February, 2006

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Article Index

What We Can Learn from the Latest Big Things in Management
Article by: Lynn Moline & Mike Braun
The problem with trendy concepts and theories in management and leadership isn't the concepts themselves. It's their rapidly arching trajectory into notoriety before managers take the time and energy to mine the gold from them.
Book Review - Five Voices, Five Faiths, Hughes, Amanda Millay, Boston: Cowley Publications, 2005.
Article by: John Hehre
Neither this review nor this book about religious beliefs is an attempt to convert your thinking to a particular faith. It is in the interest of improving our companies and our personal abilities as employees and managers that I wrote this column.
Help a Member Firm Help Us All
Article by: Manufacturers Alliance
To get the repeal of the collection of sales tax on capital equipment passed in the state legislature Elizabeth Abraham, CEO of Top Tool would like you to consider helping out.
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What We Can Learn from the Latest Big Things in Management
The problem with trendy concepts and theories in management and leadership isn't the concepts themselves. It's their rapidly arching trajectory into notoriety before managers take the time and energy to mine the gold from them.

Like fireworks, management fads rocket into brilliant prominence, dazzle observers for a brief moment, and then quickly burn out and fall in ashes, leaving the audience waiting for The Next Big Thing to solve their problems. You've watched the parade: management by objectives, quality circles, total quality, the One Minute Manager, continuous improvement, statistical process control. All had their moments of fame before falling out of favor and being eclipsed by The Next Big Thing.

In reality, most of these concepts were fairly to very solid, and they contained nuggets of practical wisdom. But none was the silver bullet panacea some managers craved. So the concepts were minimally understood, half-heartedly implemented, and delegated to earnest but under-empowered junior staffers where the theories–and the benefits they held--died from lack of serious senior management commitment.

So what's the lesson for today for popular concepts like six sigma and lean manufacturing? The big lesson is to pay attention to history. These powerful management tools will go the way of quality circles unless top leaders are serious about supporting them. And "support" means more than cutting loose budget dollars to send staff to training. It means that leaders themselves must take time to learn about the methodologies. Next, they must encourage–even insist–that staff use the methodologies instead of falling back into old firefighting habits the next time things heat up. Finally, top leaders must be relentless cheerleaders who make it impossible for people to forget, bypass, or lose commitment to using the methods.

Above all, an important leadership insight is the realization that "trendy" tools like six sigma and lean are refined, packaged approaches to timeless good management practices like root cause analysis; disciplined, measured work toward improvements; waste and cost reduction; customer focus; and sustainable employee involvement and commitment.

These "fads" have never been out of favor for smart managers; they and other benefits are the gold that can be mined from committed application of the best of today's management theories.
Lynn Moline, owner of Lynn Moline Associates, Inc., is a consultant and trainer who specializes in executive development, executive team alignment, and planning. Mike Braun is a partner at CLG, a company that provides behavior-based strategy execution and performance improvement services.

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Book Review - Five Voices, Five Faiths, Hughes, Amanda Millay, Boston: Cowley Publications, 2005.
Neither this review nor this book about religious beliefs is an attempt to convert your thinking to a particular faith. It is in the interest of improving our companies and our personal abilities as employees and managers that I wrote this column.

Most people in the United States have ancestral origins or have emigrated from other countries. Consequently, our nation contains a richly diverse mix of ideas, cultures, ways of living, and religions that people have brought with them from around the world.

Today our country is more diverse than ever. Our co-workers are as likely to be Hindu or Muslim as they are Christian. This diversity has important considerations. For example, for many people, faith is an integral part of their lives. For some, the practice of their faith requires time taken during the work day. Therefore, it is crucial that we not be ignorant of each other's faiths. Ignorance can lead to an uncomfortable and at times hostile work environment.

Five Voices, Five Faiths provides an introduction to five of the most prominent religions in the world today: Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. The book has five sections, one for each religion, authored by a member of that faith. In some cases, the authors are also professional educators or trainers. The sections are short, well written, and easy to read. Although clearly not intended to be comprehensive, the text will help readers understand the key points of each faith and lay the groundwork for people of different faiths to converse about religion.

Admittedly, there are many other faiths represented in our culture than the five this book looks at. However, this book can be a helpful tool toward beginning or increasing our understanding of religious differences.

This book can be ordered through most large booksellers but is easiest to find at www.cowley.org.
John Hehre is a senior operations executive and provides interim management and project based consulting to mid-sized private companies in need of transformative change. He can be reached at jhehre@cprocess.com.

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Help a Member Firm Help Us All
To get the repeal of the collection of sales tax on capital equipment passed in the state legislature Elizabeth Abraham, CEO of Top Tool would like you to consider helping out.

These are some of the ways Manufacturers Alliance members can support:

1. Make a corporate or individual contribution to the Capital Equipment Tax Alliance (CETA). Make your check payable to "Capital Equipment 3131 Fernbrook Lane, Suite 111, Plymouth, MN 55447

2. Try to attend any legislative hearings. The lobbyists will let us know when those hearings are scheduled.

3. Tell your legislators that you support the repeal of the collection of sales tax on capital equipment. Tell your legislators that you want to repeal the tax, that it's very important to you and why.

4. Attend a fundraising meeting with the lobbyists.

If you decide to attend an event, please call the lobbyists ahead of time so they will be looking for you and can introduce you to the legislator.

Their telephone numbers: Tom Lehman - (763) 377-9167; Jennifer Breitinger -
(612) 374-1160.

If you choose to make a contribution to a legislator's campaign, remember: to make the contribution from your personal funds and you cannot reimburse yourself from company funds. It must be an individual contribution from you and/or your spouse.

Because of the state's budget surplus, there is a better opportunity for passing the repeal this year than in the past. Elizabeth Abraham plans to do all of these things on behalf of Top Tool and the manufacturing industry. If 10% of the members of the Manufacturer's Alliance, and other associations, do the same, then we are sure we will be successful in repealing this law.
The mission of the Manufacturers Alliance is to provide peer-to-peer training, education, and resources which inspire manufacturing companies to continuously grow, improve, and stay competitive.

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