October 19, 2017 



Don’t Struggle with Your Bottom Line: More Effectively Reach Better Profit Goals

(c) Trusted Counsel (Ashley) LLC. All Rights Reserved.

(c) Trusted Counsel (Ashley) LLC. All Rights Reserved.


Announcer:                      It's time for In Process, Conversations about Business in the 21st century with Evelyn Ashley and John Monahon presented by Trusted Counsel, a corporate and intellectual property law firm. For more information, visit trusted-counsel.com. And now, with In Process, here are Evelyn Ashley and John Monahon.

John Monahon:                 Hello, and welcome to In Process, conversations about business in the 21st century presented by Trusted Counsel, a corporate and intellectual property law firm. I'm John Monahon.

Evelyn Ashley:                  And I'm Evelyn Ashley.

John Monahon:                We are partners in Trusted Counsel.

Evelyn Ashley:                 John, we're gonna talk about profits.

John Monahon:                Yay.

Evelyn Ashley:                 Yeah.

John Monahon:                Those are always nice to have.

Evelyn Ashley:                 It is. It is. It doesn't always happen to every business unfortunately.

John Monahon:                No. Definitely seen a few that did not have profits.

Evelyn Ashley:                 Or revenue, for that matter.

John Monahon:                Yeah, or revenue.

Evelyn Ashley:                 But maybe that's not the topic. So, we're really thrilled to have our guest today. I think ... I was incredibly impressed by her background and really look forward to hearing more about her past on how she has achieved what she has and how this book came about.

John Monahon:                Yep. Obviously ... Well, maybe I'll just jump right into the introduction.

Evelyn Ashley:                 I think so.

John Monahon:                Yeah.

Evelyn Ashley:                 Let's get her on the line.

John Monahon:                Let's go, yeah.

Evelyn Ashley:                 And start talking.

John Monahon:                All right. Today's guest is Dorriah Rogers. She's the author of the new book “Decide to Profit: 9 Steps to a Better Bottom Line.” The book provides a step-by-step guide for organizations to connect all ideas and decisions that effect change to the financial goals of the company. Dorriah began her career in engineering and technology. You know, engineers are always very good at process.

Evelyn Ashley:                 Yes, very process oriented.

John Monahon:                She founded her consulting firm in 2003. She specializes in identifying and solving issues effecting efficiency, productivity, and profitability. She has worked with Fortune 500 organizations as well as many smaller progressive firms. Dorriah, welcome to the show.

Dorriah Rogers:                Thank you. Happy to be here.

Evelyn Ashley:                  We're delighted to have you here today. So, I have to start, and I did kind of warn you at the beginning, I hit your LinkedIn profile, which is an amazing profile and people have to go and take a look at it, and I am now framing you as the female Elon Musk. Just based on-

Dorriah Rogers:                 Those are some pretty big shoes.

Evelyn Ashley:                  All the work that you're doing simultaneously. Talk to us a little bit about your path and then we definitely want to hear kinda what you're working on right now completely separate from the book.

Dorriah Rogers:                Sure. Well, I have a very varied past. I like to call myself a serial entrepreneur. I've never really been much of a good employee, so I found myself very often starting up or running my own businesses. So, I don't know how far back you'd like to go, but started my own consulting right out of graduate school. From there, I was involved in two technology startups. Everything from developing and patenting technologies to raising capital and getting those companies off the ground. Then in, like you mentioned, about 2003, I started my consulting firm and I specialized in consulting for engineering, and energy, and construction, and kind of a technology-related company. And I did that for about 12 years. And I've been ... Now at the end of that, the result of that was the book, because like you, a lot of the companies I was working with, whether they were large or small, really struggled with the idea of actually making money. And we can get into a little bit more about that as we go. And now, I'm actually, in addition to working with my partner on the consulting business, which I'm not doing very much of right now, because I'm involved in yet another startup.                             We have developed a new, revolutionary cooling technology that eliminates the use of water for cooling processes.

Evelyn Ashley:                   Wow.

Dorriah Rogers:                  And generates energy and power in the process of cooling.

John Monahon:                  Wow.

Evelyn Ashley:                   That's amazing, so are you spending ... Are you working on that full-time right now?

Dorriah Rogers:                  Yes.

