Let Your Dreams Inspire You

Maggie Joao of Coaching Life An interview with Maggie João , an Executive and Life Coach accredited by the International Institute of Coaching and the Academy of Executive Coaching. She heads the International Institute of Coaching in Portugal. She is also a writer.

Before running her own coaching practice, her business background consisted of ten successful years in Manufacturing and Supply Chain with various global organisations within the auto, food and services sector. She has travelled the world and lived in 12 countries.

With clients in three continents, Maggie practises non-directive and non-judgmental coaching in English, Portuguese and Spanish.

This insightful interview starts with Maggie’s transitional journey into the practice of Executive and Life coaching and covers what it takes to be an executive and life coach, competencies and skills required, how to avoid common mistakes in life coaching & the coaching opportunity in leadership for entrepreneurs. There’s no doubt that in business, life coaching is a solid option in embarking on a journey of self-discovery – so why not let your dreams inspire you?

Visit the website at www.coachinglife.eu

The full article, “The Manager Coach”, as referenced in the interview & written by Maggie João.

The A-Z of Kaizen Continuous Improvement.

A is for Action Plan, without this, everything you say in those meetings is just hot air.

B is for Best Practice, a technique, process or activity in your business known to bring the most effective solution or outcome than any other applied in a similar situation.

C is for Coaching, being a mentor to someone and taking them on a personal journey in self-fulfilment and discovery

D is for DMAIC a well-documented problem solving technique based on six-sigma principles and 5 specific: Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and control.

E is for Efficiency is a doing things in the most economical way, and if those things are the right things to be done then this becomes a measure of effectiveness.

F is for FMEA, Failure Mode & Effects Analysis, a fancy term for a tool, typically used in new product development, to identify potential failure modes based on past experience with similar products or processes.

G is for Gantt Chart, the project scheduling tool of choice for managing improvement projects, milestones and responsibilities.

H is for Histogram, also known as skyscraper diagram, or bar chart. It’s a series of data plotted on a bar chart representing frequency or quantity against different intervals.

I is for the Inspiration to Improve – the heart and soul of Continuous Improvement

J is for the Japanese pioneers in Continuous Improvement, Sakichi Toyoda and Ishikawa amongst them, who at the heart of the Japanese industrial revolution were instrumental in embracing the principles of continuous improvement.

K is for Kaizen, the Japanese word that simply means “Change for the Better”. So now you know where we get our name SmallBizKaizen from!

L is for Learning, a continuous need to “sharpen the saw” to ensure your knowledge thirst is never quenched.

M is for Motivation necessary to support improvement efforts. Top Management plays a vital role in motivating everyone in Kaizen.

N is for Novel Ideas, typically the birth of most Continuous Improvement successes.

O is for Opportunity, any gap between a customer expectation and what your business currently delivers. This is the very source of Continuous Improvement

P is for Problem Solving, a discipline and approach to remove obstacles and barriers preventing your organisation from fulfilling customer obligations and expectations.

Q is for Quality as defined in the eyes of the customers. Are your products and services fit for purpose?

R is for Reward and Recognition an essential part of the CI loop. Recognise the stars and the players in your team and always celebrate successes.

S is for Sustainability – The art of ensuring your hard earned improvements don’t slip back to old habits.

T is for Tracking the impact of Actions to check whether the CI has been delivered.

U is for Upper Control Limit, the upper most control limit set in a Statistical Process Control chart to trigger corrective and preventive action.

V is for Value Addition – Efforts put into any product and/or service to improve attributes and is appreciated by your customers is deemed to have added value.

W is for Waste Elimination, basically any non-value adding activities along the value chain are considered to be Waste and ought to be eliminated.

X is a difficult letter to find a word beginning with it so we’ll settle for eXcellence in eXecution wich is the art of ruthless and flawless delivery of agreed objectives.

Y is for Yoke, part of Poka Yoke the Japanese word meaning “fool proofing”, designing a product in such a way it’s virtually impossible to make a mistake using the product.

Z is for Zero Defect, the quest for perfection in everything you and your organisation does.

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Sexy Burgers? Jazz and Oxygen – Its Business as Usual – the TC Way

Tendayi Chiro mug shotTendayi Chiro known simply as TC, is not your average Civil & Structural Engineer. A Jazz enthusiast, collector of priceless Zimbabwean Stone Sculpture, a Golfer, Family man, MBA graduate, Manchester United die hard fan and above all, a seasoned entrepreneur of note.

