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vrijdag 19 april 2013

Lean Six Sigma

Lean Six Sigma in a nutshell

Six Sigma

Six Sigma created a generalized problem solving methodology called DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control). In the first step, Define, you must talk to the user of your output to understand what they would like to see improved.  In the Measure phase, you collect data to verify the users’ issues.  The Analyze and Improve phases use the Statistical Process Control tool to reduce variation.  Finally, the Control phase requires the owners of the process to sustain the benefits achieved.  Another key element of the DMAIC process is that management is required to review each project before it moves from D to M, M to A, etc.  The goal is to make sure projects are showing promise are properly resourced, while those that do not show promise are either ended or restructured.  Finally and perhaps most importantly, Six Sigma prescribes organizations assign 1% of its workforces to be trained for five weeks as process improvement specialists known as Black Belts, and to assign them, full time, to process improvement projects.


Lean is an approach to organizational improvement that focuses on process speed and efficiency. It does this by a relentless search for all kinds of waste in the functions the organization performs. This waste is generally identified as non-value-add tasks, process steps, review cycles, reporting requirements and personnel practices that distract and take away from the absolutely essential functions the organization must perform. By identifying and eliminating these non-value-add activities, the organization decreases costs and shortens the time required to deliver goods and services to its customers.

Power of the Combined Lean Six Sigma Methodology

The tools for eliminating waste that we get from Lean and the focus on customers and quality improvement from Six Sigma combined with the latter’s prescribed management and implementation infrastructure has created the most powerful quality improvement methodology available today.

Christiaan Janssens
Executive Coach

CRO @ Spa Akwa Belgium

woensdag 17 april 2013

How To Give An Effective Presentation

How to give an effective presentation

If you are to communicate an idea, concept, or a product, you need to have good presentation skills in order to grab the attention of the audience and become the centre of attention.

This way, it is easy for you to get the audience's support. The audience can range from your direct colleagues to an executive board of a multinational company.

Having just an idea or a product to communicate and PowerPoint do not make you an effective presenter. For this, you should prepare yourself in advance and also should develop some skills. Let's take a look at some of the pointers that will help you to become a top class presenter.

Guidelines for designing a presentation:

The design and the layout of the presentation have an impact on how the audience receives it. Therefore, you need to focus more on the clarity of your presentation and the content.

Following are some points you should consider when designing your presentation.
- Derive the top three goals that you want to accomplish through your presentation. The entire presentation should focus on achieving these three goals. If you are not clear about what you want to achieve, your audience can easily miss the point of your presentation.
- Understand what your audience is. Think why they are there to see your presentation and their expectations. Study the background of the audience in advance if possible. When you do the presentation, make sure that you communicate to them that they are 'selected' for this presentation.
- Have a list of points that you want to communicate to your audience. Prioritize them accordingly. See whether there is any point that is difficult to understand by the audience. If there are such points, chunk them further.
- Decide on the tone you want to use in the presentation. It could be motivational, informational, celebration, etc.
- Prepare an opening speech for the presentation. Do not spend much time on it though.
- Point out all contents in brief and explain them as you've planned.
- Have a questions and answers session at the end of the presentation.

Choosing the presentation materials:

When your presentation is supported by additional material, you can make more impact on the audience. Reports, articles, and flyers are just a few examples.
If your presentation is informative and a lot of data is presented, handing out a soft or hard copy of your presentation is a good idea. Do not distribute this before but after the presentation. Your audience may read it during the presentation and miss what you say.

Following are some guidelines on presentation materials:

- Make sure that you check the computer, projector, and network connectivity in advance to the presentation. I'm sure you do not want to spend the first half of your presentation fixing those in front of your audience.
- Use a simple, but consistent layout. Do not overload the presentation with images and animations.
- When it comes to time allocation, spend 3-5 minutes for each slide. Each slide should ideally have about 5-8 bullet lines. This way, the audience can stay focused and grab your points.

Presentation Delivery:

- Delivering the presentation is the most important step of the process. This is where you make the primary contact with your audience. Consider the following points in order to deliver an effective presentation.
- Be prepared for your presentation. Complete the designing phase of the presentation and practice it a few times before you actually do it. This is the most important part of your presentation. Know the content of your presentation in and out. When you know your presentation, you can recover if something goes wrong.
- Use true examples to explain your points. If these examples are common to you and the audience, it will have a great impact. Use your personal experiences to show them the practical point of view.
- Relax! Stay relaxed and calm during the presentation. Your body language is quite important for the audience. If they see you tensed, they may not receive what you say. They may even judge you!
- Use humour in the presentation. Use it naturally to make your point. Do not try to crack jokes when you are not supposed to do it.
- Pay attention to details. Remember the old saying: the devil is in the detail. Choose the place, people, and materials wisely.

