Business operations

A Webinar on Implementing Automation

 

David Burnie shares an article and video on implementing an automation CoE at SCM Insurance Services.

 

Insurance organizations like SCM Insurance Services are using automation and AI to streamline administrative processes, drive efficiency, and enhance customer experience.

‘All right, I think we have quorum. Let’s get started. Welcome. My name is Sean Hinton. I am the country leader for UiPath here in Canada, and I’m really excited to have you all join us for a fun conversation with, with a few of my colleagues talking about SCM and the recent hyper automation journey they’ve been on. Before we get going, just a couple of housekeeping rules, the chat functions deactivated. But please use the Q&A function to ask any questions. We’re going to be monitoring that and try to add those questions in as we go along. And we’ll cover as many of them as we can throughout the call. If we run out of time and there are additional questions, we’ll follow up with the answers in subsequent communications. And unlike the NHL games or basketball games, EA Sports did not provide us with a laugh track as we’re going on. So, there will be no other noises other than the four panelists on the screen.

Today, I have some fun colleagues with me. I’ve got Mike from SCM, we’ve got David Burnie from the Burnie Group, and we’ve got Brandon from SortSpoke. We’re gonna have a conversation about the journey that SCM has been on over the last 12 months. But before we get into that: brief intros for everybody. So again, my name is Sean Hinton, I lead the Canadian business for UiPath. We have about 30 employees here in the Canadian market. And UiPath, if you’re unfamiliar, is a leader in the RPA segment, according to Gartner, and a number of other analysts. We provide a platform for hyper automation within your organization starting from discovery all the way to gaining insights from what you’re inputting. I’m going to pass it over to Dave. Mr. Burnie, can you introduce yourself?

 

Key topics covered include:

  • How SCM Insurance Services undertook their intelligent automation journey and built their automation Centre of Excellence
  • Recent advances in intelligent automation and document extraction technologies
  • Types of processes that can be successfully automated using intelligent automation and savings that can be realized
  • Best practices and lessons learned for a successful automation journey

 

Watch the full video, Transforming Insurance Operations Through Automation and AI, on BurnieGroup.com.

 

Transformation from Inside Out

 

Jason George shares a post that explores the Harvard Business School’s case method of teaching; and how this experimental approach in the construction of their classrooms became a model for many industries to follow. 

Harvard Business School’s campus is an extreme outlier, even when compared to those of peer institutions with similar histories. Situated on the Charles River across from the main buildings of its parent university, the self-contained layout was originally conceived in the 1920s. At the time of construction, funding constraints scuttled plans for a dedicated classroom building. Burgeoning enrollments plus the favorable economics of the post-World War II years brought this need back to the foreground.

HBS was a pioneer of the case method of teaching, which involves continuous interaction between faculty and students, so the traditional classroom design with a grid of desks would not suffice. Architects tasked with creating an alternative experimented with a tiered seating arrangement curving around a central space, from which the professor could guide the discussion as a conductor directing a symphony. This allowed students to more easily see and engage with both their teacher and each other.

The new configuration was piloted with a full-scale working mockup before blueprints were finalized. Nevertheless, builders realized their approach was somewhat experimental and might need modification as pedagogy changed. They found an unusual way to accommodate this. When assembling the steel framing they employed I-beams that were longer than usual, minimizing the number of internal load-bearing walls. Although it was more expensive and difficult to install up front, this choice meant that if teaching requirements or student needs changed, classrooms could be torn down or reconfigured without the expense of knocking down the main structure.

 

Key points include:

  • Airport design
  • Building with flexibility or future-proofing in mind
  • An overhaul of  Britain’s National Health Service

 

Read the full article, Flexibility and fragility: Bend or Break, on JasonGeorge.net.

 

Strategic Steps to Profitable Growth

 

Sugath Warnakulasuriya shares an article that explores a strategy many companies take to develop a path to profitable growth. 

Many traditional high-share, low-growth companies find themselves in a similar predicament: they’re burdened with large, fragmented account portfolios, likely from inorganic market share binges. They often have hybrid asset bases, widely dispersed points of distribution and sale, large workforces, and complex logistics, all of which make margin growth very difficult. The legacy nature of these businesses also prevent access to accurate and timely customer and operational data, further limiting clear paths to profitable growth.

