Keep your bottle-neck full

Drum Buffer Rope

By | Cost Controls, Operations, Systems | No Comments

Keep your bottle-neck fullMy Introduction to Process Management professor should have retired 20 years before I sat in his class. This was a required course and he was not only quirky, but a little disconnected as well.


However, the one concept that clicked with me – and something that I have used often – is how to improve operations through a simple concept:




I have a close friend who is an industrial engineer. I am sure he will be irked by my over-simplification below.


Ideally, you should eliminate bottlenecks. However, there are many times when a bottleneck is outside of your control or ability.


To make the most out of a bottleneck, you have to keep it as full as possible without creating too much back log.


  1. Identify the bottleneck and decide what it’s highest speed is.
  2. Set the rest of the system to only work as fast as the bottleneck rhythm (Drum)
  3. Create a “lead-time” on the work needed (Buffer)
  4. Only send enough work through the system that will pull the work through the bottleneck at a consistent rate. (Rope)


Simply put: know your bottlenecks and maximize their operation. It will eliminate wasted time and expense.

Create an experience to remember you by.

My Most Amazing Dining Experience

By | Marketing, Operations | No Comments

Create an experience to remember you by.Walls that looked like they had been quilted with a red, eccentrically patterned cloth and embedded with all kinds of small beads that reflected the low light was the first clue that I was in for something special.


I sat down at the table with about 10 other people I did not know. To my left were another 10 people in my party seated at two large, circular booths with curtains ready to be drawn for privacy.


This was the House of Blues Foundation Dining Room in the Red Light District of New Orleans – an exclusive club inside the New Orleans House of Blues and one of the hottest concert venues in the South.


I was interviewing as a graduate student for an Administrative Fellowship with one of the largest healthcare organizations in the country.


The dining experience was so amazing, I can still remember what I ordered more than 10 years ago!


I sometimes hear struggling businesses tell me that they have depended on “word of mouth,” but that it is just not working anymore.


My first question is usually, “What have you done lately to wow them? Are you providing an experience?”


Customers will remember and talk about their experience and the relationship you create. Not your service.

bad apple


By | Leadership, Operations | No Comments

Last year, I had the opportunity to do a turn-around of an Assisted Living facility in Texas. Often with a turn-around the problems are deeply entrenched in the culture and processes.


The people working there know there’s a problem, know that something has to change, but generally blame everyone else – especially leadership.


When problems are this entrenched, it becomes a vicious cycle. Unfortunately the people are the problem, and a turn-around often involves turn-over. Not because they are bad people, but the change required is too difficult for many employees to make.


With this particular project, I had to be a bull in a china shop.


You can't move forward with a team until you have the right team.

The first employee I fired at the facility was for tardiness and call-ins only a couple of days after I arrived.


One particular employee was fired within a few weeks for gossip.


Guess what: I had very little problem with attendance and gossip after that.


Before I left, only 4 of the original 15 employees still remained.


The most difficult and most important part of building a great team is having the right people in the room.


The more quickly you can help someone find a more appropriate place of employment, the sooner you can move the team forward and find the right person.


A great leader is able to quickly see how someone will or won’t match the rest of the team.

Have you leveraged yourself through technology yet?

Leveraging Technology

By | Leverage, Operations, Systems | No Comments

Today, you’re getting this email – however, I wrote it Monday night.


You see, I took advantage of Spring Break this week and disappeared into the back woods with my kids for several days. I would like to report that it was great and that we got back late Thursday, but it hasn’t happened yet. I took advantage of the scheduling aspect of the iContact email system I prefer to use. 


Have you leveraged yourself through technolgy?One aspect of leverage that we often overlook, is that of technology.


Technology cannot take the place of intelligent design or good people. But with the proper application, it can take care of menial and repetitive tasks and give you freedom to pursue other avenues.


However, there are those who will spend all their time trying to find an easier way to do it through technology – when it would be faster to simply do it.


Which camp are you in?