Wrapping up:

Presenting your idea to convince an audience is always a challenge.
Every presentation is a new experience for all of us. Therefore, you should plan your presentations way in advance.
Pay close attention to the points we discussed above and adhere to them in your next presentation.

Christiaan Janssens
Executive Coach

CRO @ Spa Akwa Belgium

zaterdag 13 april 2013

How to finish meetings on time

How to finish meetings on time


Meetings often run overtime and consequently many agenda items don't get adequate coverage or don't even get covered at all. There are various reasons why meetings run overtime some of which include:

- The meeting did not start on time in the first place and thus the group got behind schedule.
- The sequence of topics was not based on their significance thus too much time may have been spent initially on items of lesser importance.
- Meeting time was not managed well
- Too much was planned for time available
How to finish on time?
There are several strategies you can use to ensure that your meetings end on time:

- Designate a timekeeper to watch the clock and let participants know when time for an item is almost up, and then when it is really up.
- Prioritize
- Place topics that require more discussion at the very beginning of the agenda
- Start your meeting promptly on time
- If you are the team leader and wish to extend a meeting another 15 minutes to half an hour, ask the group if they are willing to remain to finish the task at hand.
- In planning a meeting make sure it has a stated end time. If attending a meeting that does not state an adjournment time, bring it to the leader's attention at the beginning of the meeting.
- Keep track of your own meetings. Do most end on time? Be clear that it is your aim to end at the appointed time.

How to prepare, lead and follow-up meetings

How to prepare, lead and follow-up meetings

What to do before the meeting


 A large part of what makes a meeting successful occurs in the preparation phase. Although it may vary by committee, department or unit, there are seven key responsibilities expected of chairs or team leaders before a meeting takes place. Each is explained in detail below.

1. Clarify purpose and aims
A clearly stated purpose or aim describes the key decisions that must be made or actions that must occur at the meeting. The purpose of a meeting should be stated at the top of the meeting agenda.

2. Create an agenda
An agenda is a framework that guides and supports the meeting. Agendas are like roadmaps, blueprints, flight plans, and recipes. An agenda helps focus the group's work toward achieving desired outcomes. Good agenda items provide focus and structure for a meeting.

3. Schedule the meeting
Scheduling a meeting involves much more than just making a list of attendees. It requires identifying key people who must attend and either finding times that work for them or notifying them of the meeting's time and location. Once an optimal date and time are agreed upon, a meeting location can be selected.

4. Post and send out agenda
An agenda should be sent to participants ahead of time to help them prepare to participate.

5. Circulate supporting information
You should always circulate supporting materials to participants in advance of the meeting. However, deciding how much information to send in advance can present a conundrum. Some people won't look at anything prior to the meeting and some will conscientiously read all the supporting information they can. Here are some things to consider when deciding what and how much to send out ahead of time:

6. Make room arrangements
Ensure that room arrangements (including refreshments) are made. Room arrangements can make a big difference in how well a meeting goes or doesn't go. Most important is that participants can see and hear each other. 
Although a U shape arrangement or open square is ideal for smaller groups of 20 or less, it is not usually a good choice for larger groups. The yawning hole in the middle makes communication difficult. A herring bone arrangement of tables is usually better for these larger groups.

What to do during a meeting

The meeting leader can make a huge difference in a group's productivity. These ten leader actions can maximize the group's time and productivity. Each is explained in more detail below.

1. Start meeting on time
Start the meeting promptly on schedule and do not wait for others to arrive. A large amount of professional time is wasted by leaders who wait for more people to arrive before starting a meeting. It may require a change in the culture, but once people know that you start your meetings on time, they will arrive on time.
2. Ensure quorum
A quorum is the number of members entitled to vote who must be present in order that business can be legally transacted. The quorum is usually the majority of the members unless a different quorum is decided upon.
If a quorum is not present, any business transacted is null and void.
3. Review agenda
Always briefly review the agenda including the aims and purposes as the meeting gets started. This helps participants focus their attention and understand what will be required of them.
In reviewing the agenda, the meeting leader should make it clear what decisions must be made or actions must be taken.
4. Keep discussion focused
Focus on agenda items. Even if these items are clearly listed and emphasized, creative, intelligent and committed people may stray from the topic.
To get a runaway meeting back on track, the meeting leader can say, "We are getting off topic and need to move back to XYZ." Then he or she repeats the topic, issues or question again.
5. Encourage participation
Effective meetings are participatory and good leaders try to get everyone involved.
6. Help group come to decisions
A group reaches consensus when it finally agrees on a choice and each group member can say: 
  • "I believe that others understand my point of view"
  • "I believe I understand others' points of view"
  • "Whether or not I prefer this decision, I support it (and will not undermine it) because it was arrived at openly and fairly and is the best solution for this committee or group at this time."

