Book Review: The Remedy

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The Remedy

There are few business concepts which are applicable across any company in any industry. From solopreneurs to multi-national conglomerates, the principles of Lean Management are a tool to improve the culture of a company.

I recently got the chance to read “The Remedy” by Pascal Dennis, which is a real life story about how lean was applied across a large car manufacturer.

Lean is predominantly known to be a process to decrease waste within manufacturing processes. Through the travels of Tom and his sensei Andy, stories are told on how Lean Management is applied within non-manufacturing settings.  The reader is taken through a journey where common obstacles of dealing with a company that is heavily placed into silos, non-communitive, and insular culture are dealt with. You get the opportunity to see how Lean Management can be applied in the non-manufacturing departments of Human Resources, Marketing, Product Development, and Accounting.

The reader is introduced to many of the basic concepts and terminology of Lean Management (for example the 8 types of waste) in the style where Tom, the plant manager of the shining star of Taylor Motors, is taken from his current role to lead the development and launch of a new car, originally known as the Defiant.

If you want to learn more about Lean Management, this would be an ‘average’ book to pick up. The Japanese terminology is used throughout the book which can make things confusing at time. There are great animations throughout the book, but at times, too many. It gave the feeling that you were reading a Pictionary book at times.

I personally don’t see this book as being a good starting point if you are a novice to Lean Management. Lean is best learnt within a manufacturing setting since the subject matter can be visibly seen. The author previously wrote “Andy & Me” which details the journey of transforming a manufacturing plant towards being Lean. This book would be a good starting point.

Do you have any books about Lean and Lean Management that you recommend?

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for the South Edmonton Business Association, the Fringe Festival, Goodwill Industries of Alberta and donates blood at the Canadian Blood Services.

Lose-Lose Relationship

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Everyone in Canada pretty much knows about the latest saga which is currently happening between our federal postal service, Canada Post, and its unionized postal delivery workers. At the time of writing this, the union was holding back from any labour disruptions…for at least a day.

The first labour disruption will involve the union workers not working any overtime hours in Alberta and the North West Territories. This arrangement will slowly roll out across the country. Per a radio interview that I heard, that amounts to just over one hour per week per postal delivery worker. Not a large disruption but it also makes you wonder why they have to work that much overtime over the whole system. That would be the subject for another few blogs since it is a pretty big topic.

I was talking to the postal delivery worker who is in charge of my community postal box last week. To say the least, she is not impressed since she does not know what is going on. As of Friday afternoon, the union had told her that they would be calling all workers Sunday night in regards to their work arrangement for Monday.

In talking to her, she said something that got me thinking. ‘This is a lose-lose situation. We are going to lose income while Canada Post is going to lose clients and revenue”. Currently, Canada Post delivers the last 5 kilometers of a packages’ travels for 66% of online transactions. Online retailers will need to look for alternatives or allow revenue to go to other retailers.

As in the case of many government policies, a labour disruption at Canada Post can be a disruptive event which will cause business to change their operations for long term sustainability.

Would a labour disruption at a postal service affect your company? How would you deal with it?

Have an awesome and productive week.

Kevin

Update as of September 6, 2016: Canada Post and the postal workers have come to a 2 year tentative agreement. Traditionally, they develop a 4 year agreement but the major issues were not fully dealt with. Hopefully, over the next 4 years, Canada Post and its union will be talking about solving their differences.

Update as of September 26, 2016: To my understanding, the vote still hasn’t been called by the union to see if the membership accepts the deal.

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

Kevin is hosting a workshop series known as Entrepreneurial Community Edmonton. The workshops cover different areas of business, including finance, human resources, and collections. You can find more information at http://www.l6sbc.ca/ecyeg.html

For help with your business, contact Kevin at kevin@L6SBC.ca or 780-868-1867. You can also follow Kevin on Twitter at @L6SBC or Facebook.com/L6SBC

Leadership Part 6 of 6

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Over the last 5 weeks, I went over 5 of the most common reasons why companies are not successful, according to the Small Business Administration of the United States. You will see that there are some common elements to each of the 6. Feel free to look at the original article here.

Leadership is one of those terms used in business which can be considered a catch all. It is the reason why a project progresses or fails, why a product launch is successful or not, or why a company fails or doesn’t. Lack of leadership is the number 1 reason why a company fails.

In saying this, you don’t have to be the most charismatic, the best speaker, or the most visionary person to be a leader of a company. I won’t go into much detail of what is considered to be a strong leader. I am sure that you can find at least 1,000,000 articles on this subject to help you. But in terms of leadership and the success of the company, how does it have an impact?

