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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.

Just for You

Have you ever noticed how people will offer or sell you something that has been made ‘Just for you?’ You could have a car ‘just for you.’ You can have a house ‘just for you.’ Anything you think of someone will have an off-the-shelf item that they will sell, and it was designed ‘just for you.’

It’s noteworthy that people will build something just for you. Yet I am a little bit of a skeptic. Do they know you? Did they call up and talk to you? Did you tell them what your real desires are? How do they know that whatever it is they’re selling is just what you want?  Fair questions.

I do not mean to malign people who say this. I just want to know how they do it. Most companies start off with focus groups, usually set up by their marketing folks. They find out what the majority of people would like, and they start their engineering and design based on what those focus groups have told them.

As the design goes forward, and concepts are designed, based on what the focus groups told the marketers, the financial folks step in. Did you ever notice that the cars at the dealerships never quite look like the concept vehicles shown at the car shows? The answer to that is not hard to figure. Consider the cost of the concept car and the cost of the car at the dealership. Now, which one are people really going to purchase? That’s because the financial folks know that corners need to be cut to make the item for sale affordable to those they want to sell it to.

Does this mean that you cannot really get what you want at an affordable price? No, because you can. You need to buy from someone willing to listen to your needs and desires. And the person who listens to you needs to be prepared to add new ideas and abilities to their creation. And, they need to know that every time they design or build something new or different, it adds a service or value to their product. The manufacturer can use the added item in other situations if desired by others.

Those who are willing to build to the needs and desires of the individual need to look towards fulfilling the needs of those with a wish. That means their business is built on understanding and interaction with others. In a business like this, you have to be willing to start slow and work at helping others, laying a firm foundation to grow on. You will not start out selling a thousand of whatever you build a day, yet did you really have 1,000 customers wanting to buy right now to start with?

Actually, if you’re willing to listen and ready to build, you can probably give people what they desire and grow a thriving business. Don’t take my word for it, ask Rolls-Royce.

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

Team Is A Four-Letter Word

In this day and age, we learn to be polite. We should be kind to others. And we need to Be careful not to offend. I believe in being kind and understanding of everyone. We Are taught to be cautious in using four-letter words. Yet today I would like to speak up on the pros of those 4 letter words.

Help is a four-letter word.  I believe I am not letting any secrets out of the bag when I tell you I am a guy.  A ‘male’ if you will. And, as a male, I can tell you that guys don’t ask for help unless they have tried absolutely everything else. On occasion, you may see one of us reach for the instruction pamphlet, yet that would only happen through frustration and delirium. We believe, as a male, that we were born knowing what to do, where to go, how to get there, and everything else that we are needed to do. We think we don’t need a four-letter word like ‘help.’

Lucky for us males, there is another four-letter word. Lady. A lady reads the instructions, follows a recipe, looks up the route to be taken, either on a map or MapQuest. The lady, unlike the male, takes the time to read and understand.

It sounds as though the male and the lady are very different and totally incompatible. Yet, when they work together, they form a fantastic four-letter word. Team. And when a ‘team’ works together, it can be unstoppable.

A team can back each other up. Each member of the team brings knowledge, ability to research, collaboration, and multiplies each of our senses, providing an ability to help focus on what is needed at the moment. There is strength in the team that is not present in the individual. And, a team can better stand the floods of negativism as they work together.

So far, we have help, male, lady, and team. Four great four-letter words. There are many other four-letter words that we need to consider. Each word carries a thought that guides us to something we need. Four-letter words number in the thousands and I cannot tell you all of them on this blog. I can give you a few, though. Some of the best four-letter words might be words like care, love, feel, like, able, best, calm and fair, just to name a few.

Please let me know what your favorite four letter word is. I would be glad to share everybody’s four-letter word on the blog.

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

Can I Help You

I wish I could do more for more people. The truth of the matter is I can’t do anything for anyone, they have to do it for themselves. I can work with people and guide them. I can ask the tough questions that only those seeking for themselves can answer. And, I can hold them as accountable as they wish to be.

I can, though, and am willing to jump in the hole someone may have figuratively fallen into. Others may feel that I’m crazy jumping into a hole when someone else cannot find their way out. Yet, I’m okay with it. I’ve been there before, and I know the way out.

What I can do is help people learn new tools and new abilities to help them as they move forward through life and explore the future. I would mention something about boldly going, however, between concerns over plagiarism and split infinitives I have decided to take a considerably safer route. I am here to help you with the specific concerns you are looking to fix and do better with.

