From the Principal’s Office
One of Amster’s pet peeves. Read on and see if you agree.
Bob Amster – Principal, RTG
As a long-time consultant to the retail industry, I often encounter a retail company where little or nothing gets done to improve operations. Observations are made, everyone seems to know what is wrong with whatever is wrong, but little or nothing is done about it. Sometimes this happens because of a lack of budget, some times it appears to happen because of a lack of genuine interest in making things better. From time to time I hear a saying that is not unique to American retail, is preponderant in other industries as well, and I think it’s indicative of a disease: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
If I hear it first hand again from a client or potential client, I am sure to ruin the relationship. If one looks at the best operators, they are always improving something. It may not be a big ‘something’; it may only be an extension of something they already do pretty well. It is akin to finding a small detail in a hotel that you notice with pleasure and just makes one’s stay a little better. And one asks oneself, ‘why doesn’t every hotel chain do this?’ Air Canada has 110v AC outlets in every seatback. So does Amtrak on all floorboards. Why doesn’t every airline do this? Enter kaizen!
My daughter claims that Toyota Motors Corporation practically invented the word, certainly the concept. Kaizen is the Japanese concept of continuous improvement. Our former associate Mark Lilien brought the expression to my attention some years ago. The concept is so simple, it’s almost laughable. If you see something that works but could be made better, make it better! And yet, not every retail company practices kaizen. If it ain’t broke, they don’t fix it. Eventually, some competitor comes along in the not-too-distant future and eats their lunch!
We, in the consulting field who are passionate about our work, would like to improve everything. Hopefully, that is what we do. We do understand that one cannot improve everything at one time. So, you put all these seeming ‘little’ improvements on a list, and you apply a bunch at a time, at the right time. I had a very bright boss once who liked to use the expression “…while the patient is already on the operating table…’ you’d fix a bunch of big and little things. But you would continuously improve.
My theory is that companies or people don’t embrace kaizen because it implies having to do more work. Well, duhhhhh! Isn’t ‘work’ that for which we get paid?
What’s New with Us
We have been engaged again by this franchisor of the hottest new jewelry to manage the implementation of KWI Systems as the standard platform form all franchisee operations.
We are working with this regular client on an emerging technology applied to an in-store project to be launched late this fall. More to come.
We have been recently engaged by this hot retailer of custom jewelry, accessories and apparel, to manage the project to implement a number of modules of the Kronos software. Pilots will launch in January of 2011.
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