Manage Well : Go On Through

To go through a problem is to conquer it and create new paths. Go through. Don’t go around it.

Ps:95:8: Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: .

 A winner goes through a problem.

training

  A loser tries to go around a problem.

Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.

Problems are life. Sound like the last chapter?  You are right.  It is not the same though.  What makes a winner a conqueror, an overcomer, is the problems they face and conquer.  You will have problems.  1Pt:4:12:” Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:”

The question is will you go through or around?

Going around.  The children of Israel spent 40 years going around their problems.  When they were offered the land of opportunity, they chose to stay away and not deal with their problems.  What was their problem?  Discord, lack of submission to leadership, unbelief, selfishness… basically just a lot of reliance on themselves and little on God.

Going through.  After that 40 year phase, a new set of children rose up and went through their problems.  They stuck together, defended each other, and took the blessings by going through their problems.

Going around.  The United States is full of men and women going around their problems.  Insecurity, lack of knowledge on how to be a dad/mom/husband/wife, lack of commitment, irresponsibility, self fulfillment keeps them from sticking with their families and spouses and friends.  It’s easier to go around.

Going through.  My heroes are the ones who overcome their insecurities, lack of knowledge, lack of commitment, irresponsibility, and self fulfillment, replace it with security in Jesus, knowledge from the Word, commitment to what counts, responsibility even when it hurts, and other fulfillment, and stick with the program.  It is not easy.  It is incredibly rewarding.

Hebrews 4:14: Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.15: For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.16: Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Principle is principle is principle.  Relationships, work issues, projects, and hobbies all present problems.  When you allow others to help in the process, you prosper quicker.  Sometimes they have the solution you need.  Always, Jesus has the solution you need.

Take Inventory

Where do you have a problem that you have circumvented but not solved?

Are you ready to do what it takes to solve it?

Have you ever felt like getting mad at God because of a problem?  Did you go around the problem or through it?

Overcoming.  As I write this I am praying for five relationships where someone has come to me in the last week and asked for prayer.  They are GOING THROUGH!.  Anger, alcohol, and accusations make for hard lives. You can GO THROUGH.  You can overcome.  It takes both involved in the relationship, but it can be done.  Who are you praying for?

 Make Application

Write what you are going to specifically do in the next 30 days about this.

Risk It! Find A Way

A winner says, “Let’s find a way.”     A Loser says, “There is no way”

Rv:2:7: He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.training

A winner says, “Let’s find a way.”

A Loser says, “There is no way”

Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.

 Problems are life.  A great book written some years back is entitled, “Eating Problems For Breakfast.”  Another great book published years ago was “Lateral Thinking”.  Both of these books challenge us to remember that problem solving requires getting outside our normal boxes of thought and thinking different thoughts.  When we are ready to do that, we can see incredible solutions to plaguing problems.

Recently in the children’s department of a large church, the problem of space for growth came up.  The main area for elementary kids would only hold about 150 chairs, crammed uncomfortably with bad visibility.  There had to be a way.  After 15 years of looking at the problem, no one had a real viable solution.  It took getting outside the box.

Walking through another room planned for remodel a worker struck on an old idea with a new twist.  A choir loft seating about 75 adults was going to be torn out.  Why not split the loft and reassemble it in the kids area as bleachers?  The new use of an old item would make room for 100 new kids.  Not only that, but it took up little used space in the room and changed the room to a more exciting place for the kids and allowed over 250 kids to be in the room with all of them having good visibility.  Add to that another idea of doubling the lumens in the lighting and the whole idea gelled.  Unusable, dim space was turned into light, great space because some folks though outside the box against 15 years of  “no way”.  (Sunbonnet: The cost was only a few dollars as the labor was volunteered along with some great carpet to cover the bleachers. The cost of purchasing bleachers and installing a new lighting system would have been over $10,000.)

 1 Pt:1:7: That the trial (testing by presenting of problems)of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

This principle applies in all areas of life.  Tests, trials, opportunities, problems, glitches, frustrations, whatever you call them come up. Persistent prayer and thought can bring new light (couldn’t resist) and a different way to attack the problemFaith pushes through to solutions.  Fear stares at the problem and gives up.

