THE PLEXUS BLOG

Rob's latest thoughts and wonderings.

Back to Blog

How to Start a Business Improvement Journey

Recently I have written about many aspects that are critical to start your journey focused on business improvement.  Topics shared have focused on leadership, setting the direction, staff engagement and creating a positive work culture. These are critical elements to begin what I would call a business improvement journey. This week’s blog is about providing an overview of all of these elements into a logical sequence.  First a quick reminder, the move towards business improvement is ...

April 6, 2021

Creating An Awesome Workplace Culture

I have spoken a lot recently about staff engagement and it got me thinking. What is the difference to engagement and creating a positive workplace culture? So I have gone away to look at a few perspectives and this is my summary of thoughts. Before I went further into exploring the elements of a workplace culture.  I took a quick look at the definition of culture.  I personally find it useful to pause and reflect on some of these words we throw around, mostly without giving it too much...

March 23, 2021

What Pisses You Off?

“So what pisses you off ?” That was my opening line to a new group I was working with a few years back.  They were a team who could not see past the controls and policies of the large organisation they worked for.  Their team leader gave me an insight before I met them, stating they found it difficult to identify areas of improvement, and felt hamstrung with all the ‘rules’ that impacted on their tasks. So I asked the simple question “So what pisses you off ?”.  Then e...

March 9, 2021

The 3 questions you need to ask yourself about employee engagement.

I mention it a lot, talk about it and refer to it many times when I write about Business Improvement, implementing Lean programmes and Lego Serious Play.  What is ‘it' - staff engagement. It dominates the conversation many times because simply it is the make or break of the consulting work I do.  So what the hell is 'staff engagement'?  What does it really mean? Let’s understand it a bit more rather than let it become a cliche term that we use but not really do anything about....

February 22, 2021

Why having a 'True North' is mission critical

The term “True North” might be a bit of a business cliche these days.  However it is a cliche for a reason - it is still key for a successful business. You might be saying that this is obvious.  Yet a survey conducted last year by Te Waka (Waikato’s Regional Economic Development Agency) showed that less than 50% of small / medium businesses don’t have a plan.  Even fewer had a plan to plan!! For leadership - this might be one person or a leadership team, having a clear def...

February 11, 2021

The four challenges you need to take business improvement seriously!

There are many aspects to managing or owning a business.  Finance, people, supply chain, sales, marketing, training, quality management - the list goes on.  Over the years I have heard many leaders describing their situation as unique or complex.  Well today I am calling it - that is bullshit! You are only making it complex by keeping it in a chaotic state for you and your team. Is it hard - yes, absolutely.  Keeping teams engaged, making sure they are doing what they should ...

February 1, 2021

How to start your ideas in 2021

You have just come back from a great break.  You really did earn this one - last year really did take its toll on you.  But that was so last year, now you are really looking forward to the opportunities you have.  The enthusiasm is high, your picture of the end goal - crystal clear. As you are driving into the office, you do ask yourself - “so how can I get the team behind this?” Before shooting off both hips with ideas and enthusiasm, just pause and think how are you going to...

January 14, 2021

My Client Journey

It has been a crazy few years for Belinda and Tony.  Ten years ago they started out with a vision to create luxury pools and spas.  Every job was different but all jobs demand quality and attention to detail demanded by their high end clientele.  Their customers had high expectations and they knew it. As the business expanded, they reviewed the processes, improved the product, improved their customer service.  The results were impressive. This meant that their reputation had ...

January 6, 2021

Lego Serious Play - Case Study #2

A local government agency.Being a new internal service, the manager identified the team was still building an identity for themselves. It had been a few months into delivering the new service, but they had yet to spend time to create a common goal, a defined purpose that brought the team together and this was holding them back from maximising their impact. The manager knew this had to be dealt with before they could maximise their potential. That’s when the manager turned to Lego Serious Play....

December 2, 2020

Leading for change is hard

Why do many small and medium businesses (SMEs) fail when they try and change something or begin something new?  Where do they go wrong when they want to bring something such as Lean Thinking into the business? In my space as a consultant I see and hear these stories all the time.  “It didn’t work, so I can’t see it working this time around”. Or a nice little comment “Oh yeah, we tried that, it didn’t go far, it just wasn’t for us”.  Overtime I have reflected on why...

November 20, 2020

The $170,000 Opportunity

According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and employment there are 499,944 small businesses in New Zealand who employ 0-19 employees.  This makes up a significant part of the economy in this country, employing over 1 million people. That is over a quarter of working aged New Zealanders. I have mentioned the statistics that surround SME’s over the past few years, but with the impact of Covid-19 has had on the economy, it is one that is worth repeating.  Before 2020, New Zealan...

November 4, 2020

So your team does't like change..... really?

My team doesn't like change so starting Lean here won’t go well. I am always curious about this comment, mainly because I am wondering about who is actually resistant to change - leadership or the team?  At the end of the day, Lean is a change programme.  The difference, the really big difference is that when done well, it is people led.  Team driven change. Outcomes are a better business through improved efficiency.  Because the team has taken the lead, they are less stres...

October 20, 2020

Primary Drivers of Productivity

So what's important for frontline staff when SME's are focused on improving their productivity?  Well a bunch of researchers in the UK asked this very question and the results, well to me they weren't that surprising. Operational process change - 80% very importantEmployee development - 100% very importantCultural change - 70% very importantImproved Management Information - 80% very important This is compared to organisational change and investment in technology which both came out 60%...

