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My Name is Awesome


The best brand names are those that entertain customers and make them feel intelligent and happy. This simple fact is the foundation for the SMILE and SCRATCH name evaluation tests, which argue that a brand name should make people smile–not scratch their heads. Entrepreneurs can use the components of the SMILE acronym as guideposts to achieve the five essential qualities of great brand names:fullsizeoutput_41c2.jpeg

  1. Suggestive. A name should say something about the brand. To accomplish this, entrepreneurs can combine two suggestive words, similar to Groupon, or select a name that is inspired by the brand’s personality. While the first half of the name may be creative or metaphorical, the second word should establish trust and credibility. Neato Robotics is an example of a suggestive name with a trustworthy modifier.
  2. Meaningful. Entrepreneurs must ensure that their names have some kind of meaning and do not require any explanation. Meaningful long name are more likely to be remembered than short, meaningless ones. Entrepreneurs should avoid using their own names, unless they lend themselves to clever wordplay.
  3. Imagery. Great names are visually evocative and therefore easier to remember. Names with imagery include Irish Spring, Range Rover, or Timberland.
  4. Legs. An effective name has “legs” in that it connects to a theme that the brand can be built around. Brand themes, after all, pave the way for ample wordplay and branding opportunities in everything from the company’s taglines to its job titles to its merchandise. By developing a theme early on, entrepreneurs make the later naming products and services easier. This is illustrated well by Apple’s iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
  5. Emotional. Research shows that 50 percent of every purchasing decision is driven by emotion. Consequently, entrepreneurs must create names that make customers feel something. Grandma’s Chicken Soup, for example, is an emotionally engaging name. Names that make us


Entrepreneurs often mistake uniquely spelled or nonsensical words for creative names. To avoid these common naming mistakes, entrepreneurs must understand what name qualities are disadvantageous. To know when to scratch names off their lists, entrepreneurs must keep in mind the seven deadly sins:

  1. Spelling Challenged. Entrepreneurs must avoid names that look like typos or are not spelled like they sound. Additionally, it is important not to use numbers in the place of words; for example, “Coast to Coast” is easier to find online than”Coast2Coast.”
  2. Copycat. When a name is too similar to a competitor’s name, customers are less likely to trust it. Copycat names also suggest laziness and a lack of originality, and they can even lead to costly trademark infringement cases. In order to prevent copying popular trends, entrepreneurs must avoid any names that begin with Apple’s distinct lowercase “i,” like iPod, or a lowercase “e,” similar to eHarmony. Another trend to steer clear of is the combination of a random color and a noun.
  3. Restrictive. Bad names restrict brands and limit their potential for growth. Therefore, entrepreneurs must not get locked into names they may outgrow in the future. Effective names do not paint themselves into a corner; they are wide enough to include new potential products.
  4. Annoying. Names must not cause customers frustration by appearing forced, random, or grammatically incorrect. If an entrepreneur combines two words it is important that the end result does not sound clunky or unnatural. To this end, entrepreneurs should not drop a vowel or two at the end of a real word, like “Innova,” or use trendy suffixes like -ology, -palooza, or -topia. Additionally, entrepreneurs must steer clear of random and meaningless names like Magoosh, grammatically challenged names like Toys “R” Us, and any names that include only initials.
  5. Tame. To stand out among competitors, brand names should be neither flat nor uninspired. More often than not, tame names are too descriptive of a product or service and therefore require little imagination. Descriptive names only make sense when customers will be trying to find information quickly and there are multiple choices, like FedEx Priority Overnight and FedEx Ground. Otherwise, entrepreneurs should aim for names that are mentally stimulating and demonstrate creativity.
  6. Curse of Knowledge. Names that only insiders understand exclude potential customers who may be unfamiliar with an industry. For this reason that entrepreneurs must avoid any alienating acronyms, internal shorthand, and insider jargon. Equally important is avoiding alphanumeric names as well as anything that might have a vulgar meaning in a foreign language.
  7. Hard to Pronounce. Customers do not like feeling foolish and subsequently will avoid companies or products they cannot pronounce the names of. Problematic names include anything that has two potential pronunciations, foreign words, names spelled with all capital letters, or acronyms.


Today many entrepreneurs and startups are forgoing perfectly good names because their corresponding URLs are unavailable. The truth is that URLs are simply not as important as many people believe. If customers land on the wrong website because a URL was not what they expected, they will simply Google the brand name and find the site they were originally looking for.

According to Watkins, entrepreneurs can easily buy excellent domain names by following three strategies:

  1. Add another word or two. By adding a modifier or two to brand names, there to explain it to entrepreneurs can find available domain names that can be easily located them through search engines. The skincare company Bliss, for example, uses the do main name
  2. Use a creative phrase. Domain names can also include creative phrases that reinforce brands. For example, the domain name of Peanut Butter & Co. is It includes the brand name and uses a phrase that is fun and memorable.
  3. Get a .net or .biz extension. Domain names with these extensions are viewed as equally trustworthy as businesses with .com domains.

In addition to these strategies, entrepreneurs should adhere to the following five domain name secrets:

  1. Take time to really look; contrary to popular belief, not all domain names are taken.
  2. When a name is listed for sale, make a low offer and negotiate.
  3. Buy domains of the brand name that include commonly misspelled words and have them redirected to the correctly spelled domain.
  4. Since URLs no longer need keywords to be found, domain names and site content should be written primarily for customers and not just search engines.
  5. Long, descriptive domain names are more memorable than short and meaningless ones. Finally, entrepreneurs must consider the following five silly ideas to steer clear of:

Spelling the domain “creatively” or not how it is usually spelled.

