institutional mediocrity.
  • Setting one’s self up for failure.
  • Pride.
  • Avoidance of responsibilities.
  • Blaming and scapegoating others.
  • People who filter out the truths.
  • Non-risk-taking mode.
  • Inaccessibility to independent thinkers.
  • Calling something a tradition, when it really means refusal to change.
  • Pretense.
  • Worshipping false idols, employing artificial solutions.
  • Preoccupation with deals, rather than running an ongoing business.
  • Arrogant attitudes.
  • Ignorance of modern management styles and societal concerns.
  • Failure to benchmark results and accomplishments.

Incorrect Assumptions that People Make:

  • That wealth and success cure all ills.
  • That business runs on data. That data projects the future.
  • That data infrastructure hardware will navigate the business destiny and success.
  • That all athletes are role models. That all well-paid athletes are national heroes.
  • That the CEO can make or break the company single-handedly.
  • That doctors don’t have to be accountable to their customers.
  • That education stops after the last college degree received.
  • That TV newscasters are celebrities and community leaders.
  • That having an E-mail address or a website makes one an expert on technology.
  • That the Internet is primarily an educational resource.
  • That technology is the most important driving force in business and society.
  • That buying the latest software program will cure all social ills and create success.
  • That community stewardship applies to other people and does not require our own investment of time.
  • That white-collar crime pays and that highly paid executives will avoid jail time.
  • That senior corporate managers have all the answers and do not need to seek counsel.
  • That return on shareholder investment is the only true measure of a company’s worth.
  • That all people who grew up in the south are racist.
  • That government bureaucrats are qualified to make decisions about taxpayer money.
  • That activists for one cause are equally open-minded about other issues.
  • That corporate mid-managers with expense accounts are community leaders.
  • That deregulation is always desirable and in the public’s best interest.
  • That home-based businesses are more wealth-producing than holding a job.
  • That professionals can get by without developing public speaking and writing skills.

Addictive Organizations.

Addictive organizations are predicated upon maintaining a closed system. Alternately, they are marked by such traits as confusion, dishonesty and perfectionism. They are scarcity models, based upon quantity and the illusion of control. Only the high performers get the gold because there are not enough bonuses to go around. Addictive organizations show frozen feelings and ethical deterioration.

Addictive organizations dangle ‘the promise’ to employees, customers, stockholders and others affected. People are lured into doing things that enable the addictive management’s pseudopodic ego.

All that is different is either absorbed or purged. The addictive organization fabricates personality conflicts in order to keep people on the edge all the time. There exists a dualism of identifying the rightness of the choice and a co-dependence upon the rewards of the promise.

In such companies, the key person is an addict. The CEO and his chosen lieutenants have taken addictions with them from other organizations. The organization itself is an addictive substance, as well as being an addict to others. They numb people down and addict them to workaholism.

The addictive system views everything as ‘the company way.’ The entity is outwardly one big happy family. It is big and grandiose. The emphasis is upon the latest slogans of mission but does not look closely at how its systems operate. The term ‘mission’ is a buffer, excuse, putdown and roadblock.

Rather than embrace the kinds of Big Picture strategies advocated in this book, the addictive system seeks artificial fixes to organizational problems, such as bonuses, benefits, slogans and promotions of like-minded executives.

Communications are always indirect, vague, written and confusing. People are purposefully left out of touch or are summarily put down for not co-depending. Secrets, gossip and triangulation persist, as a result. The addictive organization does communicate directly with the news media and often adopts a ‘no comment’ policy. Company officers (who should be accessible to media) are cloistered and unavailable. The addictive organization does not recognize that professional corporate communications are among the best resources in their potential arsenal.

The addictive system does not encourage managers to develop thinking and reasoning processes. The system portrays forgetfulness, selective memory and distorted facts into sweeping generalizations. We are expected to take them at their word, without requesting or demanding facts to justify.

In the addictive organization, those who challenge, blow whistles or suggest that things might be better handled are neither wanted nor tolerated. Addictive managers project externally originated criticism back onto internal scapegoats. There is always a strategy of people to blame and sins to be attributed to them.

Management processes tend to exemplify denial, dishonesty, isolation, self-centeredness, judgmentalism and a false sense of perfectionism. Intelligent people know that perfectionism does not exist and the quest for quality and excellence is the real game of life and business. Addictive organizations do not use terms like ‘quality’ and ‘excellence’ because such terms must be measured, periodically reexamined and communicated… the organization does not want any of that to occur.

