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Monday, January 31, 2011

Best Marketing Advice Ever, yes Ever!

Recently on a podcast I had with Chad Smith of the Constraints Management Group during are discussion I asked the question, “why McGraw‑Hill come to Carol and him to write the new edition of Orlickys Materials Requirements Planning ?“ He told a very interesting story which I paraphrase below:

The problem is that the market really doesn't know how bad the problem is. They don't really understand why MRP is failing. What the real deficiencies are of MRP. That led us to write a white paper. We wrote a white paper in spring of 2008. We submitted it just on a whim to the APICS organization saying, here's something that we've written. Are you interested?

We got an immediate response back from APICS saying can you condense this a little bit for our magazine? We said sure, we'll do that. We condensed it and little did we know that it turned out being the cover story for the July/August 2008 edition of the APICS Magazine.

That intrigued us. It told us, wait a minute, there's something people are resonating with what we're writing here. APICS sponsored a webinar a couple of weeks later on a topic and 250 companies signed‑up. Three weeks later Carol spoke at the APICS conference in Kansas City and there were 350 ‑ 400 people in the room. There was standing room only.

We got pretty excited because what people told us was the reason why they got so interested in this was because of our depiction of the problem and the fact that the way we described the problem was exactly what they were experiencing. There just didn't seem to be a fix out there in the industry.

We spent the last couple of years articulating this. We were asked to write a chapter for another book that McGraw‑Hill was publishing. Based upon the strength of that chapter, the editors of that book kicked it up to McGraw‑Hill and said you really need to take a look at this. This deserves a whole book.

We went round and round with McGraw‑Hill a little bit because McGraw‑Hill was a little bit worried that people had never really heard of this concept, these new concepts. I agreed the book might not sell well because nobody's really heard of this new approach to MRP.

They came back and said; “We have this Orlicky book that needs to be updated. Would you like to do that?”

From Carol and my perspective we were like, wow, yes, absolutely. That's a perfect scenario for us. It allows our message to get into the typical MRP user and even buyer of software so that we can really demonstrate what the problem is and what the direction of the solution is. How we can augment or how we can amend the MRP and ERP for the new century.

What did Carol and Chad do that was so different? Their description of the problem was exactly what customers were experiencing. We spend countless hours on branding, messaging and every other marketing tactic under the sun but do we ever articulate the problem are customers and prospects are having perfectly?

Brant Cooper wrote a blog post that I had in my archives that stated:

Lewis Mumford (1895-1990) was an American Architecture and Literary critic, as well as Sociologist and Philosopher.  I often attribute a particular quote to Mumford, though I can’t seem to locate the source.  When asked where to put a sidewalk, Mumford responds:

“See where the people walk and then pave their path.”

How many times have you seen two sidewalks intersecting at 90 degree angles, with worn grass cutting the corners? There’s a fine line between executing on your vision and listening to your customers.  Consider Mumford’s quote, thinking of the sidewalk as the “vision” and the path as “customer needs.”

This is why the essence of Lean Marketing is defining the problem that you solve from the customers perspective. The better you can articulate that position, the more value you provide to the market place you are serving. The definition of the problem may even be more important than the solution. In fact, you have to be willing to move your solution to pave the path.

Most organizations try to develop marketing plans designed to guide their action for today, tomorrow and in the future. This serves as a platform for their marketing goals. We might even send the goals through the SMART procedure to make sure that they are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-specific.

Three aces on felt hat, isolated on black background; concept for gamblingThe problem is that this is mostly internally focused. Sales and Marketing needs to be about the customer, it’s not about us. The old saying, defining the problem correctly is half the battle has never been more accurate. Defining the problem you solve takes quite a bit of effort (it needs to be done by product (service)/markets). If the essence of marketing is defining the problem for a customer, the A3 provides a structure and a template for achieving this. A3 is a one- page document used to capture the dialogue in a problem solving process. Sending your marketing through such a process will enable you to create the clarity to areas such as CRM, Social Media, Joint Ventures, Client Retention, Client Acquisition, and more. It is a tool that can be used both strategically and tactically. Actually, it has developed in its own right to a thinking process.