  • Using obscure domain extensions, like Libya’s .ly instead of .com, in the domain name.
  • Using .org when the company is for profit.
  •  Not checking that a domain name is similar to an existing trademark or service mark before buying it.
  • Not checking that the words that compose the URL spell something offensive when there are no spaces between them.


Before an entrepreneur can begin brainstorming names, he or she must first complete a creative brief, a detailed outline of all the elements necessary to create the perfect name. Not only do creative briefs help entrepreneurs define exactly what their brands are and what they want to communicate, but they also help prevent entrepreneurs from straying away from the wrong names altogether. An effective creative brief should include the following:

* Goal of assignment: What the entrepreneur wants to accomplish. When people can

* In a nutshell: A summary of what the company will do in 140 characters or visualize your name less

* Brand positioning: How the entrepreneur wants his or her brand to be po- much easier for them sitioned in the marketplace.

* Consumer insights: Insights regarding people’s behaviors rather than their unfamiliar word or preferences. These behaviors will affect their purchasing decisions.

* Target audience: The customers that a company wants to reach in specific give their mind anydemographic terms.

* Competition: Similar organizations that a company is up against in the market.

* Desired brand experience: Positive brand experiences that foster strong emotional engagement.

* Brand personality: Five to twelve adjectives that effectively capture the brand’s tone and personality.

* Words to explore: Words an entrepreneur wants in his or her brand name.

* Words to avoid: Any words an entrepreneur does not want in his or her brand name.

* Themes/ideas to avoid: Any related concepts that will not be appealing to customers or have been overdone by competitors.

* Domain name modifiers: Potential modifier words that will help a company secure a domain.

* Name style likes and dislikes: A list of five brand names that entrepreneurs like and five they dislike along with the reasons why.

* Acid test: A test to see how brand names would be used in a sentence.

* Also good to know: Any other information that could be helpful in name development.


When entrepreneurs brainstorm online, they often end up clicking on unexpected links and going down various, inspirational rabbit holes. In order to brainstorm effectively, entrepreneurs must be sure to:

* Keep an open mind.

* Write down all name ideas–even the bad ones.

* Have their creative briefs readily available as a reference.

To warm up before brainstorming, entrepreneurs can use the following word association exercise. First, they should write down a dozen words related to their brands or brand experiences. These words are not intended to become potential names, but instead are fuel for the creative process. Next, they should select one of these words and plug it into the following online brainstorming tools:

* A thesaurus. Interesting synonyms and related words can be great name fodder.

* An image search. Entering the selected word into an image search brings up pictures of relevant information the entrepreneur may not have even thought of.

* Glossaries. Entrepreneurs can use online glossaries like Urban Dictionary to find slang that is connected to their selected words.

* Dictionaries. Dictionaries can provide related definitions and phrases.

* Clichés. Inspiration can be found in related idioms and expressions.

* Search engines. Googlestorming is the process of using the selected word in a longer search query. If the selected word is “cold,” for example, the entrepreneur could type the keywords “coldest places on earth” into Google. This could result in engaging articles and relevant information that could spark an idea for a sticky brand name.

* Movie titles, book titles, and song names. By searching for popular movies, books, and songs with specific words in their titles, entrepreneurs can stumble upon new ways to use their selected words as well as find new phraseology and associated terms to consider.


Before distributing a list of potential brand names among colleagues, an entrepreneur should write a sentence next to each name that describes its rationale and how it would be used in a sentence. Beyond this, there are 12 rules at entrepreneurs must use when conducting a group review of potential names:

  1. Have participants review the list independently so they can express to come up with great which names they like without any group presentation anxiety. This also pre., vents participants from echoing their superiors’ opinions.
  2. Ensure that participants discern that it is the right name–not just a name they like.
  3. Avoid negative comments and instead focus on what is working. This helps build consensus.
  4. Clarify that the job of the brand is not to say everything, but rather to hint at what the brand does.
  5. Provide tangible copies of the list that can be read multiple times over a few days.
  6. Do not let outsiders, like focus groups, weigh in until later on in the process.
  7. Remember that the name will be seen in the context of the logo or alongside marketing materials. Try to imagine the name on a sign or business card.
  8. Do not fear a name that is different.
  9. Do not check to see if domain names are available too early in the process.
  10. Allow participants to select at least 10 names they like from the list.
  11. Refrain from falling in love with any of the names until after confirming that the desired names are available and do not pose any trademark conflicts.
  12. Make the process fun. After determining that there is a consensus, reflect on the attributes of the top contenders, rank the top five picks, and then begin the trademark screening process.


While every company’s situation is different, a brand name change is worth considering when the name in question requires explanations or lacks dynamism. To make the right decisions, entrepreneurs must consider the pros and cons of changing their brands’ names. For example:


* A name change can refresh a brand.

* Not having to explain the previous confusing brand name will save time.

* It will give the company an excuse to get in touch with customers.

* There are thousands of future customers who do not know the current name and will only know the new name.


* There is an emotional attachment to the name.

* It will be difficult to get the whole company to agree to the change.

* The person who developed the original name will be hurt.

* It will be expensive to print new promotional materials and signs.

* It may require facing the difficult truth that the original name was bad.


Trademarking is an essential part of the brand naming process. Entrepreneurs must not only check that the names they want are legally available, but also make sure to trademark them immediately so no one else can steal them. Professional trademark screening services are available at affordable prices


Wrap Up -Negotiation


Once a successful agreement has been negotiated, there are a few final steps to take before considering the negotiation complete:

*Document the terms. Professionals must record where they ended so both parties have a shared understanding of the specifics. Both parties should review and agree to the document, and each party should retain a copy.

