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improving the breed


For some years now the concept of continuous improvement has been embedded into management culture. We have had all the Japanese influences, lean manufacturing (and then lean everything else, except, perhaps, in management speak where fat is good it would seem), and so there is a general willingness to work towards improving product and process. Some of this is disguised in the throwaway culture we have with cars, white goods and technology where as soon as you have bought the latest the next generation is announced, but there is one area where improving the breed seems to be not just overlooked, but is sometimes supressed. Read more…

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the boss is loose in the building


It was a message that would reach me from time to time in my first major operational role. Out of a workforce of around 700 on site around two thirds of them worked for me and for “The Boss”, who normally only moved from the main entrance to his office and back with the occasional foray to the gents, the canteen or the conference room, to be roaming was both unusual and dangerous. Read more…

Mistakes are where you learn


Although I don’t do much in the small business sector I do still keep in touch if for no other reason than that I am a small business and one of the topics that often comes up is the problems that small businesses face in not getting paid, either on time or at all. It is a perennial problem, so I’ll share here one of the times that I allowed myself to get screwed. Read more…

musings on KPIs


Input specifications used to be the norm; we would be very specific about what we wanted and how it should be made and delivered, or performed in the case of a service. I can well remember deciding to go out and start replacing the fork lift truck (FLT) fleet at a logistics operation that I had just taken over. Having talked to the vehicle buyer they produced a spec that had been used previously; it was half an inch thick, had drawings of all sorts of components that are standard on any FLT and even had a requirement for a specific pantone colour plus three pages alone on the fleet number, font, style and positioning. Read more…

laughing at life


Last week I spent a day with a longstanding business associate helping him choose a new alarm, access control and general security package for his shop and warehouse. My preferred way of working on these projects is not to the traditional way of having the potential suppliers come to us, but for us to go to them. There is much to be learned from visiting your suppliers; are the offices tidy, do they give the impression of efficiency and organisation, do the people that you meet or see there look like they care about what they are doing and more. I always ask to go and meet the people that will answer our calls if we have a problem, the people who will be managing our installation and the people who deal with invoicing us. It all gives a picture of what you are really getting that the sales team can never convey in their pitch. Read more…

free advice: accentuate the positive


A call asking for some free advice is a fact of life in my line of work and rarely does a week go by without one. Whether the caller gets the advice they are seeking depends on how well I know them and last week’s call was from someone I have known for a while so I was at least prepared to listen. Read more…

hostile vehicle mitigation


I try not to get angry because it is such a wasteful emotion and, in many cases, is purely self-indulgent so not getting angry is, for, me my first principle. But I do get frustrated and one of the biggest causes of that is inaction, either on my part or in others, and when that inaction leads to people getting killed then it gets hard to apply that first principle effectively. Read more…