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Maset News

Volume 49  April 25, 2005

Introduction
Message From Charles Loew
Comments From Our Readers
New On The Maset Web Site
Tips for New Employee Integration
Tips from Our School for Managers
One Liners
Feature Of This Issue
Second Feature Of This Issue
RxSales: An Expert Performance System™
Coming in the Next Few Issues
Housekeeping

INTRODUCTION:

Welcome to MASET News. A monthly publication dedicated to the communication between MASET and our many interested friends, customers and potential customers

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MESSAGE FROM CHARLES LOEW:

Regarding the issue of poor customer service: Last month I related a situation about street lights needing repair in Albany, New York. The rest of the saga as reported by one of our readers - "Just to let you know where we stand the street lights that were out on Manning Blvd for some time. Here it is one month later and MOST - but not all - of the lights are back on. After several calls to the Department of General Services in Albany - the last time I called, I was told to call Niagara Mohawk, our local utility company, directly "as that's all we do." So I did. Niagara Mohawk (NiMo, as we so affectionately call them around here) has been repairing the lights for at least three weeks. They have **almost** completed the task. The end appears to be in sight.

About three weeks ago I came home to discover big digging in our driveway and thought "this is what I get for complaining to the Albany Department of General Services." (!) However, it turned out that our next door neighbor's water line had gotten clogged and the Dept of Water had to dig at the source, which just happens to be under our driveway. Sigh. Now I will have to call the Water Dept when the weather gets warmer (whenever that will be - we are supposed to get 1-3" of the white stuff tonight) and bug them about coming back to repair our driveway properly. They told me they were "putting on just temporary driveway asphalt" after the water line repair because they could not properly repair the driveway before the weather got warm enough. Never a dull moment here in the northeast." - Schenectady, New York

In our efforts to continuously improve the content and quality of the MASET NEWS we are concluding our "Helpful Hints from Fellow Practitioners" and are replacing it with "Tips for New Employee Integration". Each month we will be providing two ideas on how to better integrate new employees into your organization. We hope you find these ideas interesting and helpful in growing your successful organization

In February I introduced you to RxSales: An Expert Performance System™ through an article by Linda Stimac. In March Linda highlighted "killer" conditions that can adversely affect salespeople: In this month's Maset News we further explore the first condition "Decision Making Dysfunction". We will continue to expand on each condition in the following months. See"A Cure for the Common Procrastinator", our third feature article for this explanation.

Today's feature article "Losing the Race" by H. James Harrington, is a very important article and I urge everyone to read it. It concerns what your organization as well as every other organization operating anywhere in the world. must do to become successful. I quote you from the last paragraph of the article "The real key to quality and productivity, and the only way U.S. automakers can reach the pinnacle of excellence, is by building pride in each worker, from the guard at the front gate to the operator running the lathe. Each employee must commit to becoming more productive and more creative. Everyone must go beyond simply meeting job specifications and continuously best those requirements, replacing them with creative new concepts that wow the final customer". Enjoy the article and please contact us if you are sincere about changing your organization. We can help. Charles.Loew@masetllc.com

The second article this month, "Tools for Eliminating Errors" by A. Blanton Godfrey, Ph.D, looks at different perspectives of using tools to solve everyday problems. The fundamental issue is not which tools but that we have to provide tools training to our people in order for them to deliver our goal of providing Total Customer Satisfaction.

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COMMENTS FROM OUR READERS:

  • "Please keep sending me the Maset News as I always find some interesting sections. Also please add my associate to your distribution list" - Boston

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NEW ON THE MASET WEB SITE:

This month we have added three new offerings under our Training and Workshops. Please review them and if any of them are of interest to you, see the complete workshop description for more details.

