1. What Successful People Do with the First Hour of their Work-Day

    September 17, 2012 by admin
    The first thing most of us do when we start our work day is to check the email, but that could be the wrong thing to do. According to Julie Morgenstern the New York Times bestselling author and author of “Never Check E-Mail In the Morning” book starting the day with reading emails is not what successful people do.Successful people share one common thing. The most important task to do is the number one item on their “to do” list which is the most important thing for their business success (by the way having a “To Do” list is another key reasons for their success).

    Below is an interesting article by Kevin Purdy of FastCompany.com about how successful people start their day.


    How much does the first hour of every day matter? As it turns out, a lot. It can be the hour you see everything clearly, get one real thing done, and focus on the human side of work rather than your task list.

    Remember when you used to have a period at the beginning of every day to think about your schedule, catch up with friends, maybe knock out a few tasks? It was called home room, and it went away after high school. But many successful people schedule themselves a kind of grown-up home room every day. You should too.

    The first hour of the workday goes a bit differently for Craig Newmark of Craigslist, David Karp of Tumblr, motivational speaker Tony Robbins, career writer (and Fast Company blogger) Brian Tracy, and others, and they’ll tell you it makes a big difference. Here are the first items on their daily to-do list.

    Don’t Check Your Email for the First Hour. Seriously. Stop That.
    Tumblr founder David Karp will “try hard” not to check his email until 9:30 or 10 a.m., according to an Inc. profile of him. “Reading e-mails at home never feels good or productive,” Karp said. “If something urgently needs my attention, someone will call or text me.”

    Not all of us can roll into the office whenever our Vespa happens to get us there, but most of us with jobs that don’t require constant on-call awareness can trade e-mail for organization and single-focus work. It’s an idea that serves as the title of Julie Morgenstern’s work management book Never Check Email In The Morning, and it’s a fine strategy for leaving the office with the feeling that, even on the most over-booked days, you got at least one real thing done.

    If you need to make sure the most important messages from select people come through instantly, AwayFind can monitor your inbox and get your attention when something notable arrives. Otherwise, it’s a gradual but rewarding process of training interruptors and coworkers not to expect instantaneous morning response to anything they send in your off-hours.

    Gain Awareness, Be Grateful
    One smart, simple question on curated Q & A site Quora asked “How do the most successful people start their day?”. The most popular response came from a devotee of Tony Robbins, the self-help guru who pitched the power of mindful first-hour rituals long before we all had little computers next to our beds.

    Robbins suggests setting up an “Hour of Power,” “30 Minutes to Thrive,” or at least “Fifteen Minutes to Fulfillment.” Part of it involves light exercise, part of it involves motivational incantations, but the most accessible piece involves 10 minutes of thinking of everything you’re grateful for: in yourself, among your family and friends, in your career, and the like. After that, visualize “everything you want in your life as if you had it today.”

    Robbins offers the “Hour of Power” segment of his Ultimate Edge series as a free audio stream (here’s the direct MP3 download). Blogger Mike McGrath also wrote a concise summary of the Hour of Power). You can be sure that at least some of the more driven people you’ve met in your career are working on Robbins’ plan.

    Do the Big, Shoulder-Sagging Stuff First
    Brian Tracy’s classic time-management book Eat That Frog gets its title from a Mark Twain saying that, if you eat a live frog first thing in the morning, you’ve got it behind you for the rest of the day, and nothing else looks so bad. Gina Trapani explained it well in a video for her Work Smart series). Combine that with the concept of getting one thing done before you wade into email, and you’ve got a day-to-day system in place. Here’s how to force yourself to stick to it:

    Choose Your Frog
    “Choose your frog, and write it down on a piece of paper that you’ll see when you arrive back at your desk in the morning, Tripani advises.”If you can, gather together the material you’ll need to get it done and have that out, too.”

    One benefit to tackling that terrible, weighty thing you don’t want to do first thing in the morning is that you get some space from the other people involved in that thing–the people who often make the thing more complicated and frustrating. Without their literal or figurative eyes over your shoulder, the terrible thing often feels less complex, and you can get more done.

    Ask Yourself If You’re Doing What You Want to Do
    Feeling unfulfilled at work shouldn’t be something you realize months too late, or even years. Consider making an earnest attempt every morning at what the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs told a graduating class at Stanford to do:

    “When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And ‘whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

    “Customer Service” (or Your Own Equivalent)
    Craigslist founder Craig Newmark answered the first hour question succinctly: “Customer service.” He went on to explain (or expand) that he also worked on current projects, services for military families and veterans, and protecting voting rights. But customer service is what Newmark does every single day at Craigslist, responding to user complaints and smiting scammers and spammers. He almost certainly has bigger fish he could pitch in on every day, but Newmark says customers service “anchors me to reality.”

