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Cowboys Vision of Planning Excellence January 20, 2016

Posted by PerformDetectiv in Action Planning, Business Excellence, Business Strategy, Excellence, Leadership, Process Improvement, Team Building.
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Cowboys Headquarters Ground Breaking

Being part of a small Business Team that constantly strives for excellence both on and off the field, is of necessity both constantly challenging and always a continuous improvement process. I had the good fortune to work alongside both Tex Schramm, the Cowboys President and Tom Landry, our Legendary Head Coach, for over 16 years. The approach was consistent in every aspect… how can we find success in the smallest of details and how can we improve on the previous results. A restless pursuit of excellence in each facet of our business.

So to was the approach in our Headquarters plans for a new home in the early 80’s. We were looking for a dynamic way to achieve both the advantages of more working space with the ingenuity of making a statement of who we really were in the sports world. Rick Gosselin, columnist from the Dallas Morning News, interviewed me for his recent article about our blueprint to uncover that vision for excellence.

Tex had a dream as did Coach Landry that you set yourself apart by expecting more. Those of us on the inside were part of a daily effort to think through vital ways that would update and improve our final product. We lived an approach that assumed that vigilance and innovation can be embraced especially when it is well planned and executed. Pride of authorship was not even an option as it was always about uncovering ways for vital improvement.

The importance of the facilities alone was not in the buildings but in the overall . We were making decisions on a daily basis that impacted new ways to innovate. Long before there was a premium on business school analysis or the latest book on business excellence; we were constantly looking for new opportunities to improve. Every day we looked for new ways in finding and selecting talent, in understanding better training regimes, in creating business initiatives, in process improvement, the game day experience, quality control, change management, system utilization, and ultimately fan and customer service. The lessons would guide any business today on a track for excellence.

To be part of that all inclusive approach is to live and breathe that commitment. It is not about the planning but in understanding that each of the people on your team bring great ideas and realizing it is possible to go from good to great in every effort. We reached for the best because we believed and we were believed in!.

Dan Werner
The Performance Detective


Becoming a Great Learning Organization January 15, 2016

Posted by PerformDetectiv in Business Excellence, Change Management, Excellence, Learning Organization, Process Improvement, Team Building.
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We use all sorts of words to describe a variety of today’s organizations that want to achieve a high level of excellence in their daily process and product. Very early on in this effort, we set out to identify best practices that seem to help us identify and repeatedly function at a level above the competition. We seek ways that allow us to further capture an improving and Continuous Improvement process to then stay on top.

This Learning Organization model can have some built in pitfalls because of the expectations we put on our people as well. A recent Harvard Business article (with over a decade of research) identified some of the human impacts and reactions that we face in this push for a rush to excellence. It stated that “Biases cause people to focus too much on success, take action too quickly, try too hard to fit in, and depend too much on experts.”

In the process of identifying what we do and how we do it, the process becomes all encompassing. We create a vision of what we really want to accomplish. There becomes a real urgency to take advantage of this new mindset. We push forward to implement and try to effectively communicate the change. We then find a way to establish the improved process as a standard. Researchers and Professors like John Kotter have frequently delineated many of the steps that are necessarily part of effectively rolling out a real “Change Initiative”.

On the people side of the whole effort, we then have the some traditional biases crepe in. Example is the fear of failure or how we each see ourselves respond, either from learning to grow or others that are so fixed in their ways that they can’t grow or adapt. So management responds to a demand for action and ways to then also measure that action. Sometimes less is indeed more in the whole process.

One of the things that I learned early on, is that failure plays a stronger role in the strength of real learning than success does. You literally need to work harder to insure that a growing department or new group really understand the minutia behind attained success. It was a lesson from the sports world but really applies in an even greater sense in a traditional business environment.

A critical element that is obvious, is you need to hire good and thoughtful people, but also hire people that know you want them to offer their input. If you aren’t going to encourage your people to be part of the solution you will never establish a continuous improvement model. Within this approach you truly want your people to build from their own strengths and on their own strengths.

I have a personal critique that you also need to uncover not only your team’s strengths but identify their own natural weaknesses. What a gift to offer both to your people. If done correctly it will also build a more realistic Team Environment, and prevent people from sharing their own “strengths” as a kind of free pass to try and dominate new change decisions.

The second to last piece can be difficult as well. A Harvard Business Journal article indicated that you may be too inclined to rely on outside experts to bring the level of expertise to the team. In today’s world it is quickly overdone and over emphasized. Educational credentials only go so far. You have to be able to build consensus and expertise within the organization. Direction is one thing but involvement and actions are imperative.

