Helping co-workers during the recession

June 23rd, 2009

Have you wondered how you might be able to help your co-worker during the recession? Read the column, Workwise, in the Business Journal to find out what the experts suggest. I was quoted a few times in the article, and I’d be interested in your feedback and ideas on the topic: Read article

Should you be prepared for an economic recovery?

June 15th, 2009

Absolutely – whether you believe one is coming or whether you believe we will be in a recession for several years, it is still imperative to BE PREPARED for an economic recovery. It is quite unusual for the economy to go straight up or straight down (just check the stock market, and you won’t find any completely straight lines); therefore, it is absolutely essential to be prepared to take advantage of any recovery – no matter how short lived. Don’t you want to be one of the only companies or people who gets the new customer? the new contract? the new job? If so, it is essential to be prepared to take advantage of the opportunity – create flexibility, plan & remember liquidity. Read my latest newsletter to gain additional insights and details on preparing for an economic recovery: Profit through People Newsletter

Invest in your business and yourself NOW!

June 10th, 2009

Every day, we hear about companies cutting back, laying off employees, cutting advertising and R&D budgets, etc. And, every day, I hear about job seekers and even those currently employed cutting back on investments in self development etc. It is the overwhelming majority. However, as I discussed in a recent newsletter feature story, being contrarian can lead to staggering, unexpected results. Why not consider bucking these trends and investing NOW?

I’ve recently read an article from the New Yorker that provides evidence on how this philosophy “works” (thanks to Alan Weiss and Mark Smith for sharing the link): (click here).

Of course, I’m not talking about investing in just anything – it is important to be selective and prioritize your precious cash flow into what will provide a significant return on investment. However, in my perspective, this should be done in both good times and bad times – why would we ever throw money down the drain in low priority projects?

It is an opportunity to stand out in the crowd. For example, in one business, we invested a small amount (although huge considering the cash available) in new product development during particularly tough economic times. Although many might have thought we were crazy investing anything above $0 when we were working diligently to avoid bankruptcy, it is that investment that allowed us to introduce a new product line which was the first step in regaining customer confidence and market share. Our small investment resulted in rapid sales growth! In another example, when I left my last role as VP of Operations and decided to start a consulting business, I absolutely knew I could help companies save money but I had no idea how to find those companies. So, although officially “unemployed” and in a “start up” mode for my business, I thought I better figure out how to find those companies – sounds obvious but it required a leap of faith to invest significant funds during this timeframe. It is one of the best decisions I made because I was able to leverage the expertise of someone who had “been there, done that” – why fall into each and every pit along the way when you can find a way to leap over them? Of course I’ve still made many mistakes along the way but, after all, as I used to tell my team, “Mistakes are good. After all, if you aren’t taking any risks, you will not succeed. However, it is the repetition of the same mistake that is bad.” So, I figure I’m doing well with my mistakes!

The bottom line to project management…

June 5th, 2009

RIGOROUS FOLLOW-UP. Although there are other ingredients, the absolute best projects will fail without rigorous follow-up. And, conversely, so-so projects can become wild successes with rigorous follow-up.

Projects are commonplace. Throughout my career, I’ve participated in projects, performed tasks for projects and led projects. In working across multilpe industries, companies ranging in size from a 1-2 person shop to Coca-Cola Enterprises, and across borders, I estimate that 70-80% of employees participate in a project in one way or another. Therefore, it is rather critical to ensure a worthwhile return on investment on projects – after all, by virtue of the time spent, there is already a significant investment……the only question is the return.

Typically the potential for the return is viable or the project wouldn’t be considered, as few companies have people with extra time on their hands to work on known, non-value add projects. Therefore, the key is execution. And one if not the largest compoment to successful execution is rigorous follow-up.

Why? In my experience, management is often times disappointed in the results of projects, as they continually move out, other priorities arise, people lose focus, etc. One way to combat these issues is through rigorous follow-up – essentially, focus alone resolves the plethora of issues. For an example of the benefits that can be achieved through rigorous follow-up, here is a case study illustrating the situation, results & how it was accomplished: