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2 Improving Profits: Better Ways Than Layoffs

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Improving Profits: Better

Ways Than Layoffs

Business must be profitable if it is to continue to succeed, but the glory of business is to make it so successful that it may do things that are great chiefly because they ought to be done.


One of the first times I witnessed the power of a team in action was in 1975, when I was a manager at Procter & Gamble.

It was approximately two years after the Charmin paper plant in

Oxnard, California had opened, and sales had failed to meet our projections. It was a typical scenario: All managers were called into a meeting and told about the shortfall in revenue. Because sales had slipped, we were instructed to come up with a plan to cut costs by

10% in each of our departments.

I was among 20 managers in this meeting. Each of us had a team of employees who had been hired over the last year. When we reconvened to present our plans, 19 out of 20 of us proposed to cut costs through layoffs. Thanks to my team, my plan was different.

When I had taken the problem to my team to solve, the scope and variety of their answers had amazed me. Through brainstorming and teamwork, we had developed an action plan that significantly cut costs without cutting jobs. The plan we came up with included the following recommendations:

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7 Taking Action and Documenting Results

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Taking Action and

Documenting Results

Some people have ideas. A few carry them into the world of action and make them happen. These are the innovators.


I have often tried to explain the synergy that takes place when a plan is constructed. Perhaps it is the chemistry of the team’s collective “pull” that this commitment emphasizes, or maybe it is the psychology associated with vision, measurement, responsibility, and follow-up that leads, more times than not, to a successful conclusion.

Without falling into the trap of trying to explain why performance improvement planning works, let’s just say that

Performance improvement planning works remarkably well when used as the administrative step of the Profit Building

Process (PBP).

This chapter is about turning your ideas into innovations.

Your performance improvement plan is the vehicle that gets you there. As you may know from your own experience, a poorly conceived plan can have you chasing after unrelated ideas without making any real progress. Taking action and documenting the results is the step of the PBP that moves you forward toward successful implementation of your ideas.

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Appendix: Profit Building Process Forms

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Ludy, Perry J Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF
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6 Generating Creative Solutions by Asking All the Questions

Ludy, Perry J Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF


Generating Creative

Solutions by Asking the Questions

When we arrived at the question, the answer is already near.


In 1983 I became a vice president at Pizza Hut, Inc., a division of PepsiCo, Inc. This was an exciting and eventful achievement for me that included company stock, financial rewards, and recognition. One of the perks I received was an opportunity to go to the corporate office for a three-day management program the vice presidents referred to as “finishing school.” Although I did not know it at the time, this experience was to make an impression on me that would help shape both my career and the thinking that came to underlie the Profit Building Process (PBP).

The highlight of this program was a high-powered meeting with the CEO and a few top members of his staff. In this meeting, vice presidents from various divisions across the country jockeyed for position, each hoping to make a positive impression on the CEO and his team. The format was a sort of oral exam; the CEO would ask a vice president a variety of questions, and one’s answers could result in either personal glory or public humiliation. The atmosphere was tense, the competition so thick you could cut it with a jackhammer.

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