Author Archive

CONSISTENCY: GREAT ACHIEVEMENTS GAINED SLOWLY OVER TIME

by Joe

CONSISTENCY: From the mid 1830’s through 1870, over 400,000 westward bound settlers used the Oregon trail to reach new dreams and start new lives. The consistent use of this well worn trail made it possible for families to start new homes, and new fortunes to be made.

It might seem overly obvious, maybe a little cliché even; consistency is an incredibly important element in succeeding in any business enterprise.


As an example, imagine what the McDonald’s brand might be if, on every occasion you visited a different location, you had a totally different experience.  They might even all be positive experiences.  Still, because they were all different, consumers would never be able to form expectations about future experiences.  This is the polar opposite of brand, and as we all know, McDonald’s grew to be what it is because it very successfully established a unique market position and then, like little tin soldiers, stamped out restaurants in the thousands. EVERYONE knows what McDonald’s is. When consumers and customers get what they want, they are happy and will return.

Leadership guru John Maxwell said: “Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day lead to great achievements gained slowly over time.”

Consistency is not just a critical tenet of branding; its important in every aspect of your business.

When it comes to leading teams, effective managers and leaders know that they have to be consistent in their behavior and attitude. When bosses are inconsistent, the trust that working relationships rely on is eroded.  Organizations that are shot through with distrust are not effective. They become politically driven, hostile, terrible places to work.  Your best employees will leave, in time, and what you have left are employees no one trusts. Trust is built on the foundation of consistency.

Businesses set goals and objectives which require consistent effort persistently applied to be achieved. Consistent focus is required.  As the author Jim Rohn once put it, “Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals.”

 Consistency is Important Across the Entire Business.

Products/services: McDonald’s is a great example of success bred from consistency in products and services; however, McDonald’s is a massive corporation with a lot of protocols in place that allow them to execute with this very high level of precision. It’s not as easy for smaller companies to do.  In small business, it’s fairly common to have variances across a number of operational categories.  Because of this, I’ve experienced inconsistency in product quality more often from smaller businesses than large ones.  The consequences usually include disappointed customers, lower profitability due to lack of operational controls that larger companies have long-since addressed, lost business and a higher rate of returned merchandise.  

Employees:  Happy employees are better at creating positive customer experiences than unhappy ones are.  Companies where HR policies take this into consideration often generate better customer experiences than those where employee morale is not elevated to the same level of importance.  Companies that have standardized, clear and written employee policies create a sense of stability for their employees that would otherwise be missing.  This stability fosters more trust and more contentment.  

Suppliers:  Consider this scenario – Timely payment of invoices is certainly one aspect of a mutually satisfying relationship between customers and suppliers.  However, if payment is late but reliable, most suppliers will forgive the infraction.  This is because the relationship has existed long enough and payment has been reliable with each transaction.  

Advantages of Being Consistent

  1. Measure Changes – If you think back to high school science classes, in order to test whether a change in a system produces any given effect, all other variables have to be held constant.  This applies to business, too.  To know whether a change in the business processes is leading to the desired effect, it’s important to know that the change is being implemented in every case, by every person involved in the process.  Without this kind of consistency, conclusions can’t be drawn. 
  • Creates Accountability – For this one, think of any cross-functional team project you might have run in the business.  Consistently scheduling and conducting periodic team meetings, publishing minutes of those meetings, and managing the project by timelines are all common experiences that illuminate how well the team is functioning as well as where any performance gaps might be occurring.  If these practices are consistently followed, all team members will feel a greater level of accountability and projects run more smoothly.  
  • Builds Reputation – Companies that consistently deliver exceptional quality products, on-time, and at a fair value develop excellent reputations.  In the tech industry, Apple Inc. has such a reputation and because of this, Apple consumers are very brand loyal and will pay a premium for Apple branded products although there are substitutes in most of Apple’s product categories.  
  • Command Staff Allegiance – As the leader of your enterprise, you set the vision and the direction.  Consistency in the way strategy is set and maintained makes it much easier for your line and staff to follow your direction.  Meanwhile, leaders who waffle lose their team’s respect as well as their willingness to make the personal sacrifices needed to achieve stretch objectives.  
For over twenty years, Word4Asia has steadily added to the kinds of successful results that our partners and clients have sought to achieve in mainland China.

Word4Asia is a consulting company that works with client organizations whose strategic plans include expansion in mainland China.  Over more than twenty years, we have built a reputation for faithful execution of our client’s vision and objectives.  We remain as true and committed to helping our clients in today’s fast-changing environment as we ever have been.   If your plans include expansion in mainland China, we hope you’ll give us a call. We’d like to know more about it; perhaps there’s an opportunity for us to help!  Feel free to reach out to Dr. Gene Wood at gene@word4asia.com.

Staying Fresh in Consulting; Every Product Has a Sell-By Date.

by Joe

Age discrimination may be illegal but age is still a reality. Most consultant’s primary product is THEM.  What is the expiration date on THEM?

In sports we all agree “father time is undefeated”…. We may be an outlier such as Peyton Manning but even Peyton will someday transition to another realm of work. 