Be clear before the discussion begins how the final decision will be made--if vote will be taken or if decision will be made by consensus and/or prioritization of options.
7. Summarize decisions
When a group seems to have come to a consensus or decision, restate and summarize what the final decision is. This helps to ensure that all members hear the same thing. Clarification at this point can prevent problems later.
8. Agree on action plan
An action plan outlines the specifics that must be done. Not every goal needs an action plan, but for goals that involve more than one person, it's usually helpful to be specific about who will do what by when. Every goal should have a point person-an individual charged with ensuring that the goal is moving forward. The point person is not expected to complete the goal personally but to connect the people involved, make progress reports, and seek assistance or resources needed to keep the goal moving forward.
9. Draft agenda for next meeting
Ask for agenda items for the next meeting. People are more likely to participate in a meeting if they have had some input into building the agenda. Even if every item suggested cannot be dealt with in a meeting, look for ways to provide information via handouts, E-mail, or creating connections with others.
10. Evaluate meeting
Before the meeting adjourns, try to do a brief evaluation. Ask some informal questions such as, "Do you feel like we accomplished what we needed to today? Did everyone participate?" The meeting leader can ask the questions with group members answering in turn or the questions can be asked for anyone to answer.
Don't assume that ideas discussed during a meeting will be put into action or even remembered. To ensure follow-through and accountability a meeting leader needs to do three key tasks after the meeting ends. These are discussed in detail below.

What to do after a meeting

1. Distribute minutes
Ensure that minutes are produced and promptly distributed to all attendees. Meeting minutes don't need to include everything everyone said. They do need to include following:

Date, time location
Key points raised and decisions made
Motions and voting results if votes taken
Who is responsible for what follow-up action and by when
Name of the Recorder
Most word processing software includes templates for agendas and minutes.
2. Archive meeting documents
All meeting documents including the agenda, minutes and supporting documents should be kept together and archived.
These records can be checked when questions arise about past decisions or actions. It is discouraging to committee or group members to rehash prior discussions or decisions because of poor record keeping.
3. Check on action
Often people need a gentle nudge to remind them about completing action items. Leaders need to check to ensure that action is taking place as agreed. The check can be an E-mail or phone call to the point person or a meeting devoted to checking on progress. Not checking may send a message that not much action is really expected.

zaterdag 6 april 2013

Pretending to work or being productive

Pretending to work or being productive, it's your choice.

Here are three ways that people pretend to work:

Attend meetings

Even though meetings are largely ineffective, attending lots of them keeps you very busy. When you attend lots of meetings your calendar stays full and yet you accomplish very little. This is perhaps the best way to pretend to work without really working.

Be hyper-responsive on emails and phone calls

Don’t read or think too much about each email, just respond quickly. In fact, responding to emails while passively attending a meeting can ensure that neither activity is truly productive.

Focus on speed and quantity, not quality, of communication

The accepted best practice around emails is this: If the third email hasn’t clarified the issue pick up the phone. Ignoring this rule means you can have long strings of emails that show activity without really accomplishing work. Make sure you have an email trail that recaps every action taken. This ensures that you can always justify your lack of productivity by pointing to a flaw in someone else’s email.

Caught by any of these strategies? Although I don’t know anyone who deliberately uses these strategies to avoid work, I suspect we have all had extremely busy days when we questioned our productivity and accomplishments.

But if you want to be productive:

Carefully choose which meetings, and how much of each meeting, you will attend.
Focus on the quality of your communication, including reflecting or researching before you respond. Let others know your priority to set aside times for focused concentration, professional development, process improvement, and idea generation. Let people know when you will and won’t be available to respond quickly.
Working like this will require less energy, less activity and fewer emails. Therefore it will result in higher productivity.