Couple of excellent Books on this subject:
Understanding A3 Thinking: A Critical Component of Toyota’s PDCA Management System
Managing to Learn: Using the A3 Management Process

Related Posts:
Are you focusing on your customers conversations?
The Perfect Storm has come together of Excess Capacity and Product Variety
Are you Lean enough to have A3 thinking?
A3 Management Process

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Profound knowledge for Lean Marketing

This past Thanksgiving, I had the pleasure of reviewing the Four Days with Dr. Deming Videos for the first time. Not sure, I would recommend watching it. Deming is not Steve Jobs by any stretch of the imagination. However, he does end up growing on you and his dry sense of human becomes rather enjoyable after about the third video. At times when he says certain things, I am not sure he even knows why the audience laughs. I would recommend the book, Four Days with Dr. Deming: A Strategy for Modern Methods of Management, which I found a very enjoyable read of those four days. W._Edwards_Deming

In my quest to assist in bringing Lean to sales and marketing, I find some very basic questions that Dr. Deming used to warn us about the upcoming crisis quite interesting. He says we have been living on the wealth from natural resources and simply warned that it could not continue. An excerpt from the book,

Without a change we will not make it. We need to look at new ways to understand our system. If we understand the theory of variation we know that it is futile to ask for something outside the system's capability.

One of my friends is the Chief Executive Officer of a small company. The performance of the Chicago Region was poor. For three years running this region produced only 7.5 million dollars of sales per year. My friend needed 10 million dollars to make keeping the office open a viable matter. "A fact of life." as Dr. Deming says. The chart showed a steady state, flat sales. From what I learned today, sales is a system. If the system is stable, then man-
agers must apply leadership to change to a new level of performance. For the past three years my friend simply raised the sales quotas and gave pep talks. He must make a basic change. I am beginning to catch on to the theory of variation and psychology.

How true Deming was when you apply his thoughts to sales and marketing. Our natural resource was that demand always exceeded supply. Sure, it was not handed to us on a silver platter and not all of us were successful. But for the most part, there was a demand. That demands has diminished or cease to exist in many markets. We are competing in a state where there is excess supply. There is a scarcity of sales and marketing’s natural resource, customers!

How many companies are still giving pep talks? How many companies still do not understand sales and marketing as a stable system? You can tamper and cause special cause variation (yesterday’s post as an example: Lean Marketing: Sales Quotas lead to Waste) but the bottom line is that sales and marketing has changed and that it must be managed as a system in the future.

Most serious practitioners that understand sales and marketing as a process have begun to emphasize three core principles in their teachings:

  1. Continuous improvement of sales and marketing is a necessity
  2. Metrics are required to judge the rate and degree of improvement
  3. A sales and marketing process is needed for determining metrics

There are many marketing “systems” in the world. When you think about a system it is just a series of functions or activities within an organization that work together for the aim or the organization. However, most of them have relatively little value towards improvement or optimization as a whole. Dr. Deming’s system of profound knowledge offers the best way for sales and marketing to succeed in the future.

Deming believes that the journey continuous improvement requires the understanding of systems which is emphasized in his own system of Profound Knowledge. Profound Knowledge is made up of four interrelated components:

  1. Appreciation of a system
  2. Theory of knowledge
  3. The psychology of change
  4. Knowledge about variation

This is fundamentally Lean thinking.

Related Posts:
Apply Lean thinking to Sales and Marketing
Starting with Lean A3 Thinking in Marketing
The Perfect Storm has come together of Excess Capacity and Product Variety
The 7 step Lean Process of Marketing to Toyota
Best Marketing Advice Ever, yes Ever!
Lean Marketing is a Problem Centric Discipline

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A3 for Special Causes – Lean for Haiti

January 12, 2010 marked the one year anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Haiti. A fellow Lean Blogger, Mark Graban of was fortunate to meet a special person - Russell Maroni, an x-ray tech at Akron Children's Hospital. He volunteered in Haiti for 15 days in February 2010 as part of the earthquake relief efforts. He was unexpectedly, and necessarily, pressed into service in a medical role, not only caring for patients, but also using his formal lean training from ACH to help improve processes and radiology patient throughput at a field hospital. This is a copy of Russell’s A3 Report, click on the picture to view a pdf of the full size A3.

