Monthly Archive: August 2013

Website Mullet

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

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Until next week!

Swashbuckling Your Way Through September

The other day Nicole and I were lamenting the end of Summer (she was lamenting a little more, as autumn is my favourite time of year) and the end of a more relaxed approach to work. With so many clients on holidays, it was nice to schedule our own down time and to take vacation or mini-breaks mid-week.

And then people started coming back to work. Suddenly everyone wants everything done in September, and we found ourselves wondering how we would get through it all!

Easy! Think Like a Pirate, and Swashbuckle Your Way Through!


First of all, let’s clarify the meaning of swashbuckle. One part of the definition refers to having a lot of swagger – that is, confidence in the way one presents oneself to the world – in the way you walk, talk, and dress. It also uses the word “flamboyant” (can you say, “Johnny Depp”?), which may be a bit of a stretch for us. But we love to think we have swagger!

The second part of the definition depicts excitement or adventure – this is really what appealed to us. If we look at September as one huge adventure, we’ll enjoy it, not dread it.

OK, now to the practical application:

How to Swashbuckle September


  1. Remember your lists. Almost exactly a year ago I wrote a blog on prioritizing and the benefit of making lists. (Read it here) In order to be confident and have swagger, you need to know where you’re going, when, and what you have to do before you get there. What, you don’t think pirates made lists? Well, they were very fond of maps, as we all know, which is a visual representation of a list, so I beg to differ.
  2. Say Aaar, but only using your inside voice! Remember, your clients come first. If their timelines change, it’s ok and it should be expected. If you’ve been planning your work ahead, hopefully you’ve built in contingencies. If not, refer back to your lists and just hunker down and get ‘er done with a smile.
  3. Treat it like an adventure! September has always been my New Year’s celebration. Whether it’s back to school or back to work, it’s a fresh slate for a new season, and it should invigorate you, not overwhelm you. See it as an opportunity, and you will find yourself looking forward to the challenge.


So avast me beauties! Grab some grog, turn up the fiddle music, and swab those decks, or I’ll have ye walkin’ the plank! (or your clients will…)

How do you handle sudden busy-ness? Give us a shout via Twitter @whiteboardcons using #betterfastercheaper or email us at

Tweets by @WhiteboardCons

Until next week!

Help me stop micro-managing!

A close friend of mine recently became a senior manager. After telling me a few stories, he looked at me with a horror stricken face and said – “Am I a micro-manager? I promised my team I wouldn’t do that! How do you be a loved boss and a good boss at the same time?”

Well first things first, let’s look at what micro management means and what it might look like in real practice. Not sure if you are a micromanager or not? Try a quiz online here.


What is micro-managing?

to manage especially with excessive control or attention to detailsmi·cro·man·age verb \ˌmī-krō-ˈma-nij\
transitive verb

intransitive verb

to direct or conduct the activities of a group or an enterprise by micromanaging them

A culture of micro-management in an organization is usually characterized by lack of engagement, stifled creativity, low employee autonomy, a reactive “fire-fighting” culture, and in all likelihood stressed-out managers!

Micro-management has financial effects too, including:

  • increased turnover (and subsequent re-hire costs)
  • reduced customer satisfaction
  • reduced employee engagement and productivity

Employees usually describe instances of micro management as the leader:

  1. adding periods, commas, and colons obsessively on a brilliant strategic document, without any constructive feedback on the content,
  2. checking in compulsively every day on a project that takes months to complete, or even worse,
  3. taking over a document, re-doing it completely without taking any input from the employee and then submitting it to senior management.

Now despite having all the best intentions of not being a micromanager, how does it happen?

Reasons for micromanaging

  1. Lack of time: Quick deadlines, less time to review documents and materials means that sometimes the manager has little choice to provide coaching and feedback, and ends up re-doing the
  2. Need for control: Sometimes previous experience has led managers to be hyper-sensitive to back feedback from senior leaders, and the only way to control it is, doing it themselves.
  3. Lack of confidence in staff: Sometimes previous poor performance from staff, or absorbing a new team or new employee can lead to micromanagement. In the case of the latter, micro-management might be a good thing.

Strategies to Tackle the Micro-Managing Monster!

  1. Give clear direction and state your expectations. At the onset of a task, assignment, or project, be clear about the objective, and how you envision the end product. Now is the time to re-iterate previous feedback and come up with an approach for the project together.
  2. Take Time. Make sure that you have adequate time to coach and provide feedback and involve an employee in revisions and changes – when you are rushed you might be tempted to take it on yourself just to get it done the way you want it on time.