There persists a crisis orientation, meaning that everything is down to the wire on deadlines (not to be confused with just-in-time delivery, which is a good concept). Things are kept perennially in turmoil, in order to keep people guessing or confused. Management seduces employees into setting up competing sides in bogus feuds and manipulating consumers.

Structural components include preserving the status quo, fostering political games, taking false measurements and pursuing activities that are incongruent with the organization’s announced mission.

7 Layers of Organizational Addictiveness.
Companies that Go Bad…self-inflicted Crises.

  1. Self Destructive Intelligence. There exists a logic override. Since the company does not believe itself to be smart enough to do the right things, then it creates a web of rationalism. Since the mind often plays tricks on itself, management capitalizes upon that phenomenon with people who may question or criticize.
  2. Hubris. This quality destroys those who possess it. Such executives exhibit stubborn pride, believing their own spin doctoring and surrounding themselves with people who spin quite well on their behalf. They adopt a ‘nobody does it as well as we can’ mentality. Such companies scorn connections, collaborations and partnering with other organizations.
  3. Arrogance. Omnipotent fantasies cause management to go too far. The feeling is that nothing is beyond their capacity to succeed (defined in their minds as crushing all other competition).
  4. Narcissism. Company executives possess excessive conceit. They are disconnected from outside forces, self-centered and show a cruel indifference to others. The view is that the world must gratify them.
  5. Unconscious Need to Fail. These companies try too hard to keep on winning. With victory as the only possible end game, all others must be defeated along the way. In reality, these people and, thus, their organizations, possess low self-esteem. Inevitably, they get beaten at their own games.
  6. Feeling of Entitlement. Walls and filters have been established which insulate top management from criticism (which is viewed as harming the chain of armor, rather than as potentially constructive). Anger stimulates many of their decisions. The feeling is that they deserve it all. Power satisfies appetites. These executives have poor human relations skills. They believe that excesses are always justified.
  7. Collective Dumbness. Such organizations have totally reshaped reality to their own viewpoints. The emperor really has no clothes, but everyone overlooks the obvious and avoids addressing it forthrightly. The organization dumbs down the overall intelligence level, so that people are in the dark and cannot readily make judgment calls. Cults of expertise function in vacuums within the company. Neurotic departmental units do not interface often with others. Employees are slaves of the system. There exists total justification for what is done and an ostrich effect toward calls for accountability.

7 Defeating Signs for Growth Companies:

  1. Systems are not in place to handle rapid growth, perhaps never were.
  2. Their only interest is in booking more new business, rather than taking care of what they’ve already got.
  3. Management is relying upon financial people as the primary source of advice, while ignoring the rest of the picture (90%).
  4. Team empowerment suffers. Morale is low or uneven. Commitment from workers drops because no corporate culture was created or sustained.
  5. Customer service suffers during fast-growth periods. They have to back-pedal and recover customer confidence by doing surveys. Even with results of deteriorating customer service, growth-track companies pay lip service to really fixing their own problems.
  6. People do not have the same Vision as the company founder… who has likely not taken enough time to fully develop a Vision and obtain buy-in from others.
  7. Company founder remains arrogant and complacent, losing touch with marketplace realities and changing conditions.

Everything we are in business stems from what we’ve been taught or not taught to date. A career is all about devoting resources to amplifying talents and abilities, with relevancy toward a viable end result.

Business evolution is an amalgamation of thoughts, technologies, approaches and commitment of the people, asking such tough questions as:

  1. What would you like for you and your organization to become?
  2. How important is it to build an organization well, rather than constantly spend time in managing conflict?
  3. Who are the customers?
  4. Do successful corporations operate without a strategy-vision?
  5. Do you and your organization presently have a strategy-vision?
  6. Are businesses really looking for creative ideas? Why?
  7. If no change occurs, is the research and self-reflection worth anything?

Failure to prepare for the future spells certain death for businesses and industries in which they function. The same analogies apply to personal lives, careers and Body of Work. Greater business awareness and heightened self-awareness are compatible and part of a wholistic journey of growth.

Business is in transition… with unclear anchoring of where they’ve been and where they could head. Young and mid-level workers do not really know what it takes to succeed long-term and been.