Evelyn Ashley:                   Okay.

Dorriah Rogers:                 Yes. I'm doing that full-time. I brought in a partner to run the consulting business, so that's alive and active. He's a 20-year colleague of mine. So, perfectly adept at running that side of the business. And I just step in on occasion, but for the most part I'm focused on the technology.

John Monahon:                 So, let's talk about the book a little bit. What led you to write this book?

Dorriah Rogers:                 Well, it's actually an interesting journey, what happened. I'd been working with several multi-billion-dollar companies, and as you mentioned, smaller to mid-sized. And at one point in time, one of the senior managers of one of the very large companies that I worked with, he came to me and he was very, very frustrated. We've been talking about some decisions that had been made by some of their employees. And it turned out that there were some very poor decisions that had absolutely nothing to do with the ultimate goal of the company, which as any company is, to make money at the end of the day.

John Monahon:                 Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:                 And some of the decisions to purchase equipment and implement some processes were completely unrelated to that end goal. And he was very, very frustrated. And he said, "You know, it sure would be nice if we had something like an operations manual, something we could give our employees to help them make good decisions that were tied to money." And a light bulb went off in my head, I was like, "Well, I know how to do that. So, why don't I just write an operations manual for this company?" And so, I did. And during the process of that it became the book.

Evelyn Ashley:                  So, that's really amazing. So, talk to us a little bit, though, about the consulting project before you actually decided to put it into book form. Kinda walk us through how you strategized that, how you actually kind of implemented it with the business.

Dorriah Rogers:                 Well, it's really interesting that you bring that up because the case study in the book is actually that story.

Evelyn Ashley:                   Okay.

Dorriah Rogers:                 And so for each of the steps in the book, I talk about what we went through in developing the steps and how we got to where we were. But in that particular instance, the management of this company had learned that their margins were eroding. That they were becoming less ... Even though their revenues were growing, and you brought this up earlier, there is a distinct difference between revenue and profit.

Evelyn Ashley:                  Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:                And in their case, their revenues were growing but their margins and their profit was eroding. So, there was this increasing delta between their top line and their net gain. And they were very frustrated about this, they could not understand why this kept happening. So, that was the system, that step number one that we went after. Why was this happening? And we focused in on that. And that's how the next nine steps were generated.

John Monahon:                  Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Evelyn Ashley:                   Interesting. So, talk to us a little bit about the timeframe that we're talking about here in putting the implementation into your case study. How long did it actually take to get the process, the system, running and working where you could actually see a positive outcome?

Dorriah Rogers:                 Well, that particular case study was ... Because it was the genesis of the nine steps, it took longer than subsequent projects that I worked on.

Evelyn Ashley:                  Okay.

Dorriah Rogers:                But in that case, I would say we developed the nine steps over the course of about a year. And we implemented them, but we were also refining them as we went along. So, that particular case study took about a year. But I will tell you this, as early as a few months into it, we began to see improvement, because we had these productivity team meetings. And they were specifically designed to review how we were doing on our improvements. And in each of the areas that we were focused on, we began to see incremental improvements. I can report at the end of the day, after doing all that, that particular company, they were losing, I would say in the millions on margin, not only did they make that margin up, but they began to make improvements. So, the delta was in the tens of millions.

Evelyn Ashley:                   So, it's interesting though. Tell me a little bit about ... I guess this the question that gets raised for me. When you come into one of these businesses, is the systematic problem that they are facing typically the same? Or, is it often different? And I guess, you know, the way that I'm thinking about that is, you know, pressures from competition, pressures from maybe disintermediation of your industry into more technological change, where companies can't keep up. I mean, do you kind of have a feel for, is this often the same? Or is it ...

Dorriah Rogers:                 Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Evelyn Ashley:                   Kind of very typical of the stresses that are being put on them?

Dorriah Rogers:                 Yeah, it's absolutely I have a feel. So, based on my experience in doing this, there are three major categories that every single company that I've ever worked with, they are experiencing issues in. And those three categories are, number one is management. There are typically, there are problems with either the teams of people, or the management that is running the company. The second area is operations, and that's how you deliver your product or your service, how you actually run your business.

