Miller’s Monday Morning Message

Andrew MillerMiller’s Monday Morning Message
presented by ACM Consulting Inc.

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

Toronto – May 27, 2013
When pursuing, and eventually mastering operational excellence, there are only four things that can happen to an organization:
  • They can achieve operational excellence and maintain that mastery (3M).
  • They can achieve operational excellence and then lose significant market share (Blockbuster).
  • They can achieve operational excellence and then disappear (Netscape).
  • They can achieve operational excellence, lose it, and then reappear even stronger (IBM).
The organizations that are able to maintain a high level of operational excellence implement stops or gates to prevent them from sliding backwards from the culture they worked so hard to build. These gates help them anticipate future changes in their industries, their customers, their employees and their products and services. Some examples of ways to ensure forward progress are:
  • Hold an innovation competition in your organization. Ask for improvement ideas from employees, customers, suppliers and other business partners and hand out awards for the best ideas. This will generate an influx of new ideas that might help improve performance.
  • Have a third party interview some of your key customers and suppliers to identify why they like working with you and what could be improved. This will give you some insights on what you need to keep doing to be successful and what you need to improve.
  • Ask your existing customer base for referrals to new prospective customers. This will provide you with a series of new leads to follow up with and gives you a reason to have additional conversations with current customers.
  • Perform a review on a key department in the organization and look for gaps in the processes or in communication. Odds are you will find some opportunities to improve the way you operate.

“The most successful organizations can anticipate where they need to be next in order to take advantage of changing markets and changing customers,” says Andrew Miller, president of ACM Consulting. “They don’t rest on their laurels as they know they need to constantly grow and innovate to stay successful.”

To request an interview or more information, please contact:
Andrew Miller
Follow me on Twitter @AndrewMillerACM
© Andrew Miller. All rights reserved. 2013.


Succession Planning

As I mentioned in a recent article, there is currently a leadership gap in healthcare. More importantly, there is an issue with succession planning because of this gap. Or to put it more accurately, this gap has been created because of a lack of succession planning in many organizations.

This will lead to increased external hires for key roles moving forward, which in turn will increase the cost of doing business for these healthcare organizations. Hiring externally is not always a bad idea (and in some cases it is necessary), but it should be done by choice (the organization needs a new direction), not by necessity (the organization doesn’t have anyone ready to take over key positions). It will also have a ripple effect in that, if we don’t engage them quickly, key young leaders will leave their organizations to find better opportunities elsewhere.

But all is not lost. We can start right now with developing better succession plans for key roles. Here’s how to get started immediately:

  1. Identify the critical roles in your organization. Which roles have the most impact on the success or failure of your organization? Hint: These do not have to be only executive positions.
  2. Determine the critical outcomes for which those roles are accountable. What is the expectation in terms of results (not just what is being done today)? Remember to focus on results and outcomes, not activities and tasks.
  3. Determine the skills and background required to perform those roles well. Are the skills and expertise different from what is currently required?
  4. Identify key performers in the organization and assess their capabilities for the best fit. You want to find the right fit for these key performers to challenge them enough to stay engaged where they can learn and have a positive impact.
  5. Develop a plan for those key roles. This includes assessing the current people in the role and looking at potential candidates for the role (including your key performers identified in step #4). Who needs to be involved in the planning? What is the transition plan? What is the timing for transition?
  6. Be open and transparent in communicating the selection process, the criteria and the time line for those critical roles. Everyone in the company should have advanced notice of when a new leader will be taking over and what the transition will look like.
  7. Know the future vision and direction of the company. This will help with the selection process so you can match the leaders’ skill sets with the direction of customers and the business.
  8. Begin to decentralize some decision-making. Organizations that give employees the ability to make decisions on their own will be better insulated when someone from the top leaves as there is less reliance on them to make all decisions.

Succession planning is one of the key areas that many organizations need to improve upon. Knowing who the next top managers and executives will be allows you to maintain consistency in the direction of the organization and often makes the leadership transition easier.

Miller’s Monday Morning Message

Andrew MillerMiller’s Monday Morning Message
presented by ACM Consulting Inc.Andrew Miller on operational excellence, strategy, life balance and everything in between

Toronto – May 20, 2013
It seems so obvious that we need to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others, but we don’t often practice it. Personally, this means being in a place where we are able to think about others and help them. But this only happens when we take care of ourselves first. It’s very difficult to help others when we are preoccupied with financial or health concerns, or other stresses that occur in our daily lives. We will do something, but we‘re not as effective as we could be. My colleague, Dr Alan Weiss, calls this “the oxygen-mask principle.” On airplanes, during the safety demonstration, they instruct you to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others. Because you can’t help them if you can’t breathe.
The same goes for our organizations. How can you put our best foot forward to your customers, the market, your shareholders, your business partners or your suppliers if you don’t take care of your own organization properly? This means constantly pursuing ways to improve the way we operate. But it also means getting your own organization in order so you can provide the best products and services to customers and to the market.
Organizations who are disorganized internally wonder why customers are frustrated in dealing with them,” says Andrew Miller, president of ACM Consulting. “It’s because they will often be disorganized externally as well. Look at the way an organization treats its employees and it is probably a strong indicator on how it treats its customers.” 
To request an interview or more information, please contact:
Andrew Miller
Follow me on Twitter @AndrewMillerACM
© Andrew Miller. All rights reserved. 2013.

Focus on Growth Not Resolution of Problems


This podcast examines how often organizations hurt themselves by focusing their time on problem resolution. Andrew explains that by adopting an abundance mindset, organizations can open the door to innovation, creativity and growth.

The Power of Community

The newest business opportunity for organizations is to create a community of your customers, or business partners, or even your employees. Being a part of a community and a support system can have major benefits for us. Consider the importance of the neighbourhood you live in, that is a community. Think about the company you work for. That is another community. The gym at which you workout, the products you buy, even the associations you belong to. Those are all different communities.

So what separates successful communities from others? Here are a few ideas:

  • The community members have a common goal (business improvement, good education for kids, neighbourhood safety, and so on).
  • There are people in the community who help facilitate the development of the community.
  • The members of the community have each others best interests in mind.
  • There is a level of trust amongst community members and they share information and ideas openly.
  • The community provides more value collectively than the members of the community would achieve on their own.
  • The community members attract other like-minded people to join the community and add even more value.

A strong community is like a success loop (see figure below) where members are attracted to the community because of its value, and the more valuable members who join the community, the more people WANT to join the community to be a part of it.

Creating a successful community

Can you use the characteristics above to build a strong community around your organization?