Manage Well: The 3 Questions

Bring a team into high productivity and positive morale with “The 3 Questions”.  Managers must master these.  Imbed them into your psyche.  Repeat them in your sleep.  Make them your meditational mantra.  Get it.

What is the down-line impact of this action?  How often do you have problems in production or sales or finance because of an inadequate exploration of this question?  What will happen in accounting if we promote this new product line at 5% markdown?  What will happen to other product lines?  Can marketing adjust in time for the sales season?  Will production be ready to handle sales volumes?

Put off this question at maximum risk of failure.  Even the simplest action in a sequence of workflow has to pursue an expanded understanding before change.  If we print this at a new size, will the finishing team be able to handle it?  If we promote a new advantage to our product will it meet compliance guidelines?  When we implement this change to our computer program for billing will it cause extra workload at 3am that affects another unrelated cycle?  There is no end to implications of one actions on other team action.  No one can know them all.  But you need to ask.

Who else needs to know?  How familiar is your team with the interaction of what they do with others?  Do you have workers living in a vacuum?  Have you taken time to educate them about interplay with other departments, people, teams, divisions, customers, and vendors?  When you change the usage of a machine, it might be wise to include the manufacturer in the discussion.  Ask often, “Who else needs to know?”

What is your information plan to include them?  When do they need to know?  Do they have access to enhanced information that might help you make a better decision before advancing?

Work with a production team with large dependency on delivery cycles proved out value here.  The delivery team was constantly a day behind.  They were only being informed at the time of pickup.  By moving the information to them at time of beginning of production, a day was cut out of delivery cycle to the customer and orders increased with increased customer satisfaction.  The sales team also needed to know at the same time instead of being informed only after delivery.  This enabled them to engage the customer along the path with pertinent and reliable information.  Who else needs to know?

What is the best use of my time right now?  After you ask the first two questions, answer this one.  Too often we ask this one and answer it only considering what we know and what we are doing.  We need to consider what others know and what they are doing.  A project launch could falter due to conflicting priorities in the organization.  A customer order may not be deliverable as requested due to a supply shortage and should be renegotiated.  After considering the plans and availabilities of others and related resources, we may want to work on an entirely different project or action and time this one in front of us into another day or week.

Summary Simplicity:   These 3 questions are priceless practice for any manager for self decisions and for training team members in their decisions.  After working with a team for a season on these, you will find they become masters of the top manager rule.  What is the top manager rule?  NO SURPRISES.  These questions eliminate the element of surprise and provide a foundation for a self managed team.

Ask them often.

What is the down-line impact of my action?

Who else needs to know?

What is the best use of my time right now?

Be Busy Building Better Business,



Manage Well: Reasonable Price and Trusted Service

If I can do this for a reasonable price, will you do the business with me?

The executive and manager establish thought pattern and policy among service and sales and customer.  Go for reasonable price business.  The bid mentality prevalent in many industries is predicated on being short changed in a transaction.  Reasonable price is predicated on trust, loyalty, and commitment to the good of the customer.  Over time, a reasonable price relationship delivers the best product for a customer at the best price.  Excess people time, unwanted and mismatched goods and services and mistakes decrease.  Major cost savings are engaged.

Meet A Need: Ask this question when working with “bid” mentality buyers before you haggle on pennies.  The question digs to the real trust involved in the transaction.  The question reveals your heart to do the best work for the client at a reasonable cost according to their needs.

Ask this question when working with a trusted client, who has come to you with a bid.

Rule of Respect: Ask this question as a rule of respect and many clients will engage business with you based on trust and your commitment to reasonable pricing and exceptional service.  Both of you will save money as trust is a faster transaction, requires less people involved on both ends, and over time ends up in a continuing lowering of cost based on watching out for the good of your client.

Are You Being Real? Are you coming to me with this business in order to justify an action with someone else on which you have already decided?  Are you bringing this to me as an honest opportunity with a fair chance for me to do the business?  Do I have a chance to establish a trusted relationship with you for other business?

Are You Still With Me?  For the existing client, this could lead to other questions.  Maybe they have lost some trust due to a miscommunication.  Maybe someone has opened a question in their mind about you and your team that needs answered.  Maybe they are just feeling a little neglected or want to express some freedom.  It is worth asking.

Engage The Heart of Service: Many internal organization providers look to get “right of first refusal” or “right to do business within a fixed percentage”.  It amounts to the same question only if your heart of service is fully engaged.  If you are looking to force someone to do business with you through top down edict, they will mistrust you and find an alternate path.  Frustration and lack of liberty in decision making breeds corruption and creative means of policy avoidance.

Reality Check:  One client continually asked for pricing.  This habit was costing us and them.  The cost of estimating many times was more than the total price of the transaction.  They were losing money bidding the items and we were losing money estimating minute work orders.  Our customer service team engaged the “reasonable price” approach.  Since the customer was familiar with our pricing through many transactions, they began to say yes.  This alone cut four or five phone calls out of each transaction.  Then they just moved to ordering with reasonable price expectation.  This cut hours of their time and our time out of each order and moved orders into the production queue many days faster as approvals accompanied the initial request.  People focused on quality and clarity and exactness in delivery instead of pennies.  This customer is a customer for life in a trusted relationship based on reasonable price.

Build business better.  Let me help you.  Phil  405-388-8037