Evelyn Ashley:                   Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:                 So, that's the process part. How is it that you're actually building your product? How is it that you're delivering your service? And then the third prong is financials. Are you financially strong? Are you financially healthy? In other words, are you chasing revenue at the expense of profit? Are you actually making profit? Where are you spending your money and your resources? So, any of the problems that I've encountered fall into one of those three buckets. And from there you can start to parse what is actually happening. And in my experience, if any one of those three things are non-functional, you do not have a healthy company.

John Monahon:                Dorriah, in the book, one of the first steps is actually identifying a problem. I guess that's the first step in a lot of problems is identifying it. I think for ...

Evelyn Ashley:                 Putting your finger on what it really is.

John Monahon:                Yeah, for bad habits and everything else. I think the problem that most people find is that they have a hard time admitting it, or identifying it, there's usually some sort of denial, or malaise around it. Especially if you're coming into a company and we're talking about executives. I mean, when you come into a company, how do you help them find what's wrong?

Dorriah Rogers:                Yeah, in my experience, typically executives and managers, they know something's wrong. And if you sit down and you talk to them, you can generally get a pretty good idea of what areas are non-functional, or dysfunctional.

John Monahon:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:               And usually their intuition is correct. In some cases, yes, they are in denial. In other cases, they're chasing down rabbit trails. They know something's not working, but they are absolutely going in the wrong direction.

John Monahon:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:               And that's sometimes when you can, you know, a consultant or a third party can oftentimes be very helpful, because they don't have a dog in the hunt. They are really, truly there to help you decide what it is you should focus on. So, that's what step one in the book is all about, is identifying which area you need to go after first. And you'll notice in the book, that step one says identify the system. And the use of the word system is intentional. A system can be anything. It doesn't necessarily have to be a process. A system could be your whole company. It could be a process within your company. It could be a product. It could be anything. So, in my experience, a best place to start is to start. In other words, throw some things on the table that you think aren't working. And talk through them. And once you start down the nine steps, early in the process you'll figure out whether or not that is the right thing to be focused on. That's the way the nine steps are developed.

John Monahon:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:                It'll tell you very early if you're focused on the right thing or not.

John Monahon:                And who are you usually working with? Is it just the CEO? Or, is it you and the CFO? I mean, the CFO seems pretty key to profitability. Or is it a COO?

Dorriah Rogers:               When I get started, it's typically the senior management team.

John Monahon:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:                And I will tell you this. If the senior management team, the CEO, the CFO, even HR, any of the folks that are involved in this. If they're not bought into this, it won't work.

John Monahon:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:               There must be a champion at the senior level, otherwise the nine steps will not work.

John Monahon:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:               Because you have to allocate the resources, and you have to use the nine steps and the forms in order to be successful.

John Monahon:                And so, I guess most companies that you come into, they do desire to have an immediate profit. Right? I mean, there's some companies who are like, "Profit is not our main goal right now." Do you still ... I imagine the rest of these steps still apply to them though. But do you ever get that pushback of ... You know, the CEO is like, "We need to get profitable immediately." And maybe someone else is, "Well, no, we need to grow revenue, profit's not our goal." Do you ever have that tension between people in the organization?

Dorriah Rogers:                Yeah. Yeah. I do. And that's why I talk about a culture of continuous improvement as opposed to a culture of continuous growth.

John Monahon:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:               Growth and improvement are not one and the same. In a lot of CEOs and senior execs, they think of that growth is the be all, end all. And I argue with them. I do a lot of arm wrestling around that topic, because growth is not necessarily tied to profit. And senior executives need to understand that, because in my mind, you want, at the end of the day, if you're making more money and you have less revenue, that's a better thing.

John Monahon:                Mm-hmm (affirmative). So, I think we've sort of hit upon this but step two, that's your favorite step. Right? Or, the most important step.

Dorriah Rogers:               Absolutely.

John Monahon:                Can you tell us a little bit about what step two is, and how it applies?

