Posts Tagged ‘Robert Stevenson-Speaker’

Why Ask … if You’re Not Going to Listen

American television and radio host, Larry King, once stated: “I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So, if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.” The problem I see with most people in management these days, is they have forgotten how to listen. It’s as if, now that they have power over people, they’ve decided there is only one way to do things, THEIR WAY. Yes, there is only one way to do things, the RIGHT WAY … and the only way to find that way … is to listen to the people who are involved in doing it every day.

Walmart has over 11,000 locations, 2.3 million employees and did over $482.13 billion in sales last year. Their founder, Sam Walton, once stated : “The key to success is to get out into the store and listen to what the associates have to say. It’s terribly important for everyone to get involved. Our best ideas come from clerks and stock boys.” Most managers aren’t great listeners, and because that is the case, they will always remain ordinary leaders. The captains of industry understand that listening is the most valuable of leadership skills. The only way to identify problems and opportunities is to listen. We all should take note that our ears will never get us in trouble ; not only will they not get us in trouble, they will also help keep us out of trouble.

The Schwinn bicycle company was founded in 1895. By the 1950’s they totally dominated the bicycle market, but because of their leader’s management style, that was soon not to be the case. Edward Schwinn, the CEO in the mid 1980’s made it clear to everyone, that he did not like to be contradicted. He personally believed that mountain bikes were a passing fad and therefore, argued against putting any investment into advancing the mountain bike category. One senior executive with the company, totally disagreed with Mr. Schwinn’s reasoning during a strategic management meeting. Mr. Schwinn adjourned the meeting and told everyone that they would reconvene in two weeks for further discussion on the subject. During the two-week break, Mr. Schwinn fired the senior executive who disagreed with him. When they reconvened two weeks later, did any one of the remaining senior executives speak out against Mr. Schwinn’s reasoning? NOPE! … which turned out to be a catastrophic mistake. Schwinn went bankrupt and is now owned by a Chinese firm who wanted the brand name.

There is no reason to have a meeting if you are not going to listen to the suggestions of the people in the room; it is a total waste of time and frustrating to everyone attending the meeting. I have also found, in most cases, that the size of a person’s ego and ears(listening) are directly related … the larger the ego the smaller the ears. Great managers/leaders surround themselves with talent and then listen to what they have to say. There is an old Turkish proverb that states: “If speaking is silver, then listening is gold.”

Listening - LinkedIn

Solve It by Sundown

The Internet has revolutionized the computer and communications world like nothing before. This world-wide broadcasting system can disseminate information without regard to geographic locations at the speed of a “click,” and there lies a BIG PROBLEM.

The speed of a “click” has now conditioned us to how fast we expect things. If you want a book you just download it (CLICK). If you want a movie you just download it (CLICK). If you want a song you just download it (CLICK). If you want information about something you just go to Google, type in the info you need and CLICK. We are all being conditioned to getting INSTANT service and information. That being said, it should be no surprise to you that your customers are becoming more and more demanding at getting whatever they want … NOW!

Right now, there are some of you who have already received a few text messages while you are reading my article and people are expecting an instant response. There is no turning back or slowing down when it comes to technology; there is only speeding up and moving forward. Therefore, the companies that will succeed are doing everything they can to please their customers in a manner their customers expect … which happens to be … NOW!

I would, therefore, recommend a simple slogan, mantra, or motto for all employees of your company to live by … Solve “IT” by Sundownbecause if you don’t, you have just opened the door for your competitor to do so. I used to work with an IT company that sent out my weekly articles; if I ever had a problem with their service, their standard response was, “we will get back to you with a resolution in 72 hours.” The third time that happened I changed companies. My new IT company had me up and running in one hour and I have been working with them for years.

