Wednesday, March 31, 2010

April is Quick and Easy Kaizen month!

In April, I will be posting Quick and Easy Kaizens all month.  Got any you would like to share?  Email me at and I will post them.  Enjoy!

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Good bugs, 4-H, and how speaking can save thousands of dollars!

“Our Insect Allies” was my first speech in 4-H when I was eleven years old. It was absolutely terrifying. I was I was shaking so badly that my note cards kept scuffling by themselves. The whole point of the speech was to show how “good bugs” help the human race and to give me a little competitive experience. I was happy when the ordeal was finally over and I clocked in about three minutes total speaking time. Alas, the presentation paled in comparison to the other competitors that day. Penny, a girl that lived a few miles away on the same road, was a seasoned competitor and did a stellar job. As I recall Penny got 1st place in that competition. I don’t remember how I placed but the real win for me was getting over the fear of speaking at a young age.

As I reflect almost 40 years later, that first speech was one of the best things I ever did. I’m not doing much with other 4-H events like geology, models, or “share the fun” events, but I am speaking and leveraging that skill for financial benefits. The catalyst for my renewed speaking career in was when my children joined our high school speech team. I was so impressed at their training and what they were learning. It was amazing to see how hard they worked, how they improved, and to see them come home with state championships in both team and individual events. With this inspiration, I started to hone my speaking skills again and summoned the courage to submit presentations for organizations that I belong as a member.

So where does the financial savings come in? I have presented three times at an IT conference and each event I was selected to be faculty I was given a complimentary registration. That means my company saved $1700 dollars for each time I gave my presentation! Three years in a row presenting translates into over $5000 in savings. Faculty member status allows me to attend the full conference for around 40% of the budgeted cost.

What hidden talents and gifts do you have that you are not doing anything with? Make a list and start improving them. You may be surprised at your dormant skills that with practice could boost your confidence, increase your visibility, and enhance your career. I don’t think anyone but myself remembers my first speech, but I’ll never forget the benefits that little talk about bugs gave me.

What have you improved today?

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Quick and Easy Kaizen #14 - Using local hospital pharmacy

Before: We would use use various pharmacies to fill subscriptions.

After: My wife found that her local hospital pharmacy would beat the price on our subscription refills by $10 over all of retail pharmacies we used.

Effect: $40/month savings

What have you improved today?

Dan Lafever

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hotel clerk with great ideas

As I arrived at the hotel for my conference, I had a delightful experience with Jennifer, the clerk that checked me into the Rosen Shingle Creek hotel in Orlando, Florida. As she was completing the guest registration process, I fumbled the key card and dropped it into a hole in the front desk counter. She handled my butterfinger move with professionalism and grace and I didn't feel embarrassed at all. I asked her about how many guests drop cards and she said it happens a lot and it took a few seconds for her retrieve the card from the hole below. We then starting talking about how this room card hand off process could be improved and I was amazed at the number of small changes that Jennifer had at the tip of her tongue on how to make her work easier. I certainly hope that the Rosen Shingle Creek front desk manager listens to her ideas for improved processes and I encouraged her to write them down and share them.

Every company need more Jennifers.

Organizations spend thousands of dollars on training employees on their processes and here was a person that just naturally thinks as a kaizeneer. How cool. Our conversation lasted a few minutes and she shared several of her ideas and they appeared to flow effortlessly from her mind. Can you imagine that kind of extraordinary service hotels could offer if they would implement the improvement ideas from front line staff?

What have you improved today? Jennifer improved my day!

Dan Lafever