The Power of Lean: How Leadership Transformation Elevates Company Performance

By now, you’ve probably heard about Lean. It’s a powerful approach to management, which has its roots in manufacturing, but is used by many companies large and small to improve their processes and products.

As its name suggests, Lean is about eliminating waste — anything that doesn’t directly add value to the customer. This includes waste in time (waiting), materials (overproduction), money (overhead) and energy (people working on the wrong things).

Lean is a journey — not just a set of tools or tactics — and it takes time to become effective. But it can transform how you manage your people — giving you more time for important activities like coaching and developing your people so they can do their jobs better.

The Lean Leadership Journey

The journey to a Lean organisation is not an easy one. It requires a holistic approach and a complete mindset change. It takes time, effort and dedication to make the transformation successful. And it’s never over!

The following are some of the steps that you can take to start your journey toward becoming a Lean organisation:

Get everyone involved in the process. The Lean Transformation cannot be achieved through top-down management alone. The leader must work closely with employees at all levels to implement changes that will make the organisation more effective and efficient. Employees need to understand how they fit into this process, so that they can contribute effectively.

Set goals for improvement and measure progress toward those goals regularly. One of the primary reasons for implementing Lean practices is to improve business performance and increase efficiency, but measuring results will tell us if we’re moving in the right direction or not. We need to be measuring against specific goals set out at the beginning of the process (or before it began). This also helps us identify areas which need improvement as well as areas where we’re excelling.

The Lean Leaders Standard Work

Lean leadership Standard Work is a system that encourages continuous improvement and provides a framework for facilitating change. It requires leaders to focus on their actions, behaviours, and tools in order to drive continuous improvement in their organisation. This Lean Leadership Standard Work can be applied to managers, supervisors, directors, and executives alike.

Lean Leadership Standard Work encourages and promotes employees in organisations to reduce variation and improve performance. It also develops team members by demonstrating how to make smart changes and support people by defining what they should do when they take action.

Lean Leadership Standard Work can include:

  • Develop process standards alongside the process operators
  • Observing processes in action (Gemba Walks)
  • Asking 5 Why questions
  • Identifying gaps between standard & actual work (Audit)
  • Supporting process improvement
  • Coach and Mentoring Employees
  • Empowering Accountability and Responsibility
  • Deploying strategy

Lean Thinking as Leader

Lean Thinking as a Leader is about management that encourages you to make the most of your team and organisation. It is about creating an environment where people feel comfortable thinking “outside the box,” and where ideas can be considered, implemented, and monitored so that adjustments can be made quickly.

It requires leaders to be open-minded and encourages them to listen carefully to their team members’ ideas and suggestions. It also encourages leaders to collaborate with their teams in order to come up with better solutions for problems or issues. When everyone feels like they’re part of something bigger than themselves, they’ll be more likely to work hard toward achieving success in whatever it is they’ve been tasked with accomplishing.

The Lean Leader as a Teacher

A key concept in Lean is that people learn best by doing. Leaders must therefore create an environment where learning can happen, by encouraging employees to take on projects and responsibilities that stretch them, while also providing coaching and feedback along the way. The goal, according to Masaaki Imai (the author of Kaizen), is to help each employee become “Kaizen conscious, developing skills and tools for problem solving” — and this requires a great deal of effort on the part of managers in order to ensure that all employees are given opportunities to learn, grow and improve within their roles at work.

Eliminating waste is a key Lean Leadership Principle

Waste can be defined as anything that does not add value to the product or service being created. Waste occurs in all processes and can be categorised into three types of wasteful actions that negatively impact workflow, productivity and ultimately, customer satisfaction.

  1. Muda (or non-value-added work). These are activities that do not add any value to the end product or service, such as, Overproduction, Inventory, Defects, Motion, Over-processing, Waiting, Transportation.
  2. Muri (or overburden). This is when workers are asked to do more than they can handle efficiently, safely, or ethically.
  3. Mura (or unevenness). This occurs when there are unexpected fluctuations in demand for products or services due to things like seasonal change or competitor activity.

Waste takes time and resources to create, so eliminating it saves time and money.

Lean Leaders Put Customers First

Lean leaders are customer focused. They don’t waste time or money on anything that doesn’t directly improve the customer experience, and they know that this is the best way to grow their business.