  • The first program is an extensive offering titled "Soft Skills for Leading Teams". This is an ideal program for technical individuals who have the responsibility to lead all types of teams and is also suitable for others who have team leading responsibilities.
  • The second new program is a one day session titled "Mentoring for Employee Success". One of our very experienced Mentors developed this course for a specific customer and is now in a position to offer it to all. One of the major objectives of this program is to provide mentors with a model and a roadmap for facilitating mentoring relationships.
  • The third addition is an excellent program for those who never properly learned how to read and understand financial reports. This program titled "Finance for the Non-Financial Professional", was developed and delivered in many small, midsize and large organizations and consistently resulted in very high approval ratings. It makes the complexities of the financial reporting easily understood by those of us who use this information in our personal and business lives.

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Tips for New Employee Integration
Provided by Orientation Passport

  • TIP 1: Celebrate the New Hire
  • A phone call or e-mail from the President or General Manager welcoming the new hire to the organization.
  • TIP 2: Tools to Make them Part of the Team
  • Pre-schedule a series of "No cancel" meetings with the boss and key team members during the first month.

Visit the Products and Services describing the Orientation Passport

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Tips from Our School for Managers
- by Andrew E. Schwartz

MOTIVATION - FULFILLING NEEDS EFFECTS MOTIVATION

According to Abraham Maslow, once the physiological needs have been satisfied, they decrease in motivational importance, and the security needs emerge as the primary sources of motivation. This escalation up the hierarchy continues until the self-actualization needs become the primary motivators. But whenever a previously satisfied lower-level set of needs becomes deficient again, the individual returns to that level. For example, a person who loses his or her job is likely to stop worrying about self-actualization and to concentrate on finding another job to satisfy the now-deficient security needs.

Copyright A.E. Schwartz & Associates, all rights reserved
For more information: Charles.Loew@masetllc.com

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ONE LINERS - "To make you think and/or smile"

  • Work on ideas that are creative and can bring fine results.
  • It is during difficult times that true friends become apparent.

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FEATURE OF THIS ISSUE:


U.S. automakers must make quality a priority for every employee.

By H. James Harrington

When it comes to quality, why can't U.S. automakers get their act together? The industry maintains some of the most stringent controls over its suppliers, to the point of developing its own quality standard-one even more stringent than ISO 9001. To understand their competitors' secrets, U.S. auto makers have bought into Japanese and European firms. They form joint ventures with foreign firms and do a lot of benchmarking to learn what best practices are used throughout many industries. They make extensive use of statistical process control. They reverse-engineer offerings from Lexus, Infinity, Acura, Honda, Toyota, BMW and Mercedes Benz. They continually talk about quality and customer focus. They claim that the customer is No. 1.

Certainly the actions they have taken are important steps forward, but results are what count, and the U.S. auto industry isn't producing the desired results. J.D. Power and Associates reports that only two of the top 10 automobiles offering the best quality (i.e., lowest number of problems per car) are U.S. brands. It also shows that of the 18 cars whose quality is below average, 10 often are U.S. brands. The best quality car is Lexus at 1.73 problems per car. The best U.S.-manufactured car in terms of quality is Lincoln at 2.53 problems per car-almost 50 percent worse than the Lexus.

Although it's true that the quality of U.S.-made cars has improved, manufacturers haven't improved enough to reestablish the United States as an average car producer, let alone a leader. Until recently, General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. were first and second, respectively, in auto sales around the world. Now Toyota has stepped into the No. 2 spot, pushing Ford to third place. And, if Toyota continues to grow its market share at the rate it has been, the company will take over the first-place spot within the next three years.

Production Time in 2000
Auto Maker Hrs./Car
Nissan 17.4
Honda 19.9
Toyota 21.6
NUMMI 21.9
Mitsubishi 23.9
Ford 25.7
Auto Alliance 26.4
GM 26.8
CAMI 28.1
DaimlerChrysler 31.3

If U.S. automakers can't take the time to produce a quality car, then they must be more productive and build their cars in a shorter cycle time with less labor. But we fail in this area also. Domestic automakers lag behind Japanese automakers in productivity. This hurts U.S. automakers' profitability. The most efficient automaker in North America is Nissan, according to the Harbour Report. It takes Nissan 17.4 hours to assemble a car, half the time it takes DaimlerChrysler at 31.3 hours. This productive edge gives Japanese automakers a $500-to-$600-per-car advantage over U.S. automakers.

