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Articles by Wayne Lynn

Wayne Lynn is an advocate of the adage that "you can't manage what you can't measure".  Combining his considerable strengths in leadership, economics, and strategy with broad experience in both public and private companies, he brings focus and discipline to the task of creating and sustaining success in today's chaotic environment.

Wayne has managed businesses ranging in size from $5 million to $500million in annual sales.  He has guided those organizations through a number of diverse market sectors including magazines, catalogs, inserts, direct mail, and general commercial printing.

A student as well as a practitioner of the fine art of business, Wayne's latest focus is on helping business leaders make their companies more viable economically, more relevant in the market place, more adaptive to constant change, and more durable in the long haul.  It's about people, what they know, and how well they execute on what they know.

Wayne can be reached at 704-516-7787 or at [email protected].

Displaying 1-69 of 69 articles

Hire Smarter

Published November 29, 2023

In the latest installment of his Smart Leader Insights series, Wayne Lynn looks at how behavioral trait testing can lead to better hiring decisions. 

Self-Awareness: It Helps to Know Who You Are

Published November 15, 2023

In the latest installment of his Smart Leader Insights series, Wayne Lynn looks at how self-awareness—or understanding the behavioral factors that explain how we normally behave—is a key element of mastering leadership. 

Four Core Leadership Behaviors

Published November 1, 2023

In the latest installment of his Smart Leader Insights series, Wayne Lynn looks at four leadership behaviors that have almost universal applicability.

Smart Leader Insights

Published October 18, 2023

Wayne Lynn introduces his new “Smart Leader Insights” series with a preview of the articles to come in the next several months.

How Leadership Works

Published September 27, 2023

In the first installment in this new “Smart Leader Insights” series, Wayne Lynn explores how leadership works, all the moving parts of leadership, and how to become a better leader.

Moving/Motivating Employees Through Change

Published September 6, 2023

In his last article, Adaptive Capacity, Wayne Lynn discussed the importance of adapting to change effectively. In some ways, there is nothing in the leader’s toolkit quite as important. In this article, Wayne gives the leader solid advice on what to do to help their employees adapt to change.

Adaptive Capacity

Published August 30, 2023

To lead an organization and get people to do what the organization needs done, the leader needs a deep knowledge of herself as, many times, your success as a leader pivots around your ability to manage yourself and your reactions to changes in circumstances. From many perspectives, this is the defining characteristic of the best-in-class leader.

Help Wanted: Building a Performance-Based Culture Starts with Better Hiring Decisions

Published August 8, 2023

Print businesses today have a need for significant efforts to improve productivity to offset a shrinking and increasingly expensive labor market. The purpose of the article is to develop an understanding of how involved and time-consuming leading this effort can be.

How Hard Do You Look at Your Talent?

Published July 19, 2023

Contributor Wayne Lynn explains in depth how to evaluate how your business is performing by creating a “composite” client and building a situation where a company has declining performance driven mostly by issues with customers and salespeople. The body of this article is a memo written to the owner of this hypothetical client.

Building a Performance-Based Culture Starts with Better Hiring Decisions

Published June 19, 2023

This is the fourth in a series of five articles addressing the need for significant efforts to improve productivity to offset a shrinking and increasingly expensive labor market. The purpose of the article was to develop an understanding of how involved and time consuming the CEO/owner should plan for in leading this effort. In the last article, I provided a long list of recommendations for the reader’s consideration. I concluded that one specific example would be a good way to get the point across. Read on, I hope you enjoy!

Productivity Improvement Options

Published May 31, 2023

This article is the third in the series on how to incorporate productivity improvement into your growth strategies for the foreseeable future. What approaches to improvement should you consider? This article has a list of five general groupings of ideas and recommendations. Hopefully, it will prompt the reader to generate even more. Building on a long-running theme, we continue to emphasize that improving the personal effectiveness of employees and improving business productivity overlap and work together. Half of the ideas listed touch on various aspects of what that entails.