Suggestions:

Stay in good health and stay fit. Don’t need to look and act like your thirty which usually makes us look even older. But be in reasonably good shape for your age. Primarily to bring energy to the table. 

Stay relevant in whatever field you are in. Unlike the medical, CPA and legal realm independent consultants seldom are required to take courses and test in them. So, we must be driven from within to not only stay current but rise above the norm in our fields of expertise. 

Example. In China people don’t want to know what we saw and experienced in China or where we were or how often we visited  but when were we there last and how broadly have we gained exposure. What levels of exposure and how deeply we are experienced. No place in the world changes more rapidly than China! 

Clients ask discreetly about our age. 

“How sustainable is your work?”

“What are your transition plans?” 

Instead of feeling like you’ve been carded at the bar, you should take these questions as complements. It means your customers value YOUR contributions and they want you to continue to make them while you still have energy and all your marbles.  

Be honest. No one is forever. Also, as the competent professional that you are, you should be able to look forward to a time when you don’t need to work. Rather, strive to provide the best possible work at the best rate you can earn for as long as you are still providing good value to your clients.

My response is basically “I could retire and be fine. My wife might even be happy, but I enjoy working. Have worked since I was 16 and it is a habit I’m not eager to break. As long as I can be effective and relevant I have no plans to quit.”  

What contingency plans can we offer should something unexpected arise?  We should know and be able to articulate what these are: Poor health, health of a spouse requiring our attention, a sudden change in the political environment where we work, etc.  

Word 4 Asia encourages our clients to think in terms of three year initiatives and we promise that we can fulfill these with or without my personal presence. We have a team which can sustain any project(s) for that duration of time in place. 

Furthermore almost all our contracts are one year in duration. This provides a time for evaluation and off ramps if necessary. 

We cannot deny mortality. We should also be conversant with the norms for Boomer retirement.  Most all say they wish to work forever or at least until full retirement age, which is 67.  However, only a small percentage actually do. We should know why this is the case and make sure we’re honest with ourselves and upfront with our clients. Let’s keep living in the real world. 

Consultants who advise others must demonstrate wisdom in their own work and lives. That single factor may be our best sales presentation.

Need a little more inspiration, check out this wonderful Ted talk by boomer, Tom Hering, “How I Became an Entrepreneur at 66”. At 64, Tom was shown the door by his employer who felt he’d ‘aged out’. Two years later, he was the founder of a successful company, his passion project that turns industrial waste into packaging.

http://boomermale.com/2018/10/22/how-i-became-an-entrepreneur-at-66/
Click the link to view Tom Hering’s Ted talk.

What are your thoughts on remaining vital in your career, even as time continues to march forward? I’d enjoy the conversation. And, as always, if your organization’s plans include. expansion in China, perhaps you should contact us. Our large network, and more than twenty years of practical experience might be just the advantage you need to succeed! I can be reached at Gene@word4asia.com.

The Three Principles We Manage By

by Joe

Word 4 Asia has been been serving clients in our unique niche for over twenty years.  During that time, we’ve worked with many clients to help them achieve difficult goals.  Looking back, I can see a common thread of things that I believe have contributed towards successful projects.  While, every organization is different, there are a number of principles that we’ve ‘top of mind’.  Doing so has allowed us to succeed.  This month’s blog is about those principles.

Principle Number One: Serve From Our Strengths

We’re only as good as the combined set of our company’s and our team’s experience.  From time to time, we’ve been asked to partner with certain organizations on topics that were outside our ‘wheel house’.  We’ve passed on most of those opportunities.   We know that when our prospects come to us for help, its because our reputation is very good and they’ve received strong referrals.   We know that new clients are often hiring our reputation because to them it’s a promise of what they can experience.  We will never sell what we cannot deliver. 

When we commit to a project, it’s because we know we have the right experience for it.  To us, this means

We understand the environment our customers want to succeed in.  There are so many differences between working in mainland China and the world that most of our clients inhabit in the western world.  We have been to China hundreds of times.  We know the people, how things get done, what to look out for and how to get things done more easily.  We can’t say the same for other regions of Asia, so we don’t work in those other regions.

Our word is our bond.  If Word 4 Asia make a promise, it’s going to happen.  We also do everything in our power to accomplish those promises within the scope of the time period and the project budget.  One of my pet peeves is a vendor who over-commits and under-delivers.  My entire team knows this and they’re trained and cautioned about making that mistake.

Trust is everything in our business.  Many of our customers have relied on our expertise for years.  Trust is one of the most important reasons why they continue to come back to us.

Principle Number Two: Willingness to Partner

We stand behind our work.  Completely.  We’ve got such skin in the game that we promise to return our client’s fees if we were unable to complete anything that was in-scope. 

By aligning our fee with our clients’ outcomes, we believe we’re communicating several very important messages.  One, that we believe in their work and their organization.   Two, that we are committed to their success for the long-term, not just during the period under our contract.  We’re saying that we’re willing to assume the same level of risk they are, because we believe in our own work, and in the work our clients perform as well.