*Communicate to make sure there is an agreement. Everyone with decision rights should be consulted and the documentation and recommendations shared.

*Think through the implementation. Professionals should think about what steps will ensure a smooth transition from agreement to implementation.

*Put the agreement into action. Once the agreement is final, anyone involved should be briefed about the implementation, the intent behind it, what has been learned about counterparts and their interests, and any future risks.

Review What Happened

When the negotiation is finished, negotiators must take the opportunity to learn and improve their skills. They should set up a time to review the process, capture what they have learned, and get feedback. Areas to improve should be identified and everything discussed and practiced in the review should be documented.



Begin the Negotiation

As the negotiation session opens, professionals should ask questions about the substance of the negotiation. Then, they should listen carefully to what their counterparts share. While listening, professionals should avoid reacting to what they hear and should simply absorb the information. In additional to listening, professionals should also set a good example by sharing information. They should share their ideas in consumable chunks and watch out for situations where people could misunderstand one another.

A working relationship should be built early in the negotiation. To keep the relationship separate from the negotiation itself, professionals must do the following:

*Deal with the relationship head-on. If any concerns were raised in preparation, professionals should diagnose them and explore possible solutions.

*Separate relationship issues from the substance of the negotiation. Any relationship issues should be identified and addressed so they do not conflict with the negotiation process itself.

*Work unconditionally to grow the relationship. Regardless of existing issues in the relationship, professionals should work to make the relationship stronger. They should set the stage for a collaborative approach from the beginning by being respectful, well prepared, and ready to listen.

Create and Refine the Options

The relationship building that begins during the negotiation helps negotiators create and refine their options. Professionals must confirm their counterparts’ interests and must also carefully share their own interests. Not all interests should be put on the table, but enough information should be shared to make a counterpart feel comfortable following suit.

Once ideas have been generated, professionals should evaluate them. Standards should be used to narrow options and support good solutions. When one party advocates an option that the other party does not believe is fair, standards should be used to support the argument against it. If counterparts bring conflicting standards, they should discuss which data is appropriate for the situation. By applying standards and iterating and refining the options, professionals will arrive at a few workable solutions.

Select the Right Outcome

When a few solutions are left on the table, professionals must move toward a final agreement. They should evaluate the remaining solutions against the best alternative identified in the preparation.

Professionals should assess their strong options against the following three criteria to narrow them down further:

1. It is operational and sufficient. Professionals should make sure that the timeline, terms, and conditions in the given option are realistic and detailed enough to be implemented.

2. There is authority to commit to it. Professionals should not make agreements they are not allowed to make.

3. It can be sold internally to key stakeholders. Professionals should test the solution with the right people before they make any commitments, keeping in mind that those people may have concerns or ideas that have not been considered.

With the solutions evaluated, many professionals may feel confident that they are getting close to finalizing the negotiation, but some negotiators will find things taking a turn for the worse. In those situations, they must adapt their approach.

Adapt the Approach

Many negotiators are frustrated by the fact that they cannot control what the other party does. In these cases, it is important for professionals to be flexible. The following are ways to stay flexible:

*Role play. When professionals find themselves in the middle of a negotiation and they are not sure which direction to go, they can practice with someone else before going back into the negotiation room.

*Become a fly on the wall. Throughout the negotiation, a professional can step out of the action to look at what is happening. Stepping out is helpful because it allows a professional to avoid getting stuck in a narrow view of the situation.

*Take an occasional break. If negotiators are not sure what to do next, are frustrated and need to calm down, or need to consult with colleagues, they should ask for a break.

*Conduct frequent reviews and make midcourse corrections. A smart negotiator can take a more complete step back at certain points to review what is happening in the negotiation. At each step back, negotiators should ask themselves what is working and what could be done differently.

Negotiation – Before getting to room


Use the Seven Elements Tool

How professionals define their measures of success will influence how they prepare and negotiate. The following seven elements can help negotiators define success:

1. Interests. Interests are the underlying needs, aims, fears, and concerns that shape what somebody wants. In a negotiation, professionals should search for an outcome that satisfies the full range of interests for all parties involved.

2. Options. Options are the solutions generated that could meet the interests of all parties. The final agreement that professionals draft should be the best of the many options.

3. Standards. Standards are external, objective measures that can be applied to an agreement to assess its fairness. Professionals should aim for an agreement that will be considered fair by everyone involved.

4. Alternatives. Alternatives are the options that negotiators have if they cannot reach an agreement with their counterparts. Once alternatives are identified, professionals must consider which is best.

5. Commitments. Each party makes commitments to do or not do certain things. These promises must be operational, detailed, and realistic and should be made by somebody with the correct authority to carry them out.

6. Communications. An agreement should be the result of effective communication. Effective communication makes the negotiation more efficient, yields clearer agreements, and builds better relationships.

7. Relationships. Professionals must build strong working relationships built on mutual respect, well-established trust, and side-by-side problem solving.

As professionals define their measures of success, they should aim to satisfy the requirements of all seven elements. Once they use the seven elements to establish their definitions, negotiators can move onto questioning their assumptions.

LEAN Journey


In The Lean Turnaround, Art Byrne provides businesses with the essentials necessary to make a Lean transformation. The business model is based on the successful Toyota paradigm for cutting waste and optimizing production. It builds a company culture of continuous improvement and allows customers to realize extra value through responsive service, fast delivery, and improved quality. Led by the CEO and company leadership team, Lean transition can provide significant benefits for all types of organizations.


