Category Archives: Business Operations

5 Practical Steps For Drowning Your Problems

There’s an old saying that contains a great deal of wisdom:

When problem solving, don’t just put out the fire – find the guy with the match!

Another saying admonishes us to make sure that we solve problems completely. It simply says:

Hold every problem under water until it drowns!

Learning Effective Problem Solving

Both of these statements are aimed at communicating one thing to those of us who are in the problem solving business – and that is that far too often, problems are never solved because people are addressing the symptoms instead of identifying and killing the real root cause.

My forty plus years of experience as both a technical and business problem solver have taught me some powerful lessons. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned when it comes to effective problem solving.

  1. Most of the time, the root of the problem is deeper than you think. Just like a pesky dandelion in your yard, the flower (symptom) waves in the wind, but the root of the plant (the real cause) is hiding deep in the ground. You can chop the top off all you want, but until you extract or kill the root, the plant (problem) is going to keep coming back.
  2. Be patient. Taking the time to think things through, and being careful not to overreact, is important in the problem solving process. Cool, logical, analytical heads always prevail.
  3. Listen to the process. Every business process has a story to tell if you listen closely. Observations, data collection and analysis, and a healthy dose of common sense can be integrated to create a picture of what is going on. Just as a doctor uses the skill of observation, combined with information in the form of test results, to diagnose what is wrong with a patient, so must you combine all of the information you can gather to understand the problem with which you are dealing.
  4. Test your theories. The ultimate test in solving a problem is not “did it go away.” Where the rubber meets the road is in answering the question, “Can you turn it on and off?” Being able to turn a problem on and off means that you have identified the causative factors that, under the right conditions, allow the problem to manifest itself.
  5. Verify effectiveness of your solutions. When you finally put corrective actions in place, always monitor the process for a period if time to make sure that the problem never rears its ugly head again.

Need help with problem solving? Give us a call at 203.599.1467, or email us at info@optechs.com. We’re here to help!

 

©2014 by Gary L. Smith and Optimum Performance Technologies, LLC (optechs.com). All rights reserved.

A Different Perspective On Your Business Competition

“Know your enemy” is a famous phrase from Sun Tzu‘s sixth-century book, The Art of War. The exact quotation is: “If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.”

When one is engaged in real warfare, the words above may be very valid.  However, I think we all need to take stock and ask ourselves how it applies to our business lives.

Evaluating Your Business Competition

A number of years ago, I was running a manufacturing operation for a Connecticut based company. One of our primary competitors was based in Florida, and I knew the company well. The president of our company approached me one day and asked me for my thoughts on a proposal he was considering. He had visited the area where our Florida competitor was located and was considering purchasing a facility nearby.

Our business competition was having some financial difficulty, and the president’s logic was that if he purchased a facility in the area and hired some of the competitor’s key employees, we might be able to literally “kill the competition” by putting them out of business.  We could then purchase the competitor’s facility and assets for pennies on the dollar and assimilate their customer base into ours. It would be a tremendous win for us.

Healthy Business Competition Means Growth

When he asked me what I thought of his idea, I told him that I thought it was the wrong way to go.  My attitude has always been that I want to beat the competition – but I want to do it fair and square.  If I can win by producing a better product, more cost effectively, and in less time, I am all for that.  But it never made sense to me to kick the competition when they are down – and I told the president that was what he was about to do.

When he asked what I would do with this “opportunity,” I told him that I would schedule a meeting with the competitor and put my cards on the table.  I would explain to them that I was aware of the challenges they were facing, but that I had no vested interest in seeing them go out of business.  I would then begin to explore synergies between our businesses that might lead to a sharing of technology and resources – and that might create a win-win for everyone involved.

Business Competition Is A Good Thing

Many organizations look at business competition as being an inherently bad thing.  I think it is tremendously positive for the following reasons:

  • Being in a market that has competition is usually an indicator that there are plenty of opportunities and customers.
  • Getting involved in an established market with competition is almost always better and more cost effective than trying to create a new market.
  • Business Competition keeps you on your toes.  It’s the juice that powers innovation, ongoing improvement, cost reduction, and improved speed to market.

Take the time to re-evaluate your business competition – and to be thankful for the markets in which you have the opportunity to effectively compete and win business.

 

©2014 by Gary L. Smith and Optimum Performance Technologies, LLC (optechs.com).  All rights reserved.

Building A Godly Business – Part 6

All companies are in the production business. Delivering either a product or service to your customers requires some sort of production process – no matter how simple or basic it may be.

How you manage your production can make a huge difference in things like the stress level, productivity, and ultimately the longevity and success of your business.

