April, 2011

Volume 1, Number 4

In This Issue

·    April – Time for Spring Housecleaning

·    Create a Better Culture on Five Cents a Day

·    Where Did My Leader Go?

·    Use Six Hats for Better Meetings

·    Link of the Month

·    The Mystery of the Whisper Quiet Blender

JCG Services

Contact Us









Contact Us



April – Time for Spring Housecleaning!

April, for our readers in the United States, means two things:  It’s time to pay our annual income taxes and it’s time for Spring Housecleaning.  Two chores we don’t really relish!  

While I have no tax tips or cleaning tips for you, I would challenge you to think about how you might use parts of the Operational Excellence strategy to make these tasks faster and easier in your life.

For example, from the world of Lean we have 5S.   This can be applied to your garage, basement, kid’s rooms, etc.  It’s not just for the shop floor and office. 

How would 5S help with your taxes?  You might 5S your home office space so all the receipts and tax information you’ll need are easily found next year.  Maybe you 5S your computer so again the information is only a couple clicks away.


Have an excellent month!


Jeff Cole


JCG Management Consulting

Create a Better Culture on Five Cents a Day

Excellent organizational cultures have a foundational component of recognition for a job well done – “catching people doing something right”.  Not just the big formal programs either.  I’m talking about a deeply ingrained day-in, day-out practice of recognizing people. 

Here’s a little trick to help.  Each morning place 5 coins in your left pocket.  Throughout the day find ways to praise your employees and co-workers. 

Each time you recognize someone, move a coin from your left to right pocket.  The goal:  Move all coins by the end of the day. The next day you start over. Do this for 30 days and you will develop the recognition habit!

Where Did My Leader Go?

Now you see them, now you don’t.  Leadership has a way of changing in many organizations – sometimes multiple times per year.  How many bosses have you had in the past five years?  Promotions, turnover and re-organizations are the order of the day in these dynamic times. 

This presents a difficult situation for some people.   Especially those in the midst of running an operational excellence process improvement project when the change happens. Has it happened to you?  How did you handle it?  This month we take a look at a few tips on trying to bullet-proof your project if your sponsorship disappears.   Read the full article here.

Use Six Hats for Better Meetings

Ever calculate how many hours of your life were wasted in meetings that went on way too long?  Dr. Edward de Bono can help.  He is undisputedly one of the world’s leaders in creative thinking.  In the mid-1980’s he developed a technique called the Six Thinking Hats that became a best-selling book.  

The Six Hats technique drives a faster and richer group thought process and is quick to learn.  Users report meeting times taking half to one-tenth the time as before. A true value-add for any operational excellence team too as it helps create better solutions.  Click here to download an Excellence Insights 2-Min. Briefing on the Six Hats Technique.   Trivia note:  A few years after Six Hats, de Bono followed up with a book titled The Six Action Shoes.  Any of his 60+ books are worth your time to read, especially Lateral Thinking and De Bono’s Thinking Course.

Link of the Month

If you find yourself doing any amount of research or transactions on the web, a useful site you may like is iCyte.  This is a simple browser plug-in that works with both PC and Mac browsers. 

With 2 clicks you can capture, annotate and preserve forever any web page or .pdf that you viewed.   Even if the host changes the page, your iCyte copy remains exactly as it was the day you stored it, with links intact.  You can also share the saved websites with others. This was a free site until January of this year.  They now charge a small annual fee, but a 30-day free trial is available.  For more information, visit: http://www.icyte.com/info/videos

The Mystery of the Whisper Quiet Blender

How well do you know your Customers’ needs?  What methods do you use to gather those needs?  For decades, the answer has been surveys, interviews, and focus groups.  Those are great for understanding Customers’ top-of-mind needs, but sometimes we need to go deeper – to what are called Latent (or hidden) Needs.

Often, important needs are buried or hidden – what we call Latent Customer Needs.  Customers take them for granted and don’t even think of mentioning them.  You have to really dig to get the latent needs.  But what does any of this have to do with blenders?

What is the noisiest appliance in your kitchen?  The blender.  Sunbeam had a great idea back in the 50’s – a whisper-quiet blender.  It failed miserably, but for an interesting reason.  Who buys most blenders?  Women.  Turns out women hated this product!  Why?  They associated the noise of the blender with it working properly.  No noise = must not work!    However, there is little chance that someone in a focus group of women will stand up and say “please make this product loud”.   

That was for women – here’s one for the men – snow blowers.  Toro’s snow blower line is important to them – it’s lucrative but it’s also seasonally and geographically constrained.  Plus once you buy one, you’re set for life.  How could they get people to buy a 2nd snow blower?  Answer: They developed a small, hand-held, light weight, electric snow blower not much larger than a broom – great for steps and short sidewalks.  Its name:  The Snow Pup.  Sales were lousy.  Turns out no man trusted a product called a “Snow Pup”. Toro’s answer – they pulled the old labels off, renamed it “The Snow Master” and sales rocketed.  (Once they leveled off they renamed it again – you can buy it today as the “Power Shovel”).   However, no man in an interview is likely to say “give this product the most testosterone-laden name you can or I won’t buy it”.   

The lesson for us is that we need to really dig in to uncover the latent needs.  Methods like direct observation of people interacting with the products coupled with real-time questioning (aka contextual inquiry) are great for this.  So is something called the Kano Model for classifying Customer needs.  You can read a short article on this powerful method here.


Privacy Statement:  JCG, Ltd. does not sell or otherwise share subscriber name and contact information with other organizations.

If you received this email in error and want to unsubscribe to this e-zine, click here.