Setting Appropriate Productivity Goals

Published May 17, 2023

In his last article Wayne Lynn talked about the fundamentals of measuring your company’s productivity. In this post, he uses that discussion to talk about setting smart, appropriate goals for improving productivity in your firm. Wayne also starts the conversation around how you meet your new goals. Read on…

Measuring Your Productivity

Published April 24, 2023

In Wayne’s last article, he discussed the difficulty of growing your business in the environment we are dealing with today. Growth creates new jobs. These jobs will be difficult to fill. Improving productivity to offset the shortage of talent is becoming the primary path to growing your business. Wayne ended the article with five things for reader’s to consider to move in this direction. He discusses the first one, measuring the productivity of your company, in this article. Read on…

Growing Through Difficult Times

Published March 28, 2023

Having looked at the labor shortage problem from different perspectives in recent articles, Wayne Lynn gives his thoughts on root causes and how they still impact our companies going forward. The most difficult problem we face may well be trying to grow in the coming decade. Read on and see why Wayne thinks this could be our coming reality.

Making Your Business Future-Ready

Published March 9, 2023

The first principle of managing your human assets (talent) is to put qualified people in jobs they are behaviorally suited to perform. Sounds hard but it’s easier than you might think if you do it the right way. In this article, Wayne Lynn shows how to take the first step in the process of preparing the people side of your business for the future.

Competence in Leadership

Published February 22, 2023

How to go about developing leaders is not well understood. Yes, there are certain types of  knowledge that is needed and relatively easy to come by. There are important skills that help the accomplishment of a leader’s objectives and there are many sources to drawn from to learn them. The right type of experience can play an important role and it’s typically not hard to discern If a developing leader has that or not. Most people, however, are not aware of a number of behavioral competencies that, when mastered, are highly predictive of success in leadership. Wayne Lynn introduces the most important one in this article to illustrate the point.

The Competent Business

Published February 2, 2023

It has never been harder to survive and thrive in the graphics industry. Increasingly, the bar is rising on what is required of owners, CEOs, and employees. Are you thinking about how to improve the overall competence of yourself and your people?

Help Your People Become the Difference You Seek

Published December 8, 2022

Give your people the tools to become self-aware. Teach them to move beyond their self-defeating behaviors. The closer they get to their full potential, the closer your business will get to its potential. Contributor Wayne Lynn explains how.

The Leadership Challenge Is in the Context

Published November 16, 2022

In his last article, Wayne Lynn talked about the contextual realities that permeate leadership. Those realities often have paradoxical elements that require the leader to modulate his/her approach to most effectively deal with the situation in front of them. In this article Wayne goes a step further by describing what he believes is the crux of the leader’s context in the current environment.

Effective Leaders Manage Paradoxes

Published October 27, 2022

Leadership is complex. There are many ways to look at and examine it in our efforts to understand what it is and what it does. There are three things that seem to be universal. It is about the interaction of leaders, followers, and the context within which they reside and operate. In this article, Wayne Lynn takes a look at this topic in an effort to start digging out what it is that makes leaders effective.

The Leadership Void

Published September 27, 2022

In previous articles, Wayne has discussed the worldwide issue of employee disengagement: what it is, what causes it, and how pervasive it is. This article begins a look at root causes. First up is poor leadership, which stems from poor decisions relative to who gets hired, promoted, and developed as leaders for the future. Effective leaders are the only people in an organization who can change the conditions that lead to disengagement.

A Reason to Show Up

Published May 5, 2022

If you really want to grow your business over the next decade you will be required to solve the problem of recruiting talent in a brutally competitive talent marketplace. The solution, you are likely to discover, lies not in marketing so much as it does in a form of branding. We must answer the question that is top of mind for potential employees: “Why should I choose your company to work for instead of Amazon, Google, or some e-commerce company?” (And remember, our problem is not that we are printers. People are looking for something we can provide as well as anybody. They are looking for purpose, relevance, and a place where they feel good about belonging to.)