Simple changes in the value-adding process produce multiple ways to improve financial results. Taiichi Ohno pioneered this principle at Toyota with the concept of continuous improvement, or kaizen. Kaizen requires managers to be hands-on, working among their employees to lead the way. A single kaizen can be a weeklong project or a continuous process. Rather than working with numbers in their offices, managers are most effective when coaching people from the production floor, or gemba.

The three fundamental principles of Lean are:

  1. Productivity equals wealth.
  2. Focus on process, not results.
  3. Teamwork is essential company wide.

Reorganizing a factory for Lean production is a tremendous undertaking. It involves redesigning all processes, moving equipment, and refitting equipment for faster changeovers. Streamlining setup time for various operations pares labor expense and production down time.

In a production setting, kaizen minimizes excess inventory that otherwise sits around as a stagnant asset. Service levels and employee performance improve. Gross profit rises. Expenditures fall, and the value of the enterprise increases. The focus remains on future improvements rather than past sales figures.


Using Lean principles to turn a company around improves all processes to maximize the way in which the company gains value. For the process to be successful, Lean must be the single force that drives change. Managers who want to turn their firms around need to understand and commit to three management principles:

  1. Lean is the strategy.
  2. Lead from the top.
  3. Transform the people.

Rather than throwing out tried and true strategies, a company will continue to develop new products and new markets. Switching to Lean means that these processes proceed more quickly and more effectively, giving the business a strategic advantage over the competition.

Improving value-adding processes automatically reduces the time it takes to do everything. In a marketplace where agility is key, those firms that do everything faster have a significant advantage.

A Lean transformation reverses a company’s traditional tendency to underutilize its people. In a Lean organization, each employee has a voice and is given many opportunities to solve problems. More individual responsibility leads to more efficient teamwork, encourages increased productivity, and results in more responsive customer service. Clear communication and cooperation between managers and workers elicits a cooperative atmosphere in which everyone accomplishes more.

While Lean does not have to mean reducing the workforce, it does require a reduction in the number of job descriptions. The workforce needs to become more flexible, with each person learning to do several jobs.


To lead a Lean transformation, the manager must learn and implement four fundamental principles:

  1. Work to takt time, which is the rate of customer demand and the resulting rate of production. This keeps people’s attention focused on the customer, who determines how fast the company produces. The takt equation is time available/daily customer demand = takt time. Even though customer demand may vary by season, the workforce should be able to adapt the production rate as takt time varies, eliminating overstaffing and waste.
  2. Create one-piece flow, where each operation should be positioned in sequence, directly between the previous and subsequent steps. This promotes gains in quality and productivity because the manager can observe the entire production process as a whole, identifying bottlenecks or differences in work rates. One-piece flow typically results in at least a 10-times improvement in efficiency at no expense.
  3. Establish standard work, where everyone doing a particular task does it in exactly the same way. Because it is defined, a standard work process is easier to improve upon.
  4. Connect the customer to the shop floor. A pull system reacts to customer demand rather than trying to predict it. When a product sells, the firm produces it. The pull system also applies to suppliers: Vendors should make daily deliveries according to demand.


Before beginning kaizen, the Lean manager must:

*Articulate a clear strategy that describes the defining parameters of Lean operation. The strategy should define the firm’s Lean vision as well as the operational improvements that will bring about the transformation.

*Set stretch goals that exceed the best-known results industry-wide.

*Identify core values and distribute copies of these values to all employees so they understand how to affirm them through concrete actions.

*Obtain and train kaizen staff. Managers can gain the necessary knowledge by observing Lean in action at other companies and seeking expert advice. They should stay with the company for several years to ensure the transformation is a success.

*Add Lean knowledge to the board of directors, which sets the tone for the entire organization.


Lean requires a fundamental change from traditional batch organization to a value-stream structure. Production must be a one-piece flow because it delivers the lowest cost, highest quality, and fastest customer response.

In the Lean company structure, value stream managers report directly to the executive team. Each value stream unit has everything it needs to complete production. Equipment, personnel, and supplies are already available; they just need to be redistributed according to Lean production practices. The people in each team respond directly to the customer.

Team leaders should be self-motivated problem solvers who are capable of running a small business. They not only oversee production but provide key measurements for quality control, customer service, and productivity.

The kaizen promotion office (KPO) provides essential support to a value-stream organization. It is composed of Lean experts and those who want to become experts.

Because most organizations are overstaffed, managers should consider reducing the workforce before kaizen begins. Once it starts, a “no-layoff” guarantee keeps employees on board with the transformation.


The first kaizen projects should pinpoint those areas that have the largest financial impact. They should redesign and improve the biggest product family first. The CEO should select kaizen projects and set each team’s stretch goals.

During a kaizen, the entire team must put its collective focus on a singular objective. Firms should average two kaizen sessions per week per facility during the Lean transformation. Sometimes, teams have to return to the same areas several times to get them flowing smoothly.

Items critical for creating flow during kaizen include:

*Prioritizing safety.

*Reducing all setup times to under 10 minutes.

*Reducing work-in-process inventory to a minimum.

*Moving production equipment into working cells.

*Reducing raw materials.

*Inspecting and repairing all dyes and molds after each use.

*Beginning total productive maintenance (TPM).

*Using 5S procedures.

TPM ensures that each piece of equipment runs when needed. It involves identifying and performing maintenance tasks on a regular basis. 5S procedures should become second nature for everyone in the organization. These are:

1. Seiri — throwing away what is not needed.

2. Seiton — creating and maintaining order.

3. Seiso — cleaning.

4. Seiketsu — developing standard rules.

5. Shitsuke — maintaining discipline.

Once the flow process is well underway, creating pull is the next step. The best tool for a pull system is a simple order card, also known as kanban. The kanban is the link between the flow team and the customer, and it enables the team to follow a “sell one/make one” philosophy.