 Building The Production Wall Of Your Godly Business

Here are some tips to help you succeed in your production processes:

  • Stay organized.  Lack of organization causes confusion at all levels of the enterprise. Consider some of these examples that impact productivity, increase costs, and hurt the quality of customer service:
    • Lack of a good materials storage system with FIFO (First In First Out) capabilities.
    • Lack of a process for handling customer orders.  Result?  Orders are misplaced – or even worse – lost – and never find their way into the production queue.
    • Lack of process controls.  This causes wide-ranging variation that impacts quality and produces scrap.
  • Communicate.  This is true with both your employees and your customers.  When there is poor communication with your employees, confusion and apathy abound.  When there is poor communication with customers, they feel ignored and will take their business elsewhere.
  • Be realistic about your capabilities.  Don’t try to be all things to all people. Focus on what you excel at and learn to make wise choices about outsourcing. Not good at a particular machining operation?  Find another shop where that kind of work is their sweet spot.  Not an expert at marketing or HR?  Look for other people who can fill those voids. All these boost production.
  • Be positive and uplifting.  Abraham Lincoln reminded us that we can catch many more flies with honey that we can with gall.  Nobody likes a negative, grouchy person.  He or she does nothing but drag down the rest of the employees who are striving to do a good job.  Bring your “A” game and attitude to work every day

How Optechs Can Bring You Newfound Production Numbers

Need help with your production processes?  That’s one of our sweet spots.  Give us a call at 203.599.1467 to schedule your free consultation to find out exactly how we can help you get on track.

©2014 by Gary L. Smith and Optimum Performance Technologies, LLC (optechs.com).  All rights reserved.

Gary Smith Interviewed By ‘Never Say Impossible’ Radio

Gary Smith, Founder of Optimum Performance Technologies, was recently interviewed by Never Say Impossible Radio to discuss his business strategies, his time spent as a business and personal coach and much more. The interview, titled “Is Your Business At A Standstill?” lets Smith delve into what has helped him become a successful business man, which comes with a ‘seasoned veteran’ point of view.

Why They Chose Gary Smith

According to an excerpt from www.myragoldick.com, who hosts the show, Smith was able to provide insight to those who have yet to see some portions of business due to the size of their company. This allows them to keep from making common mistakes and to take advantage of someone else’s expertise and knowledge. It highly increases the chances of growing at triple digits in the same amount of time.

Why A Business Coach Is Beneficial

Choosing the right coach can be a daunting task. There are lots of questions to ask yourself and your potential coach. For example, are you the type of person who needs hands on one-on-one coaching, or is group coaching better for you with the input of the leader as well as your fellow students?  Do you need eye to eye contact, or is working on the phone a better option for you? Those are just a few of the things Gary Smith was able to discuss in his interview with Myra Goldick.

Gary Smith’s Approach To Business Coaching

Gary Smith takes a focused approach to his business coaching. He works with business leaders (owners and managers), as well as groups of their employees, to impart knowledge and skills related to their daily work and the success of the business. The coaching can include anything from a simple one-off training session, to a complete needs analysis followed by multi-day training sessions. Optechs offers business coaching in the following areas:

• Business planning
• Mission and vision statement development
• Strategic planning
• Problem solving
Leadership development
• Communication skills
• Conflict resolution

Get Inside The Mind Of Gary Smith

You can hear the full interview from Never Say Impossible Radio here and check more about Gary Smith at Optimum Performance Technologies.

Four Essential Keys to Becoming a Great Leader

In the area of business coaching, I spend a great deal of time on leadership development.  I find it absolutely amazing the number of people who have been placed in charge of large portions of business operations, but who have not been equipped with sufficient leadership skills to effectively pull it off.  As a result, they flounder, they are ineffective at best, and they often hurt the organization through a combination of poor performance and driving their best employees into the arms of their competitors.

There are four key things that you, as an existing or future leader, must know and continually develop.

  1. 1.     Leaders know the core requirements of leadership.  Leadership is not about bossing people around and telling them what to do.  Leadership is about leading others, by example, and teaching them the not just the how’s, but the why’s of their work.  It is letting them know where they fit, the importance of the contribution they make, and that they are critical to the success of the enterprise.  Above all, it is about persuasional leadership, not positional management.
  2. 2.     Leaders are both people and team builders.  True leaders understand that people are responsible for the success of the business.  All of the processes, systems, and technology ultimately either succeed or fail because of people.  Therefore, they value people above all else.  They seek to develop their associates so that they are doing what they love, loving what they do, and constantly growing and learning.  Also, leaders know how to harness to powerful capabilities of the team, and they structure their businesses in a manner that encourages successful teamwork and collaboration.
  3. 3.     Leaders start with a vision and translate that vision into practical, achievable goals and strategies.  Leaders are creative, long-term thinkers.  They are the ones who create the vision for what they want to organization to be – five, ten, twenty years down the road.  But they also have the capability of breaking the elephant into bit-sized chunks and creating organizational goals that lets people know what they need to accomplish today in order to achieve the vision.  Employees are never left in the dark – they see both the vision and that pathway to achieve it – and that is why follow a great leader.
  4. 4.     Leaders know how to get the highest levels of performance and productivity from their organizations.  Leaders don’t just cast a vision and enumerate a series of goals.  They actively work both “on” and “in” their businesses.  They are in the trenches working along side their people.  They teach – they encourage – they contribute – and the give credit and praise where and when it is due.  They have amazingly productive organizations with the highest standards of performance.  As a result, they have exceedingly happy customers who would never think of jumping ship to the competition.

Where do you stand on these four key aspects of leadership?  On a scale of 1 to 10, with one being “unacceptable” and 10 being “amazing”, where do you fall?  Take a few moments and make an honest assessment of your leadership skills.  Then commit to learning, growing, and surrounding yourself with people who can help you become an incredible leader.