All the CEOs I know, work hard to better their companies’ positions.
All the CEOs I know do achieve improvements over the years.
However, almost all the CEOs I know are perpetually disappointed about the level of their improvements. Most fail to meet their profit expectations. – W. Caswell
Armed with intelligence, with the assistance of a capable, proven teams, years of education, new books on the subject of management and, for some, the deployment of well-proven management consultants, still, the immediate bottom-line results remain disappointing for most CEOs.
Why? The answer lies in three small points, all of them related to one missing reason – lack of discipline for their intentions: good intentions are not enough.
The Three Points
First you must instill the simple ingredient called ‘respect’ in your enterprise. Second, using respect, you must dig away at the backlog of hidden (as well as the obvious) problems. The thoroughbred with a gimpy leg cannot hope to win the derby unless that problem is resolved beforehand. Third, with respect in place and the major problems successfully wrestled to the ground, the company can install whatever improvement systems it wants and they will probably work. Without respect in place and without problems resolved, the improvement systems will probably not work as expected. Let’s look at, and number, these three points:
- Hidden problems
- Improvement systems
We will begin with the most obvious obstacle.
The Hidden Cost of Hidden Problems (#2)
Obvious problems in a company easily attract our attention and are resolved in a timely fashion by most of us. However, there are many other problems in a company that do not get onto our radar screens, either because they are too painful to address (e.g. identifying who is really 2nd honcho in the company) and don’t cause an uproar at this time or the problems appear too minor presently (missing a non-critical delivery date, for example). What is not realized is that all these problems combined have a cost that adds up to what your profits should be. That is because often they are symptoms of a deeper, and sometimes pervasive malaise. The choice is very simple: resolve the problems and you get decent profits; leave them unattended and profits will continue to elude you.
Besides, as mentioned in the opening “The Three Points” paragraph, you will never be able to install overall improvement systems since the unresolved problems will thwart any well-intentioned improvement effort. Good intentions are not enough.
To put this in perspective: the CCCC experience is that the average company problem has an annual cost of $50,000 if not resolved and those tabled for action can range in size from $5,000 to $100,000+. If nothing else you should at least set about to identify the problems and the cost to resolve them AND the cost not to resolve them.
Assuming that identifying and costing outstanding problems is not an obstacle for you, how do you go about solving them? Good intentions are not enough. You need a problem-solving system that deals with interpersonal rivalries and sensitivities or else the problem will remain long on your list of unfinished business. CCCC’s problem-solving system has enjoyed a 100% success record. That is, the solutions arrived at, based on a history of resolving over 500 problems, is that the solution have met the goals set out by the problem-solving team at the outset, 100% of the time – as judged by 100% of the participants. Other systems have similar results. The key to making a problem-solving system work is to install some problem-solving methodology. However the key to any successful problem-solving process is having a respect mechanism in place first, which brings us to point #1.
The Respect System (#1)
Respect has been proven beyond a doubt to be the magic ingredient to corporate greatness as noted in the paragraph below, “The Respect Revolution” (and reference 1).
Respect does not just happen in a company because of good intentions. Some people are more respectful than others and respect’s regular application is elusive at best. Therefore the assurance of respect as a consistently applied vehicle (to deliver, ultimately, continuing profits) cannot be left to good intentions but must be put in place by some systematic means. The means is now publicly available in the book series The Respect Revolution (reference 2) and specifically is detailed in Volume V of the series, Solving the Impossible Problem (reference 3), which combines methods for both ‘respect’ (#1) and ‘problem solving’ (#2).
In a nutshell, these references begin by defining respect, followed by outlining procedures for making respect happen. As well, they incorporate the policing of respect with the simple referee system conducted at meetings in what is termed the ‘safe environment’. Step by step the meeting participants are guided in the processes with respect at their heart. Nothing is left to chance. Nothing is left to good intentions alone. Fortunately, results start to show in the very first application of systematic respect use. Significant operational and financial results from problem solving appear next. Then, almost by osmosis, the respect mechanisms shift beyond the meeting room into the offices, plants and branches of the companies.
Ah but we humans are a pernicious lot! As soon as everything is working well, we let our guards down. So, finally, the respect instructions illustrate how to maintain the respect mechanism in place in a non-onerous fashion, despite such human foibles as complacency.
The Respect Revolution
An accumulation of sixty years of studies described in best selling business books from In Search of Excellence to Built to Last, to First, Break all the Rules, and Good to Great (references 4, 5, 6 and 7) detail the results of the successes of millions of employees, hundreds of thousands of managers, and thousands of companies. Evolved from the work of highly esteemed researchers, authors, experts and authorities, these studies consistently point to respect as the key to getting results. That conclusion coincides with what many of us try to practice day-to-day, and in our hearts believe should have precedence in life. Respect is a value that most people would like to believe is possible to share at work. Since respect makes for good human relationships, and since the most important elements in corporations are humans, it follows that respect should be an essential driver to success for enterprises. Or so we would like to believe.
What we have in this body of works is a quiet 60-year-old revolution: esteemed bodies, authors, and practitioners have discovered and concluded that respect is the magic key for making enterprises work well – but no one has articulated it very clearly, and certainly not shown how to do it. The Respect Revolution series (2) makes it plainly obvious that respect is the key. The series also details the ‘what’, ‘why’, and, for the first time in publishing history, the how.
Improvement Systems (#3)
Once the key problems have been resolved (and respect is in place) any number of improvement systems can be installed. We, however, have our list of favorites, which encompass the following:
- Defining the Mission
- Planning, strategy and structure
- Performance measurement, accountability and rewards
- Information flow and feedback
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Maintenance system for whatever processes created the excellent results.
No doubt you have your own such as Business Process Re-engineering, 360o Evaluations, Zero-Based Budgeting, Six Sigma, etc.
Three little words, three little ingredients, are the route to profits – the symptoms of being a great company (or, in their absence, of not being great) – which are:
- Install a respect mechanism
- Reduce hidden problems
- Then, and only then, install your improvement systems.
Written instructions to achieve 1, 2 and 3 (reference 2) make this quest easier than ever before.
Best wishes to you in pursuing your endeavours respectfully and profitably.