Born in Zimbabwe and having studied engineering in the USA, TC has been involved in farming, restaurant and jazz club, student accommodation letting & other property related businesses in South Africa where he now lives.

In this insightful interview, TC takes us on his journey and shares how his approach to business ventures has been centred on a model of building value around property as opposed to the business proposition, quite akin to the MacDonalds Real Estate Model.

He gives valuable lessons in business about self belief, learning from mistakes and how the non-linear relationship in business requires an open and diverse mind to survive in today’s tough economy.

This podcast is laced with useful lessons and good advice for the smallbizkaizen listeners to take on board so we hope you enjoy it.

To ensure you never miss out on future episodes, subscribe to iTunes to have the podcasts automatically downloaded to your iTunes library, iPhone or iPod Touch. Alternatively, subscribe to the RSS by clicking on the link to the right of this post and select any of the options including email delivery whenever there is a new episode.

Sack the Agency – Be your Own Web Designer

Article first published as Sack the Agency and Be Your Own Web Designer on Technorati.

girl pretending to fly like a mocking birdPlanning a website design for your business can be one of the most strategic tasks in bringing your business online yet if you don’t know where to start, this can be a daunting, costly and time consuming  exercise. Fortunately, there are now available a number of free online website design tools to help put your website project ideas onto a framework that you can share with your colleagues or web designers. Website mock ups now make the task of designing a simple website user interface quick, creative and fun.  As an online web design tool, we recommend you try out a free version of Mockingbird, an online tool that makes it easy for you to create, link together, preview, and share mockups of your website or application.

Being an online tool, one needs to create a user account that allows you to save your projects and access them from any PC using an internet connection. This also makes it possible to share your designs easily. Designs can also be exported as pdf files for sending via email or for printing.

This website mock-up tool features commonly used user interface elements such as text area, drop downs, tables, buttons , images , breadcrumbs , videos maps and so on, which are added to your design by simply dragging and dropping onto the workspace. You can then move, resize and add links to the various functions, preview and share designs by a simple click of a button.

For any small business going online with a website, we highly recommend “gomockingbird” as the ideal tool to save you loads of time, money and resources. You can sign up for a free account that will allow you 1 project with a limit of 10 pages free for working with up to 1 design – ideal for the smallbizkaizen entrepreneur.

We’ve put together a website Wireframe Tutorial Video you help you get started.  Go on, be your own web designer.

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Top Free iPhone Apps to Revolutionise your Business, seriously.

Time is Cashflow

As an entrepreneur myself I understand the value of your time.  To help you make the most of your time and increase your productivity and efficiency you need to consider mobile smart phone technology as an essential part of your business arsenal. The decision to use a Smart phone for business is really a no brainer and at the pinnacle of smart phones, in my opinion is the iPhone. In this article we look at 5 iPhone Apps that will revolutionise the way you operate today and free up your time like never before, because at smallbizkaizen, we understand that time is cash.

Dragon Dictation  : Voice to Text transcriptions.

dragon dictation iphone app logoIf you’ve ever written an email on an iPhone you’ll admit, it’s not the easiest task this fantastic gadget can do. It can be a bit challenging but hey, you can’t exactly have it all on an iPhone right? – Wrong ! Dragon Dictation is a really cool App that overcomes this problem with ease. You open the app, press the record button, speak clearly into the microphone and when you stop recording, your dictation is magically transformed into text that you can then copy and paste to send as an email, sms, twitter or Facebook message, saving you loads of time.

Dragon Dictation is brought to you by Nuance Communications

iTalk Recorder – On the Go Recording

iTalk Recorder iPhone App logoRecording audio memos and voice reminders on the go is made extremely simple when you use the iTalk Recorder App from Griffin Technology. The ability to name each audio file gives this app the edge over most similar apps making file management & retrieval easy. Use this app to record meetings, presentations, interviews, random thoughts – in fact just about any sound media can be recorded for future playback in excellent quality. This app ideal for entrepreneurs on the go. Syncing the recorded audio files with your computer is made  possible via a free download available on http://www.italksync.com/download

iTalk Recorder is brought to you by Griffin Technology

Evernote : Remember Everything

evernote iphone app logoIt’s been described as an extension of your brain and true to their motto “Remember Everything”, Evernote allows you to do just that. This App allows you to take notes of virtually anything you want to remember for your business. With Evernote, you can create text, photo and video notes that you then auto synchronize to your Mac PC and Web – how cool is that? By tagging your notes, you create a fully searchable notes database so no excuses for forgetting stuff. The cool feature included with this app is the geo-location feature which allows for mapping and searching possibilities.

