Friday, April 5, 2013

Building a Foundation - Part One

Any business, to have a high level of stability, of staff retention, experiencing expansion and stable growth must be built on a solid foundation.

This foundation must be very well understood, agreed upon and communicated to everyone involved.

In my experience working as a Certified Executive Coach and an Efficiency Expert, this foundation consists of
a. identifying the Core Values for the business (and best the personal Core Values, too) and
b. establishing and formulating the Basic Purpose for the business.

Let’s take up Core Values first! This takes some time and its time well spend. The better this is done, the more grounded the business and the people working in it are and that’s the major prerequisite for being and staying focused.

I found a very good description of Core Values on the National Park Services website at and am repeating it (with minor changes) here:

“The core values of an organization are those values which form the foundation on which we perform work and conduct ourselves. We have an entire universe of values, but some of them are so primary, so important to us that throughout the changes in society, government, politics, and technology they are STILL the core values we will abide by. In an ever-changing world, core values are constant. Core values are not descriptions of the work we do or the strategies we employ to accomplish our mission. These values underlie our work, how we interact with each other, and which strategies we employ to fulfill our mission. The core values are the basic elements of how we go about our work. They are the practices we use (or should be using) every day in everything we do.”

Govern personal relationships
Guide business processes
Clarify who we are
Articulate what we stand for
Help explain why we do business the way we do
Guide us on how to teach
Inform us on how to reward
Guide us in making decisions
Underpin the whole organization
Require no external justification
Essential tenets
Operating practices
Business strategies
Cultural norms
Changed in response to market/ administration changes
Used individually"

I have found this to be a very workable definition and have used this successfully in helping businesses/organizations to work out not only their business/organizational Core Values, but their personal ones, too.

Identifying the top 3 – 5 Core Values and being specific in describing them for your business/organization AND getting everyone one involved in the process of doing so establishes maximum agreement and willingness to contribute to it!

A big positive shift in attitude, cohesiveness, focus and cooperation took place every time in the corporate culture which resulted in immediate growth, etc.

This is not something to brush over or do it over a lunch break, but requires the time needed and knowledgeable, focused and positive supervision to accomplish the desired results.

It is definitely worth doing.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Efficiency - What is that?

Efficiency – What is that?

Here I am writing blogs about Efficiency and talking about it without taking into account the fact that people have all kinds of different ideas about Efficiency and do not necessarily know which definition of Efficiency I use.

So, let’s clarify this first:

An engineer or someone in a related field looks at efficiency as the ratio between input and output/return. The less electricity or fuel you need (input) and the higher the heat, cooling, mileage, etc. (output/return) is, the more efficient the machinery, car or system and so on.

A factory operator or anyone designing any kind of an assembly line looks mostly at it from a time / motion proposition.

All of these are valid definitions and have their uses and workability.

Now, let’s take a more expanded look at it (this is the definition I use):

“Efficiency is defined as being able to do any kind of task or action to completion and good result. This is done without wasting time, money, materials and resources!”

Since completion and good results are part of this, “Effectiveness” is actually part of the definition of “Efficiency”!

That is an important point since I have observed numerous times that someone would complete a task with good results, but the amount of time needed or the amount of money, materials or resources used was way too much!

Therefore, when you hear me talking about “Efficiency”, know that I use it as the more senior concept / definition and that “Effectiveness” is just a part of that.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Efficiency – The “Autobahn” Part 3

Once in a while (and sometimes even more) there is a Formula One racecar that shows up on your desk. You need to realized that this type of vehicle is illegal on the Autobahn and therefore also on your desk.

This can happen in two different ways:

First, here is the person that comes into your office to chat while you are trying to get your work done. He is not at his area to do his job and is now actively trying to prevent you from doing yours.

Your dilemma is to get him out of your office so you can get your work done. While this might take some diplomacy, you need to be firm on the use of your production time (and his also!).

And second, this is someone else’s work, his job or even problem that’s being unloaded on you. Here you have a co-worker that comes to you and asks,
a. ‘Can you do this, I don’t know how….’, or
b. Tells you that he can’t come in on Friday (your really busy day).

What is happening here? In both cases someone gave you his problem and it’s up to you to take it and make it your problem – or not.

