Data Mining for Dummies

August 19th, 2014
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data mining

Maneuvering in today’s fast-paced business environment requires actionable information, which data mining provides. Locate your data to make your next strategic move.

As I’ve been putting together a SIOP (Sales, Inventory and Operations Planning) executive meeting presentation, it made me think about data mining. In this case, there is very little information available – in comparison to other clients, the ability to retrieve information is in the bottom 20%, yet I was still able to put it together. Thus, it made me think about a few tips: 

1. Base reports: So long as the company uses a system, there will be some data you can access. Even the worst case scenarios, which make the ERP experts shudder, have untapped information. Find it.

2. Manual information: I’ve yet to go into a client who didn’t track some sort of information. True, it is often too much of the wrong information; however, they are tracking something. Find those people and understand what they track.

3. Accounting: Again, every company has to have financials. Thus, worst case, start with the Accounting team.  They might be leery to provide it but if you involve them in the process, you’ll likely be successful.

4. Track it yourself – To get ballpark estimates for some metrics, you can take a sampling approach and go out and track it yourself.

5. Report writer – Every system (even the most fundamental and surprisingly inexpensive ones I’ve seen for smaller companies) have some sort of report writer or the capability to integrate with a report writer such as Crystal Reports. Pursue this path!

6. Hire IT experts - I’ve seen countless times where folks who are good at retrieving data can glean information even from the worst systems.  At one client, they called him the “Data Ninja”.  I loved that term as I’ve run into data ninjas at many clients (although I have to agree, he was the best!), and those who don’t have one can bring on a temporary Access expert or SQL expert etc.

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Turning Data into Dollars


© 2014 LMA Consulting Group

Fit Matters! Just Ask J.C. Penney

August 15th, 2014
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supply chain

According to today’s Wall Street Journal, J.C. Penney’s climb out from potential imminent disaster continued last month.  J.C. Penney reported higher sales, wider margins and a smaller quarterly loss.  Although that might not seem like much to celebrate, it is a night and day difference from results experienced under their disastrous overhaul led by successful former Apple Inc. executive, Ron Johnson.  J.C. Penney tried a new strategy with Ron Johnson, and rapidly discovered that “fit matters”!  Customers provided their opinion by leaving in droves.  I applaud J.C. Penney for trying something new and pursuing innovation; however, it is critical to keep fit in mind from the start.

One tip to implement this week: Whether you are hiring, looking for someone to participate on a project team or collaborating with customers, make sure fit is not an after thought.  I’ve seen countless poor performers excel when transitioned to a role with a better fit, and unfortunately, Ron Johnson is not alone – many successful folks become wildly unsuccessful when promoted or transferred into poor fit jobs.  Why lose an exceptional employee by ignoring fit?  Equally worse, why spend huge dollars to hire the best-sounding person to be stuck with a problem employee?  Instead, think about fit.  It can be as simple as understanding which qualities are important for fit in your department or company.  Next, deliberately ask fit questions.  Be on the lookout for fit.  Suddenly, fit will improve and results will follow.

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain talent? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”


© 2014 LMA Consulting Group

Are You Working on the RIGHT Priorities?

August 14th, 2014
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Make time to examine and rank priorities to make sure you are focused on the most important aspects of your business.

In today’s new normal business environment, executives run from meeting to meeting, call to call and rarely have time to THINK.  How do we know we are working on the right priorities?

I’ve found that my most successful clients plan time to think about strategy, growth, innovation and topics such as these.  It cannot be an after-thought!  Actually, this is one advantage of the horrible traffic in the L.A. area – sometimes it provides quality thinking time about your business.  However, who would hope for bad traffic?!  Instead, set time in your calendar to think and brainstorm about these types of topics.  This will develop your Eagle Eye.  I’ve found that developing this skill is critically important to allocating your time to the most beneficial items – those which will have the most impact, are most urgent and which require attention.

One opportunity to achieve this would be to attend an upcoming invitation-only executive roundtable discussion at Harvey Mudd College, moderated by me and my colleague Kash Gokli, professor of Manufacturing.  If you are an executive in the Southern California area who is interested in innovation, please review more information about our event on August 28th and let me know if you are interested in attending.

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What is Eagle Eye Strategic Focus?

Metrics Rule

© 2014 LMA Consulting Group

Rapid Assessments for Success

August 12th, 2014
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rapid assessments for business

Focus your eagle eye on making an honest assessment of your business to make change and motivate your team.

I will be rolling out a new diagram/ graphic next month that depicts how my service lines “work together” to dramatically improve performance.  In the interim, I thought I’d talk about the first step which is rapid assessments that deliver success.  A few tips include:

1. Take a cross-functional view - Only assessments which cross functional lines will provide significant value as no function works alone.

2. Look for connections – It is where the various functions, systems, processes, and people cross that is essential.  Focus on these areas.

3. Focus only on those areas impacting the critical objectives - Too many assessments take forever and end up in binders covered in dust on your desk.  Throw that thinking out and go for the practical – what really matters to your organization?

4. Consider priorities – How are you determining which items are most important? Take a step back and think about whether it is 1) urgent.  2) significant in impact  3) getting better, worse or staying the same on a daily basis

5. Keep best practices & fundamentals in mind – An easy way to rapidly size-up where to focus is to think about the current state vs. fundamentals for the type of business vs. best practices.  When all is said and done, where do you come out?

6. Capabilities – The best plans are useless if the team is incapable of understanding the plan or how to execute it.  Incorporate your capabilities and provide recommendations to fill gaps.

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© 2014 LMA Consulting Group

McDonald’s Proves Quality Must Be An Assumption

August 11th, 2014
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supply chain

According to today’s Wall Street Journal, McDonald’s July sales were DOWN by 2.5% – the worst in over 10 years! A significant contributor to this weak performance was due to the meat-supplier scandal in China affecting its sales in Asia and Africa.  As businesses try to find ways to grow sales in today’s highly competitive environment, fundamentals must remain in place to ensure quality and service.  What could be worse than finally achieving some success with organic growth to have it squashed by quality concerns? (In McDonald’s case, meat expiration date concerns..) Once customers leave, they are far less likely to return.

One tip to implement this week: Check in on your fundamentals.  Typically we are buried in day-to-day survival – managing projects, resolving problems, handling customer questions, preparing for Board meetings and the like.  Instead, set aside time (which you consider to be as important as your top customer, CEO or Board member calling with an urgent priority) to take a pulse on your fundamentals.  Go to Customer Service and Shipping, and ask about customers and service.  Go by a the production line and ask questions about quality.  Pick up your phone to call a key supplier.  Talk with your informal leaders and find out what’s on their mind.  Take stock of your fundamentals and address any potential risks uncovered.  If you don’t, you’ll wish you had as they surface from your customers instead!


© 2014 LMA Consulting Group

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