Dorriah Rogers:               Yes. So, step two is putting a right team together. And I can't overemphasize this enough. The thing about making improvements within an organization. It's all about the people. And it's all about putting the right team on making improvements. And I can't tell you how many times, when I've invited people that are outside of the expected network. And I challenge the companies that I work with to do this, because they tend to work in, what I call in the book, an echo-chamber. In other words, the same people work on the same problems over and over. And the same decision makers continuously make decisions.                                             And what step two is all about is challenge yourself on that. Bring in people from outside the expected network. Bring in outsiders. Bring in people that are actually doing the work. Bring in dissenters. Bring in change agents. Bring in people that are gonna challenge the status quo. They're gonna bring new ideas to the table. That are gonna look for new and different ways to do things. And I can't tell you how many times I have seen some amazing transformations simply by bringing in a different group of people.

Evelyn Ashley:                 I think that makes perfect sense. I know that within certain teams, if you're in a closed team and you're constantly having that conversation, it's like that old saying of, "Doing the same thing, and expecting, you know, a different outcome."

Dorriah Rogers:               Yeah, the definition of insanity.

Evelyn Ashley:                Exactly, yes.

Dorriah Rogers:              Yeah, yeah. I sat in meetings where I wanted to stick a pencil in my eye.

Evelyn Ashley:               Sure.

Dorriah Rogers:              I don't want to hear that idea again. I've heard it.

John Monahon:              And I don't even think it's limited to just ideas. Sometimes it's just the emotion and inertia of the group too, that you know, it just ...

Dorriah Rogers:             Yeah.

Evelyn Ashley:               Yes.

John Monahon:              It gets hard to move because everybody gets into one emotion, into one way.

Dorriah Rogers:             Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Monahon:             Yeah.

Evelyn Ashley:              Plus, I'm sure that if there is a systemic problem within the company, opening it up to team members or outsiders that have not had that kind of exposure before, there's gotta be a level of, "Oh my gosh, I don't want others to know what's really going on." I would think that it's breaking that.

Dorriah Rogers:             Right. And then I give a couple of examples of that in the book. One example where a sales team, they were the ones that really knew what the problem was, not the sales manager. Another one where the guys in the field actually installing, it was an acoustic-ceiling company. The guys in the field actually installing the ceiling tiles, they were the ones that knew what the problems were. The management team were completely disconnected.

John Monahon:             So how do you find out that ...

Dorriah Rogers:             And you see that fairly often.

John Monahon:             In that example, how did you find out that the people in the field were the ones that knew the problem, and not the management? Because usually the management, they think, "We have all the answers. Don't involve them. They're not key decision makers." How do you bring them into the ... How do you even know to do that?

Evelyn Ashley:              Which ones to bring in? I guess.

John Monahon:             Right.

Evelyn Ashley:              Yeah. To formulate the team.

Dorriah Rogers:             So, I typically do this on a regular basis. It's something that I use in the consulting practice regularly. And that's to invite the people that are actually doing the work into either planning meetings, or discussions, or productivity meetings.

Evelyn Ashley:              So, basically the company has to be, if they're gonna do the project, they have to be absolutely willing to provide you with access to the people that you think can actually help the most?

John Monahon:             Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:             Yes. And I tell them that upfront. I need to be able to have free-flowing and open discussions with everybody that's involved in your company. And that might include customers, that might include vendors. It might include everybody that touches any of your operations.

John Monahon:            And so, step three is ... So, step two is putting the right team together. Step one is identifying what needs improvement. Step three is identifying the goal, which I guess the ultimate goal is a better bottom line. But, I imagine that there are separate, tinier goals. So, can you tell us how you implement step three?

Dorriah Rogers:           Yeah. The purpose of step three is to make sure that the team, the team you've put together, and the thing that you want to improve, that that thing is ultimately going to make your company more money. Because, if you're working on anything else, then it's not worth the time, the money and the resources. And I've seen this. This is a disconnect in a lot of companies, where they'll get working on a project, or just start trying to make improvements to anything. And at the end of the day, it ends up either costing them money, or it ends up not making money. And to me, if you're ... So, for example, improved productivity, if you're working on improved productivity, and at the end of the day, it's not tied to making more profit, then that's not the right thing to [inaudible 00:21:52].

John Monahon:           Welcome back to In Process, we are here with Dorriah Rogers, author of Decide to Profit: 9 Steps to a Better Bottom Line Dorriah, when we left off, we were on step three, which was identifying the goals. And one of the things that you were talking about is that everything needs to be tied towards have the ultimate goal of, you know, improving the bottom line. Or making more money for the company in some way. One of my thoughts that came to me was, well, marketing is often one of these things that you don't always see an immediate result, or you can't measure the return on investment. How do you address marketing efforts in that picture?