Are you a self-professed micro-manager? Have a great story about a micro-manager? Share it with us! Give us a shout via Twitter @whiteboardcons using #betterfastercheaper or email us at

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COMING SOON: Whiteboard University

Did you love our Process Improvement 101 course? Get ready for a whole curriculum of courses and course materials from Whiteboard Consulting Group.

Whiteboard University: Our Approach to Learning

At Whiteboard Consulting Group (WCG) we understand that adult learners vary in learning style and preference, and that there are unique considerations for in-person and remote/virtual learning.

We believe in helping participants understand theory and concepts via interactive and guided learning that is applied to realistic and applicable business cases.

Whiteboard UniversityIn addition, our teaching is based on the Howard Gardner’s theory of “multiple intelligences”, which states that there are several types of learning styles (e.g. kinaesthetic, logical, intra-personal, visual/spatial, linguistic, interpersonal, etc). Our style is to ensure that each type of learner will find some portion of our agenda that resonates with them. By doing this, we reach every single student.

As trainers we link the diverse backgrounds, learning styles and job requirements of each learner to the practice of the curriculum, thus ensuring they understand and can apply this new knowledge in every-day office settings.

Process Improvement Curriculum

PI-101: Introduction to Process Improvement Part I

In this course the learner is introduced to the history and evolution of traditional process improvement methodologies and the benefit (or “burning platform”) of adopting a culture focused on quality improvement.Whiteboard University

The learner will also be introduced to “The Whiteboard Way”, a simplified and efficient method of implementing process improvement. Learners will be able to apply basic tools allowing them to be specific when defining opportunities for improvement (Define It!). As well, the learner will be able to present these opportunities in a visual format (Draw It!).

PI-201: Introduction to Process Improvement Part II

This follow-up course allows the learner to move from problem identification to the identification of solutions (Imagine It!). The importance of data-based decision-making is introduced as a critical element of business case development (Prove It!), and foundational to the final phase, communication. Finally, learners will understand the influence that an effective communication strategy will have on the success of their process improvement activity (Talk About It!).
Pre-requisite: PI-101 (or equivalent)

Ruth Henderson - Whiteboard ConsultingPI-301: Connect the Dots: Why Data is Important

This course addresses the common complaint of being “data rich but information poor”. The learner will be introduced to the basics of collecting high quality data and performing basic analysis to prove the root cause of a problem (data-based decision-making), support the proposed solution to the problem, and develop simple methods for ensuring the improvement “sticks”.
Pre-requisite: None

PI-302: Process Improvement Through Coaching

In this course the learner will be able to combine the concept of process improvement basics with the basics of coaching. By putting the two together, experience has shown it is possible to change a culture almost by osmosis.

An effective and engaging leader (at any level) can coach “up, down, and across”, lead by example, and subtly and permanently change the course of his/her organizational culture.

The learner will understand how to take small but specific steps to change a resistant culture to one based on processes and data-based decision-making.
Pre-requisite: None

Whiteboard University

PI-303: Introduction to Project Management

The learner is presented with the essential elements of project management in a simplified and common sense approach.

The importance of planning, time management, task assignment and communication are introduced as critical factors needed to deliver successful projects.

This course presents the learner with a simplified, common sense, from ‘the gut’, way of approaching project management. No business or engineering background required.

A myriad of critical elements are introduced, including: understanding scope (where to draw the line), how to create a basic project plan, the importance of roles and responsibilities, time management- the archenemies of risk mitigation, and communication plans ( understanding your audience, check points and team meetings).

PI-401: Mind the Gap: Managing the Space Between the Silos

In this course the learner will learn how to break down traditional “silo” mentality by organizing work so that it can not only be done, but also can be managed and supported. The learner will identify and develop key corporate processes that ensure effective communication across teams, departments, divisions, and even physical locations. The importance of emotional intelligence as an effective means of influencing the successful implementation of these processes will be discussed.
Pre-requisite: None

Contact Us for PricingWhiteboard Consulting Toronto - Team

We offer discounts for those who register for the entire curriculum. We also can do webinars for remote learners!

Stay tuned for course dates and locations! If you’d like more information email us at:

Processes & the Voice of the Customer


Voice of the Customer, or VOC, is perhaps one of the more misunderstood concepts in businesses today.

Everyone is pretty good by now at identifying their customers, both internal and external. What remains challenging is setting performance metrics that represent not only internal goals and objectives, but also reflect the wants and needs of those varying customer groups.

Do your organization’s key performance indicators (KPIs) reflect your VOC?

“Yes, we determine what our customers want each year.”