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.

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor Hank Moore

The Big Picture of Business- Anniversaries Honor the Past and Build Support for the Future

Anniversaries are important milestones. Organizations reflect on their heritage and accomplishments. In doing so, they build and widen stakeholder bases, enabling organizations to grow for the future.

I’ve recommended anniversary celebrations to client companies before. In each case, the results were phenomenal, because they took the effort to mount anniversary celebrations. In 1978, I was advising Uniroyal Tire Company. They wanted to sponsor a 40th anniversary for Little League Baseball. My research revealed that their company had in fact founded LLB, which younger generations of management did not know.

In 1998, I advised the Disney corporation and reminded them that Walt Disney’s 100th birthday in 2001 would offer great marketing and positioning opportunities. In 2007, I was advising the credit union industry of America, reminding them that their upcoming 100th anniversary in 2009 would provide outreach opportunities for chapter members around the country. This was news to them, and they jumped on it with relish. I’m the person who planted the ideas and strategy. Great organizations work tirelessly to celebrate and involve their customers.

When one reflects at changes, he-she sees directions for the future. Change is innovative. Customs come and go…some should pass and others might well have stayed with us. The past is an excellent barometer for the future. One can always learn from the past, dust it off and reapply it. Living in the past is not good, nor is living in the present without wisdom of the past.

Here are some recent celebrations that drew acclaim and participation: Rice University, 100th in 2012. Star Furniture, 100th in 2012. Houston Symphony Orchestra, 100th in 2013. Civil Rights Act, 50th. Beatles coming to America, 50th. The Port of Houston, 100th in 2014. “The Star Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key, 200th in 2014.

These anniversaries should be celebrated in 2015: The Galleria, 45th. The Astrodome, 50th. University of Texas System, 50th. Houston Ballet, 60th. Houston Grand Opera, 60th. Texas Medical Center, 70th. “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll, 150th.

These anniversaries should be celebrated in 2016: Houston Community College, 45th. Star Trek, 50th. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, 75th. Houston Livestock Show and Rode, 85th. Gulf Oil, 100th. The Houston Chronicle, 115th. University of Texas Medical Branch, 125th. Scholz Garden in Austin (Texas’ oldest bar), 150th. Sir Isaac Newton discovering gravity, 350th.

These anniversaries should be celebrated in 2017: NASA’s move to Houston, 55th. launching of the world’s first satellite, Sputnik, 60th. The Alley Theatre, 70th. Texas Southern University, 70th. The Gulf Freeway (Texas’ first), 70th. The University of Houston, 90th. Exxon (Humble Oil & Refining Company), 100th. Phillips Petroleum, 100th.

These anniversaries should be celebrated in 2018: Metropolitan Transit Authority, 40th. Houston Public Television, 65th. Baylor College of Medicine moved to Houston, 75th. The Heights annexed by City of Houston, 100th. End of World War I, 100th. “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley, 200th.

These anniversaries should be celebrated in 2019: Houston Intercontinental Airport, 50th. NASA lunar landing, 50th. Suez Canal, 150th.

There are seven kinds of anniversary reunions:

  1. Pleasurable. Seeing an old friend who has done well, moved in a new direction and is genuinely happy to see you too. These include chance meetings, reasons to reconnect and a concerted effort by one party to stay in the loop.
  2. Painful. Talking to someone who has not moved forward. It’s like the conversation you had with them 15 years ago simply resumed. They talk only about past matters and don’t want to hear what you’re doing now. These include people with whom you once worked, old romances, former neighbors and networkers who keep turning up like bad pennies and colleagues from another day and time.
  3. Mandated. Meetings, receptions, etc. Sometimes, they’re pleasurable, such as retirement parties, open houses, community service functions. Other times, they’re painful, such as funerals or attending a bankruptcy creditors’ meeting.
  4. Instructional. See what has progressed and who have changed. Hear the success stories. High school reunions fit into this category, their value depending upon the mindset you take with you to the occasion.
  5. Reflect Upon the Past. Reconnecting with old friends, former colleagues and citizens for whom you have great respect. This is an excellent way to share each other’s progress and give understanding for courses of choice.
  6. Benchmarking. Good opportunities to compare successes, case studies, methodologies, learning curves and insights. When “the best” connects with “the best,” this is highly energizing.
  7. Goal Inspiring. The synergy of your present and theirs inspires the future. Good thinkers are rare. Stay in contact with those whom you know, admire and respect. It will benefit all involved.