Dorriah Rogers:          Yeah, that's a really good question. And that's a question that I get asked fairly often. And I will tell you that you actually can measure it. And you can do the metrics. And let me give you an example. So, one of my companies, they were pursuing several different marketing efforts. One of the marketing efforts had to do with radio advertisement. One of the efforts had to do with print ads. And the other had to do with television. And so, what we did was we tracked all of them, and we tied metrics to every one of them. And at the end of the day, what we did was we found which of those marketing avenues actually had a return on investment. And at the end of the day, what we found on a per-dollar basis was that the radio ads in particular had a greater return on investment. And I found that with CRM systems, with other systems that companies implement. There is, if you are diligent about tracking your metrics, you can absolutely determine your return on investment. But the diligence is where a lot of companies fall down. You have to do the tracking and the metrics.

John Monahon:              I guess the lesson is if you go to Dorriah for consulting, you are not getting out of it that easy. [crosstalk 00:24:20]. Now, your marketing, that can be measured. Gonna be tougher than that.

Evelyn Ashley:               Oh, yes you can.

John Monahon:              Once you identify the goals, step four is observing the system. We touched on that earlier, but I guess that's implementing it, and observing it, tracking it. Tell us how you've implemented that.

Dorriah Rogers:              So, observing the system is before you're making any changes to it. So, you want to go into whatever it is that you want to improve, whether it's a process, or your whole company, or whatever it is.

John Monahon:              Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:              You take the team that you've put together to be objective. You identify what it is you want to fix and where you want to make your money. Then you go and you observe the actual system, whether it's the whole company or whatever, the marketing, or whatever it is.

John Monahon:              Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:             You go in, and you objectively and quantitatively observe the system. So you watch what the system is doing. So, let's say for example you have some workers that are doing a process within your system. The idea is, you go in, you observe those workers doing whatever it is they do. And whether or not it's working or not working.

John Monahon:             Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:             And you analytically and objectively track what it is that they are doing.

John Monahon:             Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:             And that's what observing the system is all about.

John Monahon:             Can you give us a real-life example of observing this? I mean, how long does this take to play out in the real world? I imagine it could be very short, or very long.

Evelyn Ashley:              Right.

Dorriah Rogers:             Yeah, absolutely.

Evelyn Ashley:              And kind of what are some of the objective methods that you use, too? That would be good.

Dorriah Rogers:             Yeah. So, this is a somewhat ... There are some tools that you can use that can help. There's whole-method analysis, there's a number of actual tools that are available to do this. So, it can be very complex, or it can be very simple. So it depends very much on what it is you want to fix.

John Monahon:             Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:             So, an example might be in one of my clients, they knew that part of their fabrication process was very inefficient. So, things that were coming into a particular warehouse, when they were coming out the other side, it was taking way too long. So, in that instance, we had to do some observations of the entire warehouse and the fabrication process. At the end of the day, what we ended up finding out was that the actual robotic system that they had purchased, that they thought was gonna be wildly efficient turned out to be wildly inefficient.

John Monahon:             That had to be disappointing for the purchaser of that.

Evelyn Ashley:              Yes.

Dorriah Rogers:             Yeah, and it was extremely costly.

Evelyn Ashley:              I'm sure.

John Monahon:             Oh jeez.

Evelyn Ashley:              Very expensive.

John Monahon:             So, when you're-

Dorriah Rogers:             And that's a good point, you know, managers need to be willing to hear that some of the decisions they've made in the past may not have been the right decision.

John Monahon:             Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:             And they have to be willing to hear that, and make those changes.

John Monahon:             Absolutely. So, once you sort of observe the system, step five is identifying the bottlenecks. You know, I guess, is that part of ... Is that sort of part of observing the system? I mean, how is that different? And what tools do you use for that?