Kanban is a low-inventory model, with each card representing a single item or a unit of items. The customer submits a kanban card that initiates all of the action. The production cell immediately begins making the product and sends it to the warehouse upon completion. Then, the cell sends the kanban card to its materials and components vendors so they can replenish supplies.


Lean transformation will fail without strong, committed leadership in the long term. Leaders must be at the forefront of the transformation and have a hands-on leadership style. They must be aware that Lean has no end point and requires ongoing progress.

In any business, the only element capable of true transformation is the workforce. For Lean to work at the strategic level, everyone must think and act in a new way that involves teamwork and striving for the collective good rather than individual benefits.

In general, people dislike change, and middle management and finance are especially resistant. Strong leadership is the only effective way to navigate this resistance. The CEO should identify any resistance on the executive level and eliminate it before it becomes a roadblock to change.

Policy deployment, also called hoshin kanri planning, is an important tool in getting everyone on board. It puts into motion a long-term strategic plan for the organization, defining the breakthrough projects the teams will focus on in the current year and aligning personnel behind these projects. Policy deployment also creates the accountability to make sure these projects have the proper resources and will get done on time.

In the shorter term, a disciplined daily management approach is critical. It includes identifying the metrics that tie into the company’s strategy and financial goals and focuses on process improvement to eliminate waste.

A Lean leader is similar to a player coach who sets strategy while leading by example on the playing field. He or she must focus on the future while challenging the status quo. Lean requires frequent leaps of faith, which are difficult for some leaders. However, leaping into the unknown offers the chance to make significant progress for the Lean CEO. As the one who sets the tone, the Lean leader should never blame others for poor results.

Lean leaders face some of their biggest challenges when things go wrong. Naysayers take a problem as validation that Lean will not work. Problems that slow progress can include the breakdown of badly maintained equipment, employees who will not adhere to standard work, union regulations that do not mesh with Lean production, or glitches with kanban, such as lost cards. The Lean CEO must remind naysayers that any glitch is simply a problem to be worked through, and allow no backsliding or excuses.

Leaders must also adhere to their own standard work during a successful Lean transition. This includes setting the direction for progress, building organizational capability, supporting important progress through walkthroughs, conducting frequent reviews, and showing respect and support for associates. Leaders should also establish a simple higher-level data-tracking system with periodic reporting, allowing for quick assessments that identify areas for improvement.


Standard-cost accounting is the most intractable piece of excess baggage in a traditional organization and should be eliminated as quickly as possible. Some Lean leaders make the mistake of trying to maintain existing systems and measurements and simply layering Lean on top of them.

A Lean accounting system is simple, clear, and reality based. It facilitates informed management decisions and requires less financial staff, so it is less costly than standard-cost accounting.

Many traditional measurement methods do not work with Lean. For example, month-end reviews are time consuming and backward looking, while Lean reviews look to the future and improving key process drivers like productivity and inventory turns.


The clear objective of the Lean journey is to deliver value across the board, from customers to suppliers, at a level competitors cannot match. However, the best value is not always the lowest cost. Lean organizations often charge a premium for accuracy, speed, and direct customer service.

One way to deliver better value is to provide faster, more customer-centric new product development. Quality Function Deployment (QFD) takes customer desires into account in designing new products and drastically reduces time to market. With prior customer input, Lean product development can proceed with confidence, and the company can price the products according to the value they provide.

A firm can offer customers better and faster service that lowers their cost of doing business by improving direct interfaces, providing quotes within one day, answering phones promptly and consistently, and eliminating order-processing errors.

At the same time, a company has to protect its own Lean order fulfillment protocol. Two ways to do this are to (1) never tell the customer how many items are currently in stock, and (2) never sell more than 80 percent of stock on hand to a single customer.

Additionally, a company should practice policies that level out customer demand to make production go more smoothly, such as timing promotional programs to assist order leveling and eliminating volume discounts and big batch orders.

Companies that sell directly to end users can leverage Lean by cutting down time frames for everything from quotes to delivery. In addition, a Lean company that shows its vendors how to reduce their setup and processing times will benefit from reduced vendor pricing and more efficient delivery.


Firms that allow associates to share in Lean gains improve faster and establish Lean cultures more quickly. A profit-sharing program is an effective way to share the wealth equally. When employees see that an increase in profits benefits them personally, they work harder for the company. Another type of reward program is a management incentive system.

A Lean company also must actualize improvements. For example, if a flow team no longer needs so many members to deliver on orders, the extra people should be transferred to where they can best benefit the firm in measurable terms.

The CEO can invest Lean capital into new acquisitions. These could be companies that produce parts or materials the Lean firm needs, further reducing the cost of production, or firms that manufacture new products the Lean firm wishes to add to its existing line.


Lean works well in companies of all types regardless of what they manufacture or the services they provide, as they are all composed of multiple processes. For example, the hospital industry is embracing Lean in growing numbers. Transitioning from a batch-style approach to a value stream system cuts out waste, makes the patient experience more efficient, and makes it possible for the facility to serve greater numbers in less time, increasing profits.


Given the considerable benefits of a Lean operation, it seems as if every company should be making a Lean transition. However, two barriers stand in the way:

  1. A lack of understanding of Lean and Lean strategy.
  2. A lack of leadership.

By working to overcome these obstacles, any company can empower employees, grow market share, and create wealth for its stakeholders.



