Optimized Offices’ Office 365 Training Approach a ‘Huge Success’ for Phoenix Specialty Manufacturing


Optimized Offices’ approach to on-site Microsoft Office 365 training has been acknowledged as a ‘huge success’ by John Bozard, Information Technology Manager at Phoenix Specialty Manufacturing Co . The custom curriculum of eleven one-hour classes resulted in positive improvements company-wide. Trained employees have reduced waiting time for customers, reduced production waste and processing waste across the company, improved operating efficiency and email quality. The bonus benefit has been the creativity and improvement efforts ignited in team members who mastered new skills. Phoenix Specialty, SCMEP.org and Optimized Offices worked together to offer in-house training following the company’s migration to Office 365, on Windows 7, Outlook 2013, Word 2013, and Excel 2013. Read more…


Makin’ Memories to Benefit Alzheimer’s Research

Verlon & ShawnDear Mom,

I am sorry that you won’t be able to celebrate my birthday with me this year.  So, I decided to give you a present. I decided to honor you with a concert that will benefit Alzheimer’s Research. There are so many things about this event that you will be pleased to hear…

    1. Verlon Thompson & Shawn Camp are performing.  I am a big fan – and I know you are too!
    2. Friends are sharing photos of their loved ones who have been stricken with AD. You know from going through this with your mother how Alzheimer’s takes away the identities of its victims.  That is why we are collecting photos of Alzheimer’s victims “in their prime”, to honor who they were.
    3. The Saloon at the NC Music Factory has donated their venue. Yee Haw!
    4. Volunteers are stepping forward to offer their talents – including Sheila Neisler Catalyst – A Marketing Company who donated marketing services, Ann Edenfield who is serving as our vivacious Emcee, Josh Herbert who has donated his photography skills, and a team of willing Rotarians who will work the door, sell CDs and help with things that arise during the event.
    5. Two Rotary Districts are supporting this benefit: Rotary District 7750 in Upstate SC, and Rotary District 7680 in the Charlotte region of NC. When I mentioned this project to the District Governors, the only question they had was: How can we help? Rotarians are inspiring!
    6. Friends, old and new, are coming out to celebrate. Some are coming for the music. Some are coming because they are fans of CARTFUND.org. Some are coming for the chance to tease me about my odometer turning over to a nice round number. I am looking forward to welcoming each and every one.

There is another, very important reason why I know that news of this benefit will make you happy.  That reason is the organization that will benefit from the event.  This spring, I learned about CARTFUND.org, and the meticulously prudent way it provides grants for Alzheimer’s Research. You will be glad to know that…

    1. CARTFUND.org gives 100% of all funds received to Alzheimer’s Research. It’s charter sets a high bar for financial stewardship.
    2. CARTFUND.org supports cutting edge Alzheimer’s Research. This is critical, as there is still so much we do not know about AD – from how to diagnose and prevent it, to how to cure it.
    3. CARTFUND.org received more than 80 grant requests in 2012. It was only able to support two grants with financial backing. That means that many promising research projects were left unfunded.


The last time you visited me, it confused and agitated you.  My home has become a strange and frightening place to you.  It broke my heart to see you try all the doors, looking for the way out.  Since you are safe and happy in your new home, I will be content with you being there, while we celebrate for you here. Thank you for being my Mom. I hope you are as proud of me as I am of you.  – With love from Barbara

“Makin’ Memories to Benefit Alzheimer’s Research” will be on Friday, August 23, 2013 at The Saloon at the NC Music Factory in Charlotte NC. Doors open at 5 pm. Verlon Thompson and Shawn Camp will perform from 6-8 pm. Every dollar collected goes to cutting edge Alzheimer’s Research through http://www.cartfund.org  Advance tickets are available for $10 through 8/22/13 at http://tinyurl.com/kz2qvqd  or at http://www.fortmillrotary.org  Tickets will be available at the door for $20. Photos of Alzheimer’s patients “in their prime” can be emailed to: cartfaces@outlook.com


Improve Email, Improve Working Relationships

It’s 8:15 a.m. Daniel looks at his inbox, as I repeat my question.

“How do you feel when you get to work and see 15 emails from the same person?”, I ask.

Daniel sighs. “I feel like if I never hear from him again it will be too soon.”

Daniel is referring to the 15 email in his inbox from Walter.  Walter is Daniel’s contact at a strategic supplier.  Together, Daniel and Walter are tasked with expanding the relationship between their companies, and reducing per item costs.  They work closely every day.