Evernote is brought to you by Evernote

WordPress : Mobile Blogging

wordpress mobile iphone app logoMany business owners today are also bloggers and use the WordPress platform to easily publish , edit post and comments. WordPress mobile works with both wordpress.com and wordpress.org self-hosted blogs. As a mobile blogging application users can add text and photos straight from the iPhone camera.  You can carry out pretty much the same tasks as you normally would on your PC or Mac including posting new articles, editing existing posts and comments.

WordPress is brought to you by WordPress

HootSuite Lite for Twitter : Mobile Tweeter

hootsuite lite iphone app logoThis App allows you to keep in touch with the twitter-sphere and join the conversation from anywhere . Desribed as simple, elegant and powerful, HootSuite allows you to send and schedule Twitter and Facebook updates, track click stats, and set up tracking columns to monitor keywords, #hashtags and lists. What more do you need when you are on the go?

Hootsuite is brought to you by Hootsuite Media

Gallery Image Credit

Why Most Business Improvement Ideas Run out of Gas

Article first published as Why do Most Business Improvement Ideas Run Out of Gas? on Technorati.

10 ways to give your improvement ideas a realistic chance of success

man pushing broken down car way back in the daysEvery day organisations worldwide identify millions of improvement opportunities worth billions of dollars in value to the business. Priorities are easy to agree, project teams are a breeze to assign whilst meetings become the default vehicle to deliver the promised potential.

As the weeks, emails, action plans, to do lists and Gantt charts go by, the number of opportunities that come to a natural dead end increases exponentially. Only a handful of the ideas are fit and resilient enough to make it anywhere near full potential. Ever wondered why those great ideas, including no-brainers never made it anywhere? Of the ones that make it through, how many remain sustainable?

We look at 10 things you can start doing differently to give your brilliant ideas any chance of making it past the brainstorm.

1. Have visible ownership and commitment from top management at all times to back the efforts. Without this sponsorship or vote of confidence, you’re push – starting a car uphill.

2. Define what success looks like in a manner that everyone involved in the project understands. Clearly articulate the potential value to be added in the eyes of the beneficiary (almost always the customer).

3. Agree and use measurable milestones at every stage of the project and most importantly at the “success” stage.

4. Agree mitigation triggers and escalation routes in the event that critical milestones have not been attained.

5. Assign only SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timeous) Actions to each action owner and have the discipline to follow through every single action.

6. Think and act like an entrepreneur, not a project manager by approaching each of these opportunities as though it was a business on its own. If this opportunity was the only thing your business did, you’d find ways to make it succeed and remove all blockers and minimise the risks.

7. Assign clear roles and leadership to allow quick and effective decision making.

8. Use any setbacks as an incentive and motivation to succeed by quickly accepting and learning how you could do things better.

9. Document, showcase and archive all successful projects for future reference and build a best practice library of successes.
10. Track and trend the previously agreed success measures for as long as necessary until the ideas become business as usual.

Photo Credit

Read more: http://technorati.com/business/article/why-do-most-business-improvement-ideas/#ixzz0x8VzbcB5

How your Business can Benefit from 5S Principles

Whenever I’ve come across an article or examples of where 5S principles have been applied, there’s almost always two images displayed depicting a “before” and “after” image of a typical section of an office, warehouse, factory or piece of a machinery. Invariably, the “before” picture shows a grimy, dirty state of affairs and the “after “ picture as if by some bit of magic shows the same item now cleaned and looking bright and shiny. This is NOT 5S!  The problem with this portrayal is it only demonstrates one aspect of the 5S – the cleaning.

Let’s start at the beginning. What is 5S? Very simply, this is a way of working (a methodology) used initially to organise workplaces to be more efficient and streamlined thereby consistently striving for more outputs, lower costs and less waste. So in essence, as this is what Continuous Improvement is mostly about, 5S is one of the commonly used Continuous Improvement tools.

5S is widely believed to have originated or least initially widely used in Japan and the term 5S is derived from 5 Japanese words-  seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu and shitsuke which loosely translated into English stand for: sort, simplify, shine, standardise and sustain.