Take Inventory

Do you have a long term problem that needs fixing?    How can you persist again and say, “There has to be a way!”?

What can you do today to get past the idea that you have to live with that old problem?

Make Application

Write what you are going to specifically do in the next 30 days about this.

 Pray To Be A Problem Solver

 Father, quicken my mind and heart.  Encourage faith in me to believe again for something on which I have given up hope.  You are so real and alive and active in everything that is.  Stretch my faith.  Let me be like the one who said to Jesus, “Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief.”.  Give me the courage to try a new approach and see Your had displayed.

The Day You Launch a Product You Begin to Lose Ground

http://americanprinter.com/columnists/phil-larson/022515-phil-larson-grow-sustain

Every product enhancement must continue to be enhanced.  There is always a better mousetrap.  Better does not mean changed.  Better means it meets a customer need in fresh ways that help them achieve their goals.  That is better.

What about the internals that make that happen.  Here are a few tips focused on the print services industry as they adapt to changing volumes, order types, and media integration. The principles apply to any and all businesses and organizations.

Build A Better Business – Build  A Better Life Forward

Marketing Within

Decades of working in corporate politics can leave you scarred and scattered.  There is no need for that.  In a series for American Printer, I’m reviewing tips for a specific service provision to large corporations.  Enjoy and apply to your endeavors.    This particular service is multi-channel marketing as an ongoing service.  Many print service providers are finding survival means adapting and becoming new.  Whether you are internal to an organization or serving the larger engine of an organization, the rules are similar.

Take a read and ask a question.  This is only one of a series of articles addressing this service.  Others cover staffing, workflow, conceptualization, and will move on to business model for effectiveness.

http://americanprinter.com/columnists/phil-larson/multi-channel-marketing-012315-ampr-phil-larson

Where is the Blue Sheet?

IMG_1146 (2)Pursuit of excellence demands detail attention.  Audit trail, decision criteria, review stats, goal progress, and historical databases seem like a plague that plugs up progress.  Not really.  Only if they are not consistent with the flow of the organization engine and customer demand do they interfere.  They are necessary actions that meet legal requirements, compliance mandates, risk mitigation, and goals tracking.

Delegation in a clear format is one of those pesky details.  An abrupt email rarely captures all the specifics needed for good delegation.  A text is a waste.  A phone call will result in missed pieces.  When it is a matter of substance, take some time to write it out in discussion.  Hallway interruptions need to be recorded and followed up.

For one financial organization, I worked with multiple unlike departments.   Each had a separate form of management flow.  The corporation had a loose knit, meeting driven mode of management.  Confusion reigned.  Fear of failure walked the hallways.  Authoritarian dictates were the norm.  Power brokers and politicians love this environment.  They can manipulate in back rooms.  But the customer and the owners suffer most when a sales support piece hits the streets and does not work in the sales process due to unclear objectives.   All the fingernail flying meetings won’t fix a new software rollout for accounting that lacks key compliance fields for entry.

As a manager of a few service areas, this was always a challenge.  Our departmental customers were politics driven and would change a request after we had moved forward at significant expense.  We learned to use a “Blue Sheet” to contain the chaos.

Really, the Blue Sheet was a problem, request, and change capture instrument.  Later, our team convinced the organization over a series of years to move in the IT areas to online capture and communication in these areas.  That left many areas untended.  So the service departments I managed used Blue Sheets.

In the early days of small computers, I remember pleading with my senior executive for a desktop to keep track of our service areas.  His reply was absolute wisdom.  “All you need, Phil, is a good pencil and a piece of paper.”  That reply made me angry.  But, he was right.  I went back and invented my first “Blue Sheet” and gave a pocket sized version to every team member for working directly with customers.  It worked.  Our service reliability improved and I could sift through a month’s pencil capture and note trends and take action that made big differences.  Later, we put it all on a desktop database for deeper analysis.