That’s not even hyperbole. Many organizations have well-intentioned strategic discussions in order to document their customers’ needs for the coming period. They “put on their customer hat”, brainstorm, and then translate that into targets for performance.

A for effort. F for execution.

What’s missing?

How about actually asking the customer.

Customer information can be gathered informally (feedback from social media, information from contact centres or snail mail) or formally (surveys, focus groups). Whatever the method, it’s something that just has to be done in order to be successful and engage the customer of your products and service.

Don’t tell me what success looks like to me!

Consider the following: Acme Book Company has a strategic and focused performance scorecard detailing its KPIs. One of those is delivery speed, measured by the time the order is received to the time the order is shipped. The target is 7 business days.

It seems logical, and yet there are a couple of flaws.


  1. What does the customer care about when the order is shipped? They care much more about when it is received. The company might retort that they have no control over the postal service, which may be true to a certain extent. However, it’s still relevant, as it’s important to the customer, and may even spur ideas for alternate delivery methods.
  2. Is 7 business days the right target? Do customers care about business days vs. days? In this day of speedy shipping and instant delivery of eBooks, is 7 acceptable or a little slow? Have they asked their customers?

If your organization has made the effort to set KPIs, it’s well on the way to doing the right thing in measuring and collecting performance data. The next step is to add in the VOC and measure the things that are Critical to the Customer from the Customer’s Point of View! Click to Tweet

What kind of metrics do you use? Give us a shout via Twitter @whiteboardcons using #betterfastercheaper or email us at

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Until next week!

Miss our webinar with Ian Brodie?

To see our interactive webinar, click here.

We’ll be covering some simple techniques for streamlining your marketing and other processes to free up more time for winning clients. Webinar with Ian Brodie

Lack of time is the number one reason Ian hears from many people about why they struggle with their marketing. And often the root cause is that their marketing and other activities are very reactive and ad hoc.

Because we haven’t turned what we do into a systematic, repeatable process, we’re spending way too much time “muddling through” instead of getting the job done quickly and efficiently.

And so it feels like we just don’t have enough time to market and win clients.

But with a little streamlining and introducing more rigour into what you do, you can often free up a lot of time from each process. And do them better into the bargain.

If you want to learn more, check out the webinar here.

Check out Ian’s site to learn more about his pain free marketing and selling tactics!

People vs. Process


You hear about this kind of thing all the time in sports – a team does badly, so you fire the coach or the GM or both. What about in business? How many times have you come across situations in which something appears to be terribly wrong in an organization, and the solution is to replace the people – whether the executive, the managers, or the staff – and yet the problem continues?

Sadly, it happens all too often even though conventional wisdom holds that it’s usually not their fault. In fact, W. Edwards Deming, famed statistician and father of modern quality methods, once said that you can put a good person in a bad system, and the system will win every time. He went so far as to say that only 15% of the performance of a system is within the individual’s control.

So why are the people blamed for poor processes?

Wet Noodle Policy

In a recent interview with a group of employees at one of our clients’ offices, a frustrated manager referred to some office policies as “Wet Noodle Policies”, and indicated that they (the policies) were vague, poorly designed, inconsistently applied, and caused poor performance.

Wow. Was he saying that poor performance was not the fault of the people in the organization?

“People get it!” he said, referring to the need to be more efficient. “Processes inhibit it!” In his office, the people are often blamed for poor processes. Click to Tweet

The thing is, even considering HR processes that can be painful, it’s often easier to change the people than the processes. To do an in-depth process review can be a lengthy project depending on how radical a change is required, and organizations are understandably be apprehensive about that kind of an undertaking.

Forward-thinking organizations are those that do it anyway, and thoroughly review their processes on a regular basis.

How to Tell if it’s the People or the Process

Although we are big fans of process mapping, and highly recommend it as part of any process review, there are a few things you can do if you’re not sure where to start:

  1. Look at your performance metrics and standards. What? Don’t have any? Well there’s your first clue that process is a problem. You should have very clear goals and objectives for every process, and they should be communicated, visible, and reviewed on a regular basis. If people are held to certain standards, they will fix broken processes  because they are barriers to their personal success.
  2. Ask the people. Pull together a focus group and ask them what’s going off the rails. Interview some key people one-on-one. You’ll soon find out if certain names keep popping up, or if people keep referring to policies, rules, or processes that are broken.
  3. Envision Utopia. If you could start from scratch, what would the process look like? Now think of what’s in the way of doing things that way. Is it people? Is it policies and rules? Is it confusion?

Tell us your people vs. process story! Give us a shout via Twitter @whiteboardcons using #betterfastercheaper or email us at

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Until next week!