Good Follow Through Is Critical for Business

Follow Through

By | Accountability, Follow-through, Leadership, Operations, Systems | No Comments

Good Follow Through Is Critical for BusinessIn 1994 I was in St. Louis wrestling in the AAU national wrestling tournament. I had done well and made it to the quarter finals. However, I lost that match by two points – the only points scored in the match. I had shot in on his legs for the take down, but somehow, he countered and ended up taking me down. 


I rarely did this, but I was so baffled by it that I found him afterward and asked what happened. “You hesitated after the shot. It was just enough for me to counter.” I hadn’t followed through with the take down and lost the match.


In business, poor follow through is one of the most common mistakes businesses make.


Some say this is a question of integrity. I think it moves beyond that. It is a question of systems and habit. We have every intention of following up after the service, calling that lead one more time, or getting back to someone. Often when a ball gets dropped, we have a tendency to just leave it and hope no one notices. Eventually they do. We judge ourselves by our intentions, but the world judges us by our actions.


As a business, balls get dropped by the team because we have not put together the processes and not created good accountability. Creating a habit for our team and a culture that enforces those items are the key to creating a business that exceeds expectations.


So what now? How do you follow through better?


Take a look at your habits, systems and accountability. Pick one, work at it until it improves. Then, move on to the next.


Shake It Up

By | Leadership, Motivation, Operations, Strategic Planning, Systems | No Comments

stirthepot“I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing.”


Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826)
3rd president of the United States

Lately, I have been reading (or rather listening to) the book “Work The System”. Something the author says repeatedly is to look at your internal systems from “a slightly elevated and slightly removed point of view.” By looking at your business from the outside looking in, you can better work on your businesses instead of in.


Many of my clients often find themselves jumping from one appointment to the next, taking care of whatever is next on the to-do list, or looking for an excuse to work on trivial, easy things.


It takes a kind of courage to step back and look at your business from the outside looking in. It requires you to not just admit your faults, but to look them in the face and commit to change. A better process. An improved system. A better business. Owning a business, not owning your job. A better lifestyle to do what you wish with more money and a lot more time.


It might be time to “shake it up,” look from the outside in, and improve your system. You will never truly own a business until you do.

I want my business to

system failure

By | Cost Controls, Leadership, Operations, Strategic Planning, Systems | No Comments

gears“I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me. ”


—Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) from the movie The Departed

Many of you know about my two years in Southern Mexico as a missionary. In one area I served I cam across two families that stand out in my mind as stark contrasts.


The first I met in a cab ride from the bus station to the apartment in my first hour in this area. He drove the cab and I later found out that he was a science teacher for one of the local prep schools. His wife was due to have their second baby in a couple of months. He worked hard and was just starting out as a husband and father. He did not have to drive cab, but he did want to improve his situation. 


The other family I met was completely opposite. His wife worked hard selling in the market to earn enough to buy the necessities of life. I once approached their house to see him laying in a hammock with a “caguama” (a beer of about 32 oz). All he could say was, “No hay trabajo” – there is no work. 


One system created opportunity (the first eventually bought a home and became a community leader) the other created stagnation. We can shake our head at the second, but his “system” was to have his wife work while he drank in the shade bemoaning the economy. Guess who made a bigger impact in the world?


The economy, taxes, politicians, the system, big business, and the boogie man. The next time you want to blame some out-side source, figure out what is happening with your own systems that did not prepare for the influence of these outside influences.


Are you positioned to take advantage of circumstances whether they are good or bad? The difference is the systems you have in place and the quality of execution.





Get Surrounded

By | Accountability, Accounting, Leadership, Marketing, Operations, Systems, Uncategorized | No Comments

support“Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves, those who work hard and play hard.”


Colin Powell

Retired four-star general and former Secretary of State (2001-2005)


In the last few weeks, I have repeatedly come in contact with businesses that have achieved a level of success and want to take the next step, but can’t get through it. Often their biggest obstacle is getting the right people on the team.