I have books on Amazon right now teaching how to research and make a map to guide you to your future. This is important because I have many friends who worked hard, went to school, striving for something they truly wanted. When they got to their destination and started working, they realized that even though they had gain success, they did not enjoy the job and really did not want to be there. Some ended up not using their advanced degrees, taking trade jobs that they enjoyed and preferred to do.

There are many ways to research various professions and careers. The time you spend doing so is minor in comparison to getting a position you can’t stand and having to start again from scratch. There are even ways and some jobs where you can shadow somebody for a day and learn what the real work is all about.

Within the month, I should have my new planner system out. It comes with training, and each planner is designed and assembled to the specific needs of the individual using the planner. We do this by working with you in understanding what you need and either loading pages you need into your planner or designing the planning and data pages you need from scratch. Your planner comes with either a book on how to use it or course to train you about the planner step by step.

I don’t want to say much more at the moment. If you’re interested in the planner designed specifically for you, please let me know. I am also looking for six volunteers who will use the system and give me feedback on what works well and what I can work to improve. If you’re interested in receiving a planner and training, please let me know. I can’t promise everyone who volunteers will be picked as one of the six. I promise that everyone who volunteers will be seriously considered.

Think about it.

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

Get Your Toys and Go Home

International trade is good between countries. As long as the countries have an equal give-and-take, and each lives up to their part of the bargain, foreign trade helps to stabilize economies and stave off hostilities. When both countries are making economic gains based on their trade relations, who would want to rock the boat by sanctions or worse, conflict?

The mere fact of international trade helps to spur an economy with a lower unemployment rate. And, those who trade together may find benefit in other areas. They might work together towards regional or global peace, better financial solvency, world health, and other issues essential to the well-being of all.

Because all countries have their own frailties, just as all humans have their imperfections, sometimes there is a tug-of-war to see which countries can do better than others. This seems to be the time when feathers get ruffled, feelings get hurt, and tariffs rise. There are smarter ways to do this.

A dispute between countries is probably best handled as wise parents stop a spat between two seven-year-old friends. Smart parents tell the young friends to take their toys and go home. The parents know they will be back tomorrow and friends once more.

I know there is more to it than just taking the toys and going home. And, I do not mean to oversimplify international trade. Yet, if we’re to the point of name-calling and finger-pointing and tariffs and threats, why don’t we take our toys and go home. We have proven that we can build anything in our country that can be made in another. Many of the things constructed overseas started off being built in a home country, then outsourced. Building items at home allow the domestic workforce to thrive and grow and gives the people of a country confident feeling of being able to support themselves.

Of course, I imagine the loss of trade will have a downside or two. It may be feeling those downsides that make each country appreciate the other even more. There are pluses and minuses in everything that we do. We do not have to take a loss. Just think of what it would mean for a world of countries to prosper and grow by working together.

Just the thought of one mean old Master Sergeant

Thank you for being with me

What We Do for Others

We do not live in a vacuum, at least not on this earth. And, what we do, either good or bad, puts out ripples which affect others. These others could be friends or family, people you’ve never met before, and sometimes, people who live in other countries halfway around the world. And no, the world is not shrinking, we are growing and becoming more integrated and technically savvy as a species.

It used to be that travel just crossing the United States could take months. Now the trip from New York to California is mere hours. Highly dangerous boat rides to other continents could take months and be fraught with peril. We can now fly those distances in about 12 hours. The World itself hasn’t changed. Yet our technology and our civilization and abilities have changed.

So now the question set before us is one of how we should change to meet our new opportunities and challenges. And, believe it or not, no one gets a pass on our changes. Because everyone in the world will find positives and negatives within the changes to come, and everyone will be affected.

Now, this does not happen overnight, this was going on for over 5000 years. This started when people set out to explore. This began when people realized they weren’t the only people. This happened when people knew they could trade and began to sell their commodities to others for the products that those others produced. And say what you will, it was the trade that brought us to civilization. Civilization was caused by realizing there were others and learning to live with them. Our ancestors learned to do so, and though it was sometimes messy, and quite often one group wanted to dominate another, in the long run, wisdom prevailed, and we learned to get along.