If you take that problem and make it your own then you are now using your own valuable time to address and handle someone else’s problem instead of using your time to address your own work load.

This is not efficient and is a big time and money waster.

Yes, it makes us feel important when someone comes to us and tell us how good and smart we are by stating in more or less direct ways that only we know how to….

But what about your own work? What about the new product line you’re supposed to get ready for marketing? What the about the sales opportunities you are missing because you’re now working on someone else’s problem?

Again, this is not efficient and is a big time and money waster!!!

How about handling it in such a way that it is a positive experience for all involved? Where in the end you have a more competent co-worker? Wouldn’t that be better?

Ok, then here is what you need to do:
You give the problem back to the other person while acknowledging that there is a problem and letting him know that you want to help him with it.

You instruct your co-worker to write down what the problem is, to be specific. And to work out how he things he could get that problem solved without offloading it onto you. And to write that down also.

He can then just do it or turn his write-up in to you for review and approval. Based on your knowledge and experience you can see whether this would work or if there’s something missing. If something is missing, point this out to the person and get him to fix it, otherwise give him ok to go ahead.

You also tell him that the reason you’re doing it this way is, because you have confidence in his ability to work it out and you know that this way he’ll become more competent and isn’t that what he wants, too?!!

This even works for the co-worker who’s not coming in on Friday. How can you make certain that your work gets done while you’re not here or what arrangements could you make so you could come to work?

This way the Formula One race cars appear less and less and you get your co-workers to think more and more in solutions instead of problems! A great question to ask is, “So, how could YOU solve / handle this yourself?”

Your job is it to address and solve the problem of your business, expansion, etc.

Your employees are there to help you with that and not the other way around. The lesser the amount of distractions you have, the better you are able to focus on you own work. And isn’t that what you want?

It just makes sense, doesn’t it?

Well, have fun with it.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Efficiency – The “Autobahn” part 2

Here you are, at your desk (or computer), your personal Autobahn for your office traffic.

You’ve learned to differentiate between your Porsches and your Trucks. Now let’s go a little further:

You have an emergency vehicle with flashing lights coming up from behind. What does that mean for your regular traffic? It has to move over and make room for the emergency vehicle. As a result you are now embroiled in the emergency and your regular traffic is stopped.

Ever happened? If not, then don’t bother reading further. BUT, if you have emergency happen in your business or organization then read on.

Any emergency that comes up must be addressed and handled as quickly as possible. That’s the nature of an emergency. But what happens if it’s not possible to get it out of the way quickly? Then your regular traffic (office work) keeps sitting there until it also starts to have flashing lights going and now everything is one emergency after the other. That’s not fun anymore, but pure stress.

How to avoid that? Is it possible? That’s not something you ask yourself while you are in the middle of the emergency, but how about afterwards?!!

Take the time and review the emergency. Ask yourself these questions:

a. Are the types of emergency I have to deal with of a similar nature?
If the answer is yes, what procedures and guidelines can be established to get them handled quicker, reduced in frequency or even avoided?
Get those established and known by all involved.

b. Was this an outside generated emergency (i.e. did the customer call with a last minute problem, etc.?
If yes, what could be done from your end to anticipate or even prevent such emergencies? Could you have made that extra call that would have avoided this?
Is there anything else that could have been done?
If there is, write a guideline for it and put these steps in place.

c. Was it an inside generated emergency? Did someone drop the ball? Was something not done?
If yes, get the person that was responsible for it corrected and then write a policy that would prevent this from happening again or get an existing company policy, which addresses that already, know and followed by all involved.

Having these steps done is going to reduce the amount of emergencies coming in (hopefully) and make work less stressful. Have more fun at work, ok?!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Efficiency - The Autobahn, part 1

The “Autobahn”! Most of you have heard about it, some of you have even driven on it.
It’s the net of Interstate Highways that crisscross Germany. At one time there wasn’t even a posted speed limit.

Now, large parts of it, especially those close to the more populated areas, have speed limits posted and enforced. And on the one’s that have no speed limits posted (yet), the traffic is at times so crowded, that you do not dare to “put the pedal to the metal”.

If that’s what you’d like to do, though, then you have to know where and when to drive.

