Fitness for Use

Quality is fitness for use

Quality is fitness for use

Fitness for Use Categories

Dr Juran defined a non-conformance or reject or defect as “unfit for use”. Parts could be broken into one of four categories:

  • Fit for use and conforming to specification
  • Fit for use but not conforming to specifications
  • Not fit for use but conforming to specifications
  • Not fit for use, not conforming to specifications

Conforming to Specifications Not conforming to   specifications
Fit for use   These are no problem – no action is required This causes seriousInternal communications   problems
Not fit for use   This causes serious External communications   problems These are no problem – no action is required

 

Fitness for Use = Specifications

In two of the four categories, the specifications are useful. The supplier and the customer agree and the customer always get product that they want. When the parts are fit for use and conform to specifications product ships and everyone is happy. In the same way, if the product is not fit for use and does not meet the specification, the supplier will incur a cost but not lose a customer. Everyone is in agreement.

Fitness for Use≠ Specifications

Two of the categories generally lead to a level of (sometimes) controlled chaos. When the parts are fit for use but fail to meet the specification the specifications need to be changed. Understand fitness for use does not mean a product that will function but is cosmetically unsatisfactory. This product meets all the needs of the customer and they see no difference between these products and what they normally receive. Internal communications and conflict will occur until the specifications are revised.

The other category should be considered catastrophic for the supplier. The product does NOT meet the customer’s needs but the supplier views it as conforming to specification, or satisfactory product. It is here that a root cause analysis and long term preventive action is needed.

Controlling Specifications Controls Fitness for Use

Specifications are key documents for training and communication. The customer either sends their specifications or orders a catalog cut which defines the product performance. The first key step to controlling quality starts at Sales. When they take the order, they must understand and communicate the customer needs. If the customer does not what variations in color greater than .5 microns, sales must communicate this back to engineering. Engineering and manufacturing must look at the specifications and their process capability and decide of the specifications can be met. If not they must communicate back to Sales to negotiate a solution.

Clear communication at the start of the process which defines what can and cannot be done is the first step to good quality product, a satisfied customer, and a profit for the supplier.

 

Quality Management

Management requires everyone to work together for quality
Management requires everyone to work together for quality

A Fundamental Concept for Quality Management

Dr. Joseph M. Juran taught that quality management used the same three processes as financial management. They are:

  • Quality Planning
  • Quality Control
  • Quality Improvement

Quality Management – Quality Planning

Of the three elements, inadequate quality planning is a major source of quality deficiencies. Many of the remedies for quality improvement projects consist of re-planning quality. The best way to deal with poor quality is to prevent it in the first place. The earlier in the process a cause of poor quality can be removed the lower the cost to the company.

Quality Management – Quality Control

In creating quality control it is important to choose what to control, establish a unit of measurement, establish performance standards, measure performance, interpret the difference between actual versus the standard, take action on the difference. This is similar to Dr. Deming’s Plan-Do-check-Act cycle.http://technacon.com/category/dr-w-edward-deming

Quality Management – Quality Improvement

Improvement is created on a project by project basis. The first step is to identify specific projects, organize teams, discover causes, develop remedies, prove the effectiveness of the remedies, deal with cultural resistance, and establish controls to the hold the gains.

Quality Management – Return on Investment

As a rough rule of thumb, the average improvement project is worth $100,000 per year in decrease waste/cost while the average one-time cost is approximately $10,000-20,000.

Quality Management – Lessons learned

Some of the lessons learn through applying quality improvement projects are:

  • The return on investment in quality improvement is among the highest available to managers and quality improvement is not capital intensive.
  • The most decisive factor in the race for quality leadership is the rate of quality improvement

 

http://www.qualitycoach.net/products/jurans-quality-handbook-the-complete-guide-to-performance-excellence-9780071629737.asp

Quality Management follows the same basic principles as financial management, has a high return on investment and a low capital investment requirement.

Responsibilities

Quality is cyclical. Everyone contributes to the responsibilities

Quality is cyclical. Everyone contributes to the responsibilities

Who is Responsible for Quality?

Just who is responsible for quality; the customer or the processor or the supplier? Dr. Juran said they were all responsible for quality.

Customer Responsibilities

The customer must share in the responsibilities to produce a product that is fit for use. They must:

  • Transmit the needs to the supplier
  • Provide feedback to the supplier
  • Obtain feedback from the supplier

Transmitting the need is fairly clear. Provide accurate information as to specifications, delivery and expected costs. Providing feedback to the supplier is also easy to understand, if the product is unsatisfactory, tell them.