Ego vs. EQ, Jen Shirkani demonstrates that leaders with high emotional intelligence (EQ) display situational Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 7.10.56 pmawareness and emotional connectedness, which are two vital skills for building employee engagement. Despite the importance of EQ, many executives neglect to develop it. Shirkani explores the various Ego Traps that trip up executives and shows leaders how to recognize and move past them.

The Difference in Ego and EQ

Emotional intelligence (EQ) refers to a person’s self-awareness, empathy, social skills, motivation, and self-regulation. Essentially, people demonstrate their emotional intelligence by showing concern for others as well as an awareness of their own actions. While ego forces individuals to make decisions based on self-interest, EQ allows people to make decisions that are best for everyone. A careful balance of ego and EQ is vital for a leader’s success.

When climbing to the top of the corporate ladder, individuals must rely heavily on self-confidence, assuredness, conviction, and clear decision making-all qualities of the ego. By the time they reach the top, most leaders have forgotten all about the merit of emotional intelligence. To make matters worse, the higher a person’s rank, the less likely he or she is to receive honest feedback. This exposes leaders to one or more of the eight Ego Traps:

  1. Ignoring unfavorable feedback.
  2. Believing technical skills trump leadership skills.
  3. Creating a support system of exact replicas.
  4. Not letting go of control.
  5. Being blind to the downstream impact of decisions.
  6. Underestimating how frequently executive behavior is observed.
  7. Losing touch with frontline experience.
  8. Reverting back to old behaviors.

Ego Trap 1: Ignoring Unfavorable Feedback

Executives often believe they are performing well in their roles. However, when pressed, executives typically do not have any concrete evidence of their supposed high performance. Executives rarely mandate performance evaluations for themselves, even though they are certainly in the habit of grading the performance of those below them. Beyond making it impossible to have a true understanding of their own performance, they also send the message that they are above feedback and reviews. Ego Trap 1 occurs when a leader does not formally invite feedback from the team or ignores feedback when it is provided.

The first situation, where a leader does not ask for feedback, could stem from an assumption that the team is close enough that if an individual wanted to approach the leader with feedback he or she could. While this assumption is innocent enough, it is not always true. Shirkani advises leaders to take a look at the kind of feedback they are receiving from their teams. The ideal type of feedback relates to leaders’ effectiveness at motivating and engaging employees. If the team only talks about satisfaction with the direction of the company, they are probably not comfortable providing honest feedback to the executive. Alternatively, the problem of a “halo effect” can occur in which the team trusts everything the executive does and therefore will not disagree with any decision. Lack of honest feedback will not help leaders grow.

The second scenario occurs when executives refuse to ask for feedback. Of the two, this scenario can be the most detrimental to a leader’s career. Feedback provides the key indicators that will sharpen business results. Without it, leaders will fail to motivate and support their teams properly, which can ruin a business.

Three steps can help leaders escape Ego Trap 1:

  1. Leaders should implement a way for their teams to provide honest feedback in a formal way. Leaders must learn to recognize the way their followers perceive their actions and adjust accordingly.
  2. Leaders should recognize the informal feed back they receive on a daily basis (employee conversations, body language, etc.). This informal feedback will provide clues as to how they are performing on a daily basis.
  3. Leaders should respond to these perceptions in an emotionally intelligent way that is not driven by ego.

Ego Trap 2: Believing Technical Skills Trump Leadership Skills

The second Ego Trap is triggered when any leader overvalues his or her technical skills, industry knowledge, or field of expertise at the expense of other leadership attributes, such as flexibility, social awareness, or empathy. Most leaders come to this Ego Trap innocently. Their technical skills earned them promotions and professional accolades throughout their careers, but when a person is promoted into an executive position, his or her new role comes with the responsibility of leading a team. A deep understanding of leadership skills is not traditionally taught in business school, and many new executives drown in their ignorance.

If leaders feel they are stuck in this trap, Shirkani advises them to move away from the ego, which says the leader knows best, and toward an EQ point of view that takes into account ideas offered by employees. By making this switch, leaders show their teams that they are valued.

The best way to move from ego to EQ is for an executive to first recognize he or she is feeling an impulse to react as a technical expert instead of a team leader. Understanding when these feelings arise will better prepare leaders to take a step back and act with concern for their teams’ growth. Leaders must also possess empathy. They should read the cues from their employees to understand what they may need in any given situation. Leaders must determine what their teams can accomplish without supervision and what value the leaders can add to their teams. Finally, leaders must respond appropriately. The goal is to take internal and external information and use it to give an emotionally intelligent response.

Ego Trap 3: Creating a Support System of Exact Replicas

Ego Trap 3 is perhaps the trap that goes most unnoticed. It happens at all levels, but it is the most dangerous at the executive level. Ego Trap 3 occurs when any leader surrounds himself or herself with people they “click with” rather than with individuals best able to do the job. While on the outside this does not seem like a problem (it is important to get along with colleagues), a closer look reveals that these “yes men” are the exact people who are least likely to challenge the decisions of the leader or recognize the blind spots he or she may have. Symptoms such as stagnation, disengagement, monotony, and rigidity will appear within the team and affect the company’s growth.

Sometimes lack of diversity comes from a legitimate shortage of talent, but most often it comes from confirmation bias. People who share character qualities are more likely to get along with one another and view one another favorably regardless of qualifications. Despite it being human nature, it is still detrimental to hire or promote simply due to this kind of bias. Some signs that a leader is falling into Ego Trap 3 include:

* Everyone in the leader’s inner circle shares the same work and communication styles.