Sales Coaching

Sales Coaching

Why is sales coaching better than sales training in improving the performance of a sales team? 

- A sales coach gives each person what they need instead of a blend for everyone
- He/she offers a person an opportunity to learn from an outside perspective
- Coaching allows people can voice their opinion which they would not feel comfortable doing otherwise
- It extends the reach of your management so they can get to other things while their people are being developed
- It gives your best and most senior people get the attention they need so they don't quit
- ramp new hires more quickly
- Your management team can be coached to improve their skills and all the benefit that come with that
- A coach gives people specific assignments that are targeted to their specific needs
- He/she will have sessions be recorded for people to review
- A coach gives as many or as little sessions as are required by the individual
- You will get a great ROI since the investment is similar to classroom training
- It provides motivation to people who are in need of a lift
- Coaching will have previous top performers who are lagging, reach their potential again
- Coach in person, via video or web to keep costs down
- Increase sales in a very short time frame
- Strategize large deals with expertise not in house.

Customer Profiling

Customer profile

The Ideal Customer Profile indicates your sales sweet spot where companies represent the best fit for your product or service.  These are the segments of the market that stand to benefit the greatest from adopting your solution.  The goal is to target the type of customer where you win the most.

The following questions will stimulate your thinking when it comes to developing the Ideal Customer Profile:

- What size of organization would you prefer to deal with?
- Typically, how many people will they employ?
- What market sector(s) do these organizations operate within?
- Who specifically will be buying your products/services and what are their job titles?
- Where geographically would you like these organizations to be located?
- What does your organization offer that is unique?
- What types of organizations will be attracted by this uniqueness?
- What do your best customers possess that you would like to replicate in others?
- Which of your existing customers were the easiest and quickest to convert?
- What similarities do these customers possess?
- Are there any specific criteria that prospective organizations should have in place, so that your products/services can be optimized?

vrijdag 5 april 2013

Consultative Selling

Consultative selling

A big part of training salespeople these days is helping them to differentiate themselves from everyone else. This is accomplished by effectively applying a consultative sales process: the salesperson has a conversation with a decision maker that is unlike any conversation the competition has had. It uncovers the convincing reasons for spending money, changing vendors, buying a product or service and, as important, buying it from you. That creates urgency, an encouragement for a prospect to self-qualify, so that you don’t have to pull teeth getting a prospect qualified. The end result should be a prospect that is willing to spend more to do business with you, and a sales cycle that is not based on winning on price.

A salesman met a customer that had moved their business to a competitor because of price issues. It sounded like they were getting what they were paying for:
- Paying more for freight,
- Finding variations in the product,
- Stocking more inventory than necessary because of availability problems
So far so good. The salesman had done enough to at least uncover some issues and, while these aren’t persuasive reasons, additional questions would lead us to these. What he should have done:
He should have asked, “How important is it to have continued availability of quality, local inventory?” The customer would have said, “Extremely important”, the salesman would have said, “Tell me how that would affect your business”, and we would have gotten closer to the persuasive reasons.
What the salesman did instead:
He asked, “If you had access to local delivery, through a distributor, and the price was competitive, would you consider looking into this?”
The horror of the question was that the salesman introduced an unnecessary criterion: competitive pricing for doing business with him. What’s wrong with that? Two things:
- Even if you wanted to be the low priced seller, and they don’t, if you don’t have a competitive price, you don’t get the business!
- He didn’t need to offer competitive pricing, because he sold value! He identified the problem and offered a solution to a problem. That is the value someone will pay for and he undermined it by bringing the customer’s attention back to price!
The lesson:
The reality is that there are only four reasons why price becomes an issue:
- The salesman made it an issue (experience)
- The salesman accepted that it was an issue (non supportive beliefs)
- The salesman didn’t know how to prevent it from being an issue (tactics)
- The salesman was foolishly calling on purchasing instead of an actual decision maker who owned a problem or an opportunity (strategy).

maandag 1 april 2013

Lead Generation

Lead Generation

While some sales organizations subscribe to the belief that the "quantity" of leads matters most, others place greater value on the "quality" of sales leads.

However attention must go on both the quantity and quality of leads generated. An effective sales organization must maintain a robust network of active sales leads as a means to generate substantive results and increased value for their companies.

Effective lead generation includes proper emphasis placed upon the lead generation process including qualifying methods, strategies to foster product demand, recognition of the significance of differentiation, and an intense focus on customer relationship management (CRM), recognizing that customers tend to buy from people they like.