Back To School

It’s back to school time across the country and in our house.

This year was very different for us.

Julia, our youngest daughter, flapped her long, graceful wings, and flew out of the nest all the way to Toronto. That’s pretty good for her first flight! She is pursuing her education and career in fashion design at Ryerson University. We turned her 183 square foot residence space, a former small hotel room from the 1980s, into a bedroom, study, and living room (that’s all one room). And, she has her own bathroom. Apparently, that’s a big deal.

Figure 136.1 Julia spreading her wings on her new couch.

As her sister, Anastasia, commented, it’s a good thing she’s got experience camping in a confined space. This is luxury!

Figure 136.2 Julia (left), and Anastasia are enjoying our first camper, 15 years ago.

Now that summer holidays are over, businesses have the opportunity to go back to school, learn new things, and grow their businesses.

Or, I guess, they can repeat last year.

Business Learning

There are four kinds of learning in a business, so you’ve got lots of places to start.

Figure 136.3 Business Learning

Your People

Your people show up every day hoping to do a good job, helping others, and making an impact. How are you helping them to enhance their skills?

Cross-training them, or even just exposing them to other parts of your business, will increase their perspectives and awareness of how your business works. This also builds empathy and respect for others in your company.

Accompanying sales people on calls is a valuable experience and gets people out of the office and into the real world, where the customers are.

Taking short courses on problem solving, conflict resolution, or social media for business, can generate lots of improvements in your business.

What’s your training budget in terms of time and dollars?


This is easier than it sounds. Are your procedures written down? Have you analyzed where the bottlenecks are? Have you asked your people what they would do differently to increase speed, reduce frustration, and improve quality?

A great resource for improving process is the timeless book, “The Goal” by Eli Goldratt.

Seeking input from the people doing the work on how to improve the process is a no-cost, high value activity that increases employee engagement, loyalty, and productivity.

When I’m engaged to help a company dramatically increase revenues, I use this process to increase capacity without any capital expenditures. This works!


Your customers are your best teachers. They will tell you what they need and want to improve their businesses. They want to increase their revenues, decrease their costs (always), attract new customers, reduce stress and waste, and stay ahead of their competition. How can you help them?

Take a consultative approach to learn more about your customers. Focus on strengthening your relationship so they see you as a valuable strategic partner instead of someone chasing a sale. Good things will happen when you let your customer teach you about their business.

My favorite tactic is to ask for a tour of their facilities. It’s even better when I can take pictures of their people doing their thing.


Educating leaders in high growth mid-market companies is often a challenge because everyone is very busy. It seems the opportunity cost of taking a senior person out of the day-to-day could be quite high if it impacts sales, production, delivery, or finance.

However, if you can improve someone’s performance by five percent, in 200 working days, they will have added 10 days of productivity. If they’re influencing others, that improvement can grow dramatically. In this modest example of five percent, it appears that your break even for training is 10 days. Holy cow, that’s two full weeks of training!

What would a five percent improvement look like to your bottom line? If everyone in the whole company received training, what would a 50% or 100% improvement to the bottom line look like. Now we’re talking real money.

Or, you can just repeat last year.

If you’d like help on educating your team and enhancing your business, give me a call.

Class is in session!

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