But is staring down 15 emails from Walter a positive way for Daniel to start each morning?

Much email advice focuses on how each of us can manage our inbox most effectively.  Getting to inbox zero means that I empty out my inbox effectively.   Now I can breathe and be calm.  I win!

But what happens in the bigger picture?  In the grand scheme of things, email is a giant ping-pong game. The challenge for me is to volley the last email of the day over the net into your inbox.  Tomorrow morning you volley them all back.  And on it goes, day after day, with little concern for the value being generated in the transaction.

Is there hope for improvement?  Can Daniel’s day be rescued?

Yes, there is hope.  One way is to join together and address email problem-solving as a team.  Change the “us vs. them” game.   Take a fresh perspective on email, as one tool among many, that helps us accomplish our goals, rather than as a transactional way to fritter away a perfectly good day.

A Rapid Improvement Event is a valuable framework for this kind of discussion. Put email collaboration on the agenda at a retreat with your suppliers.  Take an hour or two to dive deep.  Explore together the key goals of the collaborative relationship.  Question how email helps to advance these goals, and how it hinders them.   Explore practices that have been effective in similar situations.  You will be surprised by what you learn.

A Rapid Email Improvement (Kaizen) Event can result in increased trust among participants. Often tools other than email are identified for specific kinds of communication.   Email waste is identified and eliminated. The quality of email improves from idea sharing.  Plus the increased quality of email will reduce daily email maintenance time – something that everyone will enjoy.  Best of all, a shared commitment to better email habits paves the way for enhanced team outcomes ahead.


Improve Email Collaboration in the Supply Chain

Carolina Supply Chain professionals won’t want to miss this.  Registration is now open for the 2013 Supply Chain Conference.  This conference is hosted by ISM Charlotte and will be held on Friday, March 15, 2013. Attendees receive six (6) CEUs.

This full day event kicks off with Keynote Speaker Blair Childs, SVP Public Affairs with Premier Healthcare Alliance.  A CPO Roundtable and six breakout sessions will make for a full day of professional development and networking.

Barbara Ivey, Email Therapist and Time Finder with Optimized Offices will speak on “Improving Email Collaboration in the Supply Chain”.

Looking for fresh ideas to improve working relationships and business results with strategic partners? Why not try improving how you work together in email.  Participants in Barbara’s session will learn techniques to improve email collaboration… and will experience email improvement first hand.

Conference agenda and registration is here


Speaking for ARMA Charlotte on 3/21/12: Conquer Your Workday with Lean

I am really looking forward to addressing the ARMA Charlotte this spring! Our last visit was in 2010, and it has been too long. We will learn to”Conquer Your Workday with Lean”.  Interested in registering?  Click here.


Email & Vacation – Auto Response Experiment

What if your email could manufacture time?waiting

This vacation, write the clearest Auto Response or Out of Office message…ever.

Tell emailers how to get answers to their questions. Let them know when you will return, and how you will respond.

Then, enjoy your vacation!

Note what happens.

Did your clear auto-response help carve out interruption-free vacation time?

If so, ask yourself, “Could this work when I am in the office?”.

After all, couldn’t you use you some email-free time everyday?



Email & Vacation – Do Not Cross

You say you cannot ignore your email this vacation.

Maybe you are knee-deep in a critical project.

Try securing the perimeters of your email time instead.

Picture “Do Not Cross” tape around the times of day you intend to work email on vacation.

No matter what, nothing crosses the lines.

Take back control, and show your email who is boss!


Email & Vacation – Customer Love Contest

welovecustomersWho puts the customer first?

Make your vacation a Customer Love Contest.

Instead of intervening to handle customer issues when you are on vacation, let your teammates respond.

See who steps up and goes above and beyond for the customer.

Award prizes!

How valuable would it be for you to know who puts the customer first?



Email & Vacation – Disappearing Act Experiment


Want to make your email disappear this vacation?

How about making your  laptop or tablet disappear?  Try hiding it in a really inconvenient place.  Or better yet, leave it back at work. Note to self:  Leave some breadcrumbs or draw a treasure map to find the device when vacation is over. The map is the secret ingredient.  Trust me on this.


Email & Vacation – Phone Coverup Experiment

Looking for a way to use your Smartphone but not be tempted to read email on vacation?

Remove your email account(s) from the Start Screen.

Now you can text and call without the constant reminder of unread email.

Out of sight, out of mind!

Note to self:  Be careful not to delete the account from your device.

Doesn’t that feel better?