The principle activities taking place at each of the stages are  :

Sort –  All unnecessary items, parts, files, supplies are removed from the area

Simplify – (or Set in Order) – A place is created for everything and everything is stored in its place

Shine – (Sweep) – Clean up the area

Standardise – Apply the same standard throughout (to other similar areas)

Sustain – Maintain the new standard and avoid slipping back to old habits

The recommended way to adopt and live 5S should be to approach it as a journey rather than a destination.  Once you reach the standardise stage, it can be quite easy for standards to slip back to old ways, hence the sustaining stage should go on for as long as necessary up until it has been embedded as part of a new culture.

finger touching gold buttonAt SmallBizKaizen , we have a few practical recommendations to make 5S a key part of your Continuous Improvement machinery, regardless of the type of business you are in.

  1. Prioritise conducting 5S in workplaces where the efficiency improvement would benefit the business most, especially where there is a customer impact or interface. For example it’s more essential to do a 5S in the order processing office rather than the staff coffee making machine area.
  2. Stating the overall intention and anticipated benefits will add weight to every 5S initiative. Consider linking it to some tangible benefit such as: By conducting 5S we aim to reduce our customer waiting time from the current 10 minutes to about 5 minutes.
  3. Create a team building atmosphere and conduct 5S in teams rather than as individuals. This allows a common approach, making the standardisation stage more representative and giving it a greater chance to succeed.
  4. There’s normally no need to go out of your way and spend loads of money on 5S. Basic discipline and common sense is mostly what is required.
  5. 5S principles go beyond the office, consider using the 5S in today’s increasingly information technology driven environments for the efficient storage, protection retrieval and maintenance of data and files.

Watch the short video to see our tips on how you can apply 5S on your computer or hard disk drive as from today.

Lastly, if you’ve got a 5S success story to share, we’d love hear your it so do leave a comment or two.

Image used in the gallery :

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mapping Business Processes need not be Rocket Science

What’s in a business process flow?

So here’s s definition you’ve probably come across several times over:  – It’s a series of steps or actions that take place in your business to convert inputs into outputs.

In the SmallBizKaizen context, inputs are defined as your efforts i.e.  your money, labour, software, hardware, materials, phone calls,  emails, websites, consultants, packaging, electricity and so on. Outputs on the other hand are simply what your customers get at the end of the day which could be a product or service or both.

There are other terms used for process flow mapping that you may have come across including value stream mapping,  six sigma process mapping, process flow optimisation – it’s really all one and the same thing. Call it what you prefer as at Smallbizkaizen we don’t believe in BIG words and terminology but rather in the core principles and the concepts behind the decisions and actions we take.

In Kaizen, process flow mapping can be a powerful continuous improvement tool if used correctly, allowing your business to improve the value offered to your customers. It’s what we like to call a weapon of massive improvements.

There are several benefits to doing process flow map. We recommend you consider it for the following reasons and situations:

  1. Does a process even exist for this? – You’ll be surprised how often, key processes within a business are not recognised as a process important to add value for your customers. A typical one I’ve come across is a lack of a process to allow and handle all customer feedback!
  2. Is the process consistent? – This can also reveal many more surprises if you have people in your organisation who do similar tasks. You may find everyone has their own way of doing it, some more effective than others and so you only want to keep the best practices in your business.
  3. Is the flow logical and optimised? The key here is optimised. You need to ensure every step of the process is not a duplicate, a waste or unnecessary. Additional questions to ask is are is this the right sequence, are we using the best technology available. How could we do it better?
  4. Does it Add Value? This is can be a nasty little question if you challenge anyone in your business whether what they do adds value or not. The key point here is, these questions are not aimed at a person but rather at the process. You are optimising the process not the person most of the time anyway.)  We recommended you simply ask what your customers will benefit from each of the steps outlined in your process. If the answer is nothing, need we say more?
  5. How can we improve the process? – The main reason why you want to do this is to identify improvements to the process. Once you have come up with a new streamlined and optimised process, put it to test immediately and monitor and measure the impact it has on your business.

So in typical Smallbizkaizen fashion, we give you practical tips on how to perform a process flow mapping exercise but do remember there are many ways to do this, so do what works best for you. This can be a great team building exercise so why not do it as team exercise or management team session ?