    Your own version of customer service might be keeping in touch with contacts from year-ago projects, checking in with coworkers you don’t regularly interact with, asking questions of mentors, and just generally handling the human side of work that quickly gets lost between task list items. But do your customer service on the regular, and you’ll have a more reliable roster of helpers when the time comes.

    What do you do with the first hour of your workday to increase productivity and reduce stress? Tell us about it in the comments below.

  2. The Ex-Men – Origins

    September 12, 2012 by admin
    In every workplace there are heroes who get things done, help their colleagues become successful, but generally they are unknown.

    Successful teams absolutely depend upon these heroes, and the sustainable success of the business depends largely upon identifying them and building a high performance workplace culture.

    Here is another great article from our friend Adam’s Stoehr (Excellence Canada Vice President), Adam’s article describes the workplace superheroes of quality or as he name them “Ex-Men”


    Everywhere I turn this summer there are superheroes! The Avengers movie has almost made a billion dollars at the box office. Spiderman is chasing Lizards and Batman is back protecting Gotham City.  I’ve always loved superhero stories.  The struggle between good and evil is so simple yet so compelling. Especially when you throw in the special effects of a $200 million dollar production budget!
    I went to see the Avengers movie the other week and it got me thinking that there are similar heroes in our workplaces. I call them the “Ex-Men” or Excellence Men (and Women). Not to be confused with the X-men who are a bunch of superheroes in the Marvel Comics universe including Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Professor X, and Emma Frost.
    The Ex-Men are a group of heroes that use their powers for the benefit of organizational excellence.
    Some of the most popular Ex-men are:
    •    Ex-Ray Vision
    •    Plan Man
    •    Map Lady
    •    Stake-Holder
    •    Well Woman
    Let me tell you about their super powers.

    Ex-Ray Vision is a leadership expert and acts as the leader of the current group of Ex-Men.  He possesses the ability to absorb the psyche and abilities of other people and use them for the greater good.  He can see through the toughest challenges and around corners.  His specialty is setting direction for the Ex-Men team.  He has the ability to set the aim and articulate it to the entire organization.

    Plan Man is a strategy master.  He cascades the vision into action.  His powers allow him to connect the dots from aim to tasks.  He has the ability to draft strategic plans with input from staff and customers.  He emits a powerful energy beam from his eyes described as an “optic blast.” The beams are tremendously powerful and can be used to monitor and change plans as new requirements arise.

    Map Lady is one of the most powerful Ex-Men.  She has demonstrated a plethora of abilities, most of which are facets of her power to control processes. In the blink of an eye she can create as-is process maps and transform them into desired state ones.  She is also a master at data display to highlight gaps that need to be closed with the input from process experts.

    Stake-Holder possesses vast telepathic powers.  His specialty is reading the minds of all stakeholders to find out their specific requirements.   These customer/employee/supplier requirements are then shared with the other Ex-men and plans are designed to meet or exceed them. He is capable of extraordinary psionic feats, including broadcasting and receiving thoughts, survey design, complaint analysis, focus group facilitation, and assessment.

    Well Woman is the most caring member of the Ex-Men.  When super villains attack, she has the uncanny ability to accelerate the healing process for the entire organization.  She can regenerate damaged or destroyed morale far beyond the capabilities of an ordinary human. She monitors the organization’s satisfaction and morale and adjusts the levels according to 3 healthy workplace elements including physical environment, health & lifestyle practices, and workplace culture.
    It would be far too risky for me to reveal the secret identities of these Ex-Men.  Each of them work at companies and public sector organizations that we all know like Sun Life Financial, the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Department of National Defence, Ceridian, MPAC, and Transport Canada.  The only piece of information that I feel comfortable sharing is that they are all certified under the Excellence Canada “Certified Excellence Professional” designation or CEP for short.  I’ve already said too much but you can check out the new format of the Excellence Canada CEP program here: http://www.excellence.ca/en/knowledge-centre/news/master-the-skills-required-to-improve
    Maybe next time I’ll tell you about all of the Super villains that fight the Ex-Men at every turn.  These include: Nay-Say, Mag-not-now, Cross-Arm, Too-Busy, and Reluctoid to name a few.  These villains have developed a De-CEP innoculation to suppress the Ex-gene that gives the Ex-Men their powers and makes them different from other humans.  Since the discovery of their existence, Ex-Men have been regarded with fear, suspicion, and often hatred.  Are they the next link in the evolutionary chain or simply a new species of humanity, fighting to continuously improve their share of the world?
    But I’ll save that story for another day. I think if Hollywood was willing to give me a $200 million dollar budget I could take these characters and make a pretty cool movie.