Haiti-A3- web

Mark said in a letter to me last week: 

Russell wrote a very compelling, and very personal, journal during his time in Haiti. He and his colleagues took many pictures. They are sharing this all in a PDF eBook that they are freely distributing - to share the story and to create awareness for Haiti relief needs. They are asking people who read the book to consider donating to the Friends of the Orphans, which runs an orphanage in Haiti.

The journal isn't mainly a "lean story," although it does include his hand-drawn A3 plan. It's a very personal story, of his own prayer and contemplation of the trip, and his experiences in the midst of that tragedy.

I hope you will consider spreading the word about this project to your readers and/or listeners - on blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, radio, etc. Please feel free to forward this email to others you think might help.

To read more, go to, which has links to the PDF and our social media sites. If you have ideas for helping promote this, to hopefully make it "viral" in the Lean community, please let me know. We can kaizen the site and the book itself if you have suggestions, if there are defects, or if anything is unclear (especially on the website - a work in progress).

If you can help support this online, please share a link to any blog posts, etc. and I'll list you and your site on the "Supporters of This Project" page on our site. If you have any questions, please let me know. This is purely a volunteer effort on Russell's part and mine. We need all of the free marketing help we can get for this very good cause.

Thanks for your time and consideration.


Related information:

Marketing with A3 Book Release

Sales and Marketing not only needs to improve but must improve their problem solving skills. The book, Marketing with A3 is the introduction needed. It enables sales and cover3Dmarketing to use the Lean tool of A3 as a template or structured approach for their strategies and tactics. It will also demonstrate meaningful and measurable results of their activities. You will enter meetings armed with facts and profound knowledge of sales and marketing efforts. As a result, you will engage in more meaningful conversations. It will require a different approach. The dialogue is sometimes not easy. But seldom is any improvement.

Using a structured approach, such as the Lean thinking tool of A3, the mind remains open, enabling one to examine each element of the decision or problem separately or systematically, and sufficiently, ensuring that all alternatives are considered. The outcome is almost always more comprehensive and more effective than the instinctive approach.

Visit the Marketing with A3 Website

Sample A3s

A3 Podcasts

A3 Community

A3 Experts

Amazon Links

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Can we build organizations to foster good ideas?

New ideas come from networks and forming new networks create new ideas! People often credit their ideas to individual "Eureka!" moments. But Steven Johnson shows how history tells a different story. His fascinating tour takes us from the "liquid networks" of London's coffee houses to Charles Darwin's long, slow hunch to today's high-velocity web.

Great story on how GPS was discovered. Fascinating!

Related Posts:
Is the war room Still Useful?
Practical Approach to Innovation used by Disney
Lessons from Escaping the Improvement Trap
Outside in Strategy– Customer Value
Storyboards give Insights to Space and Time

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Manufacturing to Healthcare, the Tale of Lean Six Sigma Consultant

Jason Kilgore is much more than just your typical Lean Six Sigma consultant. I ran across Jason on the web answering a LinkedIn question about internal and external consultants. He spoke highly of each, gave practical common sense answers on when to use them and sold nothing! He caught my attention and I went surfing. Jason-Kilgore

What I found was a Business Process Manager for Riverside Health System in Newport News, Virginia, where he has utilized his expertise in Project Management, Lean, and Six Sigma (Black Belt). In 2008, Jason transitioned to healthcare after 15 successful years in the automotive industry. While in the automotive sector, Jason filed for over 60 US and global patents as a design engineer, led multiple Six Sigma projects as a Black Belt, and implemented lean concepts in his role as a manufacturing manager.

I followed my instincts on this podcast and it turned out that Jason was a great interview. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did

Jason is the author of the book, The Elegant Process: The Guide to Enhanced Quality and Reduced Costs'>The Elegant Process. In the book Jason demonstrates his value-based approach to simultaneously achieving quality and financial goals through process improvement and optimization. The Elegant Process shares Jason’s straightforward method for enhancing quality and reducing costs within any business setting by redesigning the systems that contribute to lackluster results.