How Seriously Do You View Yourself As a Leader?

Published April 7, 2022

In a talent market where demand exceeds supply and our industry is learning to compete for new people, leadership has never been more important. Does your ability to be an effective leader help or hinder your success in attracting new, young talent? Wayne Lynn looks at this issue from the perspective of a potential new hire. You may want to read this…

Better People Decisions

Published March 17, 2022

Attracting top talent to your business in this labor market is not for the weak. It helps if you have an employee value proposition that resonates with prospective new hires. How you make hiring, promotion, and development decisions is a key factor in not only making good decisions for your business but can function as a differentiator in the market as you compete for talent. Wayne Lynn weighs in on this issue and has helpful thoughts to consider.

Getting Real About Finding Labor

Published March 3, 2022

An industry dealing with labor shortages nestled inside an economy with labor shortages is a rough place to be. Competing not only with other members of the print-related ecosystem but with companies outside it who have significant recruiting advantages is not for the faint of heart nor for the uninformed. Wayne Lynn takes a look at how large companies create places to work that attract the people we want to hire very effectively. Can we learn from them?

Can We Support Our Future Growth?

Published February 17, 2022

Our industry has been transformed by digital technology. On a larger scale, so has our society and the economy that underpins it. It is ironic that changes of such magnitude have us standing on the doorstep of a talent shortage that has no easy answers. In the midst of so much positive change, our leaders have not, to date, created the skills and talent needed to handle the shifting needs of an emerging new economic order. In this article, Wayne Lynn explains our dilemma and kicks off an appeal to industry leaders to adopt a growth mindset, think outside the box, and look to the long term.

 Talent and Culture as a Competitive Advantage

Published January 13, 2022

In this article Wayne Lynn presents the case for gaining competitive advantage through leadership development, helping employees meet their needs, and helping employees develop into better behavioral matches to high performers in their chosen jobs. Adopting this approach will, over time, strengthen the talent base of the business and foster a performance oriented culture.

Improving Profits through Employee Engagement

Published October 21, 2021

You already measure important KPIs in your business. You look at your financials and monitor things like cash position, inventories, age of receivables, maintenance records, equipment productivity, daily production output, etc. When was the last time you measured employee engagement? Wayne Lynn explains how people are the core asset of your business, and why it may be time you started learning much more about them.

The Paradox of Organization

Published September 23, 2021

In the last stage of the process of getting things done we confront the issue of Organization. Being organized and flexible at the same time can be maddening. Without this behavioral competency we can make great decisions on a routine basis and have them fail continually. Wayne Lynn explains why.

Overcoming Implementation Issues

Published August 19, 2021

In his fourth of six articles dealing with improving how we get things done, Wayne Lynn looks at getting past issues that delay and potentially stifle the implementation of goal-supporting business decisions. Leaders and their teams need to develop and support the Inventive mindset. Read on to learn more.

The Motivation to Get Things Done

Published July 15, 2021

Decisions are not made in a void. They serve multiple purposes but the focus of this article is on stimulating action that moves us toward the accomplishment of goals. Last month we looked at the subject of approaching decisions in a structured way and in a way that used both sides of the human brain. The point was to make the best possible decision using what we know about how the brain works and how each side works to balance and inform the other. This month we look at finding and ensuring that the necessary motivation is in place for successful implementation of decisions and achievement of our goals

Making Better Decisions

Published June 17, 2021

In his last article, Wayne Lynn described the process of execution or “how we get things done.” It included making the decision to do something, finding the right motivation to get it implemented, and managing the stress that it naturally creates, being inventive as needed to overcome obstacles encountered along the way, and, finally, putting in place the policies and controls necessary to make sure the decision stays made but allows for changes in circumstances. In this article, Wayne examines the process of approaching a decision that increases your chances of success.

