Category Archives: continuous improvement

Culture of creativity

Encourage feedback

survey-listDo you have a suggestion box? Have you done a survey lately?

It is important to get new input and ideas to change your perspective and consider creative and innovative approaches to challenging issues. You cannot possibly have all the answers or even know all the issues that need to be addressed, unless you get adequate feedback from employees and customers.

It is not enough to casually visit, observing, listening, and asking questions. The process needs to be both more formal and more open-ended. Solicit input from those most in the know: employees on the job, customers using the product and those suppliers and service providers with high expectations for you. Ask about processes and performance, relationships and communications, product innovation and quality, customer service and sales support, social and environmental initiatives. Give them the option of anonymous response, in case they think you cannot handle the truth.

Try not to take it personally, unless it is.

Take it all in, use what is useful and be prepared to ignore what is not, but avoid simply confirming your preconceived notions.

Be better. Do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

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It’s another New Year. So what.

You have already looked at too many year-end reviews and predictions for 2016.  The consensus seems to be that last year was bad everywhere and 2016 will be worse: more terrorist events and political stupidity, extreme weather In the ditchand natural disasters, declining market values on all your investments and challenging economic conditions for every industry.

So if you cannot control the environment, what can you do differently this year? It is not enough to just try to stay out of the ditch. 

A good general rule is to keep it simple. Focus on just two memorable accomplishments for the year – one personal, one professional. Richard Branson suggests that you refrain from making another to-do list, but work instead on your to-be list.  It is more important who you are than what you do.

Work on making memories.

If you look back on 2015, how would you characterize the year? Personally and professionally what were the outstanding memories? Did they just happen or were they your intent? For me personally, it was the year of moving and settling into a new condo and professionally, we finally concluded the long and complicated process to sell a client’s business.  Nothing that changed the world, but significant memories for people important to me.

So what will your memories be for 2016? My intent is make a first trip to Africa in an ambitious year of travel adventures and to advance the cause of enlightened entrepreneurship with more dedication to writing, coaching and advocacy.

Of course, more detail is required in the to-do lists and work plans, but I prefer to start with some simple objectives that are easy to remember without getting distracted by “other events”. I recommend the same approach to you.

Have a good year. Make it memorable.

Your Uncle Ralph,

Del Chatterson

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So Tiger and Phil meet again in Shanghai and the winner is… Phil again!

Should Tiger be worried? The analysts will be talking of a slump, end of his reign, the new Phil becoming number 1. It all adds to the excitement and attraction for fans and golfers everywhere.

No competition is no fun for anybody, and certainly doesn’t inspire the players to try harder or do better. Competition is good. It forces us to be wary and keep learning and improving in order to keep winning.

Just like in business, don’t you think?

Business consultants and executive coaches often use the line “even Tiger Woods needs to consult with a coach to improve his game”. Sounds reasonable and it’s true.

Golf guru, David Leadbetter, was recently interviewed in Maclean’s magazine. He does coach the pro’s as well as teach mere mortals at golf clinics around the world. As he puts it, “I’m a bit like Robin Hood because I rob from the rich and give to the poor.” Since he charges up to $10,000 per day (for the guys competing in multi-million dollar tournaments) he can afford to give free advice to kids and young pros.

He did admit though that some golfers are “instructionally challenged” He was not so crude as to use the term LOFT (for “lack of f***ing talent”) but he does sometimes suggest maybe they should try tennis.

It’s also true for some ambitious new entrepreneurs who need to be told “maybe you should try a real job.” Sometimes you just have to be cruel to be kind.

This week’s golf news is that Tiger is emerging from the off-season after two months of relaxing with his new daughter and “working on my body to be stronger than ever”. Not encouraging news for his competitors on the PGA tour; Tiger is already the most fit and athletic player on the planet.

But like the ambitious entrepreneur his standards are higher than just winning, he wants to make history. He believes in the process of continuous improvement to be the best he can possibly be.

In business it might be called Kaizen or something else, but the successful business leader also knows that it needs to be done. It’s not enough to “never quit”; it’s necessary to “never stop getting better”.

Another victory for Mike Weir last weekend. Four days of golf in the 60′s at a tough Arizona desert course. After 3-1/2 years without a win the former Masters champion could have lost his game and faded away. But in a tribute to persistence and dedication to getting better he showed his championship talent and heart at the President’s Cup and again on Sunday.

In golf and in business, persistence and dedication to continuous improvement and sticking to the plan will eventually lead to triumph. For a business example see the comments of Darren Entwhistle of Telus.