Anytime you push off a customer to fix something tomorrow (or in 72 hours), you are giving them the opportunity and incentive to go find someone who will be willing to fix the problem today. You customer is thinking, “If they can fix it tomorrow, then why can’t they can fix it today?” Now, sometimes you don’t have the part(s) or person available to fix it today and you tell the customer that. Well, my question to you is this: Does your competitor? Remember the internet: A few typing strokes and clicks on a computer and I will have a list of your competitors available to ask that question, and if they can fix it, YOU ARE GONE, FINISHED, TOAST.

The brilliant man Benjamin Franklin once said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” I don’t believe Mr. Franklin ever envisioned The Internet, but he sure understood how to be successful. If you want to set your company apart from your competition, then I would do everything I could to establish a culture that understands …

WHEN AT ALL POSSIBLE – SOLVE IT BY SUNDOWN.

Barn Movers

In 1981 Donna and Herman Ostry bought a farm in the small town of Bruno, Nebraska, about 60 miles outside of Omaha. The farm came with a big barn that had been built back in the 1920’s and also had a nice little creek that flowed through their property. The creek was both a blessing and a problem for the Ostrys. It was great to have readily available water for their farm animals but it also flooded a lot during heavy rains. The barn floor seemed to always be wet and muddy and then in 1988 they had a huge flood where the water rose about 30 inches up the side of the barn walls.

 The Ostrys desperately needed to move the barn to higher ground but the cost to contract with a company that has both the capability and equipment to move a barn of this size was prohibitive.  One night sitting around the dinner table, Herman Ostry commented that if he had enough people he could pick the barn up and move it to higher ground. Everyone laughed off the comment as silly … everyone except his son Mike.

I wonder if “young” Mike knew that people scoffed at the idea of traveling 30 miles per hour on a railroad car. People actually thought that traveling that fast would stop the circulation of the blood. I wonder if “young” Mike knew that Eli Whitney was laughed at when he showed his first cotton gin, that Thomas Edison had to install his electric light free of charge in an office building before anyone would look at it, that Westinghouse was considered a fool for suggesting you could stop a train with wind, or that Samuel Morse had to plead before 10 Congresses before they would even look at his telegraph (which revolutionized communication). Maybe “young” Mike just thought … WHY NOT … and then he set out to figure out a way to make his Dad’s statement a reality.

Young, inexperienced, doesn’t-know-any-better Mike did some calculations and figured out that the barn weighed about 17,000 pounds. He then figured out that he could design a steel grid system that he could place under the barn that would weigh another 3,000 pounds. So, the total weight that would need to be lifted was 10 tons. When you think of that amount of weight to be moved, you usually think of a giant crane … not a whole bunch of people. But “young” Mike figured if he could gather up about 350 people, they would all need to only be able to lift approximately 50 pounds each.

Mike presented his calculations to his Dad and they both thought it would work. Mike and his Dad got a little lucky on the timing to present their idea to their small town. Nebraska was getting ready to celebrate its centennial and the town of Bruno had put together a committee of townspeople to decide on different things to do for the celebration. Mike and his Dad convinced the town to make the barn moving a part of the celebration. The word got out and over 4,000 people from 11 states witnessed the event.  Here is the YouTube link to the actual event.     http://youtu.be/o83W0gj_CRE

A little before 11 a.m. on July 30th, 1988 … in front of the local television cameras, 344 people moved the barn 143 feet up a gentle slope to its new foundation. All in all, it took 3 minutes to move the barn. So, the next time somebody hits you with an idea that you think is silly or maybe even impossible … think again, and never discount the POWER of TEAMWORK.

Re-live this idea again in your head. Someone in a meeting says, “Let’s move a 17,000 pound barn, 143 feet, up a slope, and do it in less than 3 minutes, using no machinery.”  Now that idea sounds pretty nuts, ridiculous, stupid, impossible, and far-fetched to me. But a need, a desire, a creative mind, a well- designed plan and a giant team, all working together, made it happened.

 Teamwork Really Makes the Dream Work 

(anonymous)
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