    Adam Stoehr (AKA Professor-Ex)

  3. Quality Rules Also Apply to Support Areas

    September 10, 2012 by admin
    Whenever a critical limit is not met, a corrective action should be carried out immediately. Corrective actions may be simple, but sometimes it may be necessary to take more severe steps to prevent the defect recurring.The request for a corrective action (RCA) is a systematic investigation of the root causes of non-conformities in an attempt to prevent their recurrence.

    Most organisations apply the corrective actions on the production/service departments only, whereas it’s not a priority when it comes to a support areas such IT, finance or human resource.

    This article below by Dr. James Harrington , one of the world’s leading thinkers on quality and business management, highlights the importance of corrective action on support areas.


    Recently I sat in a conference hall in Ixtapa, Mexico, listening to Denise Robitaille lecture on corrective action, preventive action, and continuous improvement.Robitaille was conducting a five-hour workshop, and the room was full of interested people, most of whom spoke Spanish. She lectured in English, but everyone seemed to be involved. She pointed out that 18 percent of product costs are related to rework and emphasized how important it is to create a request for corrective action (RCA) when product problems occur. It’s important to evaluate the defects and define the root cause, she said, and then take corrective action to eliminate the possibilities of the defect recurring. She pointed out that having an excellent database is critical to all correc­tive action programs. As she continued to talk, I noted that her lecture focused on product applications. To prepare an RCA, you need a defect, she said.

    What would happen, I wondered, if we applied the same systematic approach to the way that we manage the total organization? What if we filled out an RCA every time an error occurred in all support areas as well as manufacturing areas? For instance, what if every time people showed up to a meeting and hadn’t completed their assigned tasks, an RCA was sent to their supervisors to define what action should be taken so that they wouldn’t ever be late with another assignment?

    Robitaille also noted that you can’t respond to an RCA by stating it was due to an operator error.

    What would happen if every time a meeting started late, an RCA was sent to the person who scheduled the meeting and another RCA was sent to each person who arrived late? If the situation happened again, what if an RCA was sent to each individual’s manager so that he or she could take action to prevent the problem from recurring?

    This may seem ridiculous. It’s easy to imagine every organization quickly becoming buried in thousands of RCAs, and it would be impossible to prepare legitimate answers for every one.

    In most organizations I’ve worked with, that avalanche of RCAs would almost shut down the operation, and maybe that wouldn’t be too bad. Remember when we started the just-in-time approach? We likened the excess inventory to “excess water.” We talked about “lowering the water level” so that we could see the “boulders in the stream.” Each time we ran out of parts, the line came to a stop until the boulder was permanently removed. This approach allowed us to remove all the boulders (i.e., problems) from the produc­tion flow.

    Maybe it’s time to lower the water level in the support areas so that the real prob­lems can be identified and solved. This might be one of the best ways to focus on improving our support processes. What if, when anyone came to a meeting late, we called off the meeting? All of a sudden the boulders in the support process would surface and get removed.

    Why is it so important to eliminate errors from the production floor, but so unimportant to do the same in finance, engineering, personnel, information technology, and industrial engineering? Why do we put in excellent measurement systems in manufacturing but don’t even measure error rates in the service and support areas?

    Sure, we have key performance indicators in these areas, but they’re only overall measurements. How many quality managers have data that show the number of meetings when engineers arrived late, or were unprepared, or they didn’t have their assignment done, or they missed the meeting entirely?

    How should you answer when your second-level manager asks, “Why does John continue to come to meetings unpre­pared after you’ve already spoken to him?” Should the error rates of your managers, engineers, and other support people be greater than those in the manufacturing departments?

    Our support processes should be as good as our production processes. If quality managers are endorsing the Six Sigma program, shouldn’t they be performing at the Six Sigma level, as well as requiring and measuring employees to do so? Maybe it’s time we started writing RCAs whenever support personnel don’t perform to requirements.

    Obviously, writing RCAs related to support and service errors would overwhelm most organizations with paperwork and additional work. But it also would require management to step up and manage its employees, understand their workloads, prepare them to do their work correctly, and help them do their jobs better. They’d be able to estimate and measure more accurately, and to develop better proc­esses

    Now would that be all bad?