One sub-point under willingness to partner relates to the way Word 4 Asia responds to our client’s “Requests for Price/ Proposal”.  Some consulting firms are so focused on limiting their exposure that they even submit boiler plate replies to the RFPs they receive.  You’d never find that with us.  When we quote an engagement or project, we take the time to consider every facet of the project.  Besides being accurate, this also helps us stay true to the points discussed under ‘trust’ and ‘integrity’.

Principle Number Three: Fees

Many organizations are now listing ‘fees’ as the second highest priority, after experience, when it comes to choosing between potential consultants.  This hasn’t always been the case but it does show how important the Purchasing department has become in consultant selection.   For some consultants, this might seem threatening.  However, to our way of thinking, its just business as usual.  As true partners to our clients, we’ve always considered stewarding their resources a very important part of our role while serving them.   Our proposals are heavy on details so the fairness of our quotes is readily apparent.  We’re proud of that.

Perhaps your organization is looking for a trusted partner to help you achieve your goals in mainland China.  Word 4 Asia is an experienced and trusted partner to many organizations in the USA.  Perhaps we have the right combination of background, personnel and skills you need.  The best way to find out is to contact us at gene@word4asia.com or you can phone Dr. Gene Wood at 714) 769-9114.   We’ll be ready for your call!

Is It Time to Hire a Consultant? Setting the Table for Success.

by Joe

So,  you think maybe it’s time to bring in a consultant.  Do you know how to match the right consultant with the needs of your organization?    How you address this has a huge impact on the future of the relationship.  Having served many clients over the last fifteen years, we think we’ve learned quite a bit about what fosters productive client-consultant relationships and what doesn’t.

The Roles Consultants Play

One place to start is having a clear notion of what you actually want your consultant to do for you.  Consultants can occupy a fairly broad array of roles. 

As the client, you may be searching for a consultant to help you answer key questions about the business.  A market research consultant, for instance, is retained to study questions about how consumers react to ad messages, new product concepts and other marketing variables.  A good consultant will think beyond the bounds of the project as the client frames it and will ask questions about how the information will ultimately be used.  This additional perspective may result in the problem statement being reworked and the scope either broadened or narrowed.  Beware of the consultant who does not think beyond the RFP.

On another occasion, you may want a consultant’s help in solving an important problem.  For instance, finding a new raw material source, re-thinking a production process, or something else.  As in the first example, the best consultants will take the time to consider if the pinpointed problem is really the right one to address.  Questions Word 4 Asia often asks our clients include

  • ‘What solutions have worked in the past?’
  • ‘Which related aspects of the client’s work are not going well?’
  • ‘How will the solution be applied?’

It’s also important to know the prospective consultant’s record for correct diagnoses.   Ask for case-studies where correctly identifying the root cause of a problem led to effective solutions.

What recommendation delivery method is right for your organization? 

The follow up question to this is ‘What is the prospective consultant’s experience and success in delivering recommendations in the way(s) that best suit your team?’  Is your management team prone to change or is change something which is feared and/ or poorly executed?   A consultant’s ability to influence receptivity of their recommendations will also have a huge impact on the ultimate value of the project to the organization.

Do we have a proper learning environment?

The project your consultant is engaged in will not be the last time your organization needs to work through a challenging opportunity.  Can you find a consultancy that can help you improve your internal bench strength for future problem solving?  This single facet could possibly be even more valuable than the solution to the immediate need!

The Traits Great Consultants Possess

Not all consulting firms will be able to provide solutions to this list of considerations.  However, there are certain traits you can look for which will  help ensure at least some of them. 

Reliability:  It’s an old-fashioned notion, but we believe that doing what you promise and promising only what you’ll do are important in any profession.

Attention to Detail:  The old saying is true; ‘If a person cannot be trusted in the small things, how can they be trusted with the big ones?’  In consulting this olds true from the way an opportunity is approached to the quality of the finished written report.

Resourcefulness:  Find a consultant that is flexible and capable in a variety of situations.  You are hiring a consultant because you don’t have the internal band-width to address the question(s) internally.  Resources are already limited.  The consulting firm you hire must be able to produce outstanding results working on their own.

An inquisitive mind that sees beyond the obvious:  Its sometimes happened in our experience that the challenges we have addressed for our clients were not the ones they originally considered.  By seeing past the client’s own bias and perspectives we were able to ask different questions that ultimately led to the right conclusions and allowed us to generate better results.

For fifteen years, Word 4 Asia has been helping our clients to address a variety of challenging opportunities.  In fact, it seems that our environment has only become more interesting and challenging with the passing of time.  We’re proud of the contributions we make toward our clients objectives. Have you got a need we can help you address?  We’d love to talk.  You can reach Word 4 Asia by emailing Dr. Gene Wood at gene@word4asia.com

 

Consistency

It might seem overly obvious, maybe even a little cliche; consistency is an incredibly important element in succeeding in any business enterprise.

 

Read More

 

Staying Fresh in Consulting

Age discrimination may be illegal but age is still a reality. Most consultant’s primary product is THEM. What is the expiration date on THEM? In sports we all agree “father time is…

 

Read More

 

The Three Principles We Manage By

Word 4 Asia has been been serving clients in our unique niche for over twenty years. During that time, we’ve worked with many clients to help them achieve difficult …

 

Read More



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