In its mid-September issue of ‘Boss’ insert magazine The Australian Financial Review wrote about NBN and its CEO Bill Morrow. In one of the opening paragraphs the author of the feature, Joanne Gray, said that Morrow “tries to ensure the country’s biggest single infrastructure project since the Snowy Mountains hydroelectric scheme does not turn into a $50 billion white elephant.”
Training attracts no controversy. On the contrary, people see it as a necessary activity, believing that it improves productivity and empowers employees. Almost ritualistically, many organisations invest in training, while the media routinely portrays it as an important factor in securing Australia’s economic future.
Yet, no one could argue that all training delivers the same value. Furthermore, have you ever considered that in some circumstances training could actually harm your business?
Some years ago a small brewery in the UK became increasingly successful. The manager of the local supermarket called them to arrange for an additional delivery on Fridays, because the beer had become so popular that it sold out by Saturday each week.
At first glance, the radical corporate cultures that frequently make the headlines appear progressive, perhaps even revolutionary. But don’t be fooled. Bean bags, undefined workdays and unlimited leave policies don’t drive business success – quite the opposite. They only become possible when a business experiences an extraordinary upsurge, reflecting a ‘philosophy of success’ created after success has already been achieved.
When asked by business owners or senior executives how to improve their business, I usually give the same answer: adopt Deming’s Management Method, known as Total Quality Management (TQM).
TQM helps businesses evolve towards higher quality management. The effectiveness of the approach has been well proven and, though it can be a difficult management methodology to adopt, the results it delivers far outweigh the work required.
In his famous Serenity Prayer, American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr wrote:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Retail executives tend to track sales figures as their most important metric, but in my experience, trying to maximise sales figures alone makes little sense. As in sport, focusing on the score won’t work on its own. Only good and consistent practice, combined with a commitment to continually improve skill and technique will deliver the desired results. The scoreboard simply reflects the results achieved in the more mundane variables.