This means that lean leaders put their customers’ needs first by:

  1. Listening to their customers and understanding their challenges and needs.
  2. Paying attention to what customers think about the product or service, and how they use it.
  3. Identifying areas where they can improve the products or services based on what customers say.

Takeaway: Lean leadership is about learning and improving.

A company benefits from having the right leadership in place, which ultimately helps a business to grow. They’ll learn from your customers, try new things, and challenge you in new ways. They’ll collaborate with others and actively seek outside support. Without good leaders, or without lean principles guiding those leaders, you’re going to get the same results: no learning and therefore no improvement.

Boost your team’s performance and your leadership potential with New Way Growth’s personalised Helping Managers to Succeed and Lead Programme. Let’s shape your leadership success story today!

Hoshin Kanri Strategic Planning Process: The Key to Driving Growth and Performance

In today’s highly competitive and ever-changing business environment, manufacturers need an effective way to align their teams and departments towards a unified strategic objective. The Hoshin Kanri Strategic Planning Process, originating in Japan, may just be the perfect answer to achieving this coherence. In this blog post, we will explore what Hoshin Kanri is, why it was developed, how you can implement it, and how it can help you align your team’s goals into an overarching strategy.

What is the Hoshin Kanri Strategic Planning Process?

Hoshin Kanri, which translates to “compass management” or “policy deployment,” is a strategic planning process designed to help organisations define their strategic goals, allocate resources, and ensure continuous improvement in their performance. It involves a top-down and bottom-up approach, with senior management setting the strategic direction and all levels of management/employees through-out the business implementing the strategy and delivering results.

Why was Hoshin Kanri developed?

The Hoshin Kanri process traces its origins to the 1950/60s when Japanese companies needed a method to effectively integrate innovation, continuous improvement, and long-term planning. The methodology was born out of Japanese management culture and, at its core, emphasises collaboration, communication, and organisational alignment. Over the years, the adoption of Hoshin Kanri has spread worldwide, thanks to its ability to link strategic goals with everyday operations.

How to implement the Hoshin Kanri Strategic Planning Process

Implementing Hoshin Kanri involves several steps:

  1. Establish strategic goals: Senior management identifies the organisation’s strategic objectives, which should be derived from the company’s vision and mission.
  2. Translate goals into measurable objectives: Break down strategic goals into smaller, measurable objectives. This helps clarify expectations, enables monitoring progress, and ensures everyone is working toward the same end.
  3. Cascade objectives throughout the organisation: Communicate the objectives to each department or team within the company. Managers must then translate these objectives into actions that their teams will undertake to align with the overall strategy.
  4. Monitor and review performance: Develop a system to review progress against the objectives. This involves tracking performance indicators, checking in with project milestones, and analysing the reasons for delays or variances.
  5. Annual and Quarterly Hoshin reviews: Conduct annual reviews to assess the performance and make necessary adjustments. Quarterly reviews should also be carried out to ensure that the strategy remains relevant and responsive to any changes in the business environment.
  6. Learn and improve: Encourage a culture of learning and continuous improvement through regular feedback, analysis of results, and identification of areas for improvement.

How Hoshin Kanri can help align your team’s goals

The Hoshin Kanri process is designed to facilitate organisational alignment and create a clear roadmap towards your strategic objectives. By breaking down high-level goals into measurable objectives and cascading them through all levels of the organisation, Hoshin Kanri can help ensure that everyone is working towards the same vision. This, in turn, fosters a sense of purpose and cohesiveness within the company, driving employees to work together as a unified force. Moreover, the process emphasises continuous improvement, which keeps teams motivated and focused on delivering their best performance.

Key Benefits of Hoshin Kanri

The Hoshin Kanri approach provides a number of benefits to organisations striving to maintain strategy alignment, emphasise innovation, and enhance organisational performance. Here are some of the key benefits:

  1. Alignment of Organisational Goals: Hoshin Kanri effectively aligns all levels of your organisation behind the same strategic goals. This ensures that every team and individual in your organisation understands their role and how their work contributes to the larger objectives.
  2. Improves Communication: By cascading goals throughout the organisation, Hoshin Kanri encourages clear, consistent communication between all levels of the company. This can help foster a greater sense of unity and teamwork, as well as prevent misunderstandings or disconnects between different teams or departments.
  3. Focus on Strategic Priorities: Hoshin Kanri emphasises concentrating resources and efforts on a few key strategic initiatives. This helps prevent spreading resources too thin and ensures that everyone’s efforts are focused on achieving the most important goals.
  4. Continuous Improvement: Hoshin Kanri promotes a culture of continuous improvement. By regularly reviewing and adjusting goals and strategies, organisations can ensure they are always moving forward and evolving to meet changing market demands.
  5. Performance Measurement: Through the continuous review process, Hoshin Kanri provides a way to measure the organisation’s progress towards its goals. Tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) and other metrics can provide valuable insights into organisational performance and highlight areas for improvement.