* Decisions among the executive team are made quickly and easily with minimal challenges.

* The executive team lacks any diversity.

* Challengers in the company are often ostracized and labeled as naysayers.

* The company lacks a formal, structured interviewing and selection process. Managers can hire on “gut feelings” with little or no evidence of competency on the part of the applicant.

The best way to climb out of Ego Trap 3 is to first recognize the biases present during the hiring and promotion processes. Next, leaders must work to view differing opinions as important instead of combative. When leaders teach themselves how to value those employees who think differently than they do, their teams will be much more engaged and successful.



With restful sleep, the brain also requires restful downtime. To ensure that the brain has stamina when it is most needed, a person must experience awake rest during the day. Awake rest may include:


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* Sitting quietly.

* Playing a game for five minutes.

* Laughing.

* Listening to music.

* Meditating.

Ten-minute breaks can help refresh and rest the brain while at work, but longer stretches of awake rest are also required during the day. Individuals can try working for 50 minutes at a time, and then taking 10-minute pauses.

Downtime is critical for the adult human brain. With proper downtime, a person’s “up time” can be much more productive.


Exercise can also improve mental stamina and mental performance. The increased intake of oxygen, combined with increased blood flow, means that physical exercise is the single best thing a person can do to keep his or her brain healthy. Mental exercise is also an important part of keeping the brain limber, of course, but being active up to 150 minutes per week can radically improve a person’s mental outlook.


The brain is constantly growing and changing, and people enjoy the feeling of connectedness that arises when they have meaningful, significant interactions with other humans. Humans are social creatures, and the brain therefore works at its optimum level when a person has trusting, connected relationships with others.

Building trust and bonding with colleagues changes neurochemistry for the better, and generally leads to higher quality results on collaborative projects.

People should take the time to communicate emotionally with colleagues and really get to know them. When discussing workplace matters, people should respond to questions and comments with statements that show an active interest in the speaker and his or her contributions. These bonding moments can foster an environment where people feel more confident and connected.


Ego management is crucial for people who are trying to build trusting relationships. Ego plays a big role in how people approach everyday interactions, and keeping an eye on ego ensures that people communicate in a way that builds trust with others. Some people naturally have strong egos, while others have weak egos.

In some situations, being too assertive can undermine efforts to build trust.

The same is true of people who have weak egos. Individuals can take a personal inventory to determine whether the majority of daily interactions are being helped or hampered by their egos. The ego can never really go away, but being aware of the strength of one’s ego can help teams and individuals work at a higher level.


Collaboration has allowed human beings to survive and thrive since the dawn of time. Collaboration influences human neurochemistry in a positive way.

Working in a team causes feelings of joy in the brain. To maximize a team’s potential, team members should get to know the other members of the team and take note of ways they can best contribute based on their skills.

Communication is a key part of building a winning team. A team that works well together will not have to overcome as many neurochemical pitfalls, such as stress or distractions.



Crossing items off a to-do list gives the brain a dopamine bump, and that pleasant feeling encourages people to repeat behaviors. Achieving goals page20prismstarts by first setting them. Achieving small goals can be just as pleasurable for the brain as achieving large goals. However, some people struggle with gaining the momentum to achieve big goals. To break long-term goals into short-term accomplishments, individuals can follow the guidelines of the STTARR model:

* See the goal–visualize it and write it down.

* Touch on something to do with the goal every day.

* Think about how the last step taken toward the goal went.

* Adjust the plan, if necessary.

* Reward oneself in small ways to maintain motivation.

* Repeat until the goal has been achieved.

Another trick for achieving goals is to use the “5D” system. Under this system, each item on a to-do list is placed into one of five categories:

  1. Do: Stuff that can be checked off the list today.
  2. Delegate: Stuff that needs to be done today or soon and can be passed along to a subordinate.
  3. Delay: Items that can be pushed off for now (items should not stay here for more than four days).
  4. Discard: Items that can be removed from the list.
  5. Dream: This is a big goal to achieve in one’s lifetime. This item should go on the bottom of every new to-do list going forward.

How Brain can improve your Work



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How the average person can become above average by gaining a better understanding of his or her own brain. Arguing that there is science to becoming a top performer, Halford (author from where I have got inspired) explained the basics of neurochemistry. With those preliminaries out of the way, he then shows how anyone with an understanding of neurochemistry can take control of his or her life, build confidence, and achieve goals. By offering readers an inner look at the complex workings of the mind, Halford empowers people to make healthy choices and build rapport with colleagues.



By making small, easy choices, anyone can activate the brain’s potential.

These small choices can help people become more productive and feel more effective, but individuals must first attain a suitable level of self-awareness.

The average person in the business world is particularly susceptible to behaviors that can limit brain activation. The average work day for a businessperson will likely involve multiple distractions and stressful situations, which can lead to crises of well-being. Counteracting these workplace pitfalls is all about activation, the “do it again” circuitry in the brain. When the brain is activated, it works better. Activation is the first step on the long journey toward self-actualization and creating significance in one’s life.


In order to start the process of brain activation, individuals need to make the conscious decision to start taking control of their choices. Choice is an important part of being human. People feel more in control when they are in a position to make choices, and they feel threatened in cases where they cannot make decisions. The need to make choices must be fed, or people can suffer from behavioral problems.

When people have decided to take control of their minds, they should start by repeating the activation mantra, “Start small, start now.” Even completing small, simple tasks like cleaning off their desks, organizing their email inboxes, or balancing their checkbooks can help people feel more energized.

That energy can fuel bigger goals and help people feel like they are gaining control over their hectic lives.