  1. Keep it Simple – it’s a boring cliché but it’s so true.  Avoid mapping out very complex, long and winded processes as you’ll easily get lost and/ or side-tracked in the maze.
  2. Start your mapping at a high level to give you an overall BIG picture of your business processes. From this high level picture, take each of the big steps in turn and map these out, one at a time.
  3. Start by mapping the processes that add or are likely to add the most value for your customers.
  4. Consider using a white-board (i love these)  as  there will be a lot of chopping and changing when you get to the optimising bit.
  5. Describe the process in simple words.
  6. Describe the objective of the process – a tip is to put yourself in the shoes of the customer (no matter what shoe size).
  7. Define the level of process to be described, stick to it.
  8. Define the boundaries:  starting / end point of the process.
  9. Who is involved in the different steps?
  10. Where are critical measure points?
  11. Follow the flow of the process and draw up all the actions and decisions in their sequence. We recommend to use the SmallBizKaizen Action Plan template
  12. Use  simple recognisable process flow symbols and arrows
  13. You could try several different software available for mapping process flows such as Microsoft’s Visio,  Excel or PowerPoint also have great templates for process flow mapping. I personally use these with pleasing results as in the Microsoft Office 2010
  14. Whatever you do, keep it real and do it for your customers.
  15. Typical symbols are used are:

process flow mapping example and symbols

As always, we’d love to hear your comments and feedback on how you get on – Happy value stream mapping to you all !

Photo used in the gallery :

Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

SmallBiz Kaizen Podcast now listed on iTunes

smallbizkaizen podcast logo 600x

a Small Business Podcast is born

SmallBizKaizen podcast has made a smashing debut on the iTunes Store with exactly, well one subscriber on day 1 ! Not bad for day one.  This is really exciting for us as it makes it so much easier for all listeners to subscribe freely to the podcast RSS feed by simply clicking the subscribe button in i Tunes.

It’s really simple to find the listing, simply search for “SmallBizKaizen” or “Kaizen”  or “Brian Venge” in the search field and you’ll find a logo that looks similar to the one in this post. Hit the subscribe button (gently),  sit back and enjoy as every new episode gets automatically delivered straight to your ear buds.

Oh and one last thing, spread the love…

How to Write Power Action Plans

young indian boy writingAction Plans are central to every Continuous Improvement effort as they provide clarity, visibility and a level of commitment and responsibility necessary to get things done. However, if not enough care and effort is put into compiling an Action Plan, this can seriously affect the quality of the output and dent any chances of your improvement idea ever taking off. Done correctly, the Action Plan can be an effective weapon of mass improvements.

It is entirely discretional when to use an Action Plan although typical uses include: management, project or team meetings, brain storming sessions, problem deep dive sessions, review sessions, idea generation sessions and so forth.

We have compiled a few Top Tips for crafting what we like to call a Power Action Plan. We also put together a blank template, and partially completed example to download and invite you to give the Power Action Plan a test drive.

  1. Use the header fields as per our template but feel free to modify to what works well with your business. Delete any column headings you don’t use. Only use and keep the fields that are essential for you.
  2. Where applicable, split your Action Plan into 2 sections, one for “Short Term” (to be done within the week in question) and another for “Long term” (more than a week required to complete the action). This will make it clear what needs to happen immediately.
  3. Always address your intended audience as if they were not present when the action was assigned. This will ensure the correct context of the action is provided and help avoid the “What was this all about?” type of question further down the road.
  4. Endeavour to send out the Action Plan as soon as possible, preferably on the day the Actions were assigned.
  5. Start with the most important Actions, by using the pain vs. gain prioritisation technique. Actions with bigger impact and requiring lesser effort being the highest ranked.
  6. Group related actions together and create different Action categories where you have a lot of actions.
  7. If you use a meeting room, consider using a whiteboard demarcated as per the template. At the end of the meeting, simply take a digital photo of the completed whiteboard and email it to all assigned action owners. No double handling, no typing, no waste – typical Continuous Improvement!
  8. Always start the actual action statement with a verb. A verb is called an “action word” for a reason! This makes it clear from the onset exactly what needs to be done.
  9. Assign a unique number for each Action. This will make it so much easier during discussions. If you refer to Action X12, everyone immediately knows which one you’re talking about as opposed to explaining the action or reading it out – saves you a bit of time.

For a blank  template click here to  Download  the file

To see a mocked up example your Download  is here

We’d love to hear your comments and feedback on an this or other equally effective Action Plan formats.

If you’d like to find out more about Power Templates such as This Action Plan, please check out my Continuous Improvement Toolkit that is guaranteed to bring you great Business Improvement Results.

For even more detailed approaches to Continuous Improvement, you can check out my eBook “Continuous Improvement Manifesto – The Ultimate Guide To Business Value Creation” 

Image: Arvind Balaraman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net