When a team member came into my office, they became accustomed to, “Where’s the Blue Sheet?”  Working with hundreds of requests, service orders, problems, and changes a day, the Blue Sheet gave us specific guidance on single issues.  Regular work orders had an online capture system.  Irregular needed something, too.

A Blue Sheet (we used blue paper) captured critical contact information, issue symptoms, probable cause, delegated action approach, expectations and any due dates and times,  and assignment.  With that, a team member could run without continually looking behind and asking questions.  There were no needs for continual meetings after that was captured.  When one or two or more needed to meet on the issue for a decision and direction, we pulled the Blue sheet to ensure we were continuing on target.  Improved information could be added and directional changes could be noted.  The holder of the sheet owned responsibility for accomplishment until handed off.  If resolution or service provision lingered beyond a few days, a more formal project definition and action plan could be drafted.

Everyone of us has a litany of lingering items that need “Blue Sheets”.  They won’t get resolved to satisfaction of the stakeholders without taking a few moments to capture key information items.

Sit down today with an outline that works for you that can capture quick information and thoughts.  Sometimes a simple piece of paper and a pen suffice.  Where’s your Blue Sheet?

3V Decision Criteria

Posit this!  Every action you take, every thought you make should be measured against the 3V criteria.  Validity, vitality, and veracity need to mark your reputation and the reputation of your organization or business.  Consistent failure on any of these over your history will eventually mean failure of your endeavors.  You may make money, fulfill the purpose of your non-profit, and have fun without them.  You are not successful.  You will fail or your successors will fail.

As a leader, ingrain these in your psyche.  Your personal reputation and continuance depend on them.  When others doubt you (and they will), your ability to face the mirror in the morning and be true to yourself is what will move you forward in life.   When you revel in victory, the congruence of these in the actions and intents that took you to the mountain will sweeten the taste.  When you struggle with results, the confluence of these bolsters confidence better days await.

3vsTo thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.  William Shakespeare

Validity

A valid thought or action is in the right time for the right reason.  Every venture has a sequence and a rhythm.  Today may not be the right moment to launch a new product line.  It might be a good product, but the operation is not ready to support and the customers have not been informed.

An invalid is someone struggling with a disabled portion of the balance.  An invalid action is the same.  It struggles in some measure due to imbalance.  Something is wrong with the preparation or timing or maybe the idea itself.

Be valid in your actions and thoughts.  Match the time and reason.

Leaders struggle with this concept.  Our vision for direction and purpose can overwhelm our ability to move with right time and reason.  Continual steps out of time will cause others to doubt your leadership.  Do all you can to ensure this is the right time and reason in relation to the people, progress, priorities, processes, projects, tools and technologies, and products and services. (Five Ps).

Progress and priority are factors to assess when testing for validity.  Are other factors aligned to make this work?  Has sufficient progress been made in all areas relative to support?  Is this a priority that will happen?  Is there commitment?

Be valid as a leader.

Vitality

A vital thought or action is full of energy and passion and purpose.  It fulfills the destiny and design of the organization or operation.  It takes energy. (Energizers)

Leaders need energy in constant measure.  How painful is it to watch a leader with a great opportunity to implement a valid solution and yet they do not have the force of life to execute?  It happens.  We let our passion and purpose become diluted by invalid action and distress.  Don’t.  Stay on track.  Keep your energy up.

Vitality is easier when you are working with purpose and design.  It is tough to support an initiative that does not fit the purpose of an organization.  You’ve been involved in those.  They stifle creativity and stymie progress.  Some board member wants to please a friend and asks you to run in circles to help them out while critical issues lack attention.  It sucks away vitality.

Veracity

A veracious thought or action is marked by integrity, ethicality, and honesty. It is true to all involved.  There is no hint of injustice, unfairness, or dishonesty.  Now this is a tough one to hit in today’s business and community environments.  It is worth all the effort you can give it.

Disconnect on this item is huge.  Hypocrisy is evident when your corporate intent is simply words on a page for marketing and recruiting.

