Tag Archives: propaganda

Pursuing Purpose? Or Just Propaganda?

U.S. pharmacy chain CVS recently announced that it would no longer use “materially altered” imagery to market beauty products in its stores.

That means no more perfect, digitally modified wrinkle- and blemish-free photographs to sell everything from moisturizer to lipstick. Instead, consumers will see more realistic pictures of models, complete with crow’s feet and birthmarks.

Why did CVS make this change? It all has to do with the company’s brand purpose, the “reason for being.”

In a statement announcing the change, CVS noted the connection between the propagation of unrealistic body images and negative health effects, particularly for girls and young women. Given that the company’s stated corporate purpose is to “help people on their path to better health,” the use of airbrushed images in promotional materials seemed contradictory and ill-advised.

This isn’t the first time CVS has made a bold move inspired by its brand purpose. A few years ago, the firm stopped selling cigarette and tobacco products, forgoing an estimated $2 billion in revenue. That decision, too, was triggered by the inconsistency between the company’s purpose and the well-documented health effects of those products.

What CVS is giving us here is a master class in the difference between corporate purpose and corporate propaganda.

Most firms practice the latter – articulating a business purpose that makes for good annual report copy but doesn’t translate into tangible action. It’s nothing more that corporate window dressing.

See also: How to Apply ‘Lean’ to Insurance  

Far less common, but much more notable, are firms like CVS that don’t just define a brand purpose but actually live by it (even when it requires really tough decisions, like walking away from a $2 billion business).

Such actions help pave the way for a better and more distinctive customer experience because, in the eyes of consumers, it makes the company more appealing, more genuine and more authentic.

Kudos to CVS for taking yet another bold stand that helps make their brand purpose more than just a piece of corporate propaganda. Those kinds of decisions can spruce up a company’s brand image far more effectively than even the best airbrush.

This article was originally published on WaterRemarks.

How to Apply ‘Lean’ to Insurance

If you’re like many employers, you say you run your business in this order: people first, process second and profit last. But for employees and customers alike, they feel as if it’s: profit first, process second, then people last. With 60% to 70% of your employees disengaged, it’s not time to change the way they think, but the way you think first.

If you do, you’ll make more money by putting things in the right order.

How you run your business indicates how you sell. With more agents “spreadsheet selling,” just based on numbers, learning how to identify and remove root causes of customer problems has gone by the wayside. One could argue that few producers even know how to sell anything other than spreadsheets. When there are other alternatives for customers, however, spreadsheets add no real value in customers’ eyes.

Toyota’s definition of adding value, along with that of other companies that have adopted the principles of lean manufacturing, is the one to study when trying to improve your business and help customers improve theirs, too. At Toyota, it really is people first, process second and profit last.

Before we get to how to apply Toyota’s thinking to insurance, let’s study how its version of lean manufacturing made its way from America to Japan.

Early on during World War II, America was in desperate need of quality and speedy production to build machinery to fight and win the war. Tanks, airplanes, guns and submarines were in short supply when Japan surprised America at Pearl Harbor.

The U.S. government turned to the Training Within Industries program to educate American manufacturers on how to improve quality and reduce costs while increasing the rate of production. With a crisis threatening to destroy everything we knew, we developed an enlightened sense of purpose. American executives listened and changed the way they looked at people and how they built things. The principles of lean were born.

After WWII ended, Gen. Douglas Mac Arthur was given full responsibility to rebuild the Japanese economy. When he arrived, he found devastation, burned-out cities with no functional capacity and people existing on just 800 calories per day. He also discovered he had no way to distribute propaganda necessary to convince Japanese citizens about what Americans wanted to achieve.

With quality Japanese radios in short supply, MacArthur turned to Bell Labs, which turned to employee Dr. Walter Shewhart for help improving radio communications. Shewhart, who was unavailable, recommended that 29-year-old engineer Homer Sarasohn be sent to Japan, to teach statistical quality control. Sarasohn then spent four years working closely with Japanese scientists and engineers, improving their knowledge about how to best manufacture and sell goods and services.

When Sarasohn left in 1950, the reins of teaching continuous improvement were turned over to Dr. W. Edwards Deming. Deming expanded on what Sarasohn began, and lean manufacturing took hold at hundreds of companies, including Toyota, one of the many Japanese companies Deming consulted for until he died in 1993.

Today, Toyota is known for its driving principle; respect for people is the core to the culture. All decisions for improvement are made with this principle in mind. Even when it comes to reducing labor costs, respect for people is at the forefront. For example: Toyota has never laid off a single employee. It has, instead, turned to employees to improve their processes by finding wasteful steps and activities that impede value customers demand.