In implementing the Hoshin Kanri strategic planning process, organisations can unlock these benefits, driving better performance, increased alignment, and ultimately, achieving strategic goals.

Key Takeaway:

The Hoshin Kanri Strategic Planning Process is an invaluable tool for organisations seeking to achieve alignment and execute their strategic vision effectively. By implementing this proven methodology, you can create a clear roadmap for success, foster a culture of continuous improvement, and ensure that your entire team is working towards a unified strategic goal. If you’re looking to get the best from your Time, Money and Resources this is the way to do it!.

PS: 💡 If you would like to know more regarding Hoshin Kanri please do get in contact, Adam Payne our Managing Director has implemented this in a number of businesses, from SMEs to Global Power Houses with huge success.

Seven Tips For Being An Effective Lean Leader

Lean Leadership

Lean is about creating a culture of continuous improvement, where everyone—from the CEO to the cleaner—is working together to eliminate waste, cut costs, and improve quality.

Lean is based on a number principles that can be applied at every level. These principles include:

  • Eliminate waste through value stream mapping, one-piece flow and standardised work
  • Reduce cycle time by visualising how things are currently done
  • Standardize everything possible, from processes to parts and equipment used
  • Create pull systems to avoid overproduction (Make-to-Stock vs Make-to-Order)
  • Build Quality In by eliminating defects through prevention instead of inspection (Poka Yoke)
  • Sustain Kaizen (Continuous Improvement)

Focusing on value is your first priority.

The Kaizen Mindset

A kaizen mindset is the basis for lean leadership and practice, which doesn’t always mean continuous improvement.

The idea of continuous improvement is a common misconception. Continuous improvement means that you are constantly trying to improve your processes and products, but it doesn’t mean that you are always making an improvement.

Some people think that they need to be perfect before they can consider themselves “lean” or “continuous improvement leaders.” In reality, lean leadership is about being better than yesterday—and that requires a kaizen mindset.

When you have a kaizen mindset, you’re constantly scanning what’s going on around you, looking for ways to improve: “What can I do right now? What can I do better tomorrow?” It’s not just about coming up with new ideas or projects; it’s also about recognising when something isn’t working as well as it could be and taking steps to get to the root cause and fix it, not just putting a plaster over it!

Leading From The Front, Not The Rear

The traditional command-and-control method of management does not fit within the lean philosophy, but some leaders still struggle to let go of traditional power structures and control mechanisms that don’t serve their people or the organisation very well in today’s working environment.

Some leaders are so accustomed to being the only ones who have access to all the information, they find it difficult to accept that there are times when they need to consult others.

Other leaders are not used to being challenged, so when someone does challenge them, they feel threatened and react poorly, which creates conflict instead of innovation.

Lean leaders know that the only way to truly achieve what they want is by empowering their employees—and by extension, their customers. This also means that you have to empower yourself so that you can lead others effectively.

Identifying Customer Needs For Improved Lean Leadership

Identifying who your customers are and what they value is necessary when you engage in lean and continuous improvement activities.

A good place to start is with a customer-value analysis or voice-of-the-customer. This will help you identify the features and functions that customers truly value, as well as the characteristics that differentiate your product from competitors. In addition to evaluating the needs of current customers, identify potential new customer segments by identifying needs not currently being met by competitors.

Once you have identified certain key features of your product or service, list them in priority order for each of these segments. Then prioritize these features across all segments and compare results—this will allow you to identify potential opportunities for improvement and make sure nothing is left out of your plan.

If possible, involve others from different departments in this process so they can also provide input on how they would rank these factors.

Critical Thinking: Learn To Eliminate Your Problems Forever

It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day grind, and it’s tempting to just focus on what’s right in front of you—especially when there are so many other pressing matters that need attention.