Be the same leader at home, at work, and in the community.  Do what you do in the best interest of the other person.  “You can have anything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” Zig Ziglar.  ““Treat men exactly as you would like them to treat you.” Jesus of Nazareth

Be direct with communication.  Be transparent.  You don’t have the latitude to dispense everything you know to everyone you know.  That is a matter of right discretion.  You do have the requirement to be authentic and considerate.

Summary:  Every leader will be judged by results.  Results will be consistently productive when you tend to validity, vitality, and veracity.

managewell3Manage Well: Eclectic Tips on Excellence 

Energizers

Where do you get your energy?  Consider that question.  Consider the alternatives.  Are you being robbed of energy by concerns and consternations at work and home?  How do you replenish energy depleted by stress?  High performance requires high energy.energy

Multiple times today, I’ve been asked by managers where I get my energy and how I keep my energy and have I always had energy.  While speaking at the Association of College and University Printers, the question kept being asked.  These are some great people.  So, I committed to answer.

Energy comes from fulfillment of purpose.  Give yourself to your heart passion.  If your schedule at work and home is blocking pursuit of passion and purpose, energy will drain and not come back.  Take 30 minutes a day to work on your passion.  Give yourself the energy you need.   If you can find a way to live your passion, that is going to give you the highest amount of energy.

Energy comes from right balance of work and play.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and Jill a lagging lady.  Get out and play.  Make time to do what you love to do.  Read, relax, soak in the sun, fish, golf, chess, or whatever is enjoyable. Do it.  Schedule it.

Energy comes from helping others achieve their goals.  All of us like to grow.  Most managers love to see their staff grow.  It is what we do.  It is an internal driver for a good executive and manager.  Block off a few minutes this week to help a staff member conquer a project or gain some training.

Energy comes from right people environment.  Do you have acidic people surrounding you?  Cut off the pain.  Some acidic workers cannot be cut off.  They might be your boss.  Limit your time with energy draining whiners and complainers and over controlling types.  Love yourself.

Energy comes from rest.  Get it.  Get all you need.  It will enhance productivity in all the other hours.

Energy comes from exertion.  Yes, you need to get good exercise.  Work out when needed and let energy flow in the hard moments.

Energy comes from pace.  Your job and life have a biorhythm and a pace.  Find it.  Manage it.  Respect it. When it overflows, step back and get it back on track.

Energy comes from storage.  Store it up. Don’t spend yourself out every day.  Save some for tomorrow.

Energy comes from release.  Release your thoughts.  Forgive and forget the problematic situations and people of the day and start tomorrow new.

Energy comes from spiritual connection.  Take care of your heart along with your mind and body and relationships.

Every executive and manager needs to manage their energy.  Your staff and your customers and your family and friends depend on you to have great stores of energy at right moments.

Where do I get my energy?  I love my life, my friends, my family, the business of consulting, the businesses I serve, operations and communication business, and many activities in which I chose to participate.  That is the answer, chose to participate. Choose energy over worry.  Go ahead, own the future, it belongs to you.

Manage Well – available on kindle now.

managewell3Power Principle Choices: These subjects were selected by members of teams I’ve managed as their favorite sayings learned working with me.  In a surprise session, they unveiled a 31 day flip book with key sayings they had heard from me over and over.  Apparently, they are such a part of my vernacular they decided to keep notes.  Managers are teachers.

After working with a team in one company, I met for lunch with the manager.  It had been ten years since I worked in that company.

He shyly said, “We still use the PAL method.”

I responded, “What is the PAL method?”

He then explained that I had signed every directive and procedure with my initials, PAL.  They had studied the methods behind the memos and made a system out of them.  That is an honor.  But, I reminded him they should be learning and growing and not get too bound in prior principles.  However, principles are timeless.  Look for the principles.

If it works for them, then I am honored.  If it works for them it will work for you.  There are few others I snuck in besides the 31 and a few I left out for the next book.  Enjoy

Management is a craft.  A craft is when talent is developed with training and application.  There needs to be a base talent for leading and managing on which you build knowledge and skill and mix a little artistic individual expression.  No two individuals manage exactly the same.  How boring would that be?