A few companies have battled this dilemma by rethinking how they operate, with judicious use of inexpensive digital engagement, devices, data analytics and innovation techniques. The typical playbook involves creating new digital customer experiences that introduce convenience and drive use, providing the workforce with mobile tools that make it easier to do their job, and deriving insights from newly collected data to improve operations altogether. With emergence of low-cost IoT, some companies even instrument and connect their distributed assets, opening the flood gates to granular, up-to-date and highly useful data. Bringing it altogether with modern data infrastructure and analytics, and operationalizing key insights paves their way to profitable growth.

 

Key points include:

  • Creating new digital customer experiences
  • Digital dashboards to monitor hidden patterns
  • Connecting distributed assets

 

Read the full article, “Cash Cows with Millions of Udders” and Digital Paths to Profitable Growth, on LinkedIn.

 

Steps to Secure a Successful Digital Strategy

February 7, 2021

 

Nils Boeffel provides key steps you can take to ensure your digital strategy will be successful. 

Everyone is talking about digitalization, but many people and organizations get it wrong. To them it means throwing technology at things, hoping that they will get better. What is it really, what does it mean, and how do you think about it and implement it?

Last year I led a digitalization workshop at a company where they were looking to increase their digitization efforts. They recognized the need to move ahead (mainly due to changing market demands and the competitive situation), had several topics already under way, and wanted to “speed things up.” During the workshop it turned out that many things were already being done in different parts of the organization, that there was no central digital strategy, that the digitization was not integrated with their overall corporate strategy, and that the initiatives were taking longer than planned, and not providing the expected benefits.

How could they do it better, and what would it take to successfully define a digital strategy and implement digitalization?

What is digitalization?

The main aspect of digitalization means bringing information (data) and people (the users of the data) closer together, and bringing more data into an easily accessible and usable digital format. Digital data is only helpful if the information is used to provide value, accelerate or simplify processes, aid in decision making (as in KPIs), or help us better understand a topic.

 

Key points include:

  • Three key roles in digitalization
  • Phases of digital strategy
  • Puting digitalization on the corporate agenda

 

Read the full article, Digital strategy or digital disaster – how to develop a successful digital strategy, on Boeffel.net.

 

Four Steps to a Successful Post Merger Integration

January 16, 2021

 

Sean McCoy shares an article that explains why most post-merger integrations fail.

Most mergers and acquisitions fail to achieve their intended synergies and deal rationale, because most post-merger integrations (PMIs) fail. Most post-merger integrations fail because they did not beat The 4 Clocks. There are 4 clocks counting down in PMI, a clock each of the four major stakeholders in a PMI: employees, vendors, owners, and customers. The clocks also largely parallel areas of synergies. The name of the game in PMIs is to complete the integration and achieve the synergies before the clocks hit zero.

The Employee Clock

The Employee Clock measures the opportunity for two key synergies, internal synergies through consolidating excess capacity and external synergies via retaining top performers. Human capital and physical capital are under the microscope of the Employee Clock. Integrations often create excess physical capacity, e.g., plants, locations, and a common source of synergies is consolidation of physical plant.

The human capital element is a race against a brain drain. Top performers from both companies will typically stay on board to see where they fit in the new company. But, they will not stick around forever. The Employee Clock hits zero when top performers decide to move on. Losing top performers is perhaps the most damaging impact to the long-term strength of the integrated company. The high stakes for talent retention are usually why most PMIs begin with determining everyone’s role in the new organization.

The Vendor Clock

The Vendor Clock counts down the opportunity to capture cost efficiencies. A common source of synergies is the consolidation of vendors and systems. The cost of two systems becomes the cost of one system, but beyond that obvious savings, the new company has greater bargaining power with vendors, due to the larger volume of the integrated company. The starting time on the Vendor Clock is usually higher than on the Employee Clock, but vendor and system integrations also take longer, leaving no time to delay.

 

Key points include:

  • Source of funds
  • Revenue synergies
  • Customer churn

 

Red the full article, Post-merger integrations are racing against The 4 Clocks, on McCoy ConsultingGroup.com. 