The biggest difference between lean leadership and traditional management is that lean leadership is focused on long-term solutions, while traditional management is focused on short-term results. This means that lean leaders don’t just focus on solving a problem temporarily, but rather they seek out ways to prevent the problem from ever coming up again. This is done by finding the root causes of problems and eliminating them permanently.

It may sound simple, but truly engaging in kaizen requires critical thinking and effort to see past the obvious problems, and focus on the root causes to find long-term solutions that eliminate waste forever.

Kaizen is about eliminating waste wherever it exists, not only in physical processes but also in organisational culture and structure. This means that leaders need to create an environment where employees feel safe expressing themselves freely without fear of reprisal or judgment from management (even if those judgments are well-intentioned).

How The Kaizen Mindset Helps With Business Collaboration

The kaizen mindset is centred on solving problems collaboratively as needed, so no single individual or team plays a more prominent role than others do in generating ideas for improvements.

The Lean Leadership approach is based on the principle that everyone has the ability to improve their own work processes and contribute to business success. This means that leaders at all levels need to be ready to take responsibility for their roles in improving business performance while also encouraging employees to take ownership of their own areas of focus.

Leaders need to realise that by creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable contributing ideas, everyone shares in the responsibility of being able to improve business performance. A key component of this process is creating a culture where employees feel safe sharing their thoughts and ideas without fear of reprisal or negative consequences.

The kaizen mindset is centred on solving problems collaboratively as needed, so no single individual or team plays a more prominent role than others do in generating ideas for improvements that are then implemented for better performance.

How Self-Aware Lean Leaders Succeed

The most effective lean leaders are those who understand themselves exceptionally well. They know their strengths, weaknesses and passions, and they use that knowledge to their advantage.

When you’re a leader, it’s important to be able to balance your own personal needs with the needs of your team. The best lean leaders do this by taking time to reflect on how they personally feel about a particular issue before acting on it.

In addition, they work hard to understand each individual member of their team so they can provide them with an environment that is conducive to success.

Additionally, check out our sister company New Way Growth and their ‘Helping Managers to Lead and Succeed‘ programme.

Leveraging Growth Mindset and Fact-Based Management in Manufacturing

The difference between stagnation and growth often lies in mindset and management approach. The case of an SME Manufacturer with an £8m turnover, which lost a monumental £1.5 million order to a competitor that did not even manufacture but merely outsourced, illustrates a vital lesson in resilience, mindset, and strategic focus.

The Importance of Managing by Facts

Today’s manufacturing landscape demands a shift from traditional, often emotionally-driven decision-making to a more robust, evidence-based approach known as ‘managing by fact.’ This paradigm underscores the necessity of grounding decisions in data, metrics, and factual evidence rather than intuition, gut feelings, or emotions. It’s a shift that aims to heighten efficiency, enhance productivity, and foster innovation by making informed decisions that are aligned with strategic objectives and market demands.

Understanding ‘Manage by Fact’

‘Manage by Fact’ is not just a catchphrase; it’s a comprehensive approach that encompasses:

  • Data-Driven Decision Making: Leveraging real-time data and analytics to guide strategic decisions, leading to more targeted and effective outcomes.
  • Performance Metrics: Establishing clear, measurable objectives that help in assessing performance against goals, thereby facilitating continuous improvement.
  • Objective Analysis: Encouraging a culture where decisions are made based on objective analysis rather than subjective opinion or hierarchical pressures.
growth mindset

The Power of a Growth Mindset

At the heart of the SME Manufacturer’s story is the concept of a ‘growth mindset,’ a term coined by psychologist Carol Dweck. It denotes an underlying belief that talents can be developed through hard work, effective strategies, and input from others as opposed to a ‘fixed mindset’ which posits that talents and abilities are static and unchangeable.

A growth mindset in manufacturing signifies:

  • Embracing Challenges: Seeing failures, like losing a significant order, as opportunities to learn and evolve instead of insurmountable setbacks.
  • Persistent Effort: Understanding that mastery and improvement require time, effort, and perseverance.
  • Feedback and Critique: Welcoming constructive criticism as a resource for learning and development.
  • Learning from the Success of Others: Viewing peers and competitors as sources of knowledge and inspiration rather than threats.