Related Posts:
Profiting from Customer Value
Why Lean Marketing? Because it is the Future of Marketing
Agile, Scrum, Kanban, or is it just a Marketing Funnel?
The Pull in Lean Marketing
Value Stream Marketing and the Indirect Marketing Concept

Monday, January 17, 2011

How long should your meeting be?

Have you always wondered why your problem solving meetings failed before they even started? Did you ever think the actual time that you needed or do you just do it for experience or do you just pick the time slot available?

Most Continuous Improvement, Lean experts know the answer but I am not sure that they translate it into action. If you are holding a Kaizen Event, Value Stream Mapping Session or just working on an A3, we know that 50% of the time should be spent on the Planning side or the big “P” as in PDCA. The problem you have is do you really understand how to schedule that from a time perspective? Well a recent podcast guest of mine, Edward Muzio of Group Harmonics has a great tip on how to use the hourglass principle to help.

How to solve a problem in a group setting during a solution-oriented meeting. Referenced in Chapter 8 of Make Work Great. Amazon Link: Make Work Great: Super Charge Your Team, Reinvent the Culture, and Gain Influence One Person at a Time

If you use Ed’s philosophy in scheduling, you see how that would improve your time management.  Even during the meeting you can make adjustments, know when to take breaks and so on.

Related Blog Posts:
How to have a 22–minute Meeting
Create a Great Workplace eBook
Creating a Great Workplace
what I learned about Kaizen and Agile from Pixlar
Kanban Communication

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lean, Six Sigma, Agile Consultants become a Recognized Expert

For the next Marketing your Black Belt Program, I am offering a special opportunity. The program is actually designed for Professional Service Consultants that work in a technical field such as Lean, Agile or Six Sigma. It is well suited for the one-person or small consulting company of less than 10 people. This 28-day program consist of six sessions. During the first three sessions you will receive all the tools and training needed to design your individual 28-day(it is Agile) marketing action plan. It will start on the 1st Friday of the month, Feb. 4th and for the following 28 days. There is a limited number of seats but an entire organization is welcomed.

Session 1: 60 minutes(Friday@ 11:00AM)
Session 2: 60 minutes(Monday@ 11:00AM)
Session 3: 60 minutes(Tuesday@ 11:00AM)
Session 4, 5, 6: 45 minutes(Friday@ 11:00AM)

In addition to the six live webinars and coaching sessions, the program includes:

  1. White papers and resources
  2. Weekly email support between class sessions
  3. Review of individual marketing action plans with feedback
  4. All class sessions are recorded so participants who miss a session, or wish to review, may listen and review at their convenience.

In addition to the above and for the next 7 days or until the class is full, I am offering the following bonuses:

  1. Lean Marketing House eBook
  2. Marketing with A3 eBook
  3. 5Cs of Driving Market Share Audio Program
  4. Best in Market eBook
  5. Podcast interview and published on the Business901 Website*
  6. (2) Generated News releases.
  7. 20 to 30 page eBook(Transcribed from Podcast)**

This webinar will be taped and published as part of future training programs so your participation will require a release to be signed. However, your participation and expertise will be further enhanced from the future marketing efforts of the program.

Registration Page: Marketing Your Black Belt

*Podcast will be published within 120 days of completion of program.
**eBook will be created within 21 days of completion of podcast recording.

This program will provide you with the tools and the knowledge to enhance your position as an expert in your field. The last three sessions will cover specific strategies and tactics geared toward Customer Acquisition/Retention and Pricing of Services.

  Registration Page: Marketing Your Black Belt

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Are you Coachable? – eBook

This is a transcription of a podcast, Best Practice for Self Coaching – Leadership 901 that I had with Howard Guttman principal of Guttman Development Strategies, Inc. (GDS), a Mount Arlington, NJ-based management consulting firm.

When discussing Howard’s new book, Coach Yourself to Win: 7 Steps to Breakthrough Performance on the Job and In Your Life, I found it interesting on how closely the process resembles DMAIC or PDCA (Plan‑Do‑Check‑Act) type of thinking. I think few consultants take their own processes and use them.  It’s the method that you tell people to do, in a business sense but do you really do it for yourself. This is kind of an interesting approach for them to reflect on. Do you really practice what you preach?