7 Levels of Learning from the Past:

  1. Re-reading, reviewing and finding new nuggets in old files.
  2. Applying pop culture to today.
  3. Review case studies and their patterns for repeating themselves.
  4. Discern the differences between trends and fads.
  5. Learn from successes and three times more from failures.
  6. Transition your focus from information to knowledge.
  7. Apply thinking processes to be truly innovative.

When we see how far we have come, it gives further direction for the future. Ideas make the future happen. Technology is but one tool of the trade. Futurism is about people, ideas and societal evolution, not fads and gimmicks. The marketplace tells us what they want, if we listen carefully. We also have an obligation to give them what they need.

Apply history to yourself. The past repeats itself. History is not something boring that you once studied in school. It tracks both vision and blind spots for human beings. History can be a wise mentor and help you to avoid making critical mistakes.

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.

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor 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.

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor Hank Moore

The Big Picture of Business – Avoid the Tired, Trite Terms: Encourage Original Thought, Focus on Priorities and Strategy

Words count. Put together, they reflect corporate culture. Used out of context, words become excuses, gibberish, rationales and basically wastes of energy.

When people hear certain words and expressions often enough, they parrot them. Rather than use critical thinking to communicate, many people often gravitate to the same old tired catch phrases.

I sat in a meeting of highly educated business executives. The presenter was dropping the term ‘brand’ into every other sentence. The word had lost its power and came across as a fill-in-the-blank substitution for a more appropriate though. Many people used to do the same thing with the word ‘technology,’ using it far from its reasonable definitions.

These clichés do not belong in business dialog, in strategic planning and in corporate strategy. These expressions are trite and reflect a copy-cat way of talking and thinking:

  • ‘Solutions’ is a tired 1990’s term, taken from technology hype. People who use it are vendors, selling what they have to solve your ‘problems,’ rather than diagnosing and providing what your company needs. It is a misnomer to think that a quick fix pawned off as a ‘solution’ will take care of a problem once and for all. Such a word does not belong in conversation and business strategy, let alone the name of the company.
  • The ‘brand’ is a marketing term. The strategy, culture and vision are many times greater and more important.
  • ‘So…’ In the 1960’s, TV sitcom writers began every scene with ‘So…’ After enough years of hearing it, people lapse that dialog into corporate conversations. It is intended to reduce the common denominator of the discussion to that of the questioner. It is monotonous, and there are more creative ways to engage others into conversation aside from minimizing the dialog.
  • ‘Value proposition’ is a sales term and is one-sided toward the person offering it. It implies that the other side must buy in without question.
  • ‘Right now’ is a vendor term for what they’re peddling, rather than what the marketplace really needs. Expect to render good business all the time.
  • ‘Customer care’ means that customer service is palmed off on some call center. “Customer experience” comes right out of marketing surveys, which rarely ask for real feedback or share the findings with company decision makers. That is so wrong, as customer service must be every business person’s responsibility. Service should not be something that is sold but which nurtures client relationships.

Many of these stock phrases represent ‘copywriting’ by people who don’t know about corporate vision. Their words overstate, get into the media and are accepted by audiences as fact. Companies put too much of their public persona in the hands of marketers and should examine more closely the partial images which they put into the cyberspace. Our culture hears and believes the hype, without looking beyond the obvious.

Here are some examples of the misleading and misrepresenting things one sees and hears in the Information Age. These terms are judgmental and should not be used in marketing, least of all in business strategy: Easy, Better, Best, For all your needs, Perfection, Number one, Good to go, Results, World class, Hearts and minds, Cool, The end of the day, Virtual, Right now, Not so much and Game changing.

Street talk, misleading slogans and terms taken out of context do not belong in the business vocabulary. Business planning requires insightful thinking and language which clearly delineates what the company mission is and how it will grow.

These are the characteristics of effective words, phrases and, thus, company philosophy:

  • Focus upon the customer.
  • Honor the employees.
  • Defines business as a process, not a quick fix.
  • Portray their company as a contributor, not a savior.
  • Clearly defines their niche.
  • Say things that inspire you to think.
  • Compatible with other communications.
  • Remain consistent with their products, services and track record.

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.