 

What Digital Transformation Can Do for Your Business

November 26, 2020

 

Barry Horwitz shares a recent post on digital transformation in business, and how it can provide a clearer understanding of business wants and needs — both internally and customer-facing.

In a recent webinar, Harvard Business School professor Joe Fuller (author of Managing the Future of Work) shared this mouthful: More work will be more digital more often… soon.

What does that mean? Well, what it does NOT mean is that companies should simply do remotely or digitally what they have always done before.

“Digitizing” something that was conceived decades ago is not transformation. This is like how the first cars were called “horseless carriages” (and looked exactly like a horse-drawn carriage minus the horse) and the first attempts at “digital newspapers” were simply PDFs of the printed paper attached to an email.

No. What Fuller and others are saying is that it’s time to consider new combinations and envision a novel, better approach. Not only can this protect your business from getting left behind, it has the potential to open doors that might have otherwise remained closed.

Some examples worth chewing on…

Higher Education. Mid-semester (the first full semester under COVID conditions), many schools are still struggling to figure out the best way to proctor remote exams. One option is software that monitors — Big Brother style — a student’s every move during a test; a bad combination of intimidating and creepy. Maybe it’s time to rethink our approach to learning assessment, in ways other than through closed-book exams.

Supported Living for Consumers With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD). Rich Johnson, CEO of Ohio-based ViaQuest, envisions a future for I/DD services that is virtual, hybrid, and home-based, enabling consumers with I/DD to live with families and friends, instead of in 24-hour-staffed group homes.

 

Key areas of digital transformation include:

  • Higher education
  • Retail
  • B2B sales

 

Read the full article, Digital Transformation Is Coming For Your Business, on the Horwitz and Company website. 

 

Five Crucial Questions for Organizational Design

 

Stephen Redwood provides an article on organisational design and explains how to determine solid, fact-based, reference points that provide a platform for change and help keep projects grounded.

 

Silicon Valley is a get-it-done-fast world that has led the development of many new ways of thinking about how to operate a business. Design-thinking, crowd-surfing, hackathons and agile development are examples of common tools used by rapidly growing tech companies to cut down the scale and time it takes to build products and win customers. Is there an equally swift approach to organizational design that would support the metamorphosis from early stage to full-on growth in the tech world? This article focuses on 5 questions that cut to the core of organization design, and that may provide a path to an hyper-accelerated process – the 1-Day Organization Design Project:

What is the problem you are trying to solve?

What is causing the problem?

What is in scope for discussion

What options should be considered?

How should you proceed?

 

Key points include:

  • Identifying the relative types and scales of impacts on situation
  • The four basic causes that affect direction
  • Clarifying scope

 

Read the full article, Organization Design for Early Stage Valley Cats, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Microsoft Lists Explained

October 15, 2020

 

For all who are working with Microsoft Office 365, Hugo Bernier has provided a series of posts to help navigate the software. In this post, he explains how to work with rules in Microsoft Lists.

Over the last few years, Microsoft has done an amazing job at modernizing SharePoint.

It used to be that the first question my clients would ask me when I would start a new engagement was “How can we make SharePoint not look like SharePoint?”.

Now, most engagements start with “How can we make our old SharePoint sites look more like the new SharePoint sites?”.

That’s a testament to the hard work of folks at Microsoft. They’ve changed how you edit SharePoint pages and sites to make it easier for everyone to quickly design beautiful content.

But lists in SharePoint have not changed at the same pace. Sure, they got a slightly updated look and feel (well, some lists, anyway), but they were still not easily approachable for every user.

With Microsoft Lists, Microsoft seems to be doing to Lists what the SharePoint team did to pages. They are modernizing them and making them much easier to use for everyone.

They’re still lists behind the scenes, but they’re no longer relegated to being hidden in a site somewhere. They’re becoming first-class citizens in Microsoft 365, crossing the boundaries of SharePoint, Groups, and Teams.

I already covered the lists templates, but in today’s post, I’ll explain how you can easily build rules to notify someone, and how rules will continue to evolve to do a lot more.

 

Key points covered in this article include:

  • Creating a rule
  • Editing a rule
  • Why put rules under automate?

 

Access the full article, Working with Rules in Microsoft Lists, on the Tahoe Ninjas website.