This situation reminds me of a conversation I had at an EOQ conference in Frankfurt, Germany, during the early 1980s. I was having dinner with a well-known automotive quality professional from Germany and a quality professional from Russia. As the evening progressed, we began to debate which country produced the better cars-Russia or Germany. The Russian was adamant that his country had the best cars, and the German was equally convinced that his country took the honors.

The argument went on for hours. The Russian pointed out the accuracy of Russian car specifications, the completeness of designs and the high tolerances required. The German, on the other hand, bragged about the craftsmanship, the perfect fits, the special features and many awards his country's automakers had won. By the end of the evening, the three of us had come up with a mutual agreement: Russians had the best specifications, but Germans built the best cars.

Being a world-class leader in the auto industry-or any industry, for that matter-requires meticulous attention to detail and an excellent understanding of how the customer will use the product. A good design is a starting point. Job-related training for employees provides them with the potential to do exceptional work, provided they have the equivalent material and tools. For U.S. automakers, it's important that they provide all their employees with problem-solving training because our designs and training are inadequate, which causes problems rather than solves them.

The real key to quality and productivity, and the only way U.S. automakers can reach the pinnacle of excellence, is by building pride in each worker, from the guard at the front gate to the operator running the lathe. Each employee must commit to becoming more productive and more creative. Everyone must go beyond simply meeting job specifications and continuously best those requirements, replacing them with creative new concepts that wow the final customer. Today's standards require each employee to implement two improvement ideas related to his or her job each month. It's up to the automakers to motivate their employees to sustain this goal.

About the author
    H. James Harrington is CEO of the Harrington Institute Inc. and chairman of the board of Harrington Group. He has more than 45 years of experience as a quality professional and is the author of 22 books. Visit his Web site at www.harrington-institute.com.



    Reprinted with permission of the author H. James Harrington. Originally appeared in Quality Digest, March 2004, p. 14.

SECOND FEATURE OF THIS ISSUE:


TOOLS FOR ELIMINATING ERRORS
Mistake-proofing meets creative problem solving
By A. Blanton Godfrey, Ph.D.

A variety of tools are available to any organization attempting to improve quality, reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction. Some of these tools are widely used-even overused-whereas others are used rarely. Within this latter group are a few specialized tools for specific problems, but the rest are suitable for many different applications. Why they're used so seldom, at least in the United States, is a mystery to me-especially considering their usefulness in managing quality and reducing costs. Three of these tools are creativity, inventive problem solving and mistake-proofing. The three are closely related and most powerful when combined.

Several years ago, Tim Clapp and I incorporated some of his research in inventive problem solving into a seminar on mistake-proofing. We were so pleased with the results that we created a workshop on the methods. Recently, we rediscovered Takeshi Nakajo's work at Tokyo's Chuo University. I'd first learned of his work through the paper he published with Hitoshi Kume in the June 1985 issue of Reports of Statistical Application Research, JUSE. They studied 1,014 examples and classified these methods into five broad categories: elimination, replacement, facilitation, detection and mitigation.

Beginning in the 1940's, Genrich Altshuller, a patent clerk and inventor in the former Soviet Union, summarized more than 200,000 patents across many different disciplines, carefully studying 40,000 of them. He noticed that most problems were solved using a small number of solutions, and he characterized these in a list of 40 solution directions for inventive problem-solving and mistake-proofing workshop, Clapp and I selected eleven of them.

