I totally agree with the main points of the article "Working Smart" [April]. Yet there are simpler ways to get people involved and to understand what the "cost drivers" are in a business. In the manufacturing world we use "lean" techniques to weed out these cost drivers and as an end result, those who are practicing these techniques get a world of education as a byproduct. I should also mention there is also "lean" for the office.
Current state maps describe how a company operates now, and in an example of a "value stream," one can immediately see where all of the waste is! And yes, your customer doesn't want to pay for your inconsistencies, inefficient processes, and methods. Thus, the team proposes a "future state" map on how those cost drivers can be eliminated and thus the "cost of goods" is reduced and the profits increase due to a higher margin realized between the cost of sales and goods.
As an end result, "training" also has been given to those on the team and if the makeup of the team is cross-functional, then everyone can learn from the others on the team. There needs to be ways to get this all done quickly, and they can be done via the practices and the processes that I have mentioned. Also, the ROI on such ventures are very dramatic for a company that supports such models. The Toyota production system involves all disciplines of the company whether you make something or service customers. That's the beauty of this system. That is why they will be the new number one car manufacturer in the global economy. They have come to realize that the most important asset that have are the people who work and represent their company. As a result, an investment in training has paid off in very high dividends and also guarantees that the company will remain competitive for the long haul.
Everyone should know how a company operates, know the products and services that the company provides and understand what the consequences are if everyone is not pulling on the rope in the same direction at the same time.
Continuous improvement instructor
Finally, someone with the courage to unmask Who Moved My Cheese? ["Why I Don't Like 'Cheese,' " March]. It's like lots of books that people read looking for a magic answer. When people ask what I think of these books, I ask, "Give me an example of how the advice in the book helped you?" Usually, that ends the exchange. With "Cheese," no one has ever produced a single example. Mr. Gordon, please keep pointing out the naked emperors in your "Straight Talk" column. Thanks a lot.
President, Spaeth Communications
I enjoyed your Straight Talk column ["Why I Don't Like 'Cheese' "] in the March 2006 issue. I especially appreciated your comments regarding how practical the formula is. I was recently on a local school board and saw a huge amount of the "go whichever way the wind is blowing" attitudes.
I tended to ask too many questions and was too curious. Needless to say, it was not fun, and these political processes frustrated me to no end. I'm glad you wrote this article as I was always confused by the book, Who Moved My Cheese? and the application.
Esther C. Trhlik
E-Learning developer, training and development
I am laughing hysterically while reading Jack Gordon's February's "Straight Talk" column, "Rage Against the Machine." Thank you for writing about this customer-service matter in such a way that even those who insist on automating everything will see the absurdity of their HR decisions.
Staff development coordinator
Richland County Public Library
I loved your articles about the Top 100 companies regarding training efforts ["Top 100: Rising Above the Rest," March]. It gives a benchmark especially about percentage of payroll spent on training, number of hours of training received per employee and the number of full-time trainers per employee. I work for Colorado state government in a training position, and I had to chuckle when I saw the ratios of full-time trainers per employees in those companies. It would be delightful to only have a ratio of 1:175 (the mean, if you exclude those above 1:1,000). In my department, the ratio is currently 1:2,550 and our budget is very small. With those minor limitations, I still think we do a wonderful job!
Employee training manager,
Colorado Dept. of Human Services
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