Miller’s Monday Morning Message

Andrew Miller

Miller's Monday Morning Message
presented by ACM Consulting Inc.

Andrew Miller on operational excellence, strategy, life balance and everything in between


Toronto – July 23, 2012

There was a recent article in the Globe and Mail entitled 'Military procurement overhaul eyed.' It was about how the Canadian Department of National Defense is considering an overhaul of its procurement practices in light of many recent mistakes. I was intrigued by the subject because I do a lot of work with both private and public sector organizations in helping them increase ROI through their purchasing processes, and believe that our public procurement practices need some improvement.

I have seen many of the challenges mentioned in the article with some of my clients:  picking the supplier before a competition has been held; a lengthy specifications development process; not understanding the options available to them; and of course, making the wrong decision and having to reverse it.

These things happen because of the 'Collaboration Gap', where providers (buyers) are trying to purchase specifications and requirements and suppliers are trying to sell them features and benefits. Instead, buyers should be focusing on the desired outcomes they want to achieve and the objectives of the purchase they are making. They can then partner with their suppliers to develop the best solution for the best value.

There needs to be better collaboration between buyers and suppliers, both inside and outside of the formal procurement process. The buyers need to better understand the tools and the options they have available to them within the public procurement process. There are three things public sector organizations can do with the procurement process that will help them make better decisions:

  • Hold a two-step Request for Proposal (RFP) process where suppliers will have a chance to re-submit an updated proposal after having discussions with the buyer;
  • Hold a Request for Information (RFI) process before the formal buying process in order to determine what solutions can be provided and give clarity on what is desired;
  • Develop a process by which buyers can collaborate and innovate directly with suppliers so their needs are part of the product development lifecycle.

With the intense scrutiny our public sector institutions go through when they spend public money, it only makes sense to spend time developing a better process for how that money gets spent. Currently, we continue to do the same things over and over again and expect the results to improve. Some guy named Einstein told us that means we are insane.I wouldn't go that far, but it does mean we need to look at the way we operate and find ways to improve. 

To request an interview or more information, please contact:

Andrew Miller

416-480-1336

[email protected]

www.acmconsulting.ca

Follow me on Twitter @AndrewMillerACM

© Andrew Miller. All rights reserved. 2012.

Miller’s Monday Morning Message

Andrew Miller

Miller's Monday Morning Message
presented by ACM Consulting Inc.

Andrew Miller on operational excellence, strategy, life balance and everything in between

Toronto – July 16, 2012

Walt Disney Co. has often been cited for the great work that it does around customer service and employee training and development. They have become so good at it, that other organizations hire consultants from the Disney Institute to help them improve performance. How is it possible that a company that deals in theme parks, movies and everything in between can be so well-regarded? Because they know how to run a business. Operational excellence is made up of four key components: increasing speed; maximizing performance; engaging customers; and increasing innovation and collaboration. Disney does all of these things well and can help other companies do the same. Here are two examples of what makes Disney so great:

  • During the Disney hiring and orientation process, new employees are quizzed on the number of Disney characters they know. This helps identify whether or not there is an emotional bond between the candidate and the organization. Disney only wants to hire employees with the right attitude and who are emotionally connected to the organization.
  • When a child in one of Disney's amusement parks drops their ice cream on the ground, the closest Disney employee is expected to drop whatever they are doing, jump to the front of the concession line and replace the child's ice cream with one shaped like Mickey Mouse. Disney wants the customer experience to be memorable so they will tell friends and family what a great place it is.

Part of being operationally excellent is creating loyalty in both your customers and your employees and Disney does that. Here's what we can learn from Disney on how to achieve operational excellence:

  1. Create an emotional connection with your employees;
  2. Engage your employees to make decisions in the best interests of your customers;
  3. Share your knowledge and experience with others to help them improve;
  4. Create a consistent experience for the customer so they know what to expect.

We often think of Disney as some kind of "magical" place and forget what a successful business it is. There is a lot we can learn from Mickey and his friends.

 

To request an interview or more information, please contact:

Andrew Miller

416-480-1336

[email protected]

www.acmconsulting.ca

Follow me on Twitter @AndrewMillerACM

© Andrew Miller. All rights reserved. 2012.

Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Excellence?

As with many parents, my two kids are going to day camp over the summer. The bus arrives at 8:15am sharp, and the kids need to be ready when the bus arrives. When the bus arrives, they need to be dressed in bathing suits, covered in sunscreen, wearing hats, having eaten breakfast, brushed their teeth and packed their bags for the day. It doesn't sound like much, but doing all that in 30-45 minutes every morning seems to be the worst form of chaos. Yelling, screaming, throwing things, fighting and general poor behaviour has been the norm every weekday morning for the past two weeks. On top of all of this, we have a 9-day old newborn requiring some attention.

My wife and I decided that things needed to change, so we sat down with the kids and had a conversation about how to make things easier for everyone in the morning. We came up with a few small changes to spread the responsibility out and tried them for the first time today. The kids were responsible for dressing themselves and brushing their teeth before coming downstairs. We left an assortment of breakfast options on the table for them to choose from and told them no TV or other electronics until they had eaten breakfast. Sounds pretty simple, right? Of course it is, even for a four year old and a six year old. But the results were tremendous. By 7:30am, both kids were dressed with their teeth brushed and breakfast eaten. By 8:00am we were outside playing, waiting for the bus to arrive. No yelling, no screaming, no poor behaviour.

For the first time this summer, we were able to spend quality time together as a family before the bus even arrived. We played games, played outside and just had fun. Who knows if this will happen every day, but day one certainly was a big success and since we have told the kids what is expected of them, we feel that these changes will be sustainable.

Think of my children as your customers and see what happens when you engage them in the solution. How can you better involve your customers and what small changes can you make in your business to improve performance?