And when it comes to profitability, Toyota’s profits in 2013, exceeded Ford, GM and Chrysler combined, even though Toyota built roughly half the number of cars.

So, how can you as an insurance agent/risk manager use the same concepts to grow and improve your business?

Quite simple:

  1. Improve capacity by first engaging employees in identifying wasteful activities. Then reduce or eliminate the activities. Activities such as:
    1. (T)ransporting something.
    2. (I)nventory–keeping too much or failing to meet customer demand.
    3. (M)otion–looking, reaching or stooping to get something that isn’t in its best place.
    4. (W)aiting for information. How often do you wait while someone else produces material? How much time is spent waiting for loss runs, proposals, and other data?
    5. (O)verproducing information. For example: sending out copies of emails to multiple parties unnecessarily–emails that take time to be read by each recipient.
    6. (O)veranalyzing information or taking too much time to make a decision.
    7. Creating (D)efective information that must be redone. Certificates, proposals and routinely changing human resource policies come to mind.
    8. Failing to maintain a (S)afe working culture.

These are, based on the initials, the TIMWOODS of waste, and identifying them is your starting point.

  1. As capacity improves, employees have more time on their hands. The first cost you’ll reduce is overtime. That’s because employees will meet production demands better. Remember, you’re looking for reducing, or eliminating altogether, processes and activities that add no customer value. A secondary benefit? Employees won’t feel that their valuable skills are wasted on activities they don’t enjoy anyways.
  2. As capacity improves, share what you learned about your improvement efforts with customers and their supply chain. You’ll be busy with ample prospective opportunities.
  3. Then offer to work with customers and their supply chain to teach them how to use what you’ve learned.
  4. Develop strategies using your new capacity to expand your business. Focus on creating opportunities that reduce risk and improve internal and external customer efficiencies. That’s value through the eyes of your customer.

Don’t believe lead times matter within the service industry? Look at what Western Union accomplished: Lead times were reduced from 22 days to just 19 minutes.

  1. Before improvements
  2. After improvements

Lean has benefits to offer the entire insurance and risk management community. We’ve prioritized profits over processes and people and missed out. It’s time to re-order our priorities.

 

Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid on Opt-Out

Former President George W. Bush infamously said in 2005, “See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”

Opt-out supporters and proponents repeat over and over again that opt-out is better for employees.

They forgot to tell that to Rachel Jenkins.

Jenkins, a 32-year-old single mother of four, was injured while working a double shift at a disabled care center in northwest Oklahoma City owned by ResCare, the nation’s largest privately owned home healthcare agency. Jenkins was injured on March 31 attempting to break up an assault of her disabled client by another patient. The incident was witnessed by Jenkins’ supervisor.

After her shift, Jenkins went to the emergency room, where she was administered medication and sent home to rest. Her employer sent her to a company doctor the next day. He provided medication and ordered physical therapy.

But ResCare’s opt-out contract with its employees requires claimants to call a designated toll free number to report accidents within 24 hours, and Jenkins did not call until the 27th hour. Her claim was denied.

Three hours late on a phone call, and Jenkins is on her own.

Bob Burke, her attorney, just filed a case in the District Court of Southern Oklahoma seeking declaratory judgment, saying the state insurance commissioner has obviated his responsibilities by approving ResCare’s opt-out plan and others that don’t give workers at least a one-year statute of limitations to report their injury, as required by Oklahoma law.

“Every opt-out plan I have seen so far has a 24-hour requirement that bars benefits if notice is not given,” Burke wrote in an op-ed published Monday in the Journal-Record newspaper. “Even though state law requires opt-out plans to have the same one-year statute of limitations as regular workers’ comp, the insurance commissioner continues to approve the plans, and the legislature, in House Bill 2205, is trying to remove the plans from public inspection under the Open Records Act.”

This case demonstrates the true intent of at least THIS opt-out participant: to stick it to the worker.

The employer cannot claim lack of notice – the injury was witnessed by her supervisor, and Jenkins was sent by the company to its doctor!

Burke says the insurance commissioner approves the 24-hour limitation because it is a notice requirement only. Apparently that translation got lost in practice, because ResCare and its administrators clearly are using the provision as a statute of limitations.

I’m sure there’s another side to the story. Opt-out proponents will have to spin that other side to preserve credibility. In the meantime, the wheel in the opt-out PR repetition machine has a broken cog.

Opt-out had me semi-convinced that it was a valid alternative to traditional workers’ compensation with its promises of less bureaucracy, better injured worker care, greater efficiency, competition and improved outcomes.

Proponents kept repeating the benefits over and over and over again…

The propaganda almost got catapulted, and I nearly drank the Kool-Aid.

Not now. It smells poisoned.