Volume 39, Issue 10, October 2004


The Truth About Reality
Great People and Ideas Equal Great Business
by Bill Rochon

Reality TVóIím just not a big fan. But if I were a network executive charged with improving our company, I would have to change my way of looking at it. See, itís not what I like to watch that is important, itís what the ratings (customers) want that is. This is a tough one because I do not like the stuff that I see on the tube, but I canít ignore the impact that it has on business and the economy. 

Change is Inevitable
Part of getting older is hating everything that the younger generation likes. Unfortunately, many people become more stubborn and resist the change. You can fight change (which is also change) but you should never resist it. Voting is a good example of being able to either fight change or create change. On the other hand, the soup kitchen patron is a good example of one who resists change. 

How many haberdashers do you see selling fedoras these days? Iíll bet you there were many at one time. One probably said, ďSociety is in trouble! These young guys donít want to wear hats anymore. Iím sticking to my guns because it is just a fad. Theyíll wise up and see it my way.Ē Maybe another said, ďI noticed these young kids seem to be wearing their baseball caps a lot more these days. Iíll expand my product line to include caps as well.Ē See, it would not matter whether or not the second person thought caps were proper attire as long as he did not resist the change. If it really did matter, then we would all still be dressed up like Louis XVI and riding animals to work.

So Iím watching this reality TV show, you know, the one with Donald Trump, and I must admit I was entertained. I did not pay much attention to the content, but successful people fascinate me. Donald Trump has made many mistakes and has lost everything, but somehow he adjusts and rises right back up and beyond. How? He clearly has a system for success. Do you think he says things like ďYou canít find good peopleĒ? Iíll bet that he has fired many more good people than bad people. How can that be? Part of his system is to only hire good people. Thatís how. Good people can only get you so far, though. There must be a system in place to train and set expectations for these people in order to help them become great people and, consequently, help create a great business.

Great People and Ideas
As glass fabricators, we tend to get so wrapped up in our daily orders that we may neglect the rules. Many machines do not have operating manuals, inside sales people are not all on the same page when it comes to quoting, some departments make more mistakes than others, output is not consistent, turnover is high, etc. I have worked with some brilliant people over the years and they have great ideas. Unfortunately, their brilliance rarely gets tapped. Many owners also have outstanding ideas, but never implement them. It is quite common for people just to accept the way things are and to dismiss a good idea that requires change because of immediate inconvenience. Often the reasoning behind inaction becomes a matter of a lack of solution. I believe that there is a solution to every problem or challenge. Even curing cancer has a solution; we just have not found it yet.

Where Do We Start?
It starts with action. Successful companies practice this regularly. If I were to write a systems manual for a fabricator, where would I beginótempering, cutting, inside sales, safety, shipping? Everywhere. I would begin everywhere. Outlining a book, speech, business plan, contract or operations manual are all done the same way. You must have clear goals and then outline your system to accomplish these goals. I love brainstorming meetings. These are good tools to use when planning your strategy. The more people with input the better. There is no real order to building a business as long as the plans are done first. Sounds silly, I know, but think about it. How many of us have planned as we go when building our companies? How many of us have had to move a tempering oven or insulating glass line a year after it was installed? Do plans change? Of course they do.

However, good plans beat bad plans and no plans. These plans need to include much more than a price sheet, machinery and plant layout. They need to include education and comprehensive training for all members of the company. Yes, all includes owners and managers. Good owners seek good training and then train good managers, and so on down the line. Always be open-minded and please do not resist change Ö embrace it or even create it.

So I will not resist reality TV. I will watch the select few that I like, but I will continue my fight by electing to not watch the ones that I donít. Sounds like something a customer might say. 


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