Combining Fact-Based Management with a Growth Mindset

The synergy between managing by fact and fostering a growth mindset can become a formidable strategy in manufacturing. Here’s how:

  1. Data-Driven Insights for Continuous Learning: Utilising data not just for operational decisions but for learning and development, aligning employee growth with strategic business goals.
  2. Metrics for Performance and Growth: Performance metrics and KPIs can serve dual purposes—measuring current productivity and efficiency while identifying areas for skill development and innovation.
  3. Adaptability through Objective Analysis: An objective, fact-based approach empowers teams to adapt swiftly to market changes, technological advancements, and competitive dynamics, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and agility.

The Story of Resilience and Adaptation

Returning to the narrative of the SME Manufacturer, the loss of a £1.5 million order could have been a crippling blow. However, the management and team’s growth mindset, coupled with a strategic focus on facts and data, turned a potential disaster into a learning opportunity. It pushed the company to analyse what went wrong, to understand the market and competitors better, and to refine its value proposition and operations accordingly.

Their journey underscores several key takeaways for manufacturers:

  • Resilience is Key: The ability to bounce back from setbacks, powered by a belief in continuous improvement and the possibility of growth.
  • Embrace Change: Being open to change and willing to adapt strategies based on what the data shows can differentiate between stagnation and growth.
  • Collaborative Teamwork: A shared growth mindset within the team fosters collaboration, innovation, and shared ownership of both challenges and successes.

Conclusion: Forging Ahead with Facts and Growth

As the manufacturing sector continues to evolve amidst ever-changing market dynamics, the story of the SME Manufacturer serves as a compelling case study in the power of managing by facts not by emotion, and the transformative impact of a growth mindset.

Their experience illuminates a path forward for manufacturers seeking to navigate the complexities of modern-day business. It’s a dual approach where decisions are driven by data and insights, and where challenges and setbacks are seen not as endpoints but as stepping stones to greater achievements.

The manufacturers who will thrive are those who embrace the power of data, leverage the resilience of a growth mindset, and view every challenge as a new opportunity for growth and learning. Just as the SME Manufacturer demonstrated, the key lies in not just focusing on what to shrink but rather on what to grow. By striving to be better today than yesterday and planning to be better tomorrow than today, manufacturing businesses can ensure they remain competitive, innovative, and poised for success in an ever-evolving landscape.

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Miss that moment – and you start to decline.

“There is at least one point in the history of any company when you have to change dramatically to rise to the next level of performance. Miss that moment – and you start to decline.” – Andy Gove

My personal view and experience is that it’s more than one point in time.

SMEs are characterised by their ability to adapt easily to market changes and their lean organisational structure (not as in Lean Manufacturing), which results in a more dynamic environment and a quicker decision making process. Although SME businesses vary widely in size and capacity for growth generally they will all follow a similar path: going from Owner/Entrepreneur with two or three employees to a business aiming for £10m or even £20m per year, and experiencing 20%/30% year on year growth and upwards along this journey. The sketch below illustrates an example of this, showing where most businesses may feel the pinch points of growth at key intersections.

SME Journey and Growth

Zero to £5m

The hard work really kicks in here. This part of the journey is often the one that is the most lonely, but often the most exciting. But it is here that most business owners feel the pains. Because it can be a lonely place, it is easy for owners to doubt themselves, they also don’t know what they don’t know which can be a limiting factor. And as an owner one of the main areas of responsibility is simply getting things done, which means you are working in your business as a manufacturer, and not working on it as a strategic leader.

In smaller SMES, management structures are also small with most owners being very hands-on. People are stretched across all functions all processes. Systems are not in place, IT is minimal or non-existent and there is a lack of standard processes. Utilising the Continuous Improvement and Management graph we can see that all levels are being worked with a very lean structure. Small customer projects, odd-job shop style of working.

SME Zero to £5m

As we get closer to a turnover of £5m, it becomes clear that things need to change. We are then moving from that odd-job, one off customer delivery to a mix of bigger projects, possible increased volumes and an increase in market share from your customers. As we start to scale-up from the initial start-up, decisions have to be made about the organisational structure, the company’s technology infrastructure, its business and marketing strategy, etc. With regard to organisational structure, you might now start to see the requirement for supervisory position(s) to take on more of the owners duties, the labour force growing, new machines, loans, investment, functional departments, Operations, Quality, Sales, Technical, Finance. This is where it can be rise or decline with those decisions. In scaling and growth and the opportunities it also brings its own set of problems, (albeit they are nice problems to have because its growth).