Similarities exist among the methods taught in creativity workshops. By focusing participants' energy on one type of problem-solving methodology at a time, far more ideas are generated across a far wider spectrum of possible solutions. Combined with the best of brainstorming and nominal group techniques, these methods produce an incredible amount of energy and ideas. The methods we found most applicable are:

  • Trimming. Eliminating process parts or steps reduces the possibility of mistakes. For example, symmetrical parts eliminate the problem of putting left-handed parts on the right side. Resetting counters to zero eliminates the need to subtract one number from another for accurate measurements.
  • Self-elimination. Designing processes that correct themselves eliminates many problems. Examples include pills that roll down an incline; broken ones don't roll and, thus, eliminate themselves. Rotten berries don't bounce, so good ones move along while the others are left behind.
  • Standardization. Eliminating part uniqueness helps reduce problems with incorrect parts. In other words, one size fits all. Perhaps the most ubiquitous examples are the standardized electrical plugs and light bulb sockets throughout the country.
  • Unique shape or geometry. The opposite approach is also useful. Making things that fit only in certain places reduces the chance for errors. Our computers offer great examples: only the correct cord can be plugged into a specific socket.
  • Copying. Duplicating certain critical parts or actions can dramatically reduce errors. The names, bar codes and destinations on airline luggage tags are an example. Entering passwords twice is another. Verifying data entry by having two operators enter the same information into different machines can eliminate many data errors that plague businesses.
  • Prior action. Many steps can be done ahead of time to reduce potential errors. Anyone visiting a DuPont or other safety-conscious plant quickly learns to hold on to the railing when going up or down stairs. Another example is the emergency room use of pre-measured medications which reduces dosage errors.
  • Flexible films or thin membranes. Safety seals on medicines and food products can reduce tampering or contamination. Individual tea bags and coffee packs ensure that the right amounts are used. Shrink-wrapping keeps related parts together until used.
  • Color. Widely used in safety measures, colors can instantly provide critical information or warnings. A major cause of medication errors is look-alike (and similarly named) drugs.
  • Combining. Many process steps, parts or subassemblies can be combined to reduce the chance of errors. Medicine capsules now often contain both fast-release and slow-release drugs.
  • Counting. Check sheets provide simple means for ensuring that repetitive operations are complete. One company put an automatic counter on a torque wrench. Unless all 18 bolts were tightened at the workstation, a bell would ring and the product wouldn't be moved along.
  • Automatic inspection. With inexpensive microprocessors and other devices, it's easy to check everything. For example, a robot arm moving resistors to packaging automatically checks the resistance and removes any failures from the process.

None of these methods is truly new or revolutionary. However, used systematically as part of problem solving and mistake-proofing, they can significantly improve quality, costs and customer satisfaction.

About the author
A. Blanton Godfrey, Ph.D., is dean and Joseph D. Moore Distinguished University Professor at North Carolina State University's College of Textiles.


Reprinted with permission of the author. Originally appeared in Quality Digest, September 2003.

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RxSales: An Expert Performance System™


A Cure for the Common Procrastinator
By Linda Stimac, Author, RxSales: An Expert Performance System

Today's buyer is more likely to be an opinion seeker than ever before, thanks to the rise of the Internet. Prospects and clients want information; but they also suffer from Information Overload and have difficulty making final buying decisions. The sales professional plays a critical part in the new sales process, acting as a facilitator of decision-making. The word "navigator" is descriptive of their role: they steer the decision making process for the benefit of the prospect or client. They are advisors in the best sense of the word.

If sales professionals are to excel at facilitating the decision-making process, they must be good decision makers themselves. However, in examining the consultative selling skills of hundreds of sales professionals, we find that many of them suffer from a condition that affects their ability to be decisive. It is called Decision Making Dysfunction. Among the many conditions that can threaten a sales professional's skills (his or her "vital organs"), this one is a real killer disease, often accounting for more than 25% of unrealized production.

Let's observe a sales professional named Mike on a weekend buying excursion to acquire a new DVD player. It's the best way to understand the symptoms of Decision Making Dysfunction.

Mike starts his Saturday morning with newspaper advertisements spread all over the kitchen table. He scans them to pinpoint shopping mall stores in his area that sell electronics, looking for the closest one that has the lowest price. Mike decides he will visit six stores within a fifteen mile area.