 

A Framework to Manage the Disruption of Covid 

 

With the pandemic hitting the second wave and going nowhere fast, Boris Galonske shares a comprehensive framework and downloadable PDF playbook designed to guide companies through critical infrastructure operations during major disruptions such as: pandemics.

The coronavirus exposes critical infrastructure to a risk environment which is unprecedented in recent history. In order to maintain resilient operations establishing a playbook how to run critical infrastructure these days is key.

Situation today

A pandemic has been part of risk inventories of large corporations for several years. However, the accelerating speed with which the coronavirus spreads across global regions comes as a surprise. Research organisations and networks uncover new facts almost on a daily basis.

Medical researchers fast-track efforts to come up with medical interventions which in the best case will be available by year end.

Politicians and financial experts carve out policy mechanisms targeted at coping with the economic consequences of the pandemic – short-term and longer-term.

Although corporations also need to review their exposures and identify mitigation mechanisms, maintaining robust operations of critical infrastructure (e.g. IT, chemical plants, utility assets, power plants, chemical plants & sites, …) today is critical.

Hence, as vulnerability of operations increases, stabilising the management response and reducing complexity is key in order to maintain operational resilience.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • What stakeholders expect
  • How risks materialise
  • Monetizing digitization levers

 

Read the full article, Weathering the storm – Establishing a playbook for critical infrastructure operations, and download the PDF on Silverbergh.com.

 

Access Expert Inventory Management Tips 

September 26, 2020

 

Discover practical inventory management tips that can help your business grow in this post on Carlos Castelan’s company blog. 

For any products-based business, it’s hard to overstate the importance of inventory management. Not only does effective inventory management help you to evaluate the state of your business and reveal various roadblocks to your success, but it also helps you to keep operations running smoothly and ensure that your customers stay happy. And when your business is growing quickly, it becomes even more vital. As we talk to customers of all sizes, we have heard several themes -that’s why we’ve provided these inventory management tips for flourishing businesses:

Use Up-to-Date Software

One common mistake made by many companies is that they continue to use inventory management methods and/or software long after it has become obsolete. And it usually comes down to costs.

But as The Houston Chronicle’s website Chron explains, using archaic inventory management contributes to a host of problems that end up costing your company much more money than the price of quality, up-to-date software. Digitized tracking allows better forecasting, reduces errors, improves customer service, and enhances efficiency. Research the market, and you will likely find a number of cost-effective options that can transform your inventory management practices.

 

Key tips in this article include:

  • Improve your forecasting
  • Stick to FIFO
  • Audit your stock efficiently
  • Check your products

 

Read the full article, Is Your Business Growing? Consider These Practical Inventory Management Tips, on the Navio Group website.

 

Innovation Lies and Other Truths

September 22, 2020

 

Robyn M. Bolton takes a lesson learned from a fairy tale to illustrate truths.

I love stories.  When I was a kid, my parents would literally give me a book and leave me places while they ran errands.  They knew that, as long as I was reading, I wouldn’t be moved.

But there was one story I hated – The Emperor’s New Clothes

I hated it because it made absolutely no sense.  It was a story of adults being stupid and a kid being smart, and, to a (reasonably) well-behaved kid, it was absolutely unbelievable.

No adult would try to sell something that doesn’t exist, like the clothiers did with the cloth.  No adult would say they could see something they couldn’t, like the Emperor and the townspeople did.  Adults, after all, don’t play at imagination.

As a kid, this story seemed completely wild and unrealistic.

As an adult, this story is so true that it hurts.

The truth of this story touches so many things and innovation is at the top of the list.

I’ve spent my career working in innovation working within large companies and as an advisor to them.  I know what executives, like the emperor, request. I’ve said what the consultants say to sell their wares.  I believed all of it.

Now I need to be the kid and point out some of the lies, as I see them.

 

Lies identified in this article include:

Lie #1: Companies can disrupt themselves

Lie #2: If companies act like VCs, they’ll successfully innovate

Lie #3: We can pivot our way to success

 

Read the full article, The Innovator has No Clothes: Innovation’s 3 Great Lies, on the Mile Zero website.

