What Have I Learned? (Part I)

It has been years since I first learned the Theories Of Constraints philosophy. Like DECADES ago.  And like Total Quality Management and other “flavor of the month” advice that seemed to come our way in manufacturing, you just went along for the ride. Basically,  you were being paid to listen and not DO your job.  A lot of it felt like “fluff”  during those years.  This felt different. We were given  the book The Goal and it stuck with me as did the brainstorming sessions that our company held.

I have long left the manufacturing world and  tho I am still a “marketing geek” now what we are doing seems  (to me) is harder to grasp.  In manufacturing, you can see stuff being made.  You can SEE it. You can SEE when it is made well. You can SEE when it is made not so well.  When it “rolls off the line” you can SEE a finished product.

During my manufacturing tenure, it was first clothing, socks, boys sweaters, belts and accessories and then medical equipment.  In every case REWORK killed us.  Costs money.  Costs of wasted time, costs of frustrated customers and our sales force; then cash flow, revenue suffered. To me, “back in the day”  seemed that it was much more a black and white world – you could SEE results. Engineers and production folks were ACCOUNTABLE for failures because EVERYONE saw them.  Finger pointing existed, but it wasn’t as easy to blame the “wrong guy” and get away with it.

  • Enter technology.
  • Enter communication and technology.
  • Talk about the big black hole of the Blame Game!

TANGIBLE products that look good, don’t break, perform to a customers expectations or when you really WIN – you exceed them! Lots of what is done is hidden in lines of code or done in a way that people don’t see the flaws until it has long passed and it is in the customer’s hands.  Then, it is always something “on your end.”  Your computer, your browser, your email and now your phone.  We’ve all heard it.

Nonetheless, I am reminded of Eli Goldratt and The Theory of Constraints and what really is, The Root Cause Fix?”

The next couple of posts will discuss this. Perhaps if folks read these posts you may see yourself, your family or your coworkers in the words?  This thinking can be applied to work, home life as well as what you are tying to accomplish for yourself.  In marketing research we often say, “WHAT is the PROBLEM?”   Sometimes it is very easy to come up with the SYMPTOMS, but what is the real PROBLEM –  Eli Goldratt would say, if we cannot determine the PROBLEM there is no way in knowing what the “Root Cause Fix” may be.

You may not be in the manufacturing field now or maybe you never have been in manufacturing but it does remain that no matter the industry or situation, fixing a bunch of symptoms may be just that.  The PROBLEM still remains.  That is the hardest part.



Too Dangerous…

My niece just got a cell phone.  She is 10 years old.  I have no children, so I am not qualified to comment on whether this is a good idea or not.  When she was a “wee one” of about 3, I would call my brother and he would ask her if she wanted to talk to “Aunt Kelly” she would say, “Too Dangerous.” We thought that was funny.  We thought that she had a sense of humor. Even my brother and sister-in-law thought it was funny.

Well little did I know that because she lived so far away, she didn’t remember me, so I was a STRANGER in her world.  So the whole “STRANGER DANGER” thing took on a whole new meaning. We see them and talk to them often, so I am no longer a stranger to her and we spend summer vacation time together.

For the past few years, she would confiscate her mom or dad’s cell phone and shoot me off a photo or a text message and I would be thinking, “What are they talking about?”  Then I would find out it was my niece and not them.  She is quite versed in using a cell phone – she can text better than they can!

Last Saturday, I got a text message from an unknown number, but from the area code that my brother lives in.  My first text, “Hi Auntie Kelly.”  It is my niece (obviously) she has gotten her first cell phone. Within the next 2 days I must have gotten 10 text messages from her.  Then I thought “Whoops I hope my brother’s package includes unlimited texting.”  (Here’s something that will freak you out – an $18,000/month cell phone bill!)

When you get a cell phone for your kids, it is meant to be a “tool” so you can stay connected, for them it is often considered a “toy.”  Last week,  I posted on our Sephone Blog this article about Facebook Places in relation to “Privacy Settings” .  Then when I started this post, I found this one from safekids.org (which is really a great site for all kinds of things.) In particular, this is about your kids telling too much information or their friends telling too much information on where they are, whom they are with, and at what time.  That may be helpful to you as a parent, but it is also helpful to bullies or predators.  Unfortunately, that is the world we are living in.

Our cell phone people (Central Maine Wireless) are the best.  They actually take the time and really help us make the phones work for what we need them for and everybody is different.  So take the time and make sure you don’t get some whopping bill because your kids usage of the phone may not be the same as yours or maybe things you cannot even imagine are happening BECAUSE of that cell phone. Here is a link that Paul shared with me about features you can apply to the phones you can buy for your kids.

Here is an old post (but a great one) to review when you buy that cell phone or even to use as a learning tool for those that have one all ready.  And have a safe and happy Fall 2010!

She said "WHAT?"

I finally figured it out. I have been getting a bit frustrated with the tone of some of the email messages I have been receiving over the past few months. They seemed to be from the same people, some of the emails were fine, clear and normal, while others seem well a bit snarky. Now anyone that knows me, realizes that I can “snark it up” with the rest of them, but I was surprised by some of them honestly. I was wondering what I had done wrong?

Then I got a new cell phone. Then I saw the light.

One liner emails may often send the wrong tone and you may not even know that you are doing it. I previously had this Motorola Razor phone for about 3 years and loved it, but I hated having to text from it, so I didn’t.

If you are “text-ing” from your cell phone to someone else’s cell phone and using their cell phone number, people expect short messages – it is a cell phone.

If you have a new fangled phone like I do, iPhone, HTC, Blackberry, etc. and you are sending a text message to someone’s email address, it may land on their laptop or desktop or their phone. If they dont understand you are trying to get a quick reply off to them via text message, they may feel a bit jilted, where your normal messages may have a greeting or some pleasantries attached, most often text messages don’t.

A little advice, if you have customers that you are trying to serve, keep this in mind. Let them know your “additional way of communicating” may be a means of efficiency in replying and not poor customer service. Their business is very important to you as well as offer them the alternative NOT to have you answer them through your phone. Often their relationship INCLUDES you as well as the service you provide them. Don’t let speedy, new technology chip away at something you may have spent a long time time working at!