Half way through the day, we find Mike in line at a fast food restaurant, thinking about the four stores he has visited so far. He is proud of the fact that he was a Power Shopper, swooping quickly in and out of each store, glancing at the DVDs on the shelf, noticing the card of features and benefits and copying down the prices. If a salesperson approached, he assured them that he was, "Just looking, thanks," One of the stores had a DVD that seemed to fit his specifications exactly. He had some questions for the salesperson but didn't want to ask, in case they would think they had a serious buyer on the line. Upon leaving that store, he did tell the salesperson that he "might be back after I've looked at all the other stores and asked a few of my friends for their advice."

Now, fast forward to Monday morning. Mike is in a conference room, meeting with prospective clients for the fourth time as they struggle to make a final decision about the Client Relationship Management (CRM) system that Mike has proposed to the decision makers. They say one or more of the following:

  • We want to talk to a few more suppliers, Mike, in case we can find a CRM that is less expensive
  • We want to get opinions from a few more suppliers, Mike, before we make our decision
  • We want to ask other department heads for their opinions, Mike, so we will be slowing down this process

What will Mike think to himself at this point in the process? Regardless of which response they make, Mike will be saying, "Well, of course I understand. I would do the same thing. Take as much time as you need."

Mike thinks this buying behavior is normal because it is the way Mike buys. Sadly, he is powerless to help his prospective client move forward in the decision making process. Instead, he goes back to the office, puts the file in the very large pile on the left corner of his desk. It is marked: FOLLOW UPS.

If this prospective client has a problem that the CRM system will solve, they've forgotten about it as they settle into the predictable routine of price, competition and feedback shopping. And Mike is unable to refocus them on the problem to be solved.

Can you imagine how many Mikes are afflicted by Decision Making Dysfunction? It is a serious condition, a "killer disease" for sales professionals. In our system (RxSales: An Expert Performance System™), the first step is self-awareness. Mike learns about his condition when he has a CheckUp of his consultative selling skills. Then, with proper diagnosis, treatment can begin. In this case, a blended-learning program (The Clinic for Sales Professionals™), which gives Mike a blend of self-directed learning and face-to-face workshops, with the other sales professionals in his office.

For Mike and other sales professionals who suffer from Decision Making Dysfunction, treatment consists of re-educating themselves on How To Buy - a process that focuses on early identification of key questions and answers. This checklist helps the sales professional move through the buying process smoothly and quickly. And this is what their prospective clients should be doing.

When the problem is corrected, Mike will realize when prospective clients become mired down in the quest for price, competition and feedback information. Because it will not seem normal to him, he can help them move through difficult spots like this. And, when Mike's own buying cycle is shorter, his selling cycle will become shorter too.

To learn more about RxSales: An Expert Performance System™, visit the Guest section at www.rxsales.com or contact Charles Loew at Charles.Loew@masetllc.com

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COMING IN THE NEXT FEW ISSUES:

  • Many more "Tips for New Employee Integration".
  • Future tips from Our School for Managers will include topics in Coaching, Goal Setting, Time Management, Communication, Delegation and others.
  • Many new ideas and concepts from "RxSales: An Expert Performance System"
  • Sales and marketing workshops
  • Online method of conducting an employee satisfaction survey

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Comments about MASET NEWS:

We welcome comments from our readers regarding MASET NEWS, our web site, or inquiries for help to: Charles.Loew@masetllc.com.

Articles, comments and other valuable information from you, our readers will appear in the Readers Comments section.

We reserve the right to determine what will be published, but will endeavor to publish everything that is sent to us.

 

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Copyright © 2000-2004 by MASET, LLC
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can be reproduced by you providing the Copyright information remains on the copy. It may be used by you for limited distribution within your organization and among your friends and associates. It may not be sold or published without prior written authorization and approval by MASET, LLC.

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