 

Six Tips to Help Align Your Organization’s Go-to-market Approach from Strategy to Revenue

 

Stephen Redwood’s clients have been asking questions about how operating models will change post pandemic and how to accelerate time to market. He collaborated with Colin Taylor, to identify six priorities to focus on when rethinking your go-to-market (GTM) model.  

Cross-functional synchronization and alignment around a unified go-to-market approach is uncommon but has great value. Transforming your go-to-market approach can increase brand value, optimize growth investments, empower sales teams and accelerate time-to-revenue. This article discusses six tips to realizing this latent value in your organization:

 

Information in this article includes:

  • Minimize your limiters (decision making and hand-off hold-ups) and maximize your accelerators (streamlined processes, formal collaboration mechanisms, clear accountabilities)
  • Build a single company-wide model to establish a trusted and consensus view of all the interlocked go-to-market activities working together
  • Clarify accountabilities and devolve decision making closer to hand-offs across the business system
  • Build a company-wide, shared sense of accountability into processes and KPIs. Establish cross business communities that bring together critical silos at the intersections of hand-offs
  • Adjust goals, provide training, communicate continuously, and keep leaders on point
  • Establish oversight mechanisms to ensure the system is continuously updated to keep it relevant

 

Read the full article, Why is our go-to-market so inefficient and slow?, on LinkedIn.

 

Do You Have the Heart of a Survivor?

 

Surbhee Grover provides insight and inspiration in this article on the fortitude of spirit and mental strength.

The setting of the movie is the tiny town of Nome, Alaska, which is paralyzed by a deadly, fast-spreading disease. Despite a quarantine that was executed early on, the epidemic is expected to wipe out a majority of its inhabitants within days… unless they get speedy access to the appropriate medication (antitoxins) that needed to be transported more than 600 miles, amidst a winter blizzard, which made flights a non-option. Enter Togo, a Siberian husky who led a team of sled dogs and covered hundreds of miles at record-breaking speed in a deadly storm to (obviously) deliver the serum, and save the day.

The premise of this (real life) story from 1925 itself gives one an instant connection to the times we live in, even if it is almost a century removed from the present day. However, watching this Disney movie a few days ago, as I munched microwave-prepared popcorn, it wasn’t the epidemic that inspired me to pick this story as a reference—it was Togo, and what he could teach us, about triumphing in such turbulent times (WARNING: spoilers ahead).

 

Areas of interest in this article:

  • The importance of home
  • Operating processes
  • Steering your business

 

Read the full article, The Heart of a Survivor, on the Thrive Global website.

 

Redefine and Reorganize for Business Post COVID-19

 

Stephen Redwood has published a series of articles that draw from his experiences over a long career in consulting to help respond to the implications of COVID-19 and build strategies for the future. 

In the face of huge upheavals with the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have few reference points on which to base decisions about how their organizations need to adapt to changing circumstances. Clients have asked me for my thoughts on how to frame their thinking. It’s early days so, as Winston Churchill said, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” 

Organization design is too often seen as a narrow set of considerations about roles and reporting relationships. This is way too reductive. The design of an organization should consider all the elements that affect how it functions. Particularly now, when so much outcome uncertainty exists, attention needs to be given to culture, metrics, and development opportunities to drive appropriate behavior change in people. From my conversations with clients and a variety of other sources, here are some early thoughts as we learn to respond to the implications of COVID-19 for how companies operate.

 

Included in this article:

  • Planning for the future
  • Redesigning processes
  • Redefining leadership
  • Long-term transitions

 

Read the full article, How will organization design be impacted by COVID-19?, on LinkedIn.

 

This Is the New Norm – Or Is It?

 

Diane Mulcahy explains why the current model of the office worker is difficult to change despite the evidence of increased productivity from the remote worker.

No one expected (or wanted) remote work to scale because of a virus and subsequent global pandemic. But, here we are. 

The battle for remote work has been ongoing. Employees want the choice and flexibility to work outside the office at least some of the time, but many companies and even more managers resist it. Will this short-term (at minimum) and large-scale experiment in remote work change that?

It’s hard to argue any other outcome. Once companies have the processes and tools in place, and the results of weeks, or even months, of remote working, it will be difficult to put the genie back in the bottle. 