It is also necessary to provide positive feedback. At one company a customer service rep always did a little more for her clients. She would follow up on orders and check on their progress, not just in the MRP system but going out to the factory and making periodic physical checks. Thanks to her efforts more than a few errors were prevented. However, her supervisor had a performance measurement of time taking calls. When the rep was in the factory she wasn’t taking calls. There was no feedback system to her supervisor as to the effectiveness and importance of her actions so it did not appear on her performance reviews. Ultimately the rep was terminated.

The last bullet is one that is normally left out. Some of this comes from the concept “the customer is always right” or as one person put it “he who has the gold rules. The customer has the gold.” We supplied a product to an automotive manufacturer. The specification for the nut placement on the bolt was “8 mm max from the end”. Product shipped to specification. The first shift had been trained to slip on the product over both parts and tighten the nut. This was only possible if the nut had been backed off to the end of the bolt. The second shift slipped the product on one side and later inserted the other side. With the bolt backed off, the product would fall off before the assembly could be completed. Both shifts rejected the parts continually for the nut placement. The customer was furious over our “poor quality” back charging us and threatening to pull the business. They were not interested in hearing the cause of the problem. We were ordered to “fix it!” The fix – we sent our sales staff in once a month on both shifts to train the operators. The issue belonged to the customer they needed a mechanism to receive feedback.

Processor Responsibilities

The people and equipment producing the product are the most common owners of quality. They must:

  • Plan the process to meet the customer needs
  • Control the process to meet the customer needs
  • Improve the process based on customer feedback

This is the focus of most corrective actions and many people end up with the misconception that the processors own the quality responsibilities. This is not true. Quality is everyone’s job.

In my example of the customer service rep being fired for proactively checking in the factory, how many people caught the fact that she was addressing a symptom of poor quality and not the root cause? Since she was finding repeated mistakes in the process which would have produced poor quality parts, she should have gone to the person in charge and pointed out the situation. That should have resulted in root cause analysis and corrective action and she would not have needed to be in the factory.

Supplier Responsibilities

The supplier is the company as a whole that takes and order and provides a good or service. The supplier is also the previous step in the process. It is imperative that the supplier:

  • Knows who are the customers
  • Understands the needs of the customers
  • Avoid creating problems for the customers
  • Obtains feedback from the customers

As a company it is not enough to understand your own product and offer a “take it or leave it” attitude. The world is competitive and someone else is willing to step in and understand the customer’s needs and deliver exactly what they need, when they need it. A supplier must understand how the product is being used and proactively offer goods or services that best fit the customer needs. In the example of the nut position, we did offer to make two part numbers with the only difference being the nut location. The down side was maintaining inventories so the ultimate solution was for our staff to train the customer’s operators. Once we went in and talked to the people using the parts we were able to come up with a solution that avoided a problem for the customer. Did the customer fail to take on the responsibility to train their operators? Yes. Did we step up and solve the customer problem? Yes.

In the case of the internal customer, it is important to know how our product/subassembly/service is used. At one plant, a subassembly was a piece of cord cut to a set length and dropped into a gaylord then shipped across the ocean. At the next step the operator would attach the cord to a hook and wind the cord up, securing it with a rubber-band. As you can imagine the cords were twisted and tangled together and difficult to separate, wasting a great deal of time and frustrating the operator. The ultimate solution was to buy the cord in spools and set up a machine to attach the cord, measure and cut to length and automatically wind it. As an interim step the people cutting the cord would wind and rubber-band it with a tail sticking out to have the hook attached. The time to do the next operation was cut to a fraction of the original time. An interesting by-product was the wound cords took up less space and decreased the shipping cost as well.

Quality is everyone’s responsibility. It is the customer’s responsibility, the processor’s responsibility and the supplier’s responsibility. When each takes their responsibilities and acts on it the overall cost goes down and the quality improves.

The Absolutes of Quality

Mr. Philip Crosby created a chart titled “The Absolutes of Quality”.

1980’s Conventional Wisdom

 

Reality

Goodness 

Definition of quality

Conformance to requirements
Appraisal 

System to create quality

Prevention

Quality levels 

Performance Standard

Zero defects

Indexes or process levels 

Measurement

Price of Non-conformance

 

Definition of Quality

In the 1980’s “quality” was more of a feeling then a measureable element. Quality was a superior product as far as features. It might be a nicer finish to a piece of furniture or an accessory on a car. The idea that quality was conformance to requirements was a radical change. With the advent of ISO 9001, meeting the customer requirements became a “given” as the definition for quality.

