Sunday, 9 August 2009

Seminars on DVD

Part of continuously developing your capability as a leader requires that you keep up to date with developments in the leadership world. Of course, following blogs like this will help, along with reading the latest leadership books. But what about those great seminars you are invited to but don't get round to attending or those you would have attended but didn't hear about in time?

These are the keynote seminars by the thought leaders and gurus of our time. We all know the problems - no time, no budget, wrong part of the world - but these are the type of seminars that can have a profound impact on your own development and the success of your business. So, shouldn't you really find out about what you might be missing?

I am delighted to announce that we have teamed up with Seminars on DVD - an exclusive service that enables you to keep up to date with the latest business and leadership seminars by having them shipped to you on DVD. Watch them at your own convenience (and watch the key parts over again!) at just a fraction of the cost of attending in person. Each keynote seminar on DVD costs just $89 but there are significant reductions if you are buying more than one.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be reviewing some of the most powerful of these seminars from globally recognised names such as Mike Lipkin, Tony Allesandra, Dr Nate Booth, Warren Greshes, Jack Canfield, Don Hutson and Brian Tracy. In the meantime, if you'd like to check out the full list of seminars currently available on DVD you can just go there now.

Simon Cooper heads up ELC Training Solutions and is author of the best selling leadership development book, Brilliant Leader.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Leadership and the 8th Muda

As a leader in your organization, do you add muda or subtract it?

Muda is a Japanese term for waste. One of the prime tenants of the Toyota production system, to which much of that company’s outstanding quality and profitability can be attributed, is to reduce muda. The organization is built on constant striving to identify and eliminate anything that does not add value for the final customer. The Toyota processes are now used worldwide, often called LEAN processing.

Seven mudas are traditionally recognized: overproduction, waiting, unnecessary transport, over processing, excess inventory, unnecessary movement, and defects. Jeffrey K. Liker, in his excellent book The Toyota Way, adds an eighth muda – unused employee creativity.

Liker describes the eighth muda as the waste of “losing time, ideas, skills, improvements, and learning opportunities by not engaging or listening to your employees.” Too many organizations suffer from CEOs or owners that inflate the eighth muda, rather than contribute to its elimination.

In the last two weeks alone I’ve heard a handful of unsolicited stories about clueless bosses who seem eager to be eighth muda poster icons. They shut down employee contributions by:

  • Blowing up angrily at errors, apologizing, but then doing it again. Bring them bad news, they kill the messenger.
  • Arrogant statements of who is in charge – “It’s my way or the highway,” or “In this company, I am god.”
  • Ignoring and refusing to discuss looming challenges that keep partners, directors, and other lesser executives awake at night.
  • Refusing to let other executives to speak on the company’s behalf, even if they are more polished presenters - but also can’t seem to find time to improve their own basic presentation skills.
  • Discounting human concerns, while fixating on a company goal – “I don’t care about anything except making this quarter’s numbers.”
In all fairness, these executives are often passionately optimistic and enthusiastic about their company or idea, incredibly smart and talented individuals with inspiring visions, with plenty of success they can point to at any moment. What is often outside of their awareness is the erosion, if not outright destruction, of relationships that could sustain their success.

Paradoxically, it is those leaders most obsessed about squeezing each penny that leave tons of money on the table, particularly in the form of lost opportunity and employee turnover. When faced with 8th muda bosses, the best and the brightest look for opportunities to go where they are appreciated, places where they not only have economic opportunity but can make a contribution to something larger than themselves.

I hear plenty of stories, too, of great places to work, and of incredible leaders who strive to bring out the best talent of everyone in the company. By whatever name they call it, they are intentional about eliminating the 8th muda, the waste of untapped employee talent. They invest in employee development, pay attention to the human side of their businesses, and correct unintentional disincentives whenever they are discovered. And they eat their competition’s lunches.

Seeking to reduce the muda on the human side is as important and as do-able as reducing muda in manufacturing processes. It does, however, require an effort and an attitude of doing what’s best for long-term value.

Look at your company. Look at yourself. Where are you eliminating muda? Where are you creating muda – and what are you going to do about it?

Guest writer Tom Stevens heads up Esquare Leadership.