£5m to £10m

IT Systems and Planning may start to become an issue here, Microsoft Excel may no longer be good enough to manage your shop floor requirements (although I have seen £100m business still using excel but it was beginning to creak), and you are likely at this level to be considering MRP/ERP implementations. You may also look at outsourcing some functions, like Sales, Human Resources, Engineering Support, Quality, Quality Accreditation. All this requires a lot of investment in terms of time, money and energy. You need to do your homework to avoid costly mistakes, especially where IT is concerned, but it’s all opportunity.

And this stage, the business owner is now becoming more removed from the day to day operational tasks on the shop floor. This can be a very uncomfortable feeling in one or two ways. Firstly, the owner may want that hands-on role and not relinquish that part. It could be that the business is now at the stage where the owner is stopping it from growing, the entrepreneurial side is restricted as they are tied to the business. There a number of factors and variables in play, and having the right people is key, being a good leader is fundamental (at all stages).

SME £5m to £10m

£10m upwards

Financial Audits are required at this point (although some companies can be exempt if they satisfy certain criteria), so businesses need to be aware of the UK Audit requirements. Similar issues and opportunities still arise, but on a grander scale. Organisational structures are still fundamental, we might now start to see the need for Middle Management. We may also be looking to diversify into new markets, take on bigger orders, and higher volume. From £5m and up, some of your customers may not be the ones you want to deal with now, the one-off, low volume, job shop may not be your ideal customer. You might be seeing more of a need for Product Flow and Cells (Lean Manufacturing is a must from when you first start up), competition is high so you cannot stand still, even if your decision is to stay at a certain level. You will need to be driving for improvements to maintain the status quo, and your service has to be exceptional. Collaboration with a network of Manufacturers and or Partners, in my opinion, is key in this new world, and can bring some fantastic opportunities for growth. Again, IT infrastructure comes into play as the business is getting bigger: more employees, management leadership. The addition of new premises or additional buildings on the same industrial estate (this is where having a world class logistics operations pays dividends in not impacting your efficiency/productivity). The opportunities may now open up bringing the out-sourced services back in house, Sales and Human Resources, etc. At this level, you are likely to be making informed decisions based around data. Strategy alignment throughout the organisation is required, communicated and disseminated so everyone in the organisation knows the direction the company is going in and what the priorities are.

SME £10m upwards

Every business is different. One business’s pinch point may be at £3.5m another’s £7.5m but there will be very similar decisions to be made, but at this level the advantage is that businesses are likely to be able to make these decisions in a more informed way through data. Companies may not achieve sustained profitable growth unless they draft in the specialist skills required at the right time for the business. It’s the maxim that we don’t know what we don’t know. And the best advice is to seek advice from the experts in order to shift the dial in the right direction. This is something we can certainly help with, just contact the number below.

Ask yourself:

How much will it cost you not to resolve the issues that you are currently facing now or in the immediate future? How much will it cost you not to eliminate that pain? What are the lost opportunities on not taking your business to the next level or indeed keeping it at the level you want?

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The saying goes “Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast” Drucker

The weekend of October 22nd I was watching the Austin Texas F1 Grand Prix, this is one programme that everyone knows in my house not to disturb me watching. This weekend Mercedes were all but clear of winning the constructors championship as long as Ferrari didn’t outscore them by 17 points, something in the end that Ferrari couldn’t do. Congratulations MercedesAMGF1!

Now what pricked my ears up was the interview with James Allison at the end of the race, a number of questions were asked around the differences between Ferrari and Mercedes, James (Ferrari man from 2000-2005 and returning 2013-2016 to Mercedes 2017) an absolute professional and held in high regard within F1 would not be drawn on the comparison, but what he did say regarding Mercedes summed it up in 28 seconds of video (click the image below for the interview).

If you look at Ferrari’s take on things in the past few races when things have been going wrong, their behaviour seems to be one of blame and bullet a few people, you would almost say “Manage by Fear”.

