Clarity Management Consulting

Archive for June, 2011

A Sane Approach to Getting Started in Social Media

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Social media is just one of many marketing channels available to entrepreneurs. It is a single component of your toolkit. Moreover, like most marketing channels, it is about sowing now and reaping later. Think of it as a means of building relationships that will result in increased mind share and credibility for your product or service.

Many solo entrepreneurs know they need an online presence, but they have limited resources and can be intimidated by the volume of work. A tailored strategy for social media can overcome these obstacles and help you avoid the trap of having your time consumed by this tool at the expense of other critical business tasks.

Where should you start?

Start with your needs. Recognize that you can design your effort based on your business objectives and available resources. Here’s how to do it.

Decide what you want from social media.

Identify your marketing goals. These may include creating awareness, building your brand, building relationships, and demonstrating expertise. Prioritize these goals based on your needs. Use a tool like Table 1 to determine their relative importance for your business.

Figure out how much time and energy you are willing to spend.

Social media experts generally recommend posting frequently on your blog and on sites such as Twitter and Facebook to maximize exposure. However, you have to right-size your activity based on your resources. Even if you cannot afford to be heavily invested in this marketing channel because of staffing constraints, you can still have an online presence on a scale that suits you. Table 2 can help you plan your time.

Decide where to focus your effort.

Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and your blog all have the potential to enhance your online presence based on the type of business and your creativity in using the tools. Their relative value depends on your goals, as shown in Table 3. For example, if your aim is to demonstrate expertise, writing a blog is a great way to do it. Then you can use the other tools to direct traffic to your blog.

Execute and engage.

Once you have determined what you want from social media, the time you are willing to spend, and the tools you intend to use, get started! Develop your profiles and add content. Then invite clients, prospects, and business partners to connect with you. Remember to take advantage of your local social media community where you will find opportunities to engage both online and in person. For those in Central New York, the Linked Syracuse-Central NY LinkedIn group, which boasts more than 1,100 members, and the Biz Buzz Social Media Conference are two great examples.

Women Business Owners Serve on Technology Group’s Board of Directors to Cultivate Innovation in Central New York

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

Rhonda R. Cabrinha and Monica D. Johns have some things in common. They are both business owners and members of Women TIES (Women Together Inspiring Entrepreneurial Success). Cabrinha is vice-president and equity partner at Ellis, Moreland & Ellis, a locally owned Independent Insurance Agency. Johns is president and CEO of Clarity Management Consulting, a Syracuse-based consulting firm. Both women are also members of the board of directors of the Technology Alliance of Central New York (TACNY). Might this suggest something about women business owners and geekdom?

You bet it does, according to Tracy Higginbotham, founder and president of Women TIES. “It sends a powerful message about women entrepreneurs and their commitment to be fully engaged in securing the prosperity of their communities,” says Higginbotham. As Johns says, “TACNY’s mission supports what has been identified as a critical business imperative, the importance of which cannot be overemphasized, namely the need to advance innovation by increasing the number of graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).”

TACNY’s work supports local schools and other educational institutions in their efforts to generate interest in the STEM disciplines among middle and high school students. “Technology and innovation are the building blocks of Central New York’s future prosperity. TACNY’s programs are essential for motivating the next wave of innovators,” said Cabrinha.

TACNY is a nonprofit organization that has served the Central New York community since 1903. TACNY hosts science and technology presentations geared toward middle school students and supports a myriad of local and regional student events, including the Science Olympiad middle and high school competition and the CNY Rocket Team Challenge, just to name a few. The group also offers lectures and tours that address the interests of technology professionals, educators, and other adults who simply want to become more tech-savvy.

TACNY’s signature event is the Celebration of Technology Awards Banquet, slated for September 19, 2011. It will feature Deanne Bell, possibly the most popular woman engineer in the country. As a television personality, Bell is best known as co-host of PBS’s Design Squad and host of DIY Network’s Money Hunters (http://www.diynetwork.com/deanne-bell/bio/index.html ). Organizers are looking to ignite students’ passion about science and technology, and they believe Bell is just the speaker to do it. Visit http://www.tacny.org/news_and_events/vw/3/itemid/546/d/20110919.aspx for event details.