After years of studying, going to classes, getting degrees, learning from mentors, reading every day, teaching in conferences, counseling with mentees, and just plain doing the do, one of my frustrations is the secretive nature of leaders.  It seems they want you to drag the most important tips out of them.  Really, that is intentional.  A good leader never gives away everything.  In fact, I’m going to give away the unspoken rule of leadership that did not make it into the team member selection, because I rarely state it publicly.

“Hold wisdom close.  Only release it to anticipating learners.”

One wise wisdom steward said it this way.  “Correct a fool (someone who does not want your correction) and he will turn and shame you with it.”   Ouch!  How true.  Over time, when a leader meets this truth a few times, she becomes guarded with what she shares and with whom.

Confidence Builders

Team building returns rewards. Leaders gain ground in respect. Team members gain ground in confidence. The organization gains ground with increased results, greater capacity, and improved capability.

Boost team by intentional confidence building. Yes, you have that power. Your influence will draw confidence from the well of team member souls. At first, you may meet resentment. An unchallenged associate is an unhappy associate. Imagination and ingenuity get throttled

Robb Harperthrough pursuit of perfection on policy and procedure and process. Lax up. Give room for confidence building challenges.

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” William James, Psychologist

Encourage ownership: A hard look at assignments and processes will reveal areas of evident apathy. Workers have abandoned attempts to master the routine as ownership is robbed. No one takes responsibility for areas everyone owns. Put direct lines of responsibility by assigned team member.

One shop kept loosing critical billing information during a transactional print routine. An unpredictable error was dropping out machine tracking needed for accounting. Lost billing means lost revenue and decreased profitability. An early morning worker had acumen for detailed log work. He was assigned a checkup routine to do during the runs whether he was on that machine or another. Through his ownership and attention, he isolated the technical issue, which was then resolved. He also went the extra mile and began manual log updates to ensure accurate billing during the weeks it took vendor programmers to fix the issue. That young man received a bonus and public recognition. Ownership.

Develop visible accountability: Leaders get specific. You don’t like it when the general memo comes out complaining about a frequently flubbed routine. Everyone is played down over one person’s problem. There needs to be direct and visible accountability.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Viktor E. Frankl

Quality suffered in this shop. Finishing staff struggled with print production staff over job handoff. With 200-400 jobs a day running on-demand, there were constant slippage items. Runs were short. Runs were on the wrong stock. Runs had quality shifts from start to end. Finishing teams brought work back for reprint and the due times were missed to customer. A quick and easy scanner checkoff was established that could be tracked to exact time and who was on duty. Slippage lessened. Runs were right count. Quality shifts were resolved at the machine. All it took was having clear and visible accountability to the press operator. Team members put spring back into their step. They now loved competing to see who could do the most with least amount of reruns. Personal pride is amazing.

Require synergy: Don’t ask for synergy. Force it. Mix up work assignments to get team members together on unlikely projects. Put the large format worker in the finishing area helping for a half a day a week. Bring the finishing tech into the print production room for help regularly. Get the creative team on a folder for a few minutes. Why? The power of synergy. When 1 + 1 = 50, you find amazing results. Two finishing operators may come up with a creative solution to a problem. But a finishing operator and a creative, who designs the work and layout, may come up with a completely new product line or streamline an existing line for easier production flow. When that happens, the team energy rises to incredible confidence levels.

Summary: Build confidence in each member and the team with intentional ownership, accountability, and synergy. Stir the pot. Communicate your confidence with visible reliance and trust.

Next blog will emphasize a different feature of high performance teams. Your customers deserve it.

 

ROI/ROECOMMON GROUNDS: These tidbits come out of daily consternations, comments, and concerns of real managers doing what needs done. Executives gain insight.

 This article focuses on the Operations level of the operational pyramid.

Let’s talk: Phil Larson or Shepherd Consulting OK