Sorting bad product from good

System to Create Quality

Prevention is the current system prosperous companies use to produce a product the conforms to customer requirements. The majority of executives and managers understand the concept that the system must create 100% conforming product. Not that long ago, the method of producing a quality product was t o make a bunch of widgets and sort out the defective parts. Yes there was an army of inspectors at every plant. There was even a television ad for a brand of underwear that told people it wasn’t a quality product until inspector 12 said it was.

Quality Performance Standard

Of course 100% inspection was cost prohibitive so companies used inspection tables. The most well known was MIL-STD 105. First the manufacturer and the customer agreed as to the acceptable percentage of defects in the shipment. They would use the MIL STD 105 to determine a samples size and how many defects they could find and still ship the product. Now if current companies found a single defect in a sample, the product would be quarantined, a root cause analysis started, and a corrective and preventive action implemented.

Measurement of Quality

Measuring the Cost of Quality was unheard of in the 1980’s. Inspection and scrap were a cost of doing business and were built into the price of the product. Today, most companies track both the cost of conformance and the cost of non-conformance. If they are following ISO 9001 they also have a system to generation projects to reduce the total cost of quality.

Quality Today

So here is a question: Does your company track the cost of quality?

The Cost Of Quality

The Cost of Quality Report let's everyone see where money is being thrown away

The Cost of Quality Changes the Perceptions

Mr. Philip Crosby’s Cost of Quality report made a fundamental difference in the way Quality Managers spoke to upper management. Prior to the Cost of Quality report, Quality Managers were the keepers of “goodness”. They spoke in terms of reputation and subjective measures that frequently detracted, or appeared to detract from bottom line profitability. It caused much of upper management to “tune out” when the Quality Manager spoke.

The Cost of Quality Report quantifies the impact of both the cost of poor quality and the cost of preventive measures. With this report, Quality Managers were now able to speak upper management’s language of money. Decisions could be made on facts not emotions or corporate politics. It tied in well with Deming’s philosophies of resource allocation and the use of statistical process control.

In 1987, the price of conformance was about 5% of the total Cost of Quality; The price of non-conformance was about 25% of the Cost of Quality; and the cost of doing things right the first time was 70% of the Cost of Quality.

The Parts of the Cost of Quality report

 The Price of Non-conformance in the Cost of Quality Report

The Price of Non-conformance portion of the Cost of Quality report was fairly straight forward. Quite simply “what it cost to do things wrong.” It included:

  • reprocessing,
  • expediting,
  • unplanned service,
  • computer re-runs (remember this is the days of big mainframes and computer reports were requested during the day and run at night),
  • inventory,
  • customer complaints,
  • service after service,
  • downtime,
  • reconciliation,
  • and warranty.

This opened management’s eyes to profit opportunities. They were already spending this money, what if they could eliminate these costs and shift these dollars to the bottom line?

The Price of Conformance in the Cost of Quality

Measuring what was spent to make things correctly was a new concept. It was the cost to get things done right the first time. Inspection, engineering, preventive maintenance were just a cost of doing business. The idea that these needed to be looked at and justified opened the door to a revolution in the way management viewed costs.  The Price of Conformance included:

  • Review
  • Checking (Inspection)
  • Audit
  • Quality education
  • Test
  • Process proving
  • Procedure verification
  • Prevention
  • Inspection

The concept that collecting, reviewing and acting on these cost would lower them over time was revolutionary. By drawing attention to and reviewing these costs, corrective action could be defined and implemented.

How Much the Cost of Quality Report Identified

The first phase of the Cost of Quality would identify 60-70% of the actual costs and be driven from top management down. Once Quality Improvement Processes were implemented 90% of the actual costs would be identified with improvements in accuracy from that point forward. This information would come from the bottom up.The initial proposal had the Finance department issuing the Cost of Quality report. The course work gave detailed lists of data for each department to track and report.

Steps to implementing the Cost of Quality Report

In order to implement the Cost of Quality Report the first step was to educate managers and employees. The second step was to identify the elements by department. The third step was to give complete individual descriptions to the elements so everyone was using the same point of view. The fourth step was to determine a measurement base. The fifth step was to design the report including format, frequency and distribution. The sixth and last step was to develop and implement a strategy to utilize the Cost of Quality Report effectively.