We must remember our lessons of old because those who forget those lessons are doomed to repeat them. This is dangerous. Although our ability to connect electronically and physically with others has shortened by months and years around the world, we still need to have the time to think and consider. To think and consider logically and correctly, we need to understand that we are all in this world together, and whatever happens, the actions and the ramifications affect everyone.

We must think before we act. When we act, we must do so wisely. And we must always remember that whatever we do we are all on this planet together. Wise actions and understanding to take care of molehills before they become mountains are essential. Negotiation seems to take forever, yet I don’t want anything fast happening if it’s going to land right outside my front door.

Good thoughts and cool heads need to prevail. There’s too much at stake for us to go off half-cocked and misunderstood. Besides, as a species, we are better than that.  After all, what we do for others, we actually do for ourselves.

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

Habits, Good and Bad

Have you ever seen how different people will do the same task in different ways? If you ask them why they do the process that way, they will generally tell you they do it in that particular fashion because it’s the easiest way to get it done. I have enjoyed years of teaching people how to use a computer. Everything from simple typing to designing spreadsheets and waterfall charts. And through the years I have gained a few insights.  I would like to share a thought or two with you. Understanding these interesting interactions may help you in your line of work.

As we go through life, we learn how to get something done or make something happen. The more we study, train or work at a task the more likely we are to find different ways to accomplish it. Quite often I will ask someone why they do a process a particular way. They usually tell me they do the process the way they do because it is the easiest way.

Sometimes when I am told a student is doing a process the most natural way, I will show them some shortcuts that can save them time or extra work on the task. They thank me and try it a few times. Later on, I will notice that they are still doing the job the way they were doing it before I showed them new techniques. When I initially saw this, I thought they were just not paying attention, but I was wrong.

When you have five different ways to do a task (and many large and advanced computer programs have these ways), the question is no longer what is simplest or quickest. The question becomes ‘what is the best way for the user to accomplish the task.’ At that point, you have to consider the knowledge and habits of the student.

If the student has done something for several years, they have developed a habit of doing the task in a certain way. As long as the job is completed and the end result is correct, the student has acted correctly. We find that a habit which completes the process precisely is a robust tool for someone to use. And, we should use the information to our advantage if it works better for the end product.

Some habits are destructive in nature because they can skip critical steps that must be completed to correctly complete the procedure. These habits are the ones we want to train out of people. How hard is it to remove a bad habit? Many supervisors prefer to have new people who have never perform the process work for them simply because they don’t have to train out bad habits. The supervisors would instead train the people themselves.

Some of these thoughts can be debated back and forth, pro and con, and never come to us satisfactory conclusion. It does put the onus on us as trainers to ensure that the people we teach, understand the proper ways to do a task, and why other methods will not work. We can help them to break bad habits and reinforce good habits. Yet, we cannot do it for them, we can only show them the way.

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

Caring for You

In life, we need to learn to slow down and do what is important. The important things will be different for each of us, and yet we will know and understand them. If we don’t take time to realize and separate the important from the urgent or the mundane, we may be overrun and miss the essential things altogether.

To be ready to tackle the critical actions within our life, we need to work from the inside out to be prepared, available and understanding of each situation. It starts with taking care of ourselves. Many people do for everyone else and feel that it is selfish to make time for themselves. The truth is you have to take care of yourself so that you are ready and available when the essential things of life show up. Because you never know when and where the crucial needs are going to be required, you need care for yourself as you care for others, both physically and mentally so that you are ready and prepared.

Next, you need to take care of those things and people who are most important to you. Taking care of the people and the things that are closest to you and most vital to your happiness requires handling the small stuff. Taking care of small concerns, in the beginning, keeps them from becoming major problems later. This helps you find peace of mind, and the ability to look forward without being bogged down in the minutia.

Having yourself centered and aligned, and the people around you well allows you freedom. You can plan a future that will enable you and those around you to do the things each dreams of doing. You can explore, research, and find your way to where you want to be. To put this in another context, you have satisfied the basic needs of the Maslow pyramid and are moving towards self-actualization.

For many, who grew up watching John Wayne movies and ideas such as take care of the others first, this idea may sound a little strange and selfish. I do assure you though, this is the way to move forward with the people, items and ideas that are most important to you. It always, as with any journey you will take, starts with one person. You.

Please don’t take my word for this. As with anything worth doing, test it out. Start out small. If it works, try a little more. If it does not work, evaluate what you’re doing and determine if it is right for you or not. Remember, not everything works for everyone. This idea as with many good things comes with some trial and error.

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