Dorriah Rogers:             Yeah, it is ... It's related. And obviously the steps need to go in order, and sequentially. But bottlenecks are tied directly to a book called The Goal. And it's a wonderful book, and I recommend that everybody listening to this read the book The Goal. It was written a long time ago, but it's still applicable. And it basically says that, it means stay focused only on those inefficiencies that you observe during your observation that are impacting the bottom line. Don't get caught up in fixing things that aren't ultimately impacting profit. Because, it's very easy, once you observe your system to say, "Oh, all these ten different things are broken, and inefficient, let's fix them all." But you must stay focused on those one or two things that are impacting your bottom line. And this is where it's very easy to get derailed.

John Monahon:             Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:             So, you have to be diligent and you have to be disciplined in staying focused on fixing those inefficiencies that are only costing you money.

John Monahon:               So, is this where you tie it back to identifying the goals? You look at the bottle necks and you go back, and you say, "Well, what are our goals? If we're not doing ... If it doesn't tie back then, we can't focus on ... We're not going to focus on it?"

Dorriah Rogers:              Yep.

John Monahon:              What's sort of the process for iteration here? Or amending it? Because sometimes you might identify the bottlenecks and maybe it's, "Aww jeez, I thought our goals were this, but maybe it is something else."

Dorriah Rogers:             Yeah, that's also a good question, and you need to be willing to do as many iterations as it takes.

John Monahon:              Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:              And in my experience, what ends up happening is usually about two or three iterations really hones the team in on, "Aww, so this is really the issue. This is really where we need to focus our effort."

John Monahon:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Evelyn Ashley:                 So, also, what happens with the team? I mean, it's, I guess it's hard for us to kind of evaluate exactly what kind of timing we're talking about, but it sounds like this is because it's broken into pretty specific steps, you keep coming back to the team itself? Or at a certain point, after you've evaluated with the team, you've made the observations, you've perhaps adjusted the goals. Who are we talking to then? Are we still talking to an entire team? Or are we back to executive management? What level?

Dorriah Rogers:               Well, that's what's really interesting about the nine steps, it is a continuous discussion between the team and management. Management is hearing them out, hearing their results, hearing what's happening. The team is reporting back. Management is giving some peer review, and some feedback. And it's a constant communication process between both.

Evelyn Ashley:                So, Dorriah, then as part of that, because you know, John and I have actually had a lot of conversations with guests before that even kind of like from a strategic planning, and how you actually get the team to all be focused on the right direction, which sounds like it should be simple, but is not always.

Dorriah Rogers:              Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Evelyn Ashley:               Typically, does the company, because you've got a very diverse team that we're talking about here, not just executive management necessarily. Does there need to be some additional incentive on a personal level for team members, in order for them to actually kind of stay focused? And I think we'd all like to say that, yeah, we'd all like to keep our jobs and do better with the business, sometimes it turns into, well, you know this is gonna take up a lot of my time. And why am I being forced to do it?

Dorriah Rogers:             Right. Right.

Evelyn Ashley:              So, do you see that? That there needs to be some sort of developed incentive system that goes along with the project?

Dorriah Rogers:            You know, that's interesting. And what I've observed in working with the companies that I work with is that most of the time employees really want their company to do well. And they want to have improvement. And I've found that the nine steps help to develop a culture of continuous improvement. And it allows employees to have a voice. A voice that they traditionally may not have otherwise had. The nine steps enables anyone at any level to have good ideas for improvement for their company. But back to the question of incentives. I really recommend that for the management and the executives, when the nine steps start to work, and when the company starts to make money and more profit, I absolutely, fundamentally believe that some of those profits need to go back into a bonus pool. And that employees should share in those in person.

John Monahon:           Back to In Process, we are here with Dorriah Rogers of Decide to Profit: 9 Steps to a Better Bottom Line. Dorriah, we've been going through the steps here, I think we got to about five, which was identify bottlenecks within the system. And then step six is brainstorm, which we touched on a little bit. But, how does your brainstorming session go traditionally?

Dorriah Rogers:           Brainstorming is really, really critical to innovation and growth. And much like putting the right team together, when you're doing brainstorming, you want to make all ideas equal. You want to throw everything, and the kitchen sink, as an idea at, to solve the problems within the system. There is no bad idea. You can invite ideas from anybody anywhere. And don't continue to reiterate only the ideas of management. Or, only the ideas of the people that are traditionally the decision makers. Some really good ideas come from some unexpected places.

