"Genius, in truth, means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way."

— William James #innovation

I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t have gotten to where I am today without some help along the way.  Early in my career two people in particular were very influential: Bill and Susie Truax. (You can learn more about Bill’s work training and coaching leaders here: http://itsjustaskill.com).  I was fortunate to have their son, William, as a good friend in Jr. High and High School.  However, it wasn’t until I was well into my college years that I began to understand the professional side of his parents. While I was getting my MBA and learning business concepts and theories, Bill and Susie balanced the book knowledge with some real-world experience.  They mentored me and taught me several foundational skills in the disciplines of sales, presentations, goal-setting and general business acumen.  I can remember sitting in the Trufield Enterprises world headquarters - a small barn behind the Truax home that had been converted into a cozy office space - and listening to Bill talk about setting goals.  As was often the case, an important lesson took the form of a story. The Truax family had gone to Montana on a camping trip.  As I remember it, they had decided to go on a hike and it was turning out to be a longer, harder adventure than any of them had anticipated.  They came to a decision point and decided to go for it.  At that point, they set their goal and then used some strong goal achievement techniques to get them to their objective and back to camp - a tired but successful group. It was a great story, but more importantly it taught me some key goal setting skills that have helped me enormously over the years. Bill and Susie, I can’t thank you enough for the investment you made in me - it’s made a big difference.

…to becoming a consultant, and it hasn’t allowed much time for blog posts.  My last post was about 10 months ago - right about the time I was asked to take on finance and administration for Archetype.  

Back in 2011, when I left my work in the manufacturing and supply chain world to strike out as a management consultant, I knew that things would be different, but I had no inkling that a string of events would land me in the role of VP of Finance.

I started down this path when, in addition to my consulting work, I took on several internal projects. One of those was the implementation of our SRP application - the services version of an ERP system.  This put me elbow-deep into our financial systems and processes as I worked out the integration. 

Because of this, when a transition left us in need of someone to lead Archetype’s finance and administration, I agreed to step into the role.  I had some brushing up to do as it had been a long time since my formal training in accounting and finance. Between getting back up to speed and the inevitable sorting out required by any transition there hasn’t been a lot of time to spend creating new posts.

Even so, I’ve been jotting down notes and thoughts on several topics over the last few months and I think it’s time to start sharing a few of them. For instance, did you know that, during the 1970s, the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) and the U.S. Army were proving out a basic management truth that any organization would do well to learn? More to come.

"Never forget Warren, you can tell a guy to go to hell tomorrow — you don’t give up the right. So just keep your mouth shut today, and see if you feel the same way tomorrow."

— Berkshire Hathaway director Thomas Murphy to Warren Buffet

"…if [your] revenue, profit, and customer numbers don’t all increase simultaneously, you can find yourself with a growing problem that only gets worse over time."

— Erik Sherman, Inc. Magazine

(Source: inc.com)

"If you don’t have time to do it right, you better have time to do it over."

— Anonymous

S&OP = Sales and Operations Planning.  Essentially, it is a formal process that helps your Marketing, Sales and Operations groups coordinate their activities.  Have you ever had Marketing discontinue a product a couple weeks after Operations ordered a year’s supply of a unique part for that product?  Or maybe Sales runs a promotion on an item without telling Operations to gear up for an expected spike in demand.  How about a warehouse move, machine overhaul or systems upgrade right before a high volume period or critical new product launch? A robust S&OP process remedies these kinds of problems creating an organization where the right hand knows what the left is doing.  Here is a good overview of the process: http://www.bizforum.org/whitepapers/CSC-1.htm

VOC = Voice of (the) Customer. It is essential for organizations to listen to what their customers are saying about vital issues such as brand, quality, features, convenience and price to name just a few.  This means being able to both hear and process the meaning of what is heard.  Without both aspects, the organization is listening impaired and experiences either corporate deafness or meaningless noise. Listening impairment can also come in the form of selective hearing.  For example, have you ever dealt with an executive who wanted to make enterprise course changes based on feedback from a recently discovered niche web forum, a few youtube pundits or a conversation with a family friend at a Christmas party? While I certainly don’t speak from personal experience, and I’m sure that never happens at your organization, I have heard that those kinds of things have occurred once or twice somewhere else. 
For the VOC to be effective it must be heard, processed for meaning within context, and then actionable.  Once this happens, it is incredibly powerful.  Just imagine if the VOC was considered as decisions were made across your enterprise - from the back office to the front lines.  What impact would it have?
If you want some in-depth information on VOC programs, this is a comprehensive article: http://bit.ly/nZauRX  Fair warning: you have to wade through some annoying ads at first, but it’s worth clicking “skip this ad” a few times.