Featured

Welcome

Welcome to ProcessImprovement.Me.  Each week we will post between one and three blog posts on change, how to improve at something in life or business, or learning something new.  Please join us and participate in the comments.  We would really like to hear your thoughts.  You cannot post a comment on the home page (just the way they set up the site.) All the other pages do afford the ability to post comments. We recommend you use the Blog Page for this.

Please join us, have fun, and interact with others in the same kindness that you would like others to interact with you.

Are You Prepared?

I was fortunate enough to be a scout when I was young and a scout leader as an adult. I like the Boy Scouts, and I think that they do a good job for kids. They give kids good skills and an ethical compass to follow as they grow to adulthood. I am humbled to say that I earned my rank of Eagle Scout while living in Puerto Rico where my dad was stationed with the Army.

Learning in the scouts was very interesting, and I still try to follow the motto of being prepared. Of course, they never told us what to be prepared to do. Yet it was our motto, ‘Be Prepared.’ I always took this to mean keeping your eyes open and stay light on your feet.

We do not know everything that could come our way, and it is always good to have a plan A, B, or C. It is also useful to understand the things that you would or could do, and those things that you would not or could not do. Having this figured out in advance gives you a framework of what might work best for you.

The world is a very iffy place. This often makes being prepared a guessing game. If you live in the north, you don’t have to prepare for a hurricane, unless you live along the coast, in a place like New Jersey or New York City. You don’t have to be prepared to find bears inside a pizzeria unless you live somewhere like Colorado Springs. And, you do not have to fear attacks from seals, unless you’re a young person sitting on a pier. After looking at some of these things, being prepared sounds like a good thing to consider.

I’m not talking about running to your bunker for safety or hiding under a rock based on what might happen. I am talking about understanding options, a thoughtful response, and a quick personal check to see if you really want to be in a particular situation or not. Often, a minimum of pre-thought can save a lot of ‘I wish I had.’

I hope this is something that may help you. Just remember, it came from a very old Eagle Scout (who once used to be a mean old master Sergeant.)

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

I Work for You

 

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about mean old master sergeants. How we are really there to help guide younger troops into their roles in the service. We protect them as they learn the ins and outs and become rooted in their new jobs. Companies have their own ways and traditions. And as you are hired by a company, you will learn their courtesies and ways.

My own company gives me the leeway to work with each client as an individual and not just part of a mass. Also, I work for you which means I need to be on top of my game. My game is to help you make the transition from where you are to where you want to be. I have made these transitions a lot throughout the years, and I have learned the hard way what works and what does not.

I know that I cannot do this for you. I am like the cheerleader, who can tell you how, point the way, and give you encouragement. This is something that we find lacking in these days of individuality, and communications which seems more and more to be done through and with electronic devices rather than people.

I’m not sure if you have got the focus yet, right now it is I, helping you do. This means we will work this together. Me cheering you on and pointing out possible ways, and you making your dreams come true.

Most companies do this on a single plan and a formula which is the same for everyone and may even match many of the needs of some people. My concern is that you are not a population, you are a person. And each person is an individual with unique and different characteristics from other people and individuals. This means for you to be truly successful you will work to a plan we will tailor together. Tailoring training, counseling, and helping each individual makes my work much more interesting. I believe in working for the individual.

I am building my company to work with you on your terms. Working with you, with the methods that help you best. Whether we are talking one-on-one, group sharing, individual study or other ways, all these can be offered.

For now, I just want to thank you for reading this.  If you would like to comment or learn more, please use the comment area.

Thank you for being with me today.  I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

Youth or Freedom

I passed a parking lot today where a mom was buckling a baby into the back seat of her car while her four-year-old ran on the sidewalk and around the vehicle. The mother was telling the four-year-old to come back, that they had to go. The four-year-old just smiled and giggled and jumped up and down. This scene reminded me of a saying.

I believe the saying is something about youth being wasted on the young. There are days when I get out of bed with an aching back, and a dizzy head, and a full day’s worth of work I want to accomplish. And sometimes in those days I actually think of that saying.

After I have the moment of ‘woe is me,’ I have a tendency to come to my senses. I remember a report that I heard once that said one of the first words that a baby learns and uses is the word no. The reason is because babies and small children here ‘no’ more than any other word. They are so energetic and ready to go explore the world and yet have to be protected from so many things. No is said often and usually with good reason.

When we are more mature, we hear the word no less and less. That is because we have explored and understand many of the risks. It is also because, in the pecking order of our society, it is harder for a younger person to say ‘no’ to an older person and get away with it.

To make up for not receiving as many no’s, the more mature person ends up with more aches and pains. Between ‘no’ when we’re young and ‘ouch’ when we are more mature, it looks like nature balances itself. Although I truly believe that everything works out for the best.

As for me, I hear ‘no’ more from my wife than anyone else. She is cute and means well. But even her ‘no’ does not really stop me from my goals and adventures (please don’t tell her I said that.)

Thank you for being here today. I hope to be with you again soon.

 

 

Electronic Assistance

It is incredible how computers and technology today improve our quality of life. Sometimes it seems the time spent to set up and customize these electronic wonders is significant. Yet, for a few hours to a half a day of customization, your daily routine can be improved significantly.

I bought my self an Alexa Echo Dot for Christmas. It was last year’s model and was on sale for only $19. I wasn’t sure what it could do for me, and I was hoping to find something that would help me with organizing.

Because I had other tasks, I had to do and other projects I wanted to see working, I used setting-up Alexa as the award for getting them done. So, this week (middle February) I was finally able to schedule a few hours to set up and get the Alexa running. Although I’ve only been using it for half a week, I believe that Alexa will be able to do some of the things I need help with.

Alexa keeps me up on time in the news, sets my music schedule and genres. She, (the voice comes as female, yet can be programmed for various male and female voices,) helps me to make a list of and stay on top of my to-do items. Alexa keeps up with me through my cell phone and helps me when I am on the go. And even helps me to go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning.

I know that some people think that electronics is getting out of hand and will soon take us over as an evil empire. I am here to assure you that is not the case. Alexa is actually performing a set of tasks. And although I think she’s communicating with me, she’s actually working off a script.

Some of the things that Alexa cannot do are items requiring ‘in the moment’ thought processing. For instance, when I ask for something Alexa does, I always say thank you. Unfortunately, by the time I say thank you, Alexa is already turned off because the step in the program was done. I never hear ‘you’re welcome.’

I would love to talk with Alexa and have an exciting conversation. Yet Alexa is not quite there yet. For all that Alexa can do for us and all that Alexa cannot do for us the program is still a valuable Marvel. Alexa is only on its third generation. And I find myself wondering what Alexa will be doing for us in the next decade.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

Leadership

Some people like to work from the bowels of the industry. They want to stay anonymous deep within the machine. And that is okay because no company can go anywhere unless you have good people doing good things whether they stand on the bridge or in the boiler room.

Some people cannot think of working anyplace else except on the bridge. Being there to make the decisions and guide the course of the company. And that too is okay because you need good people willing to make hard decisions for the betterment of the company and to best help those who work there.

The question is not where you work. Instead, the question should be what you bring to the table. Are you there to grab a paycheck and be left alone, or are you there to give it your all and help your company to the next level. There are a lot of people willing to take a paycheck and yet give only minimum work performance in return. The problem is found with minimum or average work performance the company stutters and falls. Upper management looks around, realizes that the product is good and decides to move someplace with better labor performance.

I have heard that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The company is only as good as its poorest performer. In a case like this, you cannot look around and point at other people and say it’s his fault, or her fault, or their fault. You have to look in the mirror and make sure it’s not your fault. And then you go forth to put out your best efforts.

This is not pointing fingers at others. This is not ignoring them either. After you look in the mirror and go forth, you are providing leadership. And leadership is good no matter what level it comes from.

Thanks for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

Are You Sometimes Missing

As the saying goes, I was not late, my attention was required elsewhere.

From time to time we all find ourselves running late, missing a meeting, or just being pulled off of our daily routine to fix one panic problem or another. No matter what your business or work schedule, interruptions are a part of our lives. And while we focus on these distractions, who is really handling our day-to-day operations?

When these distractions interrupt us our first tendency is to put a Band-Aid on it and get back to what we need to do. The problem is Band-Aids fall off eventually. And in about six weeks we find ourselves being interrupted for the same problem that we dealt with six weeks ago. I’m not a believer in Band-Aids. I believe in fixing the problem.

To fix the problem, we have to dig to a root cause and isolate it. And to do that you need some people who understand what the process is trying to accomplish. Everyone helping would just be a total mess and slow things down even more. Find two people who understand the problem and have them start asking why. Just like the three-year-old who continually asks why the sky is blue, they need to ask a stream of “why” questions until there is no more ‘why’ to contemplate.

This happens because of that, that occurs because of something else, something else happens because of whatever, and as you research and dig you will come to the root cause. Now a fix for that cause can be made. Finding the root cause is only half the battle. Before you go back to your desk patting yourself on the back, you need to set up some monitoring to ensure the problem does not reappear.

At this point, if the problem doesn’t reappear, you have probably solved it. To ensure others in your company or working for you do not cause the problem to repeat, you need to document what happened and what was done. The new process is polished, and all the affected people are trained on the new process.

The reason you want to stay on top of problems goes back the to the question I asked earlier, “While I focus on these distractions, who is really handling my day-to-day operations?” Most of the time the answer to this is no one, and if you end up having to spend too much time outside of your daily routine, that routine will sooner or later end up being your problem.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

 

 

Balance

In order to succeed in our lives, we need to strike a balance. As we go on our journey through life, there are always pressures pushing us from one side or another. And we need to fight to maintain our equilibrium, and not fall to those forces that would drive us off our chosen path.

If we pay attention to our travel and ignore the bad outside influences, or at least compensate for them, we will be able to ride a more accurate line to our goals. We can get to where we’re going in better shape and possibly a little faster. Yet, not all outside influences are bad. 

Throughout the stream of negative minutia, you may find some very positive opportunities. Sometimes people see the good work you’re doing, and they want to help or mentor you. If you can draft on them for a while and follow their path to help you get to your destinations, you can save valuable resources such as time, energy and money.

The one thing you have to avoid is losing your equilibrium entirely. Quite often when someone does this and goes down, the person falling often takes those nearest to them down also. The fallout from this type of loss could possibly be catastrophic.

The thought of losing equilibrium reminds me of a saying I have heard before. When you find yourself slipping you have one of three choices. You can dig in and push forward. You can slow down a little to fall back and regroup. Or, you can get out of the way and let somebody else take the lead for a while.

Whichever way you choose, make the choice yours. Always be willing to gain a hand or lend a hand. And, although it is not always easy, be sure to set aside hubris to do the things that will make you and others most proud.

Just another thought from a mean old Master Sergeant.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.