Improving How We Get Things Done

Published May 20, 2021

It is a truism that most problems in today’s world of organizations are created by poor implementation of change initiatives. This stems from poorly thought out decisions all the way through to not putting in place clear decision boundaries that can prevent subversion of the desired outcomes. In this article, Wayne Lynn looks underneath the components of effective implementation with an eye toward creating a deeper understanding of what’s needed to improve our ability to improve how we get things done.

How to Make Great People Decisions

Published April 22, 2021

By far, the best indicator of job success is the presence (or absence) of behavioral traits that match up with the traits of people who have exhibited strong success in the job in the past. In this article, Wayne Lynn takes a look at an approach to making people decisions that has a high probability of success. That’s the goal in making people decisions: make the decision with the highest possible probability of success, both for the person and the company. Wayne shares some of his own experiences and gives examples of why this approach works.

The Paradoxes of Stress

Published March 18, 2021

We all, at one level or another, understand that we live in difficult times. Never before have we expected, even demanded, so much from our leaders. Meeting those expectations is the most fundamental challenge for today’s leaders. Since leadership implies followership, if we don’t meet those expectations, the best we’re likely to get is disinterested and disengaged followers. We must strive to be better.

Is Your Company Self-Aware Enough to Change Successfully?

Published February 18, 2021

The writers and publishers who chronicle the world of business have been a buzzword factory for the last four decades. There’s no need to list them here, but probably the most frequently mentioned topic in the last few years has been how to change an organization into something that has a better chance of surviving and thriving. In this article, Wayne Lynn discusses the importance of becoming self-aware. Knowing what your strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots are provides the best starting point for successful change. Read on…

Leadership through the Lens of Paradox

Published January 12, 2021

It is often said that the level of thinking (and leadership) that got us to where we are today will not take us to the next level. In this article, Wayne Lynn talks about learning to manage paradox. It requires individual and organizational growth. It is sorely needed in a world beset with pandemics, civil unrest, and political polarization.

Strategic People Management

Published November 19, 2020

As millennials move into leadership and ownership responsibilities in our industry they are uniquely positioned and qualified to take a strategic view of the management and development of our human assets. In this article, Wayne Lynn takes a look at this opportunity and how it can be capitalized upon. Read on to see how the future can be better shaped by better use of our people.

The Paradoxes of Stress

Published October 15, 2020

We all, at one level or another, understand that we live in difficult times. Never before have we expected, even demanded, so much from our leaders. Meeting those expectations is the most fundamental challenge for today’s leaders. Since leadership implies followership, if we don’t meet those expectations the best we’re likely to get is disinterested and disengaged followers. We must strive to be better.

Innovating the Proofing Cycle

Published September 17, 2020

Printers need to consider innovations that negate the need for proofs (hard or soft) except under exceptional circumstances. Hint: train the customer to submit print-ready PDFs that are truly ready to go. You will still need to do preflight, etc., but the emphasis should be on taking the time lag created by the proofing cycle out of the process.

The Impact of Remote Working

Published August 20, 2020

What potential business disruptions should we be thinking about post-COVID-19? There are several. Most of them, at first glance, seem inconsequential but, on closer examination, could have significant impact. In this article, Wayne Lynn looks at changes in how we work and examines how they could impact the way we do business after the crisis has passed.

Good People, Good Teams, Good Strategy

Published July 16, 2020

Making good people decisions about whom to hire, develop, and promote can be devilishly hard. Building good teams of good team players is a roll of the dice without the right data. Wayne Lynn takes a close look at how good teams come together and how behavioral assessments can help pick the right people for the right team.

Investing in Human Capital

Published June 11, 2020

Many of you are worried if you’ve got enough cash and other forms of financial capital to get to the other side of the COVID-19 crisis. This is a short-term issue and, if you survive, maybe you’ll have more cash on hand next time we see a downturn. But what if the market and your business changes so much you have people who are no longer relevant? Wayne Lynn explores some thoughts that can help you plan for and be prepared for this issue.