Rhonda R. Cabrinha, CIC is vice-president and equity partner at Ellis, Moreland & Ellis, a locally owned Independent Insurance Agency. She has more than 35 years of experience in the insurance business and held numerous positions with National Grange Mutual Insurance Company prior to joining Ellis, Moreland & Ellis. Rhonda holds the Certified Insurance Counselor designation (CIC). She is a Regional Director of IAAC, the Membership Services Division of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of New York. She is actively involved in the Syracuse I Day committee, which she chaired in 2009. Rhonda is the 2005 recipient of Syracuse’s Insurance Person of Distinction Award and a past president of the Independent Insurance Agents of Central New York. Ellis, Moreland & Ellis (www.emeinsurance.com) provides insurance protection for individuals and businesses throughout New York State.

Monica D. Johns, MBA, PMP®, president and CEO of Clarity Management Consulting (www.claritymanagementconsulting.com), has more than 25 years of technical and business experience including positions with General Electric, Corning, and General Motors. Her background includes engineering, process improvement, team development, program and project management, and consulting. She earned her MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and her Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from the University at Buffalo. Johns received her Six Sigma Black Belt from the Institute of Industrial Engineers and holds the Project Management Professional (PMP®) credential conferred by the Project Management Institute. Clarity transforms businesses from the inside out. With expertise in project management, process improvement, collaboration, and team development, Clarity uses process improvement as an enabler for clients’ strategic goals.

Tracy Higginbotham, president of Women TIES, helps women entrepreneurs in New York State expand their local, state, and regional marketplace. She serves on a variety of business advisory boards and is a guest speaker on a wide range of business topics for local chambers of commerce and business organizations. Tracy is also a columnist for the Syracuse Post-Standard and a two-time recipient of the SBA’s Women-Owned Business Champion Award for Region II. She is a graduate of the State University of New York at Oswego where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and postgraduate studies in Business Management. Women TIES (http://www.womenties.com/) provides a variety of exceptional networking, development, and marketing opportunities for women business owners each month.

A FEW BASICS FOR EVALUATING YOUR PROCESS IMPROVEMENT AND QUALITY MANAGEMENT PRACTICES

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

Leadership: Are executives and managers trained in quality and process improvement (Baldrige, Six Sigma, Lean Management and/or Manufacturing, others)?

  • Leaders who are not trained in these areas are not committed to quality and continuous improvement, nor can they create an organization that can effectively implement such systems. This is reflected in the quality of the product or service.

Process Reviews and Documentation: Are there periodic reviews of processes, including business and manufacturing processes? Are these processes properly documented? Is the documentation maintained and updated as needed?

  • Periodic reviews and well-maintained documentation suggest a degree of awareness of needed changes.

Data Management: How is process data handled in terms of collection, analysis, and maintenance, and storage?

  • Data management is the lifeblood of any manufacturing process irrespective of the product type. The same can be said of business processes with relatively high volumes, such as invoicing or call center activities. Access to data will drive the ability to measure and improve process performance. Inadequate collection, analysis, maintenance, or storage of data suggests inattentiveness to quality.

Visibility of Process and Quality Culture: Is there visible evidence of the implementation of process and quality principles?

  • Work areas, particularly in manufacturing, should display visible signs of basic process and quality discipline. Examples include work procedures documented at each workstation and implementation of 5S (Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, Sustain).
  • The absence of such things is a visible sign that the organization lags the industry in basic quality procedures.

Individual Training and Certifications: Have employees been trained in critical quality disciplines?

  • Training and certification in quality disciplines such as Six Sigma and Lean empowers and equips employees. This training is critical for continuous improvement.
  • Such skills are essential to supporting quality and customer satisfaction, and ultimately, shareholder value.

Organizational Certifications: Has the organization earned (and does it maintain) general quality and industry-specific certifications such as ISO 9001 and others?

  • ISO 9001 is a well-known and foundational standard. Documentation should demonstrate the organization’s aptitude for and commitment to the tenets of ISO 9001.
  • Other industry standards may also be in order, such as AS9000, the Aerospace Basic Quality System Standard used by defense and aerospace companies.

Occupational Safety: Does the organization have a history of compliance with OSHA and other standards?

  • Past infractions and/or fines will suggest a degree of risk depending on the severity of the problems. The extent of the financial risk could be mitigated in the eyes of customers by demonstrating that plans are in place to prevent further incidents. This would include training, reviews, inspections, and adequate data to indicate that improvements have taken hold.