As James Allison put, by being Brave to Ultimately Prosper and the culture they have embedded at Mercedes to succeed clarifies the saying “Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast

Culture is hard to collate, classify, categorise and it’s certainly hard to measure, it also seems one of those things Businesses seem to shy away from, even borderline not accept. It’s the invisible glue that you can’t touch or feel, so we’ll ignore it.


Quite often, businesses think culture is some flowery-fluffy stuff that doesn’t make any difference in the end, or even if they think it does matter, they have an excruciatingly hard time describing what theirs is.

This invisible glue that holds the organisation together is probably the most powerful entity you can tap into, it’s part of your businesses DNA, the same as how I describe Policy Deployment, it becomes part of your business DNA. The “How you get things done”

The “How you get things done” drives performance.

Culture is not what we say, but what we do without asking. A healthy culture allows us to produce something with each other, not in spite of each other. That is how a group of people generates something much bigger than the sum of the individuals involved.

So don’t underestimate “YOUR BUSINESSES CULTURE

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Attention! – your Customers could be gone in 60 secs or less

Sales and Marketing

None of this is new and you probably heard it all before, but in my eyes that’s why it’s so important.

Sales and Marketing go hand in hand within any business, and every leader/owner should be working on their business (not in it) for a few hours a day.

But what do I mean working on your business.

Most businesses want to grow, so, you will have stated somewhere “I’m going to get from here to there by then”, now as an example this may be “Sales from £1m to £1.25m by end of 2018”.

So the working on your business (couple of hours/day), is all about the things you are going to do to get there. Now, you may have sales people, teams, etc.. this does not excuse you or absolve you of all responsibility in how, what, when, where, who and why in getting to that £1.25m.

Getting and Keeping Customers

This about your existing customers, new customers, finding new customers. (and attention is key, at 60 secs half your audience will have gone)

Examples may be:

  • Email campaigns, content, using the AIDA formula. (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action)
  • Sniper Marketing
  • New Products and Services
  • Reviewing your Social Media Impact (Google Adwords, facebook, twitter)

And don’t not underestimate the power of social media all because you are manufacturers, first port of call is having a website that is optimised and use friendly, something I’m currently sorting.

Sales Stats and Tips:

  • Over 60% of traffic is through mobile (phone/tablet). So, ensure optimised Mobile view first.
  • Over 50% of email is managed from mobile. Again, optimise for mobile viewing
  • At 60 secs half your audience will have gone (Attention is single most important word in marketing)
  • Your website load speed matters, big impact on ranking with Google.
  • Optimise your Linkedin profile, it’s not a CV, tell them where you add value.
  • 50 million Small Business on Facebook, 1.86bn active users, 66% log on every day. Search options are superb, but only 49% will support a brand liking, so how do we get in front of the others?
  • 56% of people would rather chat online than phone, you can now add chat boxes, Facebook messenger button, and more.
  • 67% will interact online with businesses.

But above all

DON’T FORGET TO ANSWER THE PHONE OR MAKE A CALL! (again remember attention, don’t answer in more than 5 rings and they’re probably gone.)

PS: It’s not the responsibility of your customers to keep you in mind, it’s your responsibility to keep you in their mind.

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Do you have a Growth Mindset or a Fixed Mindset?

The past week or so I have come across the Growth Mindset in two different scenarios’, which made me think how this should be applied to business.

The first was with my son and his school, he was invited to an awards ceremony for “Achievement in Excellence”. This was a formal ceremony, smart dress, round tables, the lot. The school made a massive deal, and so they should.

What got me intrigued was the first presentation, “having a Growth Mindset”, the number one priority of the school was endeavouring to give all pupils a “growth mindset”, as opposed to a “fixed mindset”.

Now following on from that a few days later, I had a monthly magazine delivered and low and behold there is an article on the same subject, and the example given was regarding another school implementing the same principle.

Now, in the presentation and article they spoke about some of the behaviours that demonstrate a fixed mindset, for example “I can’t do that…”, “it’s alright for her, she does xxxx”, “you either got it or you haven’t”.

To be direct, when people with fixed mindsets come to an issue that requires more effort, more hard work, they conclude that they are no good at it. Does this sound familiar? It ultimately holds them back, not only in school but in BUSINESS!

I’ve come across this so much within businesses, “I can’t do that because”, “we’re different, it won’t work here”, “we can’t do that of x,y,z”.