Vision: Setting a vision for a company can be a scary task for some people. What if you set goals for your company? Setting those goals becomes a building block to what can turn into your vision in the future. Without that goal or vision, where are you going to be going? It becomes even more important when you have employees. Would you follow someone who is walking about in the great outdoors not knowing where they are going or why they are going for a walk? This ties in to having uniqueness with your company.

Plan:  Now that you have your goals set out, how are you going to reach them? Do you want to offer the best customer service? How are you going to do that? Is it scalable for when you grow? Offering a new product and/or service and believing that it will go viral is not a plan. A local businessman believed that his company was going to go viral once his product or services hit the market. He had no plan on how it was going to happen. To make a long story short, the company is just now starting to get traction in the market place, but nothing near as expected. Don’t forget: develop a budget with your plan.  You don’t want a lack of financial management to be the reason your company does not survive. The development of the budget will help to ensure that the business model which you will be operating under will be sustainable. Lastly, the plan will help to manage your future growth.

Execution: You now have a goal which helps you understand where you want to go and develop a uniqueness with your customer. You have developed a plan (including a budget) which tells you how to get there. Now, it is to sticking to the plan, wherever possible, to attain your goals. That plan, of course, will have some bumps in the road and may require change, especially if you are well connected with your customers and you are receiving feedback that change is needed.

As you can see, leadership or the lack of it is a bi-product of the other top 6 reasons why a company does fail.

Where have you seen strong leadership take a company through dark times to a profitable place? Have you seen leadership being the root cause of a failure? I would love to hear.

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

Kevin is hosting three social media workshops at 14920 Stony Plain Rd NW, Edmonton, AB T5P 3X8 (Pura Vida Mind Body Soul). The March 29, 2016 workshop will be about Facebook, April 26, 2016 will be about Twitter, while the May 24, 2016 workshop will be covering LinkedIn. All session run from 6.00pm to 8.30pm. Food and refreshments will be available. Contact Kevin to register.

For help with your business, contact Kevin at kevin@L6SBC.ca or 780-868-1867.

Engaging your employees…Is it all up to you?

The willingness to learn is a trait that all entrepreneurs need. There are constant learning opportunities from situations that you are in and the people you meet on a daily basis.

I love to read, and I will admit one reason I read so much, is to find good content for my social media accounts. Below, you will find a link to a Harvard Business Review article that I have recently read.

https://hbr.org/2015/12/engaging-your-employees-is-good-but-dont-stop-there 

The Coles Notes version of the article can be summed up like this:

Inspired employees are more productive than any other employee at any other emotion level. How do you get your employee inspired? Communicate the deep purpose and mission of the company to employees. If that is not working, have your leadership inspire them or take your leadership through inspiration training.

Highly engaged or inspired employees are more productive and are more willing to go above and beyond for their company, but there is one thing I question.

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Can an employee not inspire themselves? Should it be left to their leadership to get them motived and produce their best work? I understand, and have seen what strong leadership can bring to the table, but I have not seen it being sustainable over the long term by itself.

As many people in my network are a solopreneur as myself, you need to find that something that inspires yourself to be that inspired ‘employee’. It seems that it is expected that others should do things for you now.

Take ownership of your own attitude. Take ownership of level of work. Take ownership of the biggest thing that you and you only can control: YOU! You may think that others control you. They do…if you let them. Take yourself back and let yourself set the tone. Don’t allow people to make the decisions for you.

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

Living in the Moment

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A few weeks ago, myself and a large number of CFL (Canadian Football League) fans did our yearly pilgrimage to watch the Grey Cup Championship Game. I will admit, there were some nerve racking moments but I am very happy that my team was able to win the 103rd Grey Cup Championship game.

During various moments of the game, you could see hundreds of cell phones taking pictures and videos. I will admit, I did take some video and pictures, but I kept reminding myself, “live in the moment”.

At this point, I decide to put my cell phone away and just take in what was happening.  I found myself enjoying the moment more. I was able to focus on the activities in front of me, instead of wondering if I will have enough battery left, playing with the camera focus, or making sure I got the angle I was looking for.

In the end, those moments that I had with my cell phone in my pocket are the moments that I remember the most. They are the most vivid and most replayed in my mind.

 

I will admit, I have taken my cell phone out for pictures since then, but all of the pictures were used in social media postings. None of the pictures are to be used as keep sake or as a memory of the event. As a matter of fact, they get deleted once they are posted. All I have left from those events is the energy of the crowd around me, the noise being made, and the sense of happiness for being there.