Being Viable in a VUCA World

Published May 14, 2020

Wayne Lynn takes a deep dive into getting a clear understanding of your company’s finances and cashflow, a vital consideration even more vital in these volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) times.

Where Is the Power in Your Customer Relationships?

Published April 23, 2020

Successful selling requires certain behavioral traits that, if they are present, dramatically increase the probabilities of success. When there is a strong balance between the “assertive” and “helpful” traits, a sales person is most likely to create a “win-win” relationship. Wayne Lynn explores how to develop a sales force that has these two traits well-balanced.

Managing Employee Stress During the COVID-19 Crisis

Published March 23, 2020

This is an unprecedented and chaotic time, the nature of business is changing rapidly, and everyone in the organization, from the top down, feels the stress. Wayne Lynn offers some guidance for business leaders to help alleviate employee stress.

The Economic Case for Employee Engagement

Published March 12, 2020

Having employees that are engaged in and satisfied with their jobs can give a business a powerful competitive edge. In this article, Wayne Lynn looks at the positive impacts that engaged employees can have on a print business’ bottom line.

Triage for People Performance Issues

Published February 13, 2020

Every business has employees who don’t perform as expected, or even as well as you as a manager know they are capable of performing. Why is that? There are a number of reasons why employees underperform, and they aren’t all the fault of the employee in question. Wayne Lynn details four primary reasons that people underperform on the job, and what employers can do about it.

The CEO’s Perspective

Published January 16, 2020

Peter Drucker once wrote that the one contribution a CEO is uniquely expected to make is to give others vision and the ability to perform. Leadership in an organization is important but to succeed, it requires motivated, energized, and engaged followers.

What’s the Point of Behavioral Assessments?

Published December 12, 2019

We can have the best business model—i.e., value proposition, profit formula, conversion process, technology, etc.—but if we don’t have qualified people suited to the jobs they hold, it all falls apart. Is this the sort of risk you are willing to take? Shouldn’t you give as much thought to hiring decisions as you do to equipment and software decisions?

Are You an Entrepreneur or Just a Business Owner? And Why Does It Matter for Your Business?

Published November 14, 2019

What separates small businesses that grow and thrive and those that don’t? A large part of it is whether the business owner has an entrepreneurial spirit. In this article, Wayne Lynn looks at the behavioral traits that make an entrepreneur, and the difference between being a CEO or a business owner and an entrepreneur.

Looking for Leaders: Planning for Talent Development

Published October 17, 2019

You probably have a sales plan, a profit plan, and a capital and cash management plan. But what about a talent development plan? Do you know how to grow your human assets, improve the culture, and develop both current and future leaders? In this article, Wayne Lynn explores the need to develop your company’s next leaders.

The Real Source of Competitive Advantage

Published September 19, 2019

Technology is easy to acquire—both for you and for your competitors—but for most companies, it’s your employees who provide a real competitive advantage. High-performing companies are winning the competitive battlefield by figuring out how to match their best talent with their best opportunities. Wayne Lynn offers some tips for getting the most out of your most productive employees.

Rules of Engagement: Meet an Employee’s Needs, Watch Them Perform

Published August 15, 2019

The average person uses around 70% of their available energy reserves to perform their normal activities, including meeting the requirements of their jobs. The remaining 30% is called “discretionary energy.” How can we tap into an employee’s discretionary energy and get them to apply it to their job? The key is engagement. Wayne Lynn explains how to measure and improve an employee’s level of engagement.

Making More Productive People Decisions

Published July 11, 2019

You know how it is: You’re looking to fill a position in your company. You find a prospect who has a great resume and interviews like a pro. They know the job and have the requisite experience, so you hire them, only to find their actual job performance lacking. What happened? Chances are, you only evaluated basic technical qualifications rather than behavioral traits that could determine if that employee was a good for for your company. In this article, Wayne Lynn explains why you should look beyond the resume.

