Facing Business Closure: Try Six Sigma

Six Sigma is a way to help a business improve when facing business while also works before there is a problem. Six Sigma is a program that presents special principles geared toward management.

Businesses are starting to use this more and more to help their business including help for the processes, workers and customers. Some companies are still holding off using Six Sigma because they are not sure it is a program for them. They are concerned that it will work for them. Many look into Six Sigma and even see how other businesses are progressing on the system before deciding to implement Six Sigma. They want to be sure.

The use of Six Sigma in business forecasting helps a business success because it deals with actual figures. The facts of the business and statistics are reviewed to help management determine what is working and what is not working. Six Sigma is a scientific way of finding ways to make improvements. Data is gathered related to the way business is done then it is reviewed. This will help them make a plan that is improved through knowledge. It is becoming more important for businesses to improve the way they do business because Six Sigma will make the customers more satisfied.

Employees go through Six Sigma training that has different levels. Each level presents more information than the one before, but they build on each other. Management employees then take and exam to earn certification. They bring their knowledge to the workforce to apply to everyday operations as well as to help fellow employees. This is designed to lead to business success, employee productivity and satisfied customers.

The limitations of Six Sigma when it comes to the business world exist too. It is important for this to work is that management goes through the steps set forth in the training but they also need look at the business on a level related to the actual business. Not every business is exactly like another so that means they need an approach that is geared toward their need. It is more important to implement the tools of Six Sigma for most businesses to find a new way to improve the way the business is run. Six Sigma is an ongoing process. What works today might need to be improved tomorrow so evolution is ongoing. It is bets to keep your own self abreast of the latest developments and see how the new implementations can help.

Facing Business Turbulence – Jump, Fasten Your Seat Belts or Soar Higher?

One of the biggest challenges faced by business leaders is knowing when to stay the course and when to realign the strategic path when conditions drastically change in the market or industry. As a leader, you’ve surveyed the external environment, looked at your organizational strengths, developed your strategy, and have rallied your workforce behind the vision….then….something beyond your control hits you from out of nowhere.

Just as everyone waits to hear the announcement from the pilot and looks towards the fasten seat belt sign when things start to get bumpy, your direct reports and employees look to you for guidance and reassurance that the path you have chosen is the correct one. So, is this the time to stay the course, push higher to gain altitude and rise above the turbulence, or drop down in the hopes of riding it out?

If you have been diligently following good management practices of continually surveying the external environment for early indicators of change, hopefully you will never find yourself here, but in these economic times we have learned to “expect the unexpected.” Only resilient and adaptive companies have been able to weather the storm and emerge stronger. Does this mean that you have to change strategy and recast your vision every few months- no, but contingency planning has to be part of any corporate action plan.

While expect the worst and hope for better might seem like an overly conservative way to run the business, if the fundamentals are in place, controls and accountability are established, robust forward looking metrics have been developed, and there is ongoing management dialogue, minor tweaks to actions or changes in timing are probably all that is needed to stay on course.

Based on my experience of navigating the unprecedented storm that occurred in the North American automotive industry I would recommend leaders facing turbulent times keep these 3 actions in mind:

1. Establish a 3-5 year vision but recognize that there is more than one way to get there.

We have all looked at a map and identified a number of highways that will take us to our end destination. Depending on the terrain (business conditions) we may choose to take the fast highway or the meandering side road. We will reach our destination but we have to be prepared to adapt to the changing conditions and change route from time to time.

2. Engage management and workforce in the journey

Open communication and partnership will ensure that everyone is adapting to the changing environment. By encouraging conversation and dialogue, leaders will gain credibility and trust through consistent messaging. By sharing the information regarding the environmental change, the entire workforce will gain an understanding of why changes are taking place and will work in partnership with leaders to stay on course.

3. Don’t change everything- find your touchstones

Consistent management practices, continuing to live core values, maintaining traditions, avoiding the tendency for “executive retreat”, and “doing what you said you would do” go a long way in reestablishing balance and security during turbulent times. By having these familiar touchstones everyone involved can remain calm and focused allowing the business to weather the storm and emerge with the its foundation intact. Recovery is quicker, trust is preserved, and the business is stronger having faced the challenge and overcome it successfully.

Prudent business leaders continually survey the external environment for changes but when unexpected turbulence hits, whether you decide to jump, fasten your seat belt, or climb higher, having the support of your management and workforce can make the difference between just surviving or thriving. By demonstrating adaptability, maintaining open communication, and preserving the unique identity of your business, you will gain the trust and loyalty of those who are in best position to help you weather the storm.

Yes, Face-To-Face Business Networking Is Still a Thing

There are those that are natural born networkers and there are those that are not. I fall squarely into the “are not” camp.

The goal of business networking is to meet, and connect with people so that you can find clients, partners, employees, referrals to people who provide services you need, or referrals to people who need the service you provide. Networking can even simply be about meeting people in the same boat as you to become part of your support system.

Networking is vital to growing any business, including mine.

Since it’s so important, I’ve been working on it. I’ve identified four things that need to take place any time you network. Here they are, along with some strategies of how to do it.

1. Get yourself into the right mindset.

Whether or not you like networking, it is vital that you go with the right attitude and with a specific goal in mind. I always put a smile on my face before I walk into the room and keep it there regardless of how I feel inside. Even if I’m feeling uncomfortable I look confident and, simply by smiling, my brain believes I am confident.

In terms of goals, know what you are looking for. Why did you decide to go to a networking event? What about this event drew you? Is there a specific person you want to meet? Is there a specific need you are looking to fill? Can you decide to engage in conversation with a specific number of people?

2. Find someone to talk with.

This is where it gets real. If you don’t know anyone in the room, smile, take a breath and find someone standing alone and walk up to them. They will be happy to be rescued. If nobody is standing alone, approach a group with an odd number of people, it will be easier for you to join a conversation.

If you do know someone in the room, and they are with a group of people, you can join them and let them introduce you to the people that they are speaking with.

3. Strike up a conversation or, “What do I say after hello?”.

Ask questions about them – and resist sharing about yourself. Some questions I ask are: Why are you at the event? Have you attended this event before? What do you hope to get from being here? What do you like most about what you do? What is your favorite type of client? And, when the conversation naturally turns to you, share a short example about what you do, using simple, everyday language.

4. Follow up with them to build a relationship.

I have seen too many people get themselves to networking events, leave with a stack of business cards, and then leave those cards sitting in a pile on their desks. Let’s be honest for a moment: If you’re going to get yourself out and network, you must follow up or you’ve wasted everyone’s time.

I like to set appointments to follow up when I’m actually speaking with that person. I’ll say something along the lines of, “I would love to learn more about you but clearly this is not the time or place, can we set up a time to talk in the next few days?” Then, pull your calendar out and set the appointment.

If you can’t actually set up that appointment on the spot, at least let them know what to expect from you next. “It was great meeting you today. I’ll send you a copy of the article we talked about when I get back to my office, and give you a call in a couple of days to see what you thought.”

Remember, even if someone doesn’t get back to you after you’ve called them, it does not mean that they aren’t interested in speaking with you or getting to know you further, it simply means that they didn’t get back to you. Try again and then keep trying.

I really think networking gets a bad rap. It all boils down to creating relationships that support everyone in the relationship. Think of it as making new friends. I’m sure you help your friends when they need it and they help you when you need it. That’s all business networking is.

What are some things that you do to increase the effectiveness of your networking?