The Purpose of the Cost of Quality Report.

The purpose of the Cost of Quality Report was not to account for every loss but rather to be a management tool that was used to determine areas that needed corrective action and to measure quality improvement. It was a basic communication tool that had everyone speaking the same language – money. So what could a Cost of Quality Report do for your company?

How Come Hardly Anything Ever Gets Better? The Case for Quality Improvement.

How do you create quality improvement?

Quality Improvement from the Quality College

In 1987, I had the privilege to attend the Quality College in Winter Park, FL. It was a highly informative week and I have kept the binder and used it as a reference ever since, although I haven’t gone back to it for a few years.

When I started to develop a page for the teachings of Philip Crosby I pulled out the binder and reviewed the material. Near the back I found a letter from Philip Crosby titled “How come hardly anything ever gets better?” A similar question was posted on LinkedIn so it seemed a good place to start.

Mr. Crosby’s first point was that no one, not the powerful or the powerless were against quality improvement. All of his books, speeches and educational material showed the financial fact that doing things right the first time cost less than doing things wrong and fixing them. Products, services, prisons, morals, the judiciary, Congress, movies, taxis – just about everything needs improvement.

Since everyone was in favor of improvement and opportunities abound, there should be an epidemic of things getting better. That begged the question; why is hardly anything getting better?

Who is Responsible for Quality Improvement?

Mr. Crosby came up with 3 basic reasons:

  1. The highest paid and most talented people in a company do not work on improvement. They produce strategy books, planning manuals, marketing reports, five year plans etc that are shown like merit badges but are not used or implemented. Everyone is working hard on things that make little difference.
  2. People who understand a subject do not get help in determining a policy for improvement. Nationally known consumer advocate groups have no experience in quality management. Most business media experts talk about quality and yet their experience is limited. Getting a common definition of “quality” would be difficult and it has been overlaid with emotion.
  3. 3.      Management and labor do not understand each other. There are very few members of management that have ever actually done the work they supervise. Motivation of the workers is the most popular theme for quality improvement programs. Yet it is management that needs to realize they are the cause of the problems by the way they manage. Union management falls into the same boat as company executives.

The Results of Quality Improvement

Companies that create a renaissance in terms of changing management operating attitudes have drastically improved their products and services and reaped the reward to the bottom line. Companies have already paid for quality, isn’t it time they should get what is coming to them?

Has There Been Quality Improvement?

As I read the letter in many ways I agreed with Mr. Crosby. However looking back over the past 25 years, I also realized that we have come a very long way in large part thanks to Mr. Crosby, Dr. Deming, Dr Juran and Dr. Shewhart. So I invite you to comment. What improvements have you seen? Are things getting better or is hardly anything getting better?

Point 13 -Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks – Encourage Education

 

Old dogs like to learn new tricks

If you stop training with the basics you will get a bored and desctructive dog and employee

Encourage education

Institute a vigorous program of education, and encourage self improvement for everyone. What an organization needs is not just good people; it needs people that are improving with education. Advances in competitive position will have their roots in knowledge.

Dr.W. Edwards Deming

Education the antidote to boredom

One of the interesting things I love about training in German Shepherds is they love to learn. It takes about two years to get one to search ready status but that
is only the begin. If you try to stop there, you will get a bored and probably
destructive dog. Instead we train new skills; air scent, then tracking,
obstacles, human remains, evidence articles, the list is as long as your imagination. The dogs love it and the benefit to the search team is a strong and capable canine with the ability to always get the job done no matter what the job is.

People aren’t that much different. Someone who does the same tasks year after year without change can get bored and stale. Providing regular and varied education keeps a person’s mindsharp. When it comes time for someone to come up with a new idea the person who you trained will most likely be the one to come up with the answer.

Encourage Education in the Hourly Workforce

  My first job as a production supervisor was an education in itself. I had one employee that was intelligent and articulate but kept making serious mistakes. This was a person I wanted to promote and instead I was regularly writing up violations for the silliest of mistakes. It was coming to the point where I was going to have to terminate this individual. As I reviewed his personnel file, I found a note he had written giving a friend permission to pick up the employee’s paycheck. I started to see a glimmer of the problem. The next day I had the man read a procedure and sign off that he had read and understood it. He made a good show of taking time on each page and flipping pages. As he tried to make his exit from my office, I had him sit down and we discussed the procedure. It didn’t take long for us both to know he couldn’t read. I got him signed up with literacy volunteers and it wasn’t long before the problems we had been experiencing went away. Encouraging education made the difference for both the employee and the company.

