Sometimes, I forget to thank the people who make my life so happy in so many ways. Sometimes, I forget to tell them how much I really do appreciate them for being an important part of my life. Today is just another day, nothing special going on. So thank you, all of you, just for being here for me!
1. You’re more likely to get to greatness if you have an inspiring and strategically sound vision.
Ari believes strongly in teaching
everybody how to run a business, “even those employees who just want a
job.” Part of this is having everybody understand the vision (it’s more
than a short “mission statement,” he writes in his book). This isn’t
just a 2-line throwaway statement, it’s a multi-page document with
“emotional richness” about what success looks like. “What cathedral are
you constructing?,” using the parable of the rock breaker and the cathedral builder.
I agree with Ari that “everybody wants to be a part of something bigger
than themselves” and that vision comes from the “inside out” – and he
added, “there’s no right or wrong vision, just yours.”
A strategic plan (think about this in terms of Lean’s strategy deployment
approach) is the map that gets you to the destination. Without a
vision, “it’s like asking Mapquest to provide a map without punching in
2. If you don’t give customers compelling reasons to buy from you, they won’t.
Ari is a big fan of the Net Promoter Score
approach and he emphasizes having “loyal” customers over just merely
“satisfied.” This reminds me of hearing Bob Lutz talk in the late 90s
about it being better to have a car that some people loved and some
people hated, as opposed to a car that everybody thought was OK.
Ari emphasized that quality “for us is not just about meeting specifications.”
3. If you don’t create a great, rewarding place for people to work, they won’t do great work.
This is my example, but I watched an episode of the TV show “Bar Rescue”
the other day. The chef at this California sports bar was a classically
trained chef, working under some big-name people. But, he had basically
given up and stopped caring about his work or the food at the bar. He
wanted to give a damn, but the owner had given up and didn’t care about
the place anymore. The bar consultant recognized the talent in the chef
that was just waiting to be unleashed… but he needed the owner to want
to make the bar a great place… Quality starts at the top, as Dr. Deming
used to say.
4. If you want the staff to give great service to customers, you have to give great service to the staff.
This all about servant leadership, with
Ari saying “the staff are our customers.” This seems to be really true
in service industries – that if you take care of the employees, they
will take care of the customers. The way you are treating the employees
flows through to the customers. In a business where employees treat
the customers badly (looking at you American Airlines), it’s not
because the flight attendants and gate agents are bad people – they’ve
been mistreated by management over the years. In healthcare, there are
strong correlations between staff satisfaction/engagement and patient
satisfaction and clinical outcomes. We have to give great service to the
surgeons and the nurses, for example, making sure they have the
supplies, equipment, and time required to do the job right.
5. If you want staff to give great performance, you have to give clear expectations and training tools.
Ari said “I’m preaching to the converted
here” (at ASQ), but “it’s not like this elsewhere.” At Zingerman’s,
“everyone’s involved in re-designing work,” which sounds just like Lean.
6. Successful businesses do the things that others know they should do but generally don’t.
Pretty straight forward — what is your organization NOT doing?
7. If you aren’t consistently getting better, you’re not going to get long-term greatness.
Just like Lean, there’s a theme of
continuous improvement at Zingerman’s. They opened their own bakery to
provide bread for the deli not to make more profit, but to ensure the
proper quality for their sandwiches, etc. Ari told a story about how
great it is when a dishwasher says to the CEO, “Why are you doing it
that way? That doesn’t make any sense!!”
8. Success means you get better problemsâ€”but there will always be problems.
This really reminds me of the Toyota/Lean mindset that we always have problems and “no problems is a problem.”
9. Whatever you’re good at is likely to also lead into areas of weakness.
Ari said “the things you’re good at are
the things you’re not good at.” For example, Zingerman’s is
participative, but that means they can be slow. When is your greatest
strength your greatest fault?
10. It takes a lot longer to make something great happen than people think.
Well this sounds like a description of a Lean transformation, doesn’t it?
11. Profit is good (he stated as “Without good finance, you fail,” I think)
Ari wants a sustainable business, not one that’s based on win/lose approaches (this reminds me of Covey and win/win).
Toyota, for one, has strong long-term finances by partnering with
suppliers, not by screwing them over price in the short term. The need
for profit reminds me of the common healthcare saying, “no margin, no
12. Great organizations are appreciative and the people in them have more fun.
Fun leads to success and success leads to
fun. Ari said, “Everything we do is about believing in people and
helping them to greatness.” What a great sentiment.