5 Steps for Successful Training

Unfortunately there’s something that organisations around the world have in common: most of their staff training programs leave a lot to be desired.

That might sound harsh, but it baffles me that so many companies (often with impressive products, processes, services or systems) fail when it comes to corporate training.

It’s a shame –after all there’s no doubt that a well designed and structured training program is essential for organisations to improve performance through its people.

Print Me a Liver

There is a scene towards the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, where Captain Kirk, being hunted by Khan and out of necessity defending his crippled spacecraft, maneuvers it into a nebula that disables both ships defenses and navigation. Kirk makes the observation that Khan, unlike the starship crew, is accustomed to living only in a two dimensional world, previously confined to the planet’s surface, and likely does not have the perspective to think in the 3D manner required in outer space. So Kirk launches an attack from underneath Khan’s ship, correctly supposing that Khan is only thinking in the right/left and forward/backwards dimensions, and not in the up/down direction.

In the business world we too are often caught like Khan, unprepared for a strategic threat from outside of our particular domain and comfort zone.

Apparel in America

Last week I posted on making toys in the US; this week it’s apparel — specifically, T-shirts and sweatshirts. Let starts with sweatshirts and a firm called American Giant. The story starts back in December with an article in Slate describing the company’s business model and extolling the wonders of its product (This Is the Greatest Hoodie Ever…

Minority Report

When the U.S. Supreme Court justices cannot agree, the majority rules the day. Even so, the minority are still given a voice with a “dissenting opinion” – their public assessment of weaknesses in the majority position and their preference for an alternate ruling. Strangely, dissenting opinions are usually taboo in the corporate world.

I am asking business leaders, “Are dissenting opinions presented to the CEO along with the proposed course of action?” There used to be an occasional “Yes,” but in the last three months, the consistent answer has been, “No.”

When I follow-up with “Why Not?” a few themes emerged.

Making Toys in the U.S.

Last Monday I posted about Rethink Robotics’ Baxter robot which can be easily programmed to perform a variety of manufacturing tasks. And that very day, theWall Street Journal had a story about a firm that uses Baxter robot (A Toy Maker Comes Home to the U.S.A., Mar 11)! K’Nex Brands makes a variety of plastic building sets that snap together…

Lean and Mean – Improving Sales and Distribution Performance

The key to developing a lean and mean, high performance operation is applying the technology and principles which translate into improved profitability and customer retention. In many cases, the same solutions which create customer “self-help” capabilities are also solutions which can address similar needs for internal business users. Ultimately, the goals are elimination of redundant or error-prone processes, establishing the sharing and secure collaboration of information throughout the organization, implementing integrated systems which allow users to efficiently perform their particular tasks, and working cooperatively with others in the supply chain to maximize the real-time capability and efficiency.

Just One Thing: Will This Make the Boat Go Faster?

“Will this make the boat go faster?” is my new favorite question. I may quickly wear it out with my colleagues, but I suspect I’ll get my point across.

The original context according to Mark De Rond, writing in his excellent book, “There is an I in Team,” is from Rowing Club Manager, Roger Stephens, who when presented with an idea concerning his team would respond, “Will this make the boat go faster?”

Think of the myriad of situations you experience on a daily basis in the name of business performance where this question might serve as a valuable filter. Here are a few from me…please add your own.

Moving Produce in India (and What it Means for WalMart)

In the world of perishable goods perishing, India has few rivals. Lacking proper storage facilities, enough refrigerated trucks and adequate highways, the world’s second-largest fruit-and-vegetable producer loses about one-third of its produce each year to spoilage, the government says, roughly $10 billion worth.

India also is bogged down by an entrenched system of government-imposed middlemen, the scope of which has few parallels, essentially an army of traders and agents who charge various fees along the way. That alone can increase farm-to-store costs sixfold, analysts estimate.