Continuously Improving Tools for Continuous Improvement is a tagline that fits


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I find the Systems2win Company a fascinating story. They provide a standardized set of easy-to-use Excel templates for business process improvement primarily for the use in the Lean and Six Sigma methodologies. The range and the depth of detail and training in these templates are truly remarkable. Their tag line is “Continuously improving tools for continuous improvement”. I asked owner Dean Ziegler how that tag line developed and he said, “It just kind of evolved. I went through two or three tag lines before we settled on that one, but it really does tell the story. That’s what we do.”

Many companies have tag lines that are nothing more than slogans. I asked Dean in an in an upcoming podcast, Does he really live to the tag line? And, could he explain how PDCA is used in a small company like his?

You start with a plan and in a smaller organization like us I use our to-do list. It’s a hyper-template for a to-do list with all the drop downs and Excel filtering capability. It’s got some fancy conditional formatting with color coding and stuff like that. But it’s a to-do list. It’s about as simple as a tool as you can use. With a small organization like mine I can literally wake up in the morning and I can say, Where do I need to start to delight our customers. You can just look through the to-do list and say, we are going to do that.

The truth is that we all know it is what your customers are screaming about that is going to be a top priority. You can’t start delighting them unless they are already satisfied, which is where we would like to spend most of our time. Dean went on to explain a typical day:

“The first thing I do in the morning, just like most folks, is check my email, messages and see if anybody needs me: if they are unable to install or open a file up. You’ve got to take care of it. You’ve got to get people going. Once you’ve done that, like any other organization that is when you become free to apply your attention to continuous improvement. That’s what delineates a world class organization from a firefighting organization is the ratios. The ratio’s not zero with either one of them hopefully.

Even a firefighter is going to spend of little time on continuous improvement. Even a world class organization is going to have to fight a fire every now and again. But the ratios are what you’re looking for. You’re looking for a dramatic shift, the 80/20 that a world class organization is going to be spending 80% of its time delighting customers. Senior managers are spending 80% of their time on delighting in where the company is going. Instead of, “Oh my god, how are we going to fix this?”

I asked Dean to define this ratio a little more precisely.

Mine is actually a three days out of five. I spend one day marketing or doing call. I’ll spend about three quarters of a day doing demos. Then every morning I’ve got some tech support that you have to clean up. I’ve use the rest of my time, about 60% for development and making good on our tag line. If we fail to continuously improve these tools for continuous improvement, we’re not going to get the annual maintenance renewals. We’re not going to get the testimonials. We’re not going to get that delighted customers.

In a previous post, I mentioned your marketing should be so content rich that someone would be willing to pay for it. This is also what drives continuous improvement having your efforts, your marketing, your innovation tied to the marketplace. This time that Dean spends on innovating and providing new templates is it worth it? What is the measurement of success? I asked Dean if it was through his annual renewals.

Absolutely, absolutely, that’s the highest high and the lowest low is when you get the yes on the annual renewal. That’s a huge endorsement that, “Hey were doing it.” During this recession it was even harder because you have people that would skip a year or something. But even if they are just skipping a year, it’s hard. Because it’s telling you that it wasn’t quite good enough.

The Systems2win annual upgrades are not about service to the product. They are about new templates and new features such as, 8D Problem Solving, upgrades to their Hoshin Kanri and FMEA templates, language translations and learning validations. These updates are driven and prioritized by the voice of the customer. As Dean explains in the podcast, his customer/market listening posts is the barometer he uses to decide on what to work on next. “Continuously improving tools for continuous improvement” is a tag line that fits this company.

Sytems2win will be exhibiting at the 23rd Annual Shingo Prize Conference, March 28 – April 1, 2011 – Northern Kentucky Convention Center located near Cincinnati, OH.

This entire conversation can be heard on the Business901 podcast next Tuesday, March 22nd. Systems2win is also included in my upcoming book Marketing with PDCA.

Systems2win website: http://Systems2/
Systems2win Newsletter

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


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