Encourage Education in the Salaried Workforce

As a person gains experience, it can be difficult to find courses being offered in their field where they should be the student. In more than a few cases, I’ve taken courses where the professor posted their credentials and I realized my credentials were better. I could leave and demand my money back or I could sit there and listen. When I have chosen to sit and listen, I generally find a kernel of wisdom I hadn’t thought of. It generates a whole new train of thought that just may solve a problem I’ve been working on. I also started studying Spanish, I don’t think translators jobs are in jeopardy but thinking in a new language helps me come up with a new perspective. Encourage education for both your employees and yourselfto reap long term benefits.

Cha-ching! Part 1 of Go Green, Save Green

Save penny, save a pound

This is going to be a running article to see how much we can save companies and
individuals, simply by changing habits. Technacon Company Inc. is looking for
your ideas to see what we can save the average person – and put more money
in the implementer’s pocket – Cha-ching. We want to help people go green and save green.

 Here are the rules for Go Green Save Green:

  1. No investment – In today’s economy making payroll is a struggle so the savings has to come from changing habits
  2. Calculate annual savings – To keep everything apples to
    apples, calculate the savings for a year. If the savings is for a single item,
    say a computer or a vehicle, note the savings for a single item and if you have
    a reliable source that gives the average number per company or household,
    reference the source and give the finally average savings.
  3. And the Winner Receives – The person that offers the most
    savings ideas will have their choice of a free signed copy of “The Dog
    Next Door and Other Stories of the Dogs We Love” http://www.amazon.com/Dog-Next-Door-Other-Stories/
    or “Dangerous Turn Ahead”http://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Turn-Ahead/,
    the opportunity to guest blog at Technacon.com and a link to their website.

The first suggestion for go green save green was tweeted on Friday, September 9th:

If you turn off your company’s computers when they aren’t in use it you will save about $20 a year.

Here is the go green save green calculation:

Assume the average person pays $.11/KW
https://www.comed.com/

A computer in sleep mode uses 18 KWa year for $1.98

The average number of employees per business in the USA is 16 (see http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/279843.html),
assuming 2/3 of these employees have their own computer in their work area
(10.56) The total is $20.91.

An alternative view can be found at
http://www.brighthub.com/environment/green-computing/articles/9351.aspx or http://dssw.co.uk/research/computer_energy_consumption.html#_Toc29375315

Here is a reference website used in this go green to save green calculation  http://www.energysavers.gov/pdfs/energy_savers.pdf

Sick of the Green Revolution

“If I have one more person tell me I need to make my company Green, I’m going to become politically incorrect.” This statement was made in a CEO round-table meeting and perfectly describes the frustration business owners feel. Sales are down, the economy is questionable and they are being pressured to make an investment because it is the “right thing to do”. The first priority is to stay in business and find a way to make payroll. Getting pressured to make what they perceive as unrealistic investments for a feel-good
moment is not something a wise business owner does.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t be more wrong.

The Start of the Green Revolution

In the early 1990’s, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) created the environmental standard ISO 14000 as a response to conservation initiatives from the 1970’s. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_14000.Unlike the more well known ISO 9000 Quality Standard, ISO 14000 was not required by most clients, for one simple reason, all cost benefits went to the implementer. ISO 9000 allowed clients to eliminate costly auditing staff, supplier audits and incoming inspection. There was a direct benefit to the
client to insist the supplier implement ISO 9000. The benefit for the implementation of ISO 14000 was indirect so many companies did not include it as a requirement to do business with them.

Why Aren’t Business Owners joining the Green Revolution

Suppliers had limited resources and meeting the customer requirements was the first priority. ISO 14000 got lost in the shuffle as few people had time to analyze the standard and realize the cost benefits.

How does ISO 14000 Relate to the Green Revolution?

The purpose of ISO 14000 standard is to create a continuous improvement process to reduce consumption and waste. If a company can make more product using less materials and energy, and has to pay less to process waste, the unit cost of producing their product is reduced. This gives the business owner the option of increasing profits or reducing price and increasing sales. Still business
owners did not see ISO 14000 as something they wanted to pursue. To make it more palatable to the average business owner, ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 have been gradually changing to make them so similar they can be implemented through thesame process and systems. Companies already meeting ISO 9000 will have little or no difficulty incorporating ISO 14000.

