ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

November 1998


Xerox Documents Success

Soup's On

The Power Of Senior Teams

The Talk Around The Office


Total Quantity Management
by Peter Block

New Tools For Business Success
by Gregory P. Smith


Brief Cases
Business News Briefs

Views for a Change

Book Review


New Tools For Business Success
by Gregory P. Smith

The Scud missiles flamed toward their targets behind friendly lines in Saudi Arabia and Israel. We were in the Persian Gulf War and Iraq unleashed another salvo of airborne lethality. Air raid sirens sent both American soldiers and the news media into their bunkers beneath the surface. At any second the missile could explode on the military base. Except a few foolhardy reporters and a couple of remote video cameras, no one was standing in the open.

Deep underground in a protected bunker, an American soldier talked to his wife back at Ft. Benning, Ga. via cellular phone. His wife was glued to the television watching live coverage on CNN of the same missile attack. Blow by blow, moment by moment, she relayed the information back to her husband via the cell phone. Like a military command post, she told him when the attack was over and when it was clear to return outside.

This spouse, like millions of others have learned how to innovatively manage information. A few years ago these same electronic tools were available only to a small number of people. Today, half the modern world has access to them. Innovative leaders can improve productivity, reduce costs and increase efficiency by adopting new business skills as the ones below.

Tool 1-Learn to Web: "Webbing" means the ability to pull together groups of people and resources to get the job done. The ladder of success and longevity is disappearing in many organizations. Rubbermaid and W.L.Gore & Associates use teams that form and disband to move onto the next project. Rank, pay-grade and position are becoming irrelevant in the innovative organization. As a "webber" interpersonal skills are just as important as technical skills. Interpersonal skills are valuable assets that people need to bring to any organization.

Tool 2-Use the Technology: In many cases, staying competitive and productive may depend on staying up with the latest technology. In 1990, 18 percent of the functions at Ford were controlled by computer. In 1994, it had increased to 82 percent. As individuals or as organizations we need to know what is available to make us more productive. Whether it is the latest software program, virtual reality or the latest version of robotics, we need to stand ready to apply it to our work environment.

Tool 3-Build Relationships: All businesses today must bridge gaps and help to provide for the interpersonal needs within the workforce. The information explosion is causing people to spend more time at a computer terminal. Stress and job pressures are taking a big toll and having negative consequences. The increase in technology requires a corresponding increase of soft-sided management. Workers value the social aspects of their job very highly. Old-fashioned kindness, consideration and recognition are critically important in this age of high technology and rapid change.

Tool 4-Paint a Big Picture: It is important to convey a challenging vision that lets everyone know how the job relates to the big picture. A vision lets an individual within the organization know what the organization stands for, where it is heading and how it will reach its destination. Communicate all plans, goals and objectives to everyone within the organization.

Tool 5-Seek the Skills: Stephen Covey says, "I believe that about one-fourth of the workforce today is obsolete or almost obsolete, and that this is getting worse as the old paradigm persists that school is over when you finish school." The innovative leader seeks trainers, consultants or whatever resources are needed to keep the workforce finely tuned and capable of performing at maximum efficiency. To do this requires continuous training and education. The nation's most valuable resource is people's ideas, skills and creative potential. Our greatest advantage comes from capitalizing on these resources.

November '98 News for a Change | Email Editor

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