A “Growth Mindset” works around those obstacles; learns from those obstacles; sees mistakes as interesting and grows from them; they have a genuine thirst for learning and developing.

One of the comments by the writer said “my dad always told me nothing worth having comes easy”. What we think about affects how we feel and how feel determines how we act and the actions we take.

You have a choice of what to think about which ultimately determines your outcome.

For more on Growth Mindset click “Dr. Dweck’s discovery of fixed and growth mindsets have shaped our understanding of learning

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Education and Industry, how do we get it so wrong?

Interesting discussion this week, especially regarding skills for industry.

On three occasions this week I’ve been in conversations where comments have been raised by business owners/leaders that the school curriculum is not aligned with what industry needs. How can this be?

But, when I think of my own experiences with my children, I’m not surprised.

My two kids go to different schools, the age gap between them is 2 years. If I take my eldest, he has just moved schools (based on his own fact based audit), his belief is that the new school gives him more options and a better chance of progression. This is his first year and if I use English as an example, his previous school never progressed him over 3 years, and at one point awarded him for his extra effort, he did extra lessons and again they awarded him but at the same time notified him he was moving down a set. This didn’t make sense to my son at all, nor to us. (We did question this, but that is another discussion).

The new school in less than half a term has progressed him up two grades, how can two schools be so different in approach and teaching????

Another example is science, he was in the top set at his previous school, but based on what information had been sent to his new school, he was placed in the lowest set? This was rectified after a few weeks as the teacher realised his potential and was even given and extra lesson.

The Education System is meant to be one of the most standardised/audited processes in the UK? How do we get it so wrong?

In one of the conversations we had 3 graduates (this was a round-table discussion for a future article by Stirling Media), these young adults were full of passion for engineering, manufacturing, the digital age but remarked on how little is taught on new technology or told about what future careers can be taken.

This too me is madness, particularly when we have stated as a country we need to bridge the skills gap.

When I was at Unipart my engineers use to link with a local girl school and we set tasks for them to do each year, as an example this could be a SMED project on a robot. The engineers would take them through the problem-solving roadmap and into implementation to see their results.

Not of all of them wanted to be engineers, but it certainly opened their eyes to what engineering and manufacturing can be as a career.

I know there are a lot of schemes regarding bringing Industry and schooling closer together, but how are we measuring their effectiveness? Because at the minute I don’t see it, and when I hear the comments from students like I have this week, I do begin to question.

I know this is crucial I just wish it was more of a policy, strategy within the government. Again, it may be, but a lot of us don’t see it.

Anybody else have any thoughts?

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Teamwork – Wales & Leicester Prove the Point

I’ve never been one for football, but the two recent examples of how teamwork and purpose make an absolute difference comes in the form of Leicester City winning the Premier League and Wales currently in Euro 2016. You only have to see the camaraderie within both teams, the celebration in achievement with Wales, and seeing most of the players watching the result of the premier league pan out at Vardy’s house with the celebrations that entailed.

Now a common factor in this, is the role of the leader, both Chris Coleman (Wales) and Claudio Ranieri (Leicester) have set a purpose and belief within their teams which was unstoppable for Leicester and proving so for Wales. These leaders have set the tone for what they want from the team, the goal. They also have what most good leaders have which is ‘Charisma’, but these leaders offer much more than that. Noteworthy leaders also deliver some combination of expertise, commitment, dedication, motivation, focus and concern for others. These leaders are naturally goal orientated and understand the need and the best way to communicate the objective to the team.


The Five DYSFUNCTIONS of a Team


Absence of Trust

The failure to build trust is damaging because it sets the tone for the second dysfunction:

Fear of Conflict

A lack of healthy conflict is a problem because it ensures the third dysfunction of a team:

Lack of Commitment

Because of this lack of real commitment and buy-in, team members develop the fourth dysfunction:

Avoidance of Accountability

Failure to hold one another accountable creates an environment where the fifth dysfunction can thrive:

Inattention to Results

Team members put their individual needs or even the needs of their organisations above the collective goals of the team.


The above you could witness in England within the Euro’s, this is only my opinion, but for comparison look at the England RFU team and what Eddie Jones has achieved in a short time. Again a leader that builds purpose and teamwork, they haven’t lost yet under Jones and did something that has not been done since 1971, white wash Australia in Australia.


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