As humans evolved, their brains evolved as well. The root of the human brain is the brain stem, which is known as the reptilian brain. This part of the brain controls automatic functions like breathing and perspiration. It is the oldest part of the brain. On top of this structure is the mammalian brain, which controls emotions and helps people process anything that is deemed relevant to their survival. The third brain, the human part of the brain, is called the neocortex. This area of the brain is the seat of reason, logical thought, and innovation–all things that make humans distinct from their closest animal relatives.

All three brains play a part in the mental well-being of a person. People who have exceptional minds for logic and innovation may find themselves derailed when they cannot strike a balance between all three parts of the brain. In times of strong emotion, the mammalian brain can overpower the human brain, and a person must be aware of this tendency during times of crisis.


Neurochemistry refers to the complex balance of chemicals in the brain.

Neurochemistry affects how different parts of the brain interact, and how the brain as a whole guides individuals’ responses. Neurochemistry is often impacted by perception. If a person perceives a situation as threatening, he or she will react very differently than if the situation was seen as being beneficial to survival.

Most positive and negative feelings can be placed in one of four emotional quadrants:

  1. Quadrant I contains feelings that are highly positive and correspond to states of high arousal and high adrenaline. Feelings in this quadrant include glee and joy.
  2. Quadrant II contains feelings that are slightly less positive and correspond with lower levels of arousal and adrenal. This quadrant contains feelings such as serenity or contentment.
  3. Quadrant III contains feelings that are slightly negative and correspond to low levels of arousal and adrenaline. These feelings include apprehension and irritation.
  4. Quadrant IV feelings include terror, rage, and despair. These emotions are very negative and exist in a state of high arousal and high adrenaline.

Much of the brain’s inner workings are devoted to detecting threats.

Adrenaline is a hormone that puts people into a high state of arousal, and it is associated with the “fight, flight, or freeze” mechanism in the brain. When adrenaline is released in combination with cortisol, the stress hormone, people experience negative emotions. Being aware of negative emotions is important, as it alerts people to potential problems. However, people must avoid letting their negative emotions control them.

On the other side of the equation are three hormones associated with positive emotions. Dopamine is a hormone that releases pleasant feelings, and its release in the brain primes the mind to repeat the behaviors that brought about the release of dopamine in the first place. There is also Norepinephrine, a hormone that creates a sense of alertness and engagement. It is often released during exercise or laughter. Oxytocin is a hormone that is linked to bonding and collaboration behaviors. Engaging in behaviors that release positive hormones can help re-balance a brain that is beset by negative emotions. Self-aware people are able to better identify what quadrant of emotions they are feeling in a given moment and take steps to change their moods by engaging in behaviors that restore balance to the brain.


In nearly every daily interaction, a person is either moving toward something or away from something. This is referred to as approach-avoidance behavior.

Even the simple act of going to work in the morning is imbued with meaning.

If people go to work because they love what they do, that is a positive interaction. However, if they go to work simply because they do not want to go broke, that is actually an avoidance behavior, tinged with negativity. The positive behavior capitalizes on the brain’s reward chemistry, while the negative approach to going to work does not. By putting in an effort to change one’s perspective on events, it is possible to turn a negative avoidance behavior into a positive approach behavior.

Sometimes, it can be hard to determine whether a person is engaging in approach or avoidance behaviors. Some factors to consider to help determine a person’s current state of mind are:

* Status: Higher status often translates to an approach state of mind.

* Certainty: Uncertainty brings negativity.

* Autonomy: Having the power to make decisions alone is empowering.

* Relatedness: When a person can relate to the people around him or her, it is more likely he or she will engage in approach behaviors.

* Fairness: The brain interprets fairness as a reward, so situations where a person feels that he or she is treated fairly result in approach behaviors.


Taking control of one’s life is an important step on the path to enhanced performance. Control is tied to one’s perspective, with people generally defaulting to either an internal or external locus of control. Some people gravitate toward an internal locus of control, believing that they have control of situations.

For example, an internally focused person who applies for a job and fails to secure the position might take the initiative to enhance his or her résumé to secure a similar position in the future. In contrast, an externally focused person might take the view that others generally have control of situations.

This type of person would not be proactive about improving his or her résumé because he or she would feel that the situation was beyond his or her control.

When people feel like they can take control of their lives, their confidence will increase.



A leader cannot do it all, and the good ones know this. Instead, they surround themselves with teams of people who are strongest where they are weakest and they ask for advice from others. They identify those who can help them the most, develop relationships with them, and put energy into keeping those relationships. Leaders can also set up a mentor Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 6.32.03 pmrelationship with people they look up to. One of the ways leaders compensate for their weaknesses is through cooperation with others and putting together winning teams. To put together winning teams, leaders should follow seven tips:

  1. Leaders who win surround themselves with people who are stronger and better than they are.
  2. In the beginning of building a team, the entire focus has to be on development and training.
  3. Great leaders always get the facts, never assume, and plan a course of strategy in case things go wrong.
  4. The right assignments are given to the right people.
  5. Those who are unable to make a positive contribution must be let go.
  6. Communication needs to be open so that the team can access it from anywhere.
  7. Everyone on the team needs to commit to excellence.

Leaders need to communicate clearly because 85 percent of their success depends on it. The point of leadership is power and influence which happens through communication. In a truly successful company, all employees understand what they are trying to accomplish and what the plan is for the future. It is important that people like, respect, and value their leaders because they are more apt to listen to leaders they respect and value. Leaders should be able to persuade others to see their point of view and change their minds. Part of communication is listening, and great leaders pay just as much attention to what is not being said as they do to what is said.