Self-Improvement Is Business Improvement

Published June 11, 2019

What does it take to be successful as the leader of a business? It’s not enough just to be qualified to do the job. Are you behaviorally suited? Do you have the strong key traits that distinguish high-performing CEOs from everyone else? Determining how you stack up against the “best and the brightest” can identify areas in which improving yourself can help improve your business. Wayne Lynn of Lynn Consulting explains how.

Do Your Employees Work Well as a Team?

Published May 14, 2019

The printing industry is in the middle of a talent crisis. It’s getting harder and harder to find employees, let alone ones who work well on a team. In this article, Wayne Lynn looks at the three characteristics of good team players, and how print business leaders can help identify and improve these characteristics in their own employees.

What Advice Would You Give?

Published October 13, 2014

Wayne Lynn reflects a long successful career, the changing industry, and offers advice for future leaders.

Making the Choice to Lead

Published October 1, 2014

As humans, we are beings that choose. We have reached the point, because of technological advances, where we can literally choose the course of our own evolution. We are living in a time of rapid change and the ability to shape it through our choices is mind bending in its implications. We can literally choose our own destruction or the path to abundance and peace. That, in itself, may be the best definition yet of what civilization means.

Change, Choice, and Leadership

Published October 7, 2013

Half of the printing companies that were in business in 1995 are gone. We are losing 1,000 to 1,500 more per year. And…since those firms are gone, i.e., they didn’t survive; it seems likely that they failed to change in some way that might have led to their survival.

Moving From Marketing to Strategy

Published May 31, 2013

I started my last article with two questions. Does your company matter in the market? If your customers got up next Monday morning and discovered your business was no longer open, would you be missed?

Does Your Business Have A Magnet?

Published May 24, 2013

Does your company matter in the market? If your customers woke up next Monday morning and discovered your business was no longer open, would you be missed?

What Would Michael Porter Think?

Published May 17, 2013

I am naturally curious. I have always enjoyed learning and early in my career made a point of immersing myself in the work of some of the best thinkers in the business world. First, it was Peter Drucker whose writings are the foundation of what I know about management.

Is Strategy Necessary?

Published March 29, 2013

There has been much chaos and confusion in our industry in the past two decades. According to every credible source, collective industry sales are declining. Offset printing, which rode a 60 year wave of process dominance, has been declining since 2007. Digital print sales, as well as a variety of ancillary services, are growing but not fast enough to stem the tide of total industry revenue decline.

Strategies for Niche Players

Published March 22, 2013

In my last article I discussed the Rule of Three and how it appears to be playing out in the print industry. This article will review those strategies.

The Rule of Three

Published March 11, 2013

After What They Think published my article Survival of the Small and Mid-sized Printing Company in Today’s Chaotic Environment, Scott Johnson commented with some nice words and the question: Had I read the book The Rule of Three: Surviving and Thriving in Competitive Markets? I had not read it but out of curiosity I found it, bought it and read it.

Managing the life cycle of the business

Published March 5, 2013

It is amazing to me how many of us get a “deer in headlights” reaction to changes going on around us. The leaders of a business can take a business on the downside of its life cycle and reinvent it and create something new causing it to grow again.

The Four Attributes of Long-Term Successful Companies: VIABILITY

Published January 7, 2013

In “Survival of the Small to Mid-sized Printing Company in Today’s Chaotic Environment”, I talked about the four attributes of long-term successful companies, this article will address the first attribute – Viability

Survival of the Small to Mid-sized Printing Company in Today's Chaotic Environment

Published September 11, 2012

This white paper deals with some of the most immediately beneficial strategies that leaders can pursue in increasing their opportunities to survive and thrive. We show how to make an immediate impact and how to improve your long-term business fundamentals.