John Monahon:           I always ... Brainstorming is always funny to me, because I'm sort of introverted. So, I wait. I won't always say my idea in a brainstorm. Or, I'll wait til the very end. But, I've a friend who's in marketing. And he's like, "You can't imagine how many bad ideas." He's like, "There really are no bad ideas." He's like. And he'll throw out an idea a second. You know, what's the dynamic in those groups? Because sometimes people who have solutions ... Not that it's always ... Not that I have a solution always, I'm just not giving any solutions until the end.

Evelyn Ashley:           They're reticent about speaking up.

John Monahon:          Yeah.

Dorriah Rogers:          Yeah.

John Monahon:          How do you make sure everybody participates in that big group?

Dorriah Rogers:          Well, I talk about that in a lot of detail in the book. And what it comes down to, it's up to the team leaders. The person that's in charge of running the meetings, and facilitating all of the discussions and all those steps. That person must make sure to generate ideas from everybody in the room. The introverts and the extroverts. Don't let the talkers dominate and do all the talking. Don't let the listeners just listen. Promote ideas from listeners. Talk to your introverts. Encourage their participation. And I talk about that in the book, and I give some ideas to the team leader on exactly how to do that.

John Monahon:          Mm-hmm (affirmative). So, step seven, after we brainstorm, we select an optimal solution. But actually, I think, maybe we'll skip to step eight given our time, which is implement one change at a time. So, why just one change at a time? And how would you select which change that is?

Evelyn Ashley:           To start with.

John Monahon:          Yeah.

Dorriah Rogers:          Yeah. So, the brainstorming process leads directly into selecting the optimal solution.

John Monahon:           Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:          The optimal solution is that which is gonna have the most impact on profit and the bottom line.

John Monahon:           Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:          And then ultimately, why you want to do one change at a time is because if you're implementing multiple changes, you really have no idea which one is having the most impact.

John Monahon:          Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:          And then once you implement one of the changes, if it's not having the impact that you intend, or that you envisioned, you need to go back and do another iteration. Go back to the brainstorming process and maybe select another one of the ideas.

John Monahon:           Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:          And see if that actually was the optimal idea.

John Monahon:           Can you give us an example of a company that you've worked with? Sort of, how long in this, once you've implemented it, I mean, are you looking ... I guess it depends on the goal, but on a case basis, we talking three months? Six months? Because I know people are anxious to see those results. But, if you cut it too short, you might have shorted yourself.

Evelyn Ashley:             Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:           Right. Well, it's actually two simultaneous paths that are going on. One path is you're trying to fix something that you've focused on, one of your goals. So, you're gonna see that to the end. Now, that can take a month, that can take a couple months. Whatever it takes depending on the size of the company and the complexity of the issue. But, alongside that, you also are ... And that's step nine, which is a perfect segue, which is you're building a culture of continuous improvement. Meaning, you're always looking for ways to fix your company. You're always looking for ways to do things better. And if you use the nine steps and you make it part of your culture, that's possible.

John Monahon:            Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:            So, you may have some short-term items that you're fixing, that are taking a few months. But, overarching and over all of this you have this constant cycle of continuous improvement.

John Monahon:            How do you make sure that your culture of continuous improvement doesn't turn into a culture of continuous meddling? And creating just more [crosstalk 00:38:05]. Because I've been in that trap before.

Evelyn Ashley:              Yes.

Dorriah Rogers:             Yeah. Yeah.

John Monahon:             I'm like, "I really want to improve this."

Evelyn Ashley:              Too many ideas, and too many opinions.

Dorriah Rogers:             Yep.

John Monahon:              Really, it starts to become really inefficient.

Dorriah Rogers:             Yeah. And that's where the forms in the book come in.

John Monahon:              Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:             And all of the forms are also online on the Paradyne Consulting website. And that's D-Y-N-E, not dime, but D-Y-N-E. The forms are there for a reason. The forms make sure that you don't get into this every-idea-is-a-great-idea. Everything that you do, and everything that you want to think about or change has to be tied to profit. Otherwise, it gets thrown out. So, just these random ideas or meddling or all of this, every employee has to go through this process of vetting their ideas, and vetting their ideas for change and innovation using the forms and using the nine steps. And if you keep tying it back to the goal of making money, then the meddling and the inconsequential ideas, they end up getting vetted out.