Frequently the barrier to implementing continuous improvement in reduced consumption and waste is a capital investment.http://technacon.com/… However, due to the Green Revolution significant grants are available to help
companies across this hurdle. Now is the time to embrace the Green Revolution, implement ISO 14000 and increase profitability. Joining the Green Revolution could make more business sense than it does today.

Point 8 – Drive Out Fear

Encourage effective two way communication and other means to drive out fear throughout the organization so that everybody may work effectively and more productively for the company.

Dr. W. Edwards Deming

The headline read “Confidence Declines to Lowest since February”. The Conference Board’s index fell almost 5 points in a month. Unemployment at 9.6% is at a 26 year high. The CEO Economic Outlook Index declined from 94.6 in June to 86 in September, because there were fewer company executives expecting sales and head count to improve. (See MSN Money News Center)

Anyway you look at it, there is more than enough fear to go around. So what is the impact on employees? In most cases, people “keep their heads down and their mouths’ shut”, not a good thing. Management isn’t told about problems out of fear of more layoffs, which causes a decrease in product quality, productivity, and increases delivery times and costs. That kind of response to fear puts a company out of business.

What is a business owner to do? Dr. Deming said it, “Drive out fear.”

Have a Plan

This is not going to be a fast recovery. What do you need to do, if the economic situation does not improve, for the next 12 months? Look at head count, purchases and expenses. How do you stay in business and provide jobs? What indicators will you track and what do they need to be to get you out of protection mode? Write it down and follow it.

Layoffs

How are layoffs being done? Eating the elephant in small bites has its advantages, but not when it comes to driving out fear. That monthly cut of a few more people month after month, leaves everyone worried that they will be next. People focus on surviving – putting a roof over their family’s head and food on the table. You need them focused on keeping quality at a high level and looking elsewhere for cost cutting measures. Make the cuts deep and quick, and then sit down and discuss, with employees that remain, their jobs are safe, you’ve done all the cuts for your planned period of time, a year, so they can come to work and not wonder if they are next. It means everyone will have to do more with less, but they can at least be sure they are safe. Tell them you don’t want them to be afraid.

Honesty

Tell your employees the truth; there won’t be bonuses, big parties, or new equipment purchases. Reward programs are cancelled for everyone. You are keeping the cash expenditures low to protect their jobs. Ask for their help. Recognize those making suggestions with praise, and where possible, identify what they saved. Keep a running tally board, when it totals the gross annual cost of a single average employee’s wage make a posting, “Because of these people’s suggestions one person’s salary for a year has been saved, thanks to them we all have jobs.”

Tighten Your Belt

I once worked for a company where the owners laid off one third of the workforce, had the managers take a 20% pay cut, and then went out and bought themselves very expensive cars and remodeled their offices. This is an extreme, but often, employees don’t see where management is  also making concessions. It is very normal for frustrated people to look at the “other guy” and feel slighted. Management is a prime target. If you are cutting management perks and/or salaries communicate what you are doing, too. Make a statement such as, “Management chose to give up benefits and salary equal to X number of employees’ salaries.”

New Ideas

Necessity is the mother of invention. Now is the time to look at your products and drive out costs. Focus your designers and engineers to spend a portion of their time looking at existing products. Listen carefully to employees ideas and see if they can be expanded across a line of products.

Increase Sales

Get your sales force out mining existing customers. A salesperson coming through the door with an idea to cut the customer’s costs is going to get time with the purchasing agent. Now is when you build relationships, if your sales force helped in the bad times, the customer will remember it in the good times and be less likely to switch to a competitor. Get your designers focused on lower cost replacement products, particularly for your competitions’ lines. Figure out how you can get the other guy’s business.

Smile and Hang On

Scots kings used to have to eat dinner in front of their subjects. The idea being, if the king ate well, he wasn’t worried. If the king wasn’t worried his subjects didn’t need to be afraid. Your employees are looking at you for their cues. If you come through the door with a scowl and a worried expression, they are going to be afraid and go back to head down, mouth shut mode. Worry cannot add a minute to your life, quite the contrary, it will hurt your health and possibly shorten your life. You’ve made your plan and implemented it, now help your staff with your skill set. If you’re an engineer at heart, throw some ideas out to the designers. If you’re a people person, get your sales staff charged up. Put your energy into creating improvement and you will drive out the fear that would otherwise cripple your company. You’ll come out the other side of this ‘economic downturn’ stronger and positioned for real growth.