Mission Trip This Week

I’m in Antigua, Guatemala this week serving on a mission team from an organization called Faith in Practice. It’s not associated with any particular church or denomination but it is a ministry organized around delivering medical services to the poverty stricken in Guatemala. The ministry occupies a suite of operating rooms 42 weeks a year and provides free medical care to people who otherwise couldn’t afford it. Our group has over 80 surgeries scheduled this […]

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Listen First to Understand

Emily Schirpke of New London sent this to me today. (By the way, I’m always glad to receive your feedback.) “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen R. Covey If you haven’t heard of Covey, he is one of the foremost leadership thinkers of our time. His book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is classic. It’s well over 20 years old […]

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It’s Not Always “Black and White”

At the Wal-Mart Sustainability Conference, I sat in on a session where vendors stood up to talk about success stories in becoming more sustainable. One of the speakers ran a company that sold pancakes, corn dogs and sausage on a stick. He described a situation where the price of pork increased three times in a year. The third time it increased, he gathered his team around him and asked them to come up with ideas […]

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“Lean” Will Be a Constant Factor

I’ve been in Bentonville, Arkansas for a Wal-Mart sustainability conference. Sustainability has become a big word and Wal-Mart has embraced it. The idea follows closely our thoughts on “lean” – except it has an environmental twist. To operate our business in the most sustainable fashion, we should use as little material as possible, operate as efficiently as possible and minimize our impact on the environment by cutting down the use of fossil fuels and limiting […]

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Observations on Leadership

I’m spending the day with some of our colleagues watching the Chick-fil-A Leadercast. It’s a day-long program of speakers crossing business, churches and athletics who are sharing their perspectives on leadership. I read about leadership a great deal. There are several things I have learned: There is no single best way to lead. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise I think is misguided. But, leadership is a choice to influence others. It’s not how […]

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National Day of Prayer

Today is the National Day of Prayer! It comes the first Thursday of every May and its purpose is to promote prayer – not just on this day but every day. I am sure that among our team there is wide opinion about prayer. Some don’t think it is important. Some pray unceasingly. There is a variety in between. As for me, I am confident that God hears our prayers and acts to help us. […]

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The Importance of Communication

One area where we can continually improve is communication. I’ve spent a few days recently on an improvement venture in a plant and I was struck, again, with how important communication is and how important it is to maintain a discipline of sharing information and ideas amongst the team. As a leader/manager, it is easy to get into the habit of filtering information. I can do it for a couple of reasons: It doesn’t concern […]

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6S a Good Tool for Improving Our Facilities

I have seen tremendous efforts on 6S in our operations since we began to implement “lean” techniques. The 6S’s are: Sort Straighten Shine Standardize Sustain Safety Initially, it takes an effort to get it right. It takes awhile to get the methods documented and the habits formed to maintain it. There are several benefits. The first is the satisfaction the team gets from getting it done. Another is that it builds confidence and increases the […]

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The Importance of Attitude

Our colleague Romana Straley, our HR Pro in Butner who also translates this note into Spanish every day, sent this along suggesting it as an inspirational HQ Note. I agree with her. It comes from preacher and inspirational writer Charles Swindoll. “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than […]

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Becoming Indispensible to Customers

Today, I had the honor of being part of a customer panel for Insurance Office of America, who handles our commercial insurance as well as our benefits. I joined four others and we fielded questions on how we viewed the industry and gave pointers on how IOA’s sales force could improve their effectiveness. My primary contact at IOA is John Lahey. He has been the insurance agent I’ve done business with for almost 30 years. […]

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