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

Photo Credit: http://www.countryliving.com/life/a36502/just-wait-until-you-spot-the-best-part-of-this-photo/?src=spr_FBPAGE&spr_id=1453_248145130

Don’t Ignore the Negativity

 

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Over the past few weeks, I was able to follow my other passion (the Edmonton Oil Kings) during a 6 game, 10 day road trip across the province of British Columbia.

We were a small group of 5 individuals, who had a common bond for the appreciation of our favorite junior hockey team. We got to know each other fairly well by spending almost every waking hour with each other. At times, we spent 8 hours together in a minivan traveling in between our games.

During the road trip, it became apparent that two participants (the Negatives) had decided to view everything as if the glass was half empty. Negativity was the meal of choice during the 10 day road trip.

Another member (Mr. Positive) of the road trip stated to me that is was very hard to deal with the negativity that the two people were constantly serving. During our conversation, Mr. Positive stated that he was just going to start ignoring them.

Upon hearing this, I gave Mr. Positive a few suggestions that have worked for me in the past when dealing with negative people.

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Don’t Ignore, Listen: During the road trip, I noticed that the Negatives stated more than once that nobody listens to them. From what I noticed, they were conditioned to bring up negative things because it brought out a reaction from people, telling them that they are being listened to.

Actively Listen: At times, they don’t know what they are saying, and by repeating it to them, it makes them think about it even more.

Don’t Interrupt: Interruptions can be a cause for frustration which can lead to negatives thoughts. Allow the Negatives to finish off their thoughts and process what was being said. Maybe they just want someone to listen to them?

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STAY!: Walking away from someone that is negative will only build resentment, shows the Negatives that you don’t value them, and helps to build barriers. Stay focussed on the Negative and their story.

Smile: I am sure that you know that it is not easy to be mad or frustrated when someone has a genuine smile. Smiling, if anything else, will help to improve your own mood while the Negatives are making their point.

Open communication, patience, and focus will give the attention that many Negatives are looking for.  Many Negatives are looking for attention and breaking people down, for some, is the way to go.

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

 

 

Keeping that Level Head

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Everyone, as you would expect and know, have different characteristics that make up their personality. No two people are the same. These characteristics are unique identifiers within our own social groups. Even though no two people are the same, it is possible to see characteristics which are generally common in a certain geographic area or occupations.

For example, Albertans, when compared to other Canadians, are considered to be risk takers and are willing to try new things. Being an accountant, we are considered to be structured process-based thinkers, well organized, and more introverted then the norm. Why is that accountants, generally, have comparable personalities? Personally, I believe that is in the training we go through, and the roles that we are tasked to do. It would be rather hard to complete an audit if you are scatter brained.

Entrepreneurs do not come from a certain background. There are entrepreneurs who have a background in accounting, marketing, or even ditch digging!  Successful entrepreneurs do have common trait that is often overlooked. They are able to keep level headed.

The ability to stay level headed, allows a rational thought process to take over, and analyze data while others are trying to avoid having the sky fall on them, is an important trait. Very rarely you will be warned if a decision can be a deciding factor for the future of your firm. It is something that is learned only when looking in the rear view mirror.

Remember to keep your wits about you when tensions are rising. You may be able to identify opportunities or threats that no one else notices.

How did you react the last time you found yourself in a pressure cooker? What would you do differently? Please share so we can all learn from it.

Have a great week!

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

This Is How We Do It!

This is how we do it

Social media, like Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, are great tools to connect with other people, learn new perspectives, and develop a sense a community. Granted, social media does not create a sense of community like a neighborhood BBQ with friends and family.

As with anything else, there is a dark side to social media which needs to be monitored and managed. Social media is a very common means to give ‘feedback’ to organizations on their lack of performance, based on the perspective of the consumer.

Venting in person to someone in regards to the person’s or their company’s performance still occurs in our society. These pieces of feedback are possible gems which can help anyone in improving their offering.

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a concert at the Winspear Centre where the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra played various hits by Pink Floyd with help from a tribute band.

I will admit, the first half of the concert was very disappointing. You were not able to understand the words that were sung. The band and the orchestra seemed to be competing against each other with the drum set constantly winning over all over instruments. During intermission, a friend and I noted that it seemed that the show was off and not impressive.

As a lover of social media, I sent out the below tweet to the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra:
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After the intermission was completed, we returned to our seats wondering what the rest of the concert was going to be like. To our pleasure, we could crisply here the voices of the singers to the point we could identify each single person. No instrument was prevalent to the others and it turned into one of the better concerts I have seen.

The next morning, I received a tweet back from the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra:

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To use a saying that has been repeated many times: that is the power of social media. If social media was not around, it is possible that the sound issues would not of been resolved which would have created a bad listening experience for myself and my friends.

