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Taiichi Ohno is not pleased

Don’t get me wrong. I think he would be pleased that the Toyota Production System has been so widely adopted. But he would not be pleased with the manner in which it is being used in many cases. Why does senior leadership continue to fail in fully supporting their own Lean program? Why is there such a disconnect? The results for successful Lean deployments are widely known and available for all to see. I hear rhetoric from the top about short-term/immediate pressure to please shareholders. Any talented leader can put on a CEO hat and layoff thousands and close many plants to create an immediate bottom-line impact. Where are the CEO’s who can stand strong under the pressure and build a lasting, thriving company? As a shareholder, I can say that I would much prefer a company to take the long view for lasting health versus a short-term slash & burn to give immediate return.  Has greed has become our undoing?  I’m not sure if American manufacturing will survive.  Have we killed the Golden Goose?  Where are the leaders who will put the success and happiness of employee’s and their organization first?

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Many of you know that I am an Alabama football fan. I certainly don’t want to boast or bore anyone. However, I am simply impressed with Nick Saban and his Sytems thinking. The following note is from a former teammate of mine at Bama who is now a High School football Coach (Jay Mathews, he was a fine QB). He writes about an experience of listening to Coach Saban at a Coaching Clinic. I was blown away with the parallels of his insight as applied to any organization in existence in which people are employed.

Nick Saban’s Process
Now that Nick Saban has coached two national champion football teams at two different universities, his ‘process’ will be getting a lot of headlines. I thought I would give it to you as he presents it to his coaches and team.

• COME TO WORK- GET TO WORK
• GRIND IT OUT EVERY PLAY-EVERY DAY- IN THE RIGHT WAY
• FINISH YOUR PREP-YOUR PRACTICE-YOUR DUTY
• FOCUS ON THE PROCESS NOT THE RESULTS. The results will take care of themselves.

In some ways these are coaching cliché’s, but everyone I know who is around Saban speak of his relentless work ethic and demand for others to grind it out with him. He also studies human psychology and understands techniques needed to motivate today’s players. He is more of a positive energetic pusher to the players in public and just rips his coaches in private. Love him or hate him, he has command and everyone around him keeps in step.

I heard Saban speak at a clinic when he was at LSU and he spoke of how he needed to adjust his coaching style. Here are the notes I took:
“Never before has coaching had a greater challenge or greater responsibility. I have found it difficult coaching players who are a product of this culture.
Kids have too many choices and too few commitments and very few consequences. They are self-absorbed (not selfish), it’s just a mentality. They want to know “how does this benefit me?” Very few of our players coming into our program have ever experienced consequences and that means they do not know suffering. But if you don’t suffer, you never get hungry, and you never learn to fight

It is tough on coaches today. We have fewer coaches, less time with the athletes, and greater expectations.

So here are some adjustments I have had to make in my coaching style over the years.
I want to inspire learning. I bring in people and talk to my players about why I need to learn and why they need to learn. This involves character education: commitment-perseverance- integrity. We tell them, ‘there are no victories without adversity. That’s tough to teach when there’s a re-set button on the X-box.

I constantly put before them a roadmap: ‘graduate- perform with confidence and consistency’. I create their expectations- I tell them to not let the media or public do it. A kid coming in our program today believes he needs to win the Heisman or go to the NFL to validate his career. We need to make his expectations realistic and give him a day- by -day plan to get there

I’ve learned to coach and not criticize. If you do not praise their good techniques, you better be careful about chewing on them. I want to catch them doing it right and point it out. The worst coaching ever is to scream, ‘CATCH THE BALL!’. Instead teach then how to catch the ball.

I tell them regardless of the game circumstances, NEVER show frustration. Don’t hit/ lash out/ throw things/argue – if you do that your opponent grows. If you always look determined and fighting- I have found a lot of these opponents crumble. Kids are front -runners. I tell my coaches- don’t vent on players or officials- it is a sign of weakness,not confidence.

A word about ‘character’. My definition of character is: my thoughts- habits- and priorities as shown daily in my choices

To put it this way- if all my players get is x’s and o’s , I’m not coaching. Today’s kids need character training first.”

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The University of Alabama football team recently won their 13th National Title. Though a fan, I am simply trying to illustrate a point. Nick Saban joined a struggling Bama program three years ago. Bama fans are very spoiled from the Bear Bryant days and Saban stated very clearly that our process was broken. He said that he would focus on the process and that if we fixed our process, a national championship would be the outcome. It was sometimes frustrating for fans when Saban would only speak of process. He hired outstanding Coaches and recruited top athletes. Not many can out work or out coach Saban. The reality is that going from a mediocre program to a championship in 3 years is incredible. The take away is that great things can be accomplished in any organization with an unwavering focus on process.

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Economy, Seth Godin & Networking

The economy is picking up. We can breathe now. I actually scheduled an onsite interview on Christmas Eve. That is a first in my career. Companies are getting desperate as top talent is leaving. It is going to be fun for Recruiters like me, but I feel sympathy for corporate HR and Hiring Managers as it is going to get crazy. I truly believe that we will see the long anticipated “war for talent”.

Do you ever wonder if you stand out in the sea of Lean talent? Does your background reflect success? These are things we all think about on occasion. These days good just isn’t enough. People and companies are looking for “remarkable”. Remarkable requires risk. I have been a fan of Seth Godin’s blog for a few years (Seth’s Blog). I had never read his books until recently. Purple Cow is a remarkable book about marketing, but it will get you thinking about your personal brand and that of your company.

If you need to strengthen your network or need to learn some networking skills, read Love Is The Killer App by Tim Sanders. One of my favorite books period. Tim says “your network is your net worth” and I agree.

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Want to know one of the most powerful tips available to help you seal the deal in hiring a new employee in this increasingly competitive talent market?  Match the candidate’s vacation when he/she joins your company.  A frequent comment when working with candidates who have been five to fifteen years with their current company is, “I have four weeks vacation—I don’t want to lose that. . .”  Picyune complaint when we are talking six-figure jobs.  Somewhere in the back of the candidate’s mind I think they equate that extended vacation with a gold watch.  It’s not about the value—it’s about the recognition.  In fact, candidates seem more concerned about losing an extra couple of weeks vacation than they do about losing their unvested matching 401(k) contributions.

Matching earned vacation “up to four weeks” will give your company an absolute edge in hiring the candidates your competitors are trying to hire or retain.  It costs you the equivalent of a couple of weeks’ base salary for the first few years the employee works for you, because you have only accelerated his/her vacation benefit, not used it as an accumulative vacation base.

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