John Monahon:                Yeah. I think maybe that's where I go wrong sometimes, is I do have the goal of making profit. My idea is tied to making a profit, but it's probably not the optimal solution for a profit. Maybe I'm missing step seven.

Dorriah Rogers:                Yes. Exactly.

Evelyn Ashley:                 So, Dorriah. You know, it's so, you know, sometimes it's hard to actually ... I think, sometimes you read a business book that actually sets forward a plan. You can even talk to someone, and get a feel for how this could actually happen, but it's very difficult to actually maintain a process and an implementation, I think, sometimes, from just an internal way.

Dorriah Rogers:               Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Evelyn Ashley:                 So, what do you actually kind of offer in the sense of how a company could actually go forward with the nine steps?

Dorriah Rogers:               Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, I try to make the book as all inclusive as possible, by including the forms and lots of explanations. But, I realize like you said, that it's difficult to do that. So, what we ended up doing for that very reason, my business partner and I ended up building an academy. And we call it the Sixth Factor Academy. And you can find it on our website, at Paradyne Consulting. And the ideas is that through the academy, we help people to implement all of the steps in Decide to Profit. In addition to some other factors that are directly tied to running a successful company. So, the idea is that we're there to help. We want to help leaders and executives to be successful. And to implement the nine steps in a way that's going to make them the most money possible. So, that's one way that people can do it. The other is there's lots of tidbits and downloadable forms on our website to help people if they don't want to do the academy, and they want to go it alone. There are some ways that I can help them do it on their own. But, we're also always available. If anybody has questions, or they want some help, or one of the steps is tripping them up, we're more than willing to come and help. Or get on the phone, or whatever it takes.

Evelyn Ashley:                So, any thoughts for our listeners inside businesses on ... And, you know, I think ... What the profile structure of their business actually is that make this process, the nine steps kind of key to what they should be focusing on? I think, what happens is executives know that there's problems. Maybe they can ... Well, they can always see that their profits are being strained, but I don't know that they always would basically turn it around and say, "Yeah, I need a process for in, increasing, you know, what's, what's happening here." Any profile that you can offer on ... I'm the CEO, things are kind of out of control, and I don't really know where to even start.

Dorriah Rogers:                 I would challenge CEOs and executives that are listening, if you're fundamentally happy with where your business is, don't bother to read the book. But, if you think there's something that you could do better, I would start with reading the book. And see what resonates with you. If there are some a-ha moments in there, where you say, "Ah, yeah, I see that." Or, "Oh yeah, we're, we do that." Then I think it's worth the time and effort. And one thing I can tell you is the way that the nine steps are developed is it's meant to be easy. This isn't meant to be a bang-your-head-on-the-table process.

Evelyn Ashley:                   Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dorriah Rogers:                 It's supposed to be as simple as possible. And that's the way I wrote it. So for anybody that's struggling, yes I have the ... I don't know the word I'm looking for, but I have the observational experience of having worked with many, many different companies. And over time, I've realized that there are some trends, and there are some patterns, and there are some commonalities between businesses. And that's really what I tried to do with this book is tie all of those things together. Because a lot of CEOs are struggling in very much the same way that anybody listening to this is.

Evelyn Ashley:                   That makes perfect sense.

John Monahon:                Well, this has been great. I think we'd all like to improve the bottom line. I don't think there's any listener out there that wouldn't like to do that. So, thank you for your advice today, Dorriah. We'd like to thank you for joining us, and giving your insight. If you'd like to learn more about Dorriah Rogers, and her consulting business, please visit her website at paradyneconsulting.com. And that is P-A-R-A-D-Y-N-E consulting dot com. We hope you enjoyed In Process today, if you'd like to download this episode, you can find our show on iTunes as In Process Podcast. If you'd like to be featured as a guest, please email us at info@trusted-counsel.com. Thanks for joining us.

Evelyn Ashley:                   Thank you. Thanks Dorriah.

Dorriah Rogers:                 Thank you.

Announcer:                        This has been In Process, conversations about business in the 21st century with Evelyn Ashley and John Monahon. Presented by Trusted Counsel. A corporate and intellectual-property law firm. For more information, visit trusted-counsel.com.