Business Process Improvement

I just read another blog this morning and felt compelled to respond.  Take a look at Dave's Post and here is my response. I'd love to hear from you too.


What a great post.  In my company, I teach our business process improvement course and have your exact philosophy.  It isn't the pretty picture that is important.  It is the thought process that each worker needs to have in order to effectively improve a process.

I am frustrated constantly when organizations want the "buzz" word class.  They want "lean", or "six sigma" or back when I started my career "TQM", thinking that there are tools that can be used to make their organization more effective.

The reality is that it is the culture that needs to change and that the organization MUST be committed to continual business process improvement.  It's not sexy like these other words, but business process improvement is at the core of all these buzz words.

Imagine a world where each worker says "hmmm, if I change my process, who else downstream would be impacted, and would it improve the overall process or hurt it?"
Great post Dave.

Closing is the End Game!

Anyone who has managed projects for a few years, can appreciate what it takes to "close" a project and obtain that elusive client sign-off.

This month's Advanced Topics webinar is about how some people can "get things done" while others seem to hold onto projects for way too long.

I equate the challenge of closing projects with that of closing a sale--unless you get that signature on the contract, you aren't succeeding.

A recent statistic by the Project Management Institute reported that over 45% of all strategic initiatives are not realized!  I would probably guess that most of that is due to delaying delivery of strategic initiatives.  Think about it this way.  If you have a new product that you want to get to market and you miss delivering it to the market by 1 month, how much lost revenue did you just experience?  Or think of it this way.  If you are delivering software to a client and the target go live date is June 30th and you don't go live for 2 months after the initial date, your company will not see the revenues for this project in the 2nd quarter as expected.  

Think about what happens in your organization today and let's discuss on August 27th about ways we can help improve the delivery of strategic projects and GET THINGS DONE!!

You'll learn the reasons why closing projects is hard and some techniques that you can use to increase your successes.



Are you an Entrepreneur with a great idea?

Small businesses are the financial engine of this country.  Entrepreneurs are the catalyst for change.  Creating and running your own business is the ultimate form of project management.  There are risks around every corner, and a critical path of activities that need to be performed if the business is going to survive.

If you've ever thought about starting your own business or you just have an interesting idea that you want to explore, take the time to see if there are organizations near you that can help.

As an alumni of the University of South Florida, I recently learned that USF started a Student Innovation Incubator.  What a great idea! It allows students with an idea to explore the viability of that idea with an amazing set of mentors.  This fall I will be one of those mentors.  If anyone listening is a USF student with an idea, check out and send in your application.  

For those of you that aren't USF students, I encourage you to reach out to your local educational institution and see what's available.  You may be able to find just what you need to make that idea a reality.

How Much are Workplace Interruptions Costing You?

Did you know that workplace interruptions cost the US economy $588 billion each year*? This same source reported that we lose 3 to 5 hours daily due to interruptions.

Are you costing your company money?  We are a connected society and I don't see that changing back to the old way EVER.  However I wonder what the impact is on our effectiveness.

To define what I mean, remember efficiency is getting things done and effectiveness is doing the right things.  Interruptions cause us to get off track on the right things we need to be doing.

Let's do a test.  For the next hour identify one thing that you would like to accomplish. Start a timer.  Keep a piece of paper next to you and draw a line each time you do any of the following..

  1. Look at an email, text, or instant message, etc, that arrives on your phone or computer that you look at
  2. If the phone rings and you pick it up
  3. If the phone rings and you can see the callerID and decide to pick up the phone
  4. If the phone rings and you look at callerID to determine if you should pick up the phone
  5. You decide to check your phone although there was no indication you needed to
  6. Someone stops at your desk to talk about a business issue
  7. Someone stops at your desk just to say hi
  8. You just remembered something you should have done and stop what you are doing to address it now.

I could keep going but let's see what you found.  How many interruptions did you have?  If you say less than 3 you are doing good.  How many of you had more than 10?  Think about it.  If you spent 20 seconds to a handful of minutes thinking about the interruption is that impacting the work that you have in front of you?

I know it does for me.  I'm actually on an airplane with limited interruptions so I can focus on writing this blog post.  :-)  It seems like the only time I can have focused time without interruption.


* Statistics reported by Edward Brown Cohen Brown Management Group in Workforce Management magazine

Handling stubborn people.

So what do you do when someone is being stubborn with their ideas?  How do you get them to open up their mind?

Being from the northeast, when I come across someone that is "stubborn", I sometimes just want to tell them "SNAP OUT OF IT"!  But I know that doesn't work in most cases. 

Here are a few ideas on how to modify your communication to get the "stubborn" person to see the light.

"There is probably more than one way to look at this."

"I certainly understand how you see it, but I see it a bit differently."

"Can you think of any other way to address the issue?"

"Are you open to hearing other people's ideas?"

"What are the pros and cons of the approach you are presenting?"

Please share your experiences and ideas.  Many times the person being stubborn hasn't been politely challenged on other options to solve a problem.  


Disinterested and Disengaged Sponsors

A few weeks back we had a webinar on "Managing Up".  In just a 1 hour webinar it is hard to answer everyone's questions.  One of our attendees afterwards asked the question:  "We all know that if it is the wrong or disengaged sponsor, then he/she should not be there (which was sort of the answer given). In larger organization that may be possible, but in small ones you may not be able to change that. There may be only one or two sponsors and what you have is what you get. So, what would be a proper way to influence these types of sponsors?"

Thanks Ana for your question.  It is a difficult question regardless of the company size, but I do understand the issue as it relates to a small company.  The first thing I would suggest is that you ask a lot of questions, of yourself or with someone in management that you trust.

1) Why is the sponsor disinterested?  Is it because they don't believe in the project, or something else?

2) Would the sponsor EVER be interested?  What would engage them?  

3) Does the sponsor even know what it means to be a sponsor?  Would that person be open to learning how to be a good sponsor?

Once you have these questions answered, we can then formulate a plan.  In order to execute the plan, you may have to enlist the support of other senior leaders that may have more influence over that particular sponsor.  

Unfortunately there are no easy answers in this situation.  Let's put this out there for others to comment.