That’s a good thing. The notion of mandatory daily employee attendance in the office is already obsolete. Not one – not one! – study suggests that working in an office eight hours a day, five days a week maximizes employee productivity, satisfaction, or performance. In fact, any data that exists on work in an office reveals that most employees aren’t engaged, waste a lot of time in the office not working, and that employee underperformance is a persistent problem, despite the omnipresence of management. Even worse, the direct costs of maintaining the traditional office-based workplace are high. CBRE estimates that the typical company in the U.S. spends upward of $12,000 per employee per year for office space. It’s hard to find a return-on-investment case for office space, and much harder still to find any company that makes a compelling one.

 

Included in this article:

  • Links to studies on remote workers
  • Key drivers of daily office attendance
  • Quality of work

 

Read the full article, Remote Work Is The New Norm. Will It Last?, on the Forbes website.

 

Applying Structure to Problem Solving

 

Davide Gronchi provides two simple tools that can help collect answers to powerful questions.

Advanced analytics and machine learning are some of the ready-to-use technologies that help discover correlations and drive conclusions out of complex data sets that often describe our business and production processes. This is very helpful to take decisions aiming to prevent something unwanted to happen e.g., set process parameter to X in order to obtain product spec within tolerance.

There are many other opportunities to eliminate “waste” out of business processes that don’t require complex tools and data scientist skills but “just” common sense and good leadership. Solving problems should always start with a clear definition of “what is the problem?” Often we mix up the symptoms with the root causes, by doing so we look for solutions to the symptoms but don’t eliminate the root cause. Guess what? The problem will be back very soon…

Following a structured problem-solving approach is not difficult but requires discipline and asking the right questions, what we call “powerful questions“. These are questions that make people thinking, typically open questions that require an articulated answer, not just a binary yes/no.

Asking powerful questions should be one of the core skills of good leaders: not solving problems themselves but helping their teams to do so. I believe many have forgotten this and risk to lead teams in endless problem solving rounds without sustainable and substantial results.

 

Included in this article:

  • Fishbone diagram
  • Pareto chart

 

Read the full article, The Simple Art of Problem Solving, on the Growing Operations Advisors website.

 

How to Prepare a Pandemic Playbook 

 

Boris Galonske offers direction on how to navigate the effects of COVID-19 in the form of a detailed outline of a playbook. 

The coronavirus exposes critical infrastructure to a risk environment which is unprecedented in recent history. In order to maintain resilient operations establishing a playbook how to run critical infrastructure these days is key.

Situation today

A pandemic has been part of risk inventories of large corporations for several years. However, the accelerating speed with which the coronavirus spreads across global regions comes as a surprise. Research organisations and networks uncover new facts almost on a daily basis.

Medical researchers fast-track efforts to come up with medical interventions which in the best case will be available by year end.

Politicians and financial experts carve out policy mechanisms targeted at coping with the economic consequences of the pandemic – short-term and longer-term.

Although corporations also need to review their exposures and identify mitigation mechanisms, maintaining robust operations of critical infrastructure (e.g. IT, chemical plants, utility assets, power plants, chemical plants & sites, …) today is critical.

Hence, as vulnerability of operations increases, stabilising the management response and reducing complexity is key in order to maintain operational resilience.

 

Information provided in this article:

  • What stakeholders expect
  • How risks materialize
  • Staying in control
  • How to proceed

 

Read the full article, Weathering the storm – Establishing a playbook for critical infrastructure operations, on the Silverberg website. 

 

Contagion Dynamics and the Economic Impact of COVID-19

 

Martin Pergler shares a couple of files on understanding COVID-19 contagion dynamics, and some of the tradeoffs of managing spread vs long term social/economic impact.

People seem to be increasingly internalizing and accepting efforts prudentially required to slow down COVID-19s exponential infection rates. And hopefully we’ll converge even more from the poles of “barricade ourselves behind hoarded toilet paper” and “what me worry, I don’t see a problem yet” behaviour. However, given differences in, and evolution over time of, testing and reporting around the world, we also need to get ahead of monitoring the evolution of the outbreak and its containment in different geographies. We’ve all seen the “buy time to flatten the curve” graphic many times by now, but I think we all hope we can minimize the area under the curve, not just flatten it.

