Energy Efficiency the Key to Reducing Carbon Tax

Royal Mail saves GBP 20 million per year via energy efficiency and reduces it's carbon footprint.

Energy Efficiency the Key to Reducing Carbon Tax

Companies will be looking at how they can reduce their new tax  liability - the carbon tax. One way is to minimise thier liability via reductions in carbon output by looking at efficiencies.  On the ABC Lateline Business report of March 2nd 2011 (you can find it here http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/business/items/201103/s3153839.htm) international expert in sustainability Dr Martin Blake was interviewed by Ticky Fullerton on the subject of a carbon tax and the notion that it will cost businesses more. Dr Blake, who was involved in helping the UK's Royal Mail find annual energy efficiency savings of £20 million mentioned that forcing businesses to be more "green" would not necessarily translate to higher costs.

As well he said, and I quote: " ... there's plenty of low-hanging fruit in terms of cost savings and energy savings to be had and there are great examples around the world where businesses have actually ignored this political agenda and just got on and just done it, and it works."

Posted in Reducing Carbon Emissions


The Jeremy Lin Effect

More lessons from Money Ball

The Jeremy Lin Effect

Unless you are a basketball fan you probably would not have heard of a player called Jeremy Lin, but Jeremy Lin who plays for the New York Knicks set a record in his first year of playing which surpassed the records set by players such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. Jeremy Lin shot more points in his first 4 games as a professional player that any of the fore mentioned players and set a new NBA record. His shirt is now highest selling basketball shirt of all time.

Everything about Jeremy Lin just doesn’t fit the basketball stereotype, he is of Asian descent, not that tall as a guard only 1.91 m, not physically imposing and came out of Harvard – not a renowned basketball school. Yet he has one thing that is probably greater than 99% of the players he competes against, mental toughness or resilience. He has done it the hard way, no college scholarship, no NBA draft and only getting into the NBA’s division 3 development squad.  Traded by three clubs before somehow managing to get to the New York Knicks where he got a game out of “desperation” because the Knicks were playing so bad. Since then he has not looked back.

Lin got lucky because he got a chance to showcase his skills, but like so many decisions we make, they are made through our own biases of what looks good or sounds good. These biases can blind us from seeing talent – Just like what was highlighted in the book Money Ball.

“Players playing that well don't usually come out of nowhere. It seems like they come out of nowhere, but if you can go back and take a look, his skill level was probably there from the beginning. It probably just went unnoticed.”

Kobe Bryant, after Lin scored 38 points on February 10, 2012.

Posted in Performance Improvement


The 4 Things Great Managers Do

The 4 Things Great Managers Do

employee recognition







There is no mystery to good management, though many management consultants and Business schools may like to make it seem so. Management is about working with and getting things done through the actions of others. Here are four things that great managers do to make this happen.


1. Management By Walking Around

MBWA is a great way to increase contact between senior management and the people who work for them. The Japanese have a great term for the workplace -GEMBA and it is where the action happens, where the work takes place. Masaki Imai the great Kaizen (method of continuous improvement) guru tells a story of what Mr Toyoda (founder of Toyota Motors) used to do when hiring new engineers. He would greet them on their first day at work, take them to a place on the shop floor, draw a square or circle on the ground and tell the engineer to stand in that square all day. The next day he would take the same engineer to another part of the factory floor, draw another square and tell the engineer to stand there. The lesson of the story was that you could not make work place based decisions if you did not know what was happening on the shop floor and the starting point was to learn by watching the work been performed.


MBWA is not about an aimless walk around, it needs to be done with a purpose: to listen to people and find out what is going on in real time; to provide positive reinforcement; to communicate the latest company news; and to discover and promote ideas for improvement. Along with trust built from upward feedback tools and other team working methods, teams embrace their manager’s presence positively as a visible sign of support and appreciation of their everyday demands.


2. Set a Vision and Communicate It

All companies have strategic plans; hopefully you will get overviews and progress reports every time there is an annual general meeting. Great managers are able to take the strategic plan and specifically the vision for the business, and translate it so it becomes meaningful for their employees. Too often this is left to the PowerPoint slide master to accomplish. By that I mean all the info is put on a PowerPoint and sent out to everyone in the organisation, in the vain hope that it will be understood (if at least it gets read). That is not communication, and in fact that is downright disrespectful to your employees. Great managers take the time to discuss the vision and the strategic plan with their employees, what it means, how it affects them and what they the employees are required to do to execute the strategy and achieve the vision. Discussing the vision with employees is also a great way of understanding what concerns people may have or how they feel in general about the vision and the direction the company is taking.