This was emphasized in the Kitsap Business Forum on Tuesday. It seemed we kept coming back to the same point:


You shouldn’t do it all yourself.

This does not mean you have to hire and replace yourself in your business – at least not right away.


It means finding the core team you need to make your business a success. Here is my list of professionals you need to be successful. There are many others, I suggest every business owner have the following.


  • Accountant
  • Bookkeeper
  • Attorney
  • Insurance Agent
  • Banker
  • Marketing Expert (actually a team of experts here)
  • Cooperative/Complimentary Business owners
  • Accountability Source (Master Mind, Coach)


Surround yourself with great people and great minds. If you are surrounded by people or businesses that you do not wish to emulate – it’s time to get find a new group.


Don’t do it alone! Entrepreneurship is lonely enough already.




By | Hiring, Leadership, Leverage, life style, Operations | No Comments

leverage yourself

“Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the Earth.”

Archimedes (287 BC – 212 BC)
Regarding the power of the lever


Programmer ‘outsources’ his own job to China to laze around at work

The mid-40s software developer, named only as ‘Bob’ in the report by Verizon’s Risk Team, paid programmers in China one-fifth of his salary, and spent his work days browsing the internet.


Did you see this article!? I first heard it on the radio this morning and later read the whole thing this afternoon in one of my news-feeds.Here is a quick link to the article if you did not get a chance to read it.


I found it interesting that he was considered one of the best programers in the company. He was probably considered one of the most productive – until they discovered that he spent all day watching cats say “I haz cheezberger??”


It got me thinking about all the things we do that take up our time that prevent us from having the business or lifestyle we want.


All businesses struggle with leveraging regardless of the size. Not only does hiring someone mean an increase in expense, but it also means letting go. When we are passionate about the success of something, we have a hard time letting it go. 


A few questions to ask yourself when you start thinking about leveraging:


  • Is there someone who can do some of my billable work for less?
  • Is there work that I do now that takes me away from creating more revenue?
  • Who do I know that is better than me at this that I can collaborate with – allowing us to do what we each do best and creating even more value?

Cost is always a concern. Some work-arounds for these might include temporary help, subcontractors, or virtual assistants.


One thing is certain: It is nearly impossible to do everything and become successful.


Get some help.




The Silverdale Chamber of Commerce is now taking RSVPs for the Kitsap Business Forum to be held January 22 at 7:30 am in Cavallon Buiding 3rd floor conference room (2011 NW Myhre Rd, Silverdale, WA).


Our first forum is a panel of experts – facilitated by yours truly:


Kelle Kitchel-Cooper (Rockfish Group Marketing )

Dennis Bryan, CPA (Parker, Moores & Cena)

Jeff Reed (State Farm Insurance)

Lisa Jewett (Customer Service Specialist)

Wayne Sargent (Express Personell)

Dan Martin (SCORE)

Diane Russell (Attorney)


Bring your business and local economy questions for the panel to answer and debate!


Eventbrite - Kitsap Business Forums - Panel

or call:

(360) 692-6800

Building Blocks

Building Blocks

By | Cost Controls, Finance, Leadership, Marketing, Operations, Systems | No Comments

“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”


Michelangelo (1475-1564)

A business is nothing more than a system of systems that create value. So examining those systems, there are five basic systems every business should have. I call them the 5 Building Blocks of Business.

  • Marketing
  • Management/Leadership
  • Operations
  • Controls
  • Finance

Of course within those categories, the specific systems that create widgets, tools, knick-knacks, food, services or experiences depends entirely on you as the business owner.


In each of my Kicks In the Butt, I try to address each of these individually. Today I am taking a step back and looking at the system as a whole. I am breaking down my own business into these systems with the intent of having them all work together in a seemless fashion.


Take a couple of hours over the next few weeks to review your systems. Where is the hand-off from one system to the next? What systems do you have within each of these “Business Building Blocks”


I have a very simple diagnostic for reviewing these building blocks. Email me or request it here if you want a copy sent to you.