At The Whiteboard

At The Whiteboard

Segue (or Segway) from Bad Busy to Good Busy

September 13, 2013BlogProcess Improvementwhiteboardconsulting
Welcome to our first blog on the new website!

How do you like it? A couple of weeks ago I told you it would be a “website mullet” – whimsy in the front and corporate in the back. If you love our website, then Click to Tweet! Many thanks to the awesome team at Kobayashi Online for their hard work and creative design – they really do make online friendly!


We’re just on our way back from Chicago where we delivered a presentation on “Instilling a Process Improvement Culture Through Coaching” at the Quality Expo.

We had a blast presenting and met a great bunch of quality geeks just like us! Everyone talked about how busy they were, and how they wanted to implement coaching as part of their quality initiatives, but it was hard because they are TOO BUSY. It made me think of a Visa advertisement that I heard last week that talked about “Good Busy” versus “Bad Busy”. They have great examples and their pitch is “When you’re in control of your cash flow you can focus on the work you love; you know, good busy. That means making more money, being more strategic, and doing better things for your clients or customers (check it out here). I loved it. This concept has come across the proverbial desk here at Whiteboard Worldwide Headquarters in a number of ways.

Good Busy vs. Bad Busy: What’s the difference?

The first time this concept “clicked” for me was in Tim Ferriss’ The 4 Hour Workweek. He highlights how so many of us spend all day reading and responding to emails, instead of working on the big strategic objectives that give us value in an organization. Why? Because responding to emails is easy, and instantly satisfying. Doing the big work is hard. If you want to change, however, you can’t keep doing what you’ve always done!

That segues to one of our clients, who said one of my favourite phrases of all time (and which we have since mentioned often in our blog): “I’m addicted to firefighting”. I thought this was brilliant. He was addicted to the drama, addicted to high speed reactionary problem solving. Organizations love to create and resolve these “problems” every day. It feels good to solve a problem. It provides instant satisfaction. It has instant results and outcomes. It’s so much more fun than discovering and building a relationship with a new (or old) team member, giving constructive feedback, or having a difficult (yet important) conversation on performance of a team member. Those things are hard and unpleasant, but are so necessary to achieve something like operational excellence.

So which is which?

Good Busy

Value added activities (anything that adds value to your customer)

Interacting and meeting with clients
Production of your product or delivery of your service
Work for client paying activities (ie. Deliverables for a client)
Selling your product to your customer
Bad Busy

Non-value added activities (i.e. internal administration)

Internal email administration
Doing quality control on your product
Time spent on advertising
Time spent on shipping of raw materials to produce your produce
DISCLAIMER: Sometimes using value added vs. non-value added makes people say – well “Payroll IS value added? How would I run my business”. Don’t get tied up in the semantics. Rule of thumb for identifying non-value added steps: any activity that doesn’t improve the form, fit or function of the product. Think of things like inspection, testing, re-work, set-up, movement of product (if it’s not direct to the client), etc

Tips to get “Good Busy”

We’re going to sound like a broken record, we’re sure you’ve heard them before – but practice makes perfect:

Make a list. Number your activities based on priorities 1,2, and 3 (#1s Must get done today, #2s should get done, #3s can be rolled over to a subsequent day). Start on your #1s (I guarantee they aren’t your favourites, you’ll be dying to do a#3)
Tame the email beast. Turn off your email notifier AND set specific times a day to check and respond to email (doing email can be a reward for checking off a #1 from your list above).
Improve your processes. Are there bottlenecks? Do you have multiple approvals that don’t add value? Are there internal forms and paperwork that could be streamlined? What are you or your team doing that is making things BUSY without adding value?
The key is to focus your day on what makes your company or organization money and what adds value to your clients. You and “Bob from Accounting” having a CYA machine gun email tete-a-tete does neither of the above (no matter how fun it may be to prove that you did in fact email him on October 2nd asking that expense claim question). To paraphrase that tagline from Visa, remember: “When you’re in control of your processes you can focus on the work you love, you know, good busy.” Click to Tweet

Have ideas about Good Busy and Bad Busy? I’m sure Visa @VisaBiz_CA wants to hear them since it’s their ad campaign – so use the hashtag #goodbusy. And if you heard it first from us, tweet us too @whiteboardcons #betterfastercheaper.

Have a happy and productive week!


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Perfuncta What?

September 12, 2013BlogProcess Improvementwhiteboardconsulting

Operational Definitions: Not a Perfunctory Exercise

We have a colleague whose favourite words these days is “perfunctory”, and he uses it frequently enough that I looked up the definition just to be sure I knew what it meant.

per-func-to-ry adjective \pər-ˈfəŋ(k)-t(ə-)rē\

characterized by routine or superficiality
lacking in interest or enthusiasm
That little exercise reminded me of how important it is to have common definitions at work. Never mind the embarassment of using a word incorrectly, which we’ve all done on occasion. (Well I have, anyway…) It’s about speaking the same language in the office, and avoiding any potential for misinterpretation and mistake.