Well, why am I writing about the Autobahn when this is about efficiency? It’s because I’m using the Autobahn as an analogy and I want you take a look at your desk (and your computer!) and get the idea that this is your personal “Autobahn”:

It should be clutter free so your traffic can flow along freely and quickly.

Let’s say you have two lanes moving in one direction and you have a Porsche in your left lane and a Truck in your right lane.

While there are a few major differences between these two, the one most notable difference is in speed. Your Porsche is a lot faster than your Truck.

What does that mean?

It means that you have Porsches and Trucks on your desk and you need to know which ones are the Porsches and which ones are the Trucks.

You Porsches are the communications that usually are awaiting a quick answer, like which pricing formula do you want me to use for this proposal, etc. Someone is waiting for a response and is stopped in what they are doing, for example.

Your Trucks, on the other hand, are the projects that just move along (unless there is a very short timeframe involved).

Your Porsches stay in the left lane, i.e. they are addressed first! Your Trucks, on the other hand, stay in the right lane, i.e. they are addressed after the Porsches are done.
As long as it’s done that way, your traffic moves with optimum speed across your desk.
However, when a Truck is allowed in the left lane, ALL traffic now moves slowly.

Now, your Porsche might get a flat tire (you have called a client and he’s not available right now, but will get back with you later the same day). In this case you have to move the Porsche onto the shoulder (the area designed for emergency stopping only). This means your desk has to have a shoulder (a basket designated specifically for that purpose) and only the stopped Porsches go there. You know that when your client calls you back that this is the only place you have to look for his paperwork. Easy!

Now, when you have to stop working on a Truck (a project), can he be moved onto the shoulder? NO! Parking is illegal on the shoulder. He needs to get OFF the Autobahn and into a parking lot. This is a specific area off the desk designated for the storage of projects only. This might be a hanging file or a set of hanging files specifically and only for projects or a basket placed on a shelf, etc.

The whole message here is:
Know what are your Porsches and what are your Trucks and don’t mix them up.

Safe driving!

Next time I’ll get into the rest of the traffic on your Autobahn…

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Efficiency -- Talking with Gerhard can be dangerous :)

Here I am today, in front of my next victim, ah, I mean client.

He had seen our website: and wanted to talk to me.

A little background: He’s in the mortgage business and because of the current housing dilemma his business has taken quite a hit. Now, one of the first things he told me was that he would get all involved in admin and other things that would not get him new clients and he would fail to make the phone calls needed to reach out to the people he knew.

My response was, “Ok, how many calls would you have to make per day to accomplish that?”

His answer was, “Five.”

So my response was, “Get out a blank letter size piece of paper and write on it ‘Make 5 calls per day’ and post it on the wall right in front of you. This is your daily assignment and you get this one for free.”

He took the paper, wrote it on there and put it right in from of him on the wall.

And guess what, he’s doing it!

(Naturally he signed up for the Efficiency Management System Coaching, too!)

Is there something you should be doing on a daily basis and aren’t? Well, get out the piece of paper and ……!

Let me know how that goes.

Best - Gerhard

Efficiency - How about this one!

By now you probably got the point that I have a lot of fun with the subject of efficiency and even more fun helping others to improve theirs.

That’s why I became an Efficiency Expert and do the Efficiency Management System Coaching in the USA.

I want to let you know about a “Moment” that happened recently:
I’d been working with one of my clients (a Holistic Doctor) on completing her coaching.

Since I always work with the person in front of me, meaning that there are no pre-conceived ideas and no cookie-cutter approach, I realized that we also had to focus on future planning.

So, even though this is not necessarily part of the Efficiency Coaching program, I proceeded to help her to work out a 5 year plan for her business. Part of it was to establish her as an authority in her field and that’s best done through media exposure. She’d worked out the books (10) she was going to write in the next 5 years and I mentioned TV exposure to her.

Through my networking contacts I was able to connect her with a local cable TV producer to get her started. Not too long after that we completed with the coaching and I left.

When I got back to my office and checked my emails there was one from her telling me that shortly after I’d left she received an email from a total stranger who proceeded to write that she was a producer working with PBS and other TV stations and wanted to do a feature on exactly what my client was doing. And would she be willing to work with her!

Can you say WOW?!

When you start to focus on creating your future, all kinds of great things tend to happen.

Ever happened to you? Why don’t you let me know.

Best - Gerhard