Corp America January 2017

, Every year at this time, individuals and corporations renew the time-honored tradition of making commitments to be better this year than last. For most, the intentions are good, however the results tend to be lacking writes Richard Tyler in his latest installment of some excellent Tyler Tips®. Winning Business Strategies for 2017 This can happen for the following six primary reasons: • Goals are not specific enough; • There is no action plan; • There are no specific target deadlines; • There is no real commitment to the objectives by the necessary people (individuals or company); • There is no vision of the trends that may influence the objectives over the next 12 months and; • The skills to achieve the objectives are lacking or non-existent. To turn these six primary reasons for failure into success, businesses and individuals must devote attention to five critical areas: Quality Improvement, Customer Service, Sales, Management and Leadership. Quality Improvement For a number of years, Total Quality Management (TQM) or some variation on the name has been a hot topic around executive teams. Most companies have some type of quality improvement initiatives or programs in place. These programs were originally driven by successes enjoyed by countries such as Japan and Germany, where TQM programs first took root. To compete, companies began to read the philosophies that W. Edwards Deming had taught to post World War II Japanese top management, engineers and scholars in a series of lectures held in Japan from June to August 1950. The Japanese executives embraced the idea that improving quality would increase productivity and reduce expenses. As they applied these principles and experienced quality and productivity at record levels the demand for lower cost, higher quality Japanese goods increased; hence the beginning of the formidable Japanese economy took hold. As time went on others chose to implement these teachings in order to successfully compete on total quality. Countries and associations established awards to recognize the best practitioners. The first such major management award was Japan’s Deming Prize, aptly named after W. Edwards Deming. The four other most prestigious major awards are the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, established in 1987 by the United States Congress to be the USA equivalent of the Deming Prize, the Canada Awards for Excellence, The European Quality Awards, and the AKAO Prize. Each award focuses on the organization with the exception of the AKAP Prize, which focuses on recognizing individuals. As wonderful as all this sounds, when taken as a whole, last year as in previous years, most company Total Quality Management programs turned out to be a complete bust; most of those implemented during 2017 will be a dismal failure as well. This need not be. Total Quality Management winners in 2017 will be those companies and individuals that realise there are cultural differences between workers around the world. These differences need to be embraced and assimilated if the desired goals are to be reached. As an illustration of this point, the statistical, regimented approach of traditional Total Quality Management does not work long-term in the United States. Companies have to teach their people to be better communicators, how to analyze challenges and how to improve problem-solving skills in a freethinking format which is more analogous of the U.S. market. Of course, these skills are not exclusive to the United States, they are critical to any developed or developing country wanting to get to or stay at the top of world business markets. Rapid innovation tends to be a little messy. If you are following too strict and regimented an approach you will sooner or later be following someone else that has figured out how to have maximum quality in a freethinking, problem-solving environment. Remember, quality is a measure of pride, ownership and high self-esteem. Without these three attitudes, no Total Quality Management program will ever produce lasting results that compensate for the time and money spent on implementation. Customer Service Customer Service will be hotter than ever in 2017. Consumers and businesses have a tremendous number of options at their disposal. Decisions will be based on who provides the better service, as measured by speed of answers, quality of implementation and customer sentiment as it relates to the ‘entire buying experience’. Every long-term successful company will see the need to enroll its people in an ongoing customer-service education program, using both inside and outside sources. Individuals K