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April - June, 2014

Volume 4, Number 2

In This Issue

·    Happy Summer!

·    The Easy Hang – Celebrity Tips for Business

·    Change Secrets Your Employees Won’t Tell You

·    Facilitation in a Minute

·    Featured Link

·    Where Did That Come From?

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Happy Summer!


It’s starting to look like a fine summer!   The DOW is at record levels, and there’s encouraging news on the housing and employment fronts.  That combined with the sunshine and warm weather, makes it a potentially gangbuster season.

For your summer reading enjoyment, we offer four short articles with information from interesting sources, plus a link to a library full of free process improvement information.

I wish you all the best as you proceed through your summer – both in your business and personal lives.


Have an excellent quarter!



Jeff Cole


JCG Management Consulting

The Easy Hang - Celebrity Tips for Business

Business advice books abound.  It feels like every executive who ever sat in a conference room has authored at least one book on surviving the business world.   So when business advice comes from entertainers, it’s kind of unexpected.   Here are several tips from folks you may know:

  • Comedian and writer Carol Leifer notes in her most recent book that when she was writing on Seinfeld, Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld had an interesting hiring criteria – the easy hang.  They hired people they would have an easy time hanging out with.   Lesson learned:  All else being equal, if you’re a pleasant person to be around and in general easy to be with, you’ll get chosen over the other guys.
  • While growing up near Boston, Jay Leno really wanted a job at a particular car dealer that wasn’t hiring.  His solution?  He just showed up one day, walked in the back and started working for free.  After a few days he was discovered, but had made himself indispensable so they hired him.  Lesson learned:  Figure out how to be such value-add to the business that they can’t live without you.
  • KISS front-man Gene Simmons has written several business books.  Early on he adopted a very different perspective than other musicians.  While other bands wanted to be the Beatles, Simmons wanted to be Coca-Cola. He contends it always was and always will be about building the brand.  Lesson learned:  What can you do to build your personal brand and stand out from the rest?


Change Secrets Your Employees Won’t Tell You

Sometimes it feels like change is everywhere you look.   The frequency of change, the amount of change, and the complexity of those changes are greater today than at any point in human history.   It’s no wonder then, when you change a process in your organization that things don’t always go as planned.   

Here are some important things your employees won’t tell you about change:

·         We’re scared of change  -  We won’t come right out and say it, but it feels at times like we’re barely in control here.    We just get the hang of how to do something and it changes.  We’re concerned it will be disruptive to the pattern we have grown accustomed to.   We need you to be as clear as possible in describing the change so we know what to expect.

·         We want to hear it from our boss -   We get so many changes coming at us, the first thing we do is ask our direct boss if we really have to do what you asked.   If you want to speed things up, be sure we hear about any new changes from our direct boss.

·         Don’t expect us to hear it and remember the first time -   Your carefully crafted email announcing your process change is just one of 154 emails I may get today.    Chances are I won’t remember.  If you really want us to know about it and remember, please tell us multiple times and in multiple ways.


Click here to view the full list of nine secrets…

Facilitation in a Minute

Are you ever in a position of having to facilitate a meeting or work session?   If so, the following facilitation model may come in handy – you can learn it in a minute and put it to use immediately.  It’s called the O-N-C model.   ONC stands for Open-Narrow-Close and here’s how it works:


  • In the Open Phase you go broad -- looking for a large quantity of ideas.  Quantity is more important than quality in this part of the ONC funnel.  Tools such as brainstorming, cause-effect diagrams, mind-mapping, or brain-writing are useful here.  No judgment or censoring of ideas – just a brain dump and capture of many ideas.
  • In the Narrow Phase, facilitators now seek to narrow the list down to the feasible and usable ideas.  Tools like the cause-effect or solution selection matrix, affinity diagram, or multi-voting are useful.
  • Finally, in the Close Phase, you lock off on the one or several final ideas/solutions you want to pursue.    Techniques such as paired-comparisons (conjoint analysis), and cost-benefit analysis now come into play to reach a final decision.


Featured Link

The American Society for Quality (ASQ) is the world’s largest organization for quality professionals.  One of their sub-specialties is the very popular Six Sigma methodology. 

ASQ maintains a Six Sigma Forum (and magazine by that same name).  Their Six Sigma Forum library is full of presentations and templates that are both educational and time-saving for any quality professional – whether you are using Six Sigma or not.   Already an ASQ member?  Then all their content is available.  Not a member?  Dozens of items are marked as Open Access and available to one and all.   Click here to visit their free library.

Where Did That Come From?

If you find yourself presenting, training, or speaking to groups, you’re probably on the lookout for ways to stand out from the crowdJargonaut Express: Essential Idioms for the Astute Business Speaker is a nice reference for those looking to liven up their speeches. 

Written by a clever former student of mine, Brian Ashcraft, it provides a fascinating background on the origins of many terms we use on a daily basis.

Several examples:

·         Splitting Hairs – This term for nit-picking was actually used frequently by William Shakespeare and other 16th and 17th century authors to describe difficult yet inconsequential tasks.

·         Passing the Buck -  This phrase for deferring one’s task or responsibility to another originated in the smoke-filled saloons of the old west.  It was commonplace to own knives whose handles were fashioned out of male deer (buck) antlers.  When playing poker, a marker such as a knife was placed in front of the person who was to deal.  The phrase “I’m passing the buck” was used often when the pressure of dealing in a high-stakes game was too overwhelming.

·         Vetting – This term for inspections to seek out potential problems comes from the world of horse racing.  “Vet” became a popular phrase for veterinarian in the late 19th century.  In racing, the phrase “I want to vet my horse before the race this week” was carried over into business and politics.

   To see Brian’s book, click here.


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