October 5, 2020

Lego Serious Play - A Case Study

How do you get a bunch of Electricians interested in strategic conversations?  That was the challenge put to me by an owner of a local electrician business. The business has a good reputation and has been growing from strength to strength. However the owner recognised the need to engage the team around the values of the business. But how do you get a bunch of tradies excited about conversations that will express what they thought were important values?>  These guys are the happiest ...

September 18, 2020

What Would I Do? - Episode Two

Another recent experience occurred recently where it prompted me to think once again, “what would I do?”.   From a customer perception, this situation wasn’t a terrible howler like the first example in this series. This interaction could be one that as a customer, be brushed aside and justified as acceptable actions. However, I think this is a great example of an industry that has seen some massive improvements and changes in the way it delivers its services, yet there is always ...

August 26, 2020

Brick by Brick - Episode Three

Today's episode is another great conversation, this time focusing on the real challenges of a small & medium business in NZ. Damian brings to the table some of the challenges he has running an electrician business based in Hamilton, NZ. During the conversation we explore how the small frustrations such as filling in the timesheets can be managed by looking at the big picture. In this case it is about staff engagement, empowering them to set and manage the standards, expectations and ultimately t...

July 16, 2020

Stuck in 2nd Gear

You know this feeling, pushing hard down on the accelerator while the car is stuck in second gear.  Sure, you can go at full speed, well maybe but only for a short time before the whole engine gives in.  The situation is only sustainable for a short time.  The only solution is to fix the problem - making sure the engine is working properly so it can perform to its maximum potential. Leading an organisation follows the same philosophy.  By just trying to work harder when all t...

June 29, 2020

Brick by Brick Podcast Episode Two

Today's session is a great conversation around what business owners can do to prepare, train and support first time leaders. We explore issues such as communication, organisational culture through trust and even discuss the challenges of learning disabilities that are faced by many staff.  Rae MacDonald is a trainer based at Responsive Trade Education in Hamilton. They are a Private Training Establishment that provides three core programmes to 'Build people's knowledge and skills' within th...

June 8, 2020

What would I do - Episode One

I find reflecting on real experiences can often be the best way to explain Lean Thinking.  Having a perspective on when situations, processes go wrong, can we then better understand what excellence may look like.   Which is why I have introduced the series “What would I do”. Those moments where I was the customer receiving less than optimal service,  I can’t help but wonder how I would help the team or business improve their service if I was invited to work with them. Last w...

June 1, 2020

Five Principles of Lean Leadership

I could really drop the term ‘Lean’ out of the heading, but being a Lean practitioner, I should at least align it to my specialty.  When work feels like it is getting complicated, you are having difficulty working out where to start, these principles are there as a guide to help you get better as a business leader.  Adapt them, add your own thinking to them, but keep true to the philosophies. Lean Leadership Principle 1: Lean is a Journey One thing an business owner that truly unde...

May 20, 2020

So you have set the direction, now what?

If you are like me, you are sitting there, champing at the bit to get on with it.  You have just set your plan, you know what the goals are and you are getting pretty excited about it all.  The clarity is there, now let’s get out there and do it! Stop. It is one thing to have gone through a great planning process and celebrate this.  It always surprises me how many SMEs in NZ don’t have a documented plan - so you are already ahead of much of your competition. You have set the ...

May 13, 2020

Brick by Brick Podcast

This is the pilot episode of Brick by Brick.  In this episode I talk to Craig Oliver, business advisor and owner of Project HQ and O2E Business Academy.  Craig also hosts his own podcast - 'Talking Better Business'.  We cover some of the common challenges small business owners face when running a business and discuss some ideas on how they can over come the issues.  Topics range from business planning, creating your support network as a business owner and other practical issu...

May 7, 2020

Something Old, Something New, Borrowed and Blue

Don’t panic, this isn’t me turning all nostalgic and mushy, this is still a business blog with a real focus. It is, however, a reflection on how I have seen businesses time and time again try to ‘change things up’ whilst using the same processes, approaches to planning, invariably resulting  in achieving the same thing. As Einstein quoted “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.  It may be the world's biggest understatement whe...

May 5, 2020

Have you got two plans?

Life is certainly different in a C-19 world. Please note, it’s not going to be post-COVID, because whether or not we like it, this will be life as we know it. At the time of writing this, New Zealand is about to head back into a space where businesses can operate with Level 3 restrictions. Though this approach comes with restrictions and guidelines not too different to Level 4. Coming out of a Level 4 lockdown, I am sure there are 100’s of things an owner, manager, team member wants to do.&n...

April 22, 2020

Productivity for the People

Making productivity real for real people - this is my big hobby horse for 2020 and probably for a few more years after that! Following the impact of COVID-19 it has become more critical for the survival of small, medium businesses (SMEs). Before I start into my rant about this topic, let’s start at with a simple question, well two actuallyWhat is productivity?! What does it have to do with your business? Because, at the end of the day, all of this is pretentious bullshit if SMEs aren’t achie...

April 20, 2020 Posts 1-25 of 25 | Page
 

This product has been added to your cart

CHECKOUT