3. Providing Positive Reinforcement

Most people need to be acknowledged for their efforts and receive recognition for the work that they do. If the only time that takes place is during performance appraisal time then it’s way too late. Findings of both the Hewitt and Gallup employee engagement surveys highlight the strong link between recognitions and praise to employee engagement. When you take this into consideration then you have to acknowledge that providing positive reinforcement in a way that is meaningful to each individual for those actions and results that you desire in an employee, is a no brainer.


4. Open time

Busy-ness can often be interpreted as a sign of importance or even value; that is, “I am so busy because I have so many things to do.” My take is different, If you are a busy manager then you are either doing the work of others; you are disorganised; or you have bought into a culture where “busy” is perceived to be important (or worse still some combination of all three!)

What I continually find astounding is that managers can find the time to fight fires or intervene when things go wrong, but cannot find the time to be involved in continuous improvement or value adding activities.

One of the things great managers do is find the time to meet with the people who work for them – not just via management by walking around themselves, but by scheduling time to be “available” for anyone of their employees to meet. I call this open time; a time set aside in your calendar where you are in your office but available to meet with anyone who wants to see you with out making an appointment. It is a time where employees feel they can engage you one on one without worrying about disturbing you in any way.


In conclusion, good management is not complex, however it does require the discipline to focus on some simple behaviours in a consistent fashion. Specifically, get out, meet and listen to your people, translate the company’s vision for them, recognise them when they do what you want and finally make time for your people.

Posted in Business Management


Death by PowerPoint

or how not to turn your audience off!

Death by PowerPoint

Jerry Seinfeld joked about a survey that found that the fear of public speaking ranks higher in most people's minds than the fear of death. "In other words," he said, “at a funeral, the average person would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy."

I have another type of fear of public speaking; that of listening to a speaker reading in a monotone from notes which they have projected on the wall behind them.

We’ve all experienced the cruel and unusual punishment of “Death by PowerPoint”. As far as I am concerned the ubiquitous use of this software (it’s even taught in schools now) has not only resulted in a possible cure for insomnia but also in the death of good public speaking.

Posted in Business Management


Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement #1

Culture is about how we do things around here

Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement  #1

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast!” I don’t know who first said it but it’s 100% true, certainly from my 20 years of experience it is.

Simply defined culture equals “the way things are done around here.”   People do things via their actions i.e. behaviours, and these behaviours are reinforced by processes and systems companies have in place.

These processes and systems are created for logical and I am sure good reasons - It’s to keep the organisation functioning in an orderly and consistent manner, and to a significant extent they end up determining the culture of the organisation. This happens because they shape the behaviour of the individuals.

Posted in Performance Improvement


Lean Management Tip

The easiest and quickest improvement you will ever make.

Lean Management Tip

One of the principles of Lean Management is the removal of waste. Waste can be defined as any activity or output that is non value adding; to the company, to the customer, to the process.

An easy and simple way to get started is to ask of any activity (and perhaps the person employed to do such an activity!) is “Would a reasonable customer pay for it?”
If the answer is yes, then all efforts should be directed into performing the activity as efficiently and effectively as possible.

If no then there are 2 alternatives. If you believe that the activity must happen then you have a value perception problem with the customer and you need to enlighten them as to why it is a value adding activity and more importantly the benefits it will bring them.

The second alternative is that you have identified waste in the form of doing something a customer does not want, fixing up an error, doing something twice or simply waiting. Stop doing the activity, identify and fix the things that caused the error or the delay.  Simply ceasing and desisting non value adding activities is the easiest process improvement you will ever do.


Managing Know How

Fix the processes before you try managing by objectives

Managing Know How

When Rudy is not changing the world of business for the better, he is busy changing the world of junior football for the better. Rudy is the president of “the most progressive junior football club in Australia”; I know the club is, because he told me!  Seriously Rudy is not given to hyperbole and relies on measurable data to support his claim. Over 600 boys and girls have directly benefitted from the dedication and commitment he has shown over the past three years.

Posted in Change Management

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