Check sheets: Any information creates its own demand



YOU want to be a CEO or a chief operating officer or a vice president of this and that major corporation. For whatever reason, it appears to be a kilometric, long shot to the moon because of your current status and hundreds of people competing for the same job, not to mention that there are only few opportunities in that area.

That’s okay. There’s no harm in being ambitious. You’re being realistic.

You know that you’re doing a great job for your current employer. In addition, you’re always thinking on how your company can make it better. You support all the actions of your boss and you don’t participate in office gossips, much more in office politics that destroy relationships. You are both a thinker and doer. You’ve a good number of ideas and most of the time, you’re always thinking of the question: “If I’m the CEO, what would I do to increase revenue, cut costs, increase profit and beat competition in the long term?”

The trouble is that you’re unique. Not many people can ask a question like that and make it happen for the organization. In fact, many of us appear to be in the same boat with Christopher Columbus, who didn’t know where he was going when he started. When Columbus got to some place, he didn’t know where he was, and when he got back, he didn’t know where he had been.

Don’t blame yourself. Chances are you don’t have enough information that could help you ask intelligent questions and generate smart answers. Or if you think you have vital information, you really don’t know what to do with it because of one thing—information is giving out, while communication is getting through.

To explain this, let me tell you a story: Once a young man was driving past a country estate and saw a sign on a gatepost: “Please ring the bell for caretaker.” So the man rang the bell, and an old fellow appeared. “Are you the caretaker?” asked the man.

“Yes, I am. May I help you?” responded the old man.

“I was just wondering why you can’t ring the bell yourself,” the young man said.

Bad ROI is bad return on information. Return is the money you make out of the information you have. Bad ROI is when a company makes a bad decision on its information. Bad ROI is calling on certain company stakeholders who will never support your idea, no matter what. Bad ROI is doing small administrative details instead of working to get and keep customers. Bad ROI is squandering time solving minor problems that should have been spent working on big opportunities and a lot more.

So you want good ROI. You want to big returns on that commodity called valuable information. As they say it, In God we trust, all others must rely on accurate data. So fish where the big fishes are, work with your superstars, solve money-losing problems, and energize every winning person who could help you. Now, how do you intend to collect data to help you do all of these?

There are many ways. But for today, I’d like to recommend the check sheets—as one of the strategic problem-solving tools in total quality management. Why not? I like the check sheets for its simplicity and ease of use. It makes it easy to collect data for specific reasons, and present it in a way that facilitates conversion to useful information.

The Internet is an ocean that could give you many good examples on how to use the check sheets. And you can take it from there.

Now, you’ll probably asking this question—I’m an ambitious person who wants to become a CEO of a major corporation, then why should I use check sheets which are too detailed for me? Don’t you have something more strategic for me? My simple answer is this—paying attention to details is strategic. If you follow this path, you will have the luxury of looking back on a corporate life well lived.

Look at the CEO of Toyota and other Japanese corporations. They don’t mind going to the shop floor to soil their hands. Because they’re interested to discover first-hand information that are often ignored by their line managers.

I mean that’s one big reason for the success of Toyota beating pioneering car makers like General Motors and Ford. Information is the fuel that powers every organization. There are many elaborate systems that allow the interplay of 5Ms (manpower, material, method, machine and milieu or French for the environment), so that you can collect and verify the information you need through check sheets.

Therefore, don’t be afraid of information no matter the message is—whether good or bad. As long as the information is accurate, you’ve to agree to one Roman Catholic priest describing the hearing of the confessions of nuns as like “being stoned to death with popcorn.”

Rey Elbo is a business consultant specializing in human resources and total quality management. Send feedback to or follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter for his random management thoughts.


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