With this in mind, I’m happy to see a paper on statistical time series modeling applied to localized contagion dynamics cross my desk, from Italy no less! Pretty technical in nature, and frankly there isn’t truly enough data to draw any actionable conclusions yet, but we’re going to need analysis of this type to be able to extrapolate sensibly going forward, and to judge to what extent containment approaches — including different intensities of social distancing — are working.

 

Read the full article, Coronavirus: monitoring change in contagion dynamics, and access links to the files on the Balanced Risk Strategies website. 

 

Tough Time Strategies

 

In this timely post, David A. Fields provides ten strategies consulting firms can implement to help navigate through difficult times. 

You’re swimming in a vast sea of stressful news and, given today’s reality, you’re well within your rights to feel anxious, nervous and uncertain about how your consulting firm should proceed.

Clients are shutting down their operations; workshops and meetings are being called off; in fact, the entire economy appears to be headed for an abrupt, if temporary, halt. What does that mean for your consulting firm and how should you respond?

I pulled together a couple dozen “to dos” for my consulting firm clients. Nine of them are presented below, leaving a space for you to fill in your recommendation for your own consulting firm and for other readers.

 

Areas covered in this article include:

  • Client relations
  • Budget management
  • Partnership opportunities
  • Remote work and delivery

 

Read the full article, 10 Tough-times Strategies For Consulting Firms, on David’s website.

 

How to Make Every Meeting Productive

February 27, 2020

 

Jared Simmons provides three meeting strategies to overcome stagnation.

We’ve all been there before. It took you three weeks to find a time on everyone’s calendar. You found the perfect room and showed up early to make sure the previous meeting didn’t run over. You’ve spent countless hours working on your agenda and slides and even reading articles like this on productivity. And then it happens–the conversation gets stuck. Your time is rapidly dwindling and you’re still on agenda item one. You simply cannot afford to have this group disperse to their thousand other priorities without covering these items. So what do you do? Here are a few techniques that can help you get your meeting moving forward again.

 

The strategies explained include:

  • Restating the point
  • Recapping the options
  • Identifying the key factors

 

Read the full article, Three Meeting Strategies to Overcome Stagnation, on the Outlast website.

 

Read the full article in the https://outlastllc.com/three-meeting-strategies-to-overcome-stagnation/

How to Avoid Falling into the Email Communication Trap

February 25, 2020

 

Jesse Jacoby taps into a common pain point in today’s business operations — the vague or misunderstood email — and provides an easy solution to overcome the problem. 

Connecting with coworkers, clients and customers has never been easier. Gone are the days when we had to drive across town to chat with someone in a different office. When we run into a challenge or have a question regarding our work, we have a plethora of communication tools at our fingertips: email, text, instant messaging, and the list goes on.

Yet, how many times have you received an email response or stared at a text feeling more frustrated and confused than when you started. In today’s fast paced world of electronic exchange, messages can easily be misinterpreted, and emotions can escalate quickly as a result. A curt interaction, even when softened with a cheerful emoticon, can really strike a nerve. Now, not only do you still have that lingering challenge to face or question to answer, you also have to manage the mounting frustration and annoyance attached to it.

 

Read the full article, Assume Positive Intent, in the Emergent Journal.

 

Facts and Data – Spot the Difference

February 12, 2020

 

Dan Markovitz identifies the difference between facts and data and why you need both to make a fully informed assessment. 

Taiichi Ohno said, “Data is of course important in manufacturing, but I place the greatest emphasis on facts.” You can leave out the word “manufacturing,” and apply the concept to anything in your company or your life. Facts are more important than data.

When he talked about his preference for facts over data, he was urging people to go and see for themselves. Gathering facts comes from close observation of people, of objects, of spaces. 

By contrast, spreadsheets, reports, and anecdotal accounts are not facts. They’re data. They’re two-dimensional representations of reality, which makes it easy to jump to conclusions. 

Data tells you how often a machine breaks down on an assembly line. Facts—direct observation—show you that the machine is dirty, covered in oil, and hasn’t been cleaned and maintained in a long time.

Read the full article, Just the Facts, Ma’am, on the Markovitz website.

What Lean Means for the Work Week

 

Dan Markovitz explains why time management and a shorter work week is good news for lean.