My Definition is This (Bonus earworm for those who know that tune, for those who don’t, click here )

One of the things we are working on right now is a review of a PMO (Project Management Office) function in a large public sector organization. As part of any review, we conduct a number of interviews with various employees at all levels of the organization. And, as always, we find that people are working with differing levels of understanding of key operational terms, and that this is creating some confusion with respect to roles, responsibilities, and key outcomes.

Here’s a good example: what does performance management mean to you? Is it related to the work output and behaviours of an individual employee, and the ability of a manager to influence it positively?

No? Oh, well perhaps you feel it’s the use of key performance indicators to ensure that an organization meets its goals and targets in a timely manner.

Wait, what? You think it’s both?

If you look it up, even Wikipedia gives several definitions:

Performance management (PM) includes activities which ensure that goals are consistently being met in an effective and efficient manner. Performance management can focus on the performance of an organization, a department, employee, or even the processes to build a product of service, as well as many other areas.
PM is also known as a process by which organizations align their resources, systems and employees to strategic objectives and priorities.
Performance management as referenced on this page in a broad term coined by Dr. Aubrey Daniels in the late 1970s to describe a technology (i.e. science imbedded in applications methods) for managing both behavior and results, two critical elements of what is known as performance.

If you’re working on a culture shift in your organization, then a great exercise involves getting groups of people together in a room and having work in small groups to define key terms. For instance, for a PMO conversation, you might have people define: Project, Charter, Project Manager, Process Owner, Project Sponsor, Communication Plan, Risk Mitigation Plan, etc. Here’s the trick: there’s usually no right answer. Just pick the one that works for most people, and stick with it! If everyone is speaking the same language, you’ll save so much confusion and time.

And there’s nothing perfunctory about that.

Give us a shout via Twitter @whiteboardcons using #betterfastercheaper or email us at

Tweets by @WhiteboardCons

Until next week,

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BNI Beach Biz Visitor’s Day: September 24, 2013

September 11, 2013Eventswhiteboardconsulting



YOU! Our BNI Chapter has room for qualified professionals who realize that networking and referrals are at the core of a successful business marketing plan.


Visitors’ Day. Learn about our chapter and see why it’s a fun and results-driven group.


At the Mayfair Fitness Club, 801 Lakeshore Rd E (Lakeshore & Carlaw) in Toronto.


7:30 a.m, Tuesday September 24, 2013.


To grow your business.

The primary purpose of BNI’s marketing and referral system is to facilitate the exchange of qualified business referrals between members. BNI is the world’s largest referral marketing organization in the world, with more than 5,600 Chapters in over 50 countries and more than 260 Chapters in Canada. Last year, members of BNI passed more than 6.1 million referrals that generated more than $3.9 billion (USD) in new business for our members globally!

Seating will be limited, so please contact me at If you have any questions,we will follow up with anoyone interested to confirm attendance shortly.

Please bring plenty of business cards, as you will meet many professionals from Toronto. (There will be a $15 meeting fee, full hot breakfast is included).

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Website Mullet

August 30, 2013Blogwhiteboardconsulting
Whimsy in the Front, and Corporate in the Back This week we were presented with a conundrum: Two fantastic website proposals from a fantastic firm Kobayashi Online.

Ruth and I tend to agree on most things, but sometimes I’m a little more “Whimsy” and Ruth is more “Corporate”. We also liked little bits of each website and seemed a bit torn in the middle. How could we make a rational and informed decision that took all of our criteria into consideration? We wanted Whimsy in the front and Corporate in the back: a Website Mullet!

Obviously this happens in organizations every day! Which option do we pick? Which logo is better? Which process improvement initiative do we start with first? An arbitrary decision can send the whole organization into a tailspin that doesn’t meet strategic objectives. How can we just say we “like” this one better, without having something to back it up?

We thought we’d take page from our own book!

Prioritize It!

A great tool that we teach to our clients is a prioritization matrix. In a few quick and easy steps you can prioritize projects, your to-do list, or even make decisions.

To download our free prioritization matrix email us at and we’ll give you access to the prioritization matrix here.

Five Quick Steps to Building a Prioritization Matrix

Step 1: Update the Criteria across the top row to your specifications.
We brainstormed a few of our criteria, some of them were: our blog is featured prominently, the site is crisp, clean and uncluttered, our social media is highlighted, and authentic (was it really “us”?).

Step 2: Assign weighting to each criteria (best if you use 1,3,5).
Looking at all of them we assigned a weighted score of 1,3, or 5 to each of the criteria with 1 being the least important to us and 5 being most important.

Step 3: Score the items you are comparing (also use 1,3,5).
We then gave scores for each websites against the criteria. How well did each site meet our criteria?

Step 4: Calculate your total score.
The formula multiplies the criteria weight by the rated score and adds them all together for a total score.

Step 5: Apply a reality check and make sure things look realistic.

It’s as easy as 1.2.3……4,5. I bet you are dying to see our new website, aren’t you? Well we’ll be announcing our new site launch very soon. Stay tuned!!!

Let us know what you use our matrix for and how it helped you decide or prioritize a number of actions. Give us a shout via Twitter@whiteboardcons using #betterfastercheaper or email us at

Tweets by @WhiteboardCons

Until next week!