With the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra responding to an online inquiry, not only did they make a spectator’s experience more enjoyable, they made a fan of their organization even more engaged.

What social media successes have you been a part of? What about failures? I would love to hear.

Have a great week!

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

Need to be Organized

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Being organized is something that doesn’t come naturally to everyone. In some cases, what may look like a mess to someone, like the below picture, may be the organization system of the owner.

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Being organized goes past how you have your desk organized, your papers filed away, and the cleanliness of your desk. What about the organization of that one valuable commodity that we can never get back and we never have enough of? Time!

During a recent luncheon, I was asked how I stayed organized with the different activities I am involved with. I will admit, I didn’t give an ‘organized’ answer because it is more than one thing.

Calendar: I block time off in my calendar to do certain tasks. The times and tasks are paired up so that my time is used up most efficiently. Items that require more creativity are done in the morning, for example. If you have taken or read the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People course or book, you can equate this to scheduling my big rocks.

To Do List: I keep my to-do list by my side at all times. That is my North Star to what needs to be done today. For people that know me well, I am very goal driven. My goal each day is to complete everything on my to-do list.

The last thing I do during my work day is review my to-do list and make my to-do list for the next day. I don’t want to spend time reviewing my previous days’ work to figure out what I should be doing today.

Communicate: I freely communicate to my colleagues and customers about my time availability. Most commonly, I keep my Mondays and Fridays open for my clients. It seems to be the easiest for them to meet with me. I am either meeting with my clients or working on their projects, at the very least, on those days.

Emails: Many people forget that email can be a very big time waster. Some simple suggestions would involve paying attention to the emails that you read and don’t read. If you find yourself deleting emails from companies where you somehow got onto their mailing list but you are not interested in them, take your name off the distribution list.

I have noticed that I have received the vast majority of my emails by 2pm every day. I do a quick scan of my emails first thing in the morning to see if there is anything pressing. If there isn’t, I stay away from my emails until 2pm. Together with the first email tip, I can be done dealing with my emails within 15 minutes.

Distractions: It is very easy to get lost in Facebook and Twitter for hours.  Working from home, it is also easy to get distracted with folding the laundry or just listening to music. Limit your own time on social media. Use it as a reward for breaks that you take.

Do Take Breaks: Make sure that you give yourself a break. A short 5 minute walk around the block can do wonders for waking yourself up and revitalizing your energy for the next hour or two.

What do you see as your biggest challenge for being organized with your time? Is it an external factor or is it yourself? It is very hard to come up with a solution if you haven’t identified the problem.

Have a great week!

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

#SpiderMabel

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This past Monday (September 28), the city of Edmonton was able to help Mable Tooke’s wish come true. Mable has been fighting Leukemia for 2 years. While in the hospital for treatment, she grew attached to Spiderman through his adventures in comic books and his TV show.

The City of Edmonton, including the Mayor, police, and its citizens, put their support behind #SpiderMable  as she was on the case of finding out who kidnapped Oilers Captain Andrew Ference.

The story of this 6 year old running all over the city to find a lost hockey player was tracked on Twitter around the world.  The event received tweets with an origin as far away as Brazil, China, and Australia. As with other things that have gone viral, there are certain traits which we can all appreciate.

Emotion: There is an emotion tied to the background story of the event. The raw emotion of hearing about a young child having to go through cancer treatment is not something that many can relate to, but it is something that we can feel. In the case of #SpiderMabel, there was also the emotion of finding a beloved hockey player from our favourite team. The authenticity of the invite was developed with a breaking story being broadcasted on local airways asking for the help of #SpiderMabel. Seeing the children of Andrew Ference asking for #SpiderMabel to return their father to their home increased the emotion of the event.

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Dreams: In the case of #SpiderMabel, there are very few kids in North America that have not dreamed about being a superhero for a day. During that day where #SpiderMabel was running around Edmonton doing different activities, we were all being superheroes along with her.  The things that she was doing were all things that we have dreamed of doing ourselves.

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Financial: There was no financial consideration involved at all with #SpiderMabel. Thinking back to other viral events, like #BatKid, the event did not have an attachment to anything fiscal. In the day and age that we are currently living, it is not often that something happens and there isn’t a financial consideration attached to it. #SpiderMabel, however, has been able to use her new found fame to raise money for the Children’s Wish Foundation via autograph signings and t-shirt sales.

What do you think are the common elements or components of having something go viral? Have you ever tried to make something go viral? What went right or wrong? I would love to hear.

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.