 

In the space of two weeks, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal both ran articles on the productivity benefits of reduced work hours. The WSJ introduced us to the workers at Rheingans Digital Enabler in Germany, who only put in five-hour days, for a workweek of 25 hours. The same is true of employees at Tower Paddle Boards (at least during the summer months) and Collins SBA, a financial advisory firm in Australia. 

Not to be outdone, NPR reported that Microsoft Japan moved to a four-day workweek this summer while increasing productivity by 40%. Of course, software firm 37 Signals has been operating four-day work weeks over the summer since 2008. And New Zealand-based Perpetual Guardian believes in the four-day week so strongly that the founder created a non-profit to promote it. Indeed, a recent survey by the Society of Human Resource Management indicates that fifteen percent of companies offer a 32-hour workweek. 

 

Read the full article, It’s Not Time Management, It’s Lean, on his website.

Nine Signals to Flag Faulty Assumptions & Create Opportunities

David A. Fields explains why correct assumptions can quickly become wrong, and how to test the assumptions of your consulting practice to create new opportunities.

You throw your best efforts into delivering value for your consulting clients, improving your consulting firm’s marketing, and creating a rewarding consulting environment. Then you find your work was off by a bit. Or more than a bit. Or completely wrong. Pickles-in-peanut-butter wrong. That’s no fun.

Alas, I have bad news for you and me: we’re mistaken. About everything.

I also have good news: our mistaken assumptions represent a huge opportunity for our consulting firms.

 

The article identifies nine signals that could transform your consulting practice, including:

-Unexpected success signals

-Unexpected failure signals

-Closely held belief signals

-Two transformative questions

 

Read the full article, Signs Your Consulting Firm Is Operating on Faulty Assumptions,  on David’s company website.

Explaining the Need for Razor-Sharp Precision 

Luiz Zorzella moves beyond the buzzwords to explain how a razor-sharp vision, strategy, and plan inspires buy-in and achieves results.

 

If your organization is not delivering the results you expected, maybe one factor holding it back is a lack of razor-sharp precision.

Most business leaders would benefit from sharpening their strategies: employing more clear language (calling a sword a sword), more accurately defining strategic priorities and objectives. But few actually do it. For example, most financial services companies profess to be “client-centric”, but very few actually explain what that looks like. And if you survey the organization and ask how this principle of “being client-centric” applies to practical matters, you will obtain very different answers.

 

Read the full article, Your Business Needs Razor-Sharp Precision, on the Amquant website.

The Argument for Going to the Gemba

Dan Markovitz provides a reality check on the concept of management by walking around (MBWA); how the leaders at organizations embracing lean take a different approach, and why the latter is better than the former.

Theodore Kinni argues in Strategy + Business that leaders must practice management by walking around (MBWA), a concept popularized by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman in their seminal book, In Search of Excellence. That’s the best way for them to stay connected to their businesses and understand what’s really happening with their customers. As Peters puts it, “The real meaning [of MBWA] was that you can’t lead from your office/cubicle.”

I’ve got no problem with the concept—after all, it’s similar to the lean precept of genchi gembutsu, or going to the gemba.

But here’s the problem with MBWA: it’s essentially unstructured.

 

Read the full article, Please, Not Another Argument for MBWA, on Dan’s website.

The Potential Cost Savings with  BPO and RPA

December 9, 2019

If you want to know more about the potential benefits, scope, pros and cons of business process outsourcing (BPO) and robotic process automation integration (RPA), check out this article from the knowledge hub on David Burnie’s company website.

 

Both BPO and RPA aim to achieve the goal of streamlining processes, achieving efficiency and increased productivity, and yielding cost benefits.

BPO and RPA implementations allow organizations to perform back office, internal, and call centre tasks efficiently quickly. This provides enterprises the benefits of overhead cost reduction, improved productivity, better quality, and more.

Both RPA and BPO are most applicable for business processes that are:

  1. Frequent – consistent daily/weekly volumes
  2. Repetitive – e.g. data entry tasks
  3. Rules-based – the process is defined by precise decision rules
  4. Streamlined – stable, without redundant steps.

 

Read the full article, Business Process Outsourcing and RPA Integration, on the BPO & RPA knowledge hub at The Burnie Group website.