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Thursday, September 23, 2010

WHAT WORKS (AND WHAT DOESN'T)

We are all acutely aware of the problems in business today. It seems a day doesn't go by we don't hear of another faltering economic statistic, bankruptcy, foreclosure or whatever. It's all very depressing. Are we really so incompetent that we cannot work out of these doldrums? I think we can, but I'm not sure we're up to the challenge. I think deep down we've all known the answer to our problems, we're just not willing to address them properly. Instead we tend to adopt quick and dirty solutions that superficially satisfy our problems, hence they are never truly conquered. To illustrate, below is a list of programs proven to be effective for producing positive results in business over the years.

* Proactive Management - we need forward thinking leaders who have the vision to shape their business, who can perform such tasks as planning, establishing objectives, priorities, and forecasts; and can lead their companies into the future.

* Craftsmanship - establishing an environment conducive for developing superior products with a high degree of quality. Such an environment benefits customers and sales, as well as worker self-esteem.

* Yankee ingenuity - the American entrepreneurial spirit is legendary and we can ill-afford to discourage it. We are at our best when we are allowed to take calculated risks thereby encouraging innovation and invention. To make this happen, we need fewer safety nets, not more, thereby emphasizing the concept of risk. This of course requires capitalism.

* Morality - a strong sense of ethics promotes much more than just honesty and personal integrity, it builds trust; trust between management and the work force, and trust between the vendor and the client. Morality is simply good business.

* Teamwork - a well organized team can obviously outperform individual effort. This requires establishing a spirit of cooperation as opposed to rugged individualism. "Win-Win" should be the mantra of the business.

* Customer Service - offer professional and courteous service to customers, treat them like the kings they are. It's not good enough to build better products, but we must be willing to stand behind them with service and warranty programs.

* Follow the Golden Rule of Business - maximize income, minimize expenses. This includes maximizing productivity and minimizing nonessential interferences.

* The American Worker - when placed in the proper work environment, and set in motion in the right direction, there is nothing the American worker cannot conquer as we have demonstrated time and again over the years. Give them a purpose, a sense of accomplishment, and you'll have fewer clock watchers. To do so though, workers need to take responsibility for their actions. This means empowering the workers by delegating responsibility to perform their assignments and holding them accountable for their actions. In addition, if management is going to ask workers to work hard, they should in turn be fairly compensated and treated as professionals.

* Government - business needs more government leadership and less regulation. Government should be encouraging business to move in certain directions, not mandating it. Business always works better when government is off their back.

What doesn't work? That's easy; simply the antithesis of the items listed above, such as reactive management, individualism, strong government regulation, amoral behavior, etc. Things like greed, corruption, apathy, laziness, entitlement, irresponsibility and petty corporate politics simply do not work, yet these are all commonly found in the American workplace today. It's time we quit rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic and get to work.

If we can agree the items listed above are effective techniques for promoting business, why then are we not using them? Examine each carefully again. Is it not economical to implement such programs? Is it bad for business to do so? Hardly. Again, we have been lulled into believing the best solutions are quick and dirty in nature. No Virginia, there is no panacea, just hard and determined work. We need to believe in ourselves again.

I am reminded of the old maxim, "Anything worth doing, is worth doing right."Let's do it right.

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim's columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

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