Finally communication becomes the ongoing challenge at every turn. It is critical to insure that you believe and involve all of your people in the learning movement. You can’t have a process which says only management has a role in defining what we do and how we do it. You need buy-in and actions which are driven by actual ideas from your hands-on-team. This approach will either allow you to drive forward in quickly finding real adoption or spiral into a world of inconsistency and repeatable team progress. An Involved Business Team will find the way to succeed.

Dan Werner
The Performance Detective

Customer Service Excellence – a Total Approach January 8, 2016

Posted by PerformDetectiv in Business Excellence, Change Management, Customer Experience, Customer Service Excellence, Excellence, Process Improvement, Training.
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The conversation was initially about mastering the art of delivering Customer Excellence. It came up in a specific conversation, but it doesn’t really matter whether it was first needed at the factory, at the point-of-sale, within a complaint communication or even at a Call Center. Everyone agrees that they want a better way to maximize a positive Customer Experience.
There has been a lot of studies to try to determine how Excellence exists in any business (Peters, Blanchard, Collins, etc) and how it is developed and maintained. For purposes of this discussion it has all to do with responding to and interacting with a customer. I would argue that being proactive on the front end, before any “complaint” develops, is also crucial to the entire outcome. But let’s just say in this review we want to only address the Customer Experience and Customer Service element.

I was specifically asked how we managed the process and delivery of the experience. What most people understand is that effectively planning and then training your people is critical. My own argument is that you need to first vitally understand that all of your people come from a different learning make-up. However if you understand the importance of an empowered training program then it comes down to some critical implementation and action steps.

It is important to involve all of your people in realizing the true value of empathizing with your clients and re-enforce that regularly. Secondly the message needs to be focused on handling the customer concern professionally and with more than just words. Third there needs to be a critical follow-up that insures that you demonstrate you want your customer to be satisfied not just pacified. I would say that Gregg Lederman does a great job of drilling down into your employees intrinsic involvement as described in his book “Engaged“. In fact Greg also relates that with your own people it’s initially 1% training and ultimately 99% reminding.

I differ in the actual percentage required for the proper training program like in The Amazement Revolution by Shep Hyken he illustrates Seven Strategies to drive the Customer Service Experience. Change is also part of this internal process and it requires knowing and practice. The psychology behind what your people actually say to a customer or client needs to be learned. You can leave the wrong impression if something is simply voiced with the wrong words, tonal quality or even facial expression.

Finally the ability to maintain this progress and insure the approach with your own people is more about The Power of Thanks (Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine) than just a reminder. It’s really not about simply ranking outcome performance or listening in on conversations. Build up your team and you’ll build that performance which your customers will feel and genuinely appreciate.

Dan Werner
The Performance Detective

Make Business Operations Understandable – Just Run it! June 1, 2012

Posted by PerformDetectiv in Action Planning, Business Analysis, Business Excellence, Business Strategy, Excellence, Leadership, Process Improvement.
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In today’s business news… many authors develop a complex scheme for either the roll-out of an initial  business plan or the careful measurement of an ongoing process improvement strategy. It’s always refreshing to see someone break it down to the elements that allow small and medium size businesses to both understand the process and more importantly implement changes that make sense.

In today’s world of sound bites and social media cryptic comments, it is also helpful to bring the basics of sound planning and common sense to the entire process.  Dick Cross (  http://dickcross.com/about-dick ) wrote the book Just Run It! ( http://dickcross.com/just-run-it ) to accomplish that and much more.  What resonates about his approach is that many of us ( @PerformDetectiv ) have already been using these same approaches to help entrepreneurial leaders get a handle on the basic elements of their business without losing them in the process.

Dick’s four dimensions that describe all businesses are intuitive in that they capture the essence of  our efforts; what are our needs, how are we positioned, who are our customers, and what are our competencies.  These basics can indeed be understood from the back of an envelope or in short order by any member of the business team.

The other areas of exploration include understanding analytics and using metrics to stay up with changes. His “Vision Strategy Execution” really takes theory and roll-out from “tactical” to “practical”. He also understands that it then becomes important to stay up with the changing business environment to remain nimble in our ever evolving economic landscape. He dots the i’s and crosses the t’s with his “VERDICT” approach and actions going forward.

Along the way he emphasizes the importance of getting-the-word-out and the refreshing understanding that “endorsements” and “satisfied customers” will grow the business ten times more than any effort to just advertise or use traditional promotional tools.

This is a very healthy understanding of how business really works and growing your bottom line. A terrific read and thorough approach … How to succeed by understanding… and trying!

Use Vision, Strategy and Execution…

The Performance Detective