Are you Coachable?

Related Posts:
Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service
Practical Approach to Innovation used by Disney
Lessons from Escaping the Improvement Trap
Online collaboration is leading the way for Lean Marketing
Is Co-Creation a Trend to Watch?
Lean Marketing House ebook

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Best Practice for Self Coaching – Leadership 901 Podcast

A special treat for me was to have Howard Guttman on my podcast. Howard is the principal of Guttman Development Strategies, Inc. (GDS), a Mount Arlington, NJ-based management consulting firm founded in 1989 and specializing in executive coaching; building horizontal, high-performance teams; strategic and organizational alignment; and management development training ( GDS has been ranked as a top Leadership Development consulting firm by Leadership Excellence magazine, which also named Mr. Guttman to its list of “Excellence 100 Top Thought Leaders.” coach_yourself128  9-1-10

Though are discussion centered on his latest and third book, Coach Yourself to Win: 7 Steps to Breakthrough Performance on the Job and in Your Life, ( I found myself talking about leadership issues in organizational life. Howard thinks like leader, talks like a leader and I bet he even walks like a leader. The book is based on the proven process that he and his consultants have used to coach thousands of executives, in major organizations around the world, to higher levels of performance.

Mr. Guttman is the author of Great Business Teams: Cracking the Code for Standout Performance (John Wiley;, named one of the Top Business Books of 2008 by Soundview Executive Book Summaries. He is also the author of When Goliaths Clash: Managing Executive Conflict to Build a More Dynamic Organization.

Related Posts:
Create a Great Workplace eBook
How does your State of Mind alter your Decisions?
How to have a 22–minute Meeting
Drucker and Deming = Lean Marketing
Can Control Points add Value in Lean?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Online collaboration is leading the way for Lean Marketing

Businesses and individuals are becoming exponentially more productive and efficient thanks to the innovations that connect them. Between email, Skype, and telecommuting, the landscape of business communication and collaboration is vastly different than it was even a few years ago. We will see just how many of these technologies are helping businesses today, and how quickly people are now able to collaborate and innovate together.

Our organizational structures are getting flatter every day. Technology is not making us less personal, we are getting more personal through technology. We buy less from companies every day and more from people.

Technology actually has evolved to a point that it is becoming anti-technology. The new business models are about communities and organizations must understand what makes them tick. In the book The Hyper-Social Organization: Eclipse Your Competition by Leveraging Social Media, the authors discuss the 4 pillars of Hyper-Sociality:

  1. Tribe vs. market segment
  2. Human-centricity vs. company centricity
  3. Network vs. channel
  4. Social messiness vs. process and hierarchy

The funny thing about all of this is that there will also be a rapid increase in exceptions,  more of the anti-technology stuff and more people interactions. This change has invaded both customer service and marketing. Traditional print media, PR and advertising are gradually fading out. Even referrals have shifted from word of mouth to more of a tribal type relationship. If your organization is not already part of the tribe you are overlooked.

Just having a great product is not enough. Sure Apple looks like they are banging out innovation after innovation. But are they? Or is it more of the “Apple Tribe” that devours each new innovation with Steve Jobs as the head of the kingdom.

The next facet of business to change will likely be innovation, if it has not already. Co-creation is upon us and as our tools get better there will be more and more interactivity with our customers. Those exceptions that many of us dread will even become more normal and part of everyday innovation.  

Sound like a lot of fun! Learning to market and innovate through iterative cycles is what Lean Marketing is all about. Using Lean on a project to project basis to reduce waste and make marketing and innovation more efficient is hardly effective. Empowering our people for a more human approach within the tribes we choose to network or participate in is the differentiation Lean provides. Lean provides the structure we need to provide value to this social messiness.  Without, we lose our relevance and speed that is needed in the collaborative world that we are entering. I look forward to the great journey ahead.

Related Posts:
Are you focusing on your customers conversations?
The Perfect Storm has come together of Excess Capacity and Product Variety
Customer Value – Developing an Outside In Strategy
Agile, Scrum, Kanban, or is it just a Marketing Funnel?
Pull: The Pull in Lean Marketing
Value Stream Marketing and the Indirect Marketing Concept