Are You Able to be Resilient in Your Decision Making?

November 12th, 2018

 

As we kick off our new series “The Resilient Supply Chain”, we are thinking about all the aspects of resiliency.  It is overwhelming as to the volatility of almost every aspect of the end-to-end supply chain. Just in the last month, there have been many events/ factors that have created disruption:

  • U.S. and Mexico reaching a trade agreement
  • U.S. and Canada still at an impasse with respect to trade negotiations
  • U.S. and China still imposing tariffs on each other
    • Ford cancelled plans to produce a small car in China based on these tariffs.
  • Fires have and are plaguing California – the worst in history
  • The Big Island in Hawaii is just starting to pick up the pieces after the volcano
    • We’ve heard about severe impacts on the businesses and customers in that areAnd earlier this week, although not serious (thank goodness), there was an earthquake in the next town over from our office

The Resilient Supply Chain
Instead of panicking as each of these events or disruptors occur, creating a resilient supply chain can provide a proactive approach to this current state market condition.  One of critical aspects of taking a proactive approach instead of a reactive one is to think about whether you are able to be resilient in your decision making.

Here are some considerations:
1.  People – Good decisions stem from good people.  Thus, it always makes sense to start there.  Do you have people in leadership positions and other key roles that you would want to make decisions in your absence?  (Just this past week, a potential client was killed by a drunk driver while he was on a motorcycle. We would certainly rather be prepared for winning the lottery but the question remains:  Are your people ready to make decisions?)

2.  Data – Although good people can make up for a lot, you also need the “right” information and relevant background to make key decisions.  Do your systems allow you to retrieve meaningful data for decision making? Every single ERP selection client prioritizes business intelligence/dashboard reporting tools as high on their list of priorities for good reason!

3.  Input – Although this can be considered part of people and data, it’s worth calling out on its own.  Do you gain input from trusted sources (colleagues, customers, suppliers, trade association colleagues, industry groups and more)?  Recently, our APICS-IE instructors had an issue arise with updated learning materials – in essence, they were not set up for learning to occur.  Clearly a BIG issue for an education and value-focused organization! Fortunately, after 3 or 4 calls, we had several ideas on how to dramatically improve the process and overcome the obstacle.  In another example that occurred recently for a client project, we had a significant challenge in explaining a complex concept that was critical to success. If we didn’t get past that barrier, results would NOT follow.  It took 5 or 6 calls with excellent input from all as well as testing out ideas before we came up with the ideal way to convey the concept, and it “worked”!

4.  Speed – Slow decision making is worse than no decision making.  In today’s Amazonian marketplace, your customers will be LONG gone if you are slow to make decisions.  I’ve noticed that I am a LOT less tolerant of slow responsiveness even in my own business (and for things I would have been fine with a year ago).  I have to be to remain viable, and so do you! Thus, as it relates to having the ‘right’ people with the ‘right’ data and ‘right’ input, you must also have them at the ‘right’ time.

Have you put thought into your decision-making process before decisions must occur?  Ponder these critical elements, put them in place and you’ll be prepared to successfully navigate the volatility of today’s business decisions.    

 



California Steel Industries and Whether Progress Follows Passion

November 10th, 2018

Recently, I went on a tour of California Steel Industries (CSI), the leading producer of steel in the western United States.  We walked through the steel mill and the pipe mill.  You’ll see a video of the steel manufacturing process below.

It is quite an interesting process.  However, as amazing as it is to see, what is even more impressive is the dedication and passion of the employees who took us on the tour.  What I thought was most impressive is how the team members enjoyed the culture.

 

 

CSI has never had a layoff although they have used their employees to not just fill temporary roles but also to perform all services during tough years.  This dedication shines through.  For example, the pipe mill supervisor had a lot of pride as he told us about his story and the fact that it is the newest pipe mill in the world yet it is housed in the oldest building at CSI.  Perhaps progress follows passion in CSI’s case….

One tip to implement this week:
Culture seems to be popping up at every turn lately (tours, Harvey Mudd executive roundtables, successful CEO feedback) as key to success.

Have you thought about your culture and the impact on your employees and progress?  For example, on a tour, would your employees talk to the process and leave it at that?  Or would they talk about how much they enjoy working there?  Perhaps we should all “take a tour” of our facilities and find out.

If culture is simply as my consulting mentor Alan Weiss defines it (that set of beliefs that govern behavior), it is quite simple.  The issue is that it isn’t easy to build.

How might we create that set of beliefs that govern behavior?  Perhaps we start by deciding what we are willing to stand up for – and not waver from when the “going gets tough”.

If your influencers start believing in your culture, it will spread.  The trick is the only way I’ve ever seen influencers believe is by gaining their trust and respect and showing them (not telling them) what your new culture supports.

Why not start by simply thinking about what beliefs you support currently (whether intentional or unintentional)?  Can you see the impact of these beliefs in your culture?  The first step to any progress is to fully understand where you are now.

 



Amazon, Uber, Netflix and More…..Disruption is Here to Stay!

November 7th, 2018

Although not an official theme, it was quite clear that disruption was the common theme at the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM/ APICS) Annual Conference.

From the keynote speaker, Marc Randolph, one of the founders of Netflix, to almost every executive and thought leader, disruption is top of mind.  Amazon has disrupted retail.  Netflix has disrupted television. Uber is disrupting the transportation industry.  Do you know what disruption is likely to impact your company – and career – next?

 

 

Certainly, Netflix is disrupting television and cable currently.  At its roots, it disrupted the video industry.  Blockbuster was a powerhouse when Netflix was getting started.  It was fascinating to hear that discussion!

Marc brought up an intriguing concept – how to disrupt yourself.  To give you the highlights, he discussed three items you need:
1) Tolerance for risk – You cannot wait for full information before you “move”.
2) An Idea – contrary to popular belief, it does not need to be big, new, complex or even good.
3) Confidence.

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Marc’s advice is “right on”.  So, how might you go about it?  For our clients, manufacturing and supply chain organizations, disruption is commonplace.  The key question is how do you have any hope of getting ahead of this instead of being buried by the likes of Amazon and other disruptors?  The answer – create a resilient supply chain!

What IS The Supply Chain?
Let’s start by defining supply chain: your end-to-end supply chain, starting with your customers’ customers to your manufacturing and distribution operations to your suppliers’ suppliers and all connections in the middle such as transportation, systems, financials, processes, and most importantly, people.  This is quite the topic to create a resilient supply chain!

 

 

We find that the most successful executives start with their team.  I’ve yet to see happy customers with unhappy employees.  You better start there!

Each person in your business is integral to creating a resilient supply chain!  To learn more about creating a resilient team as well as the rest of your end-to-end supply chain, we are thrilled to introduce our new series, The Resilient Supply Chain: Navigating Disruption.  Achieving Peak Performance

We will be adding articles, videos, interviews/ Q&A with thought leaders and executives frequently so please save this link and join in on the discussion. We are always interested in feedback and requests.

 

 

 



My 5-City Cross-Country Trip & the Value of Collecting Good People

November 4th, 2018

 

When I was young, I had a doll collection of the nationalities of my family.  I no longer collect dolls, cats or mystery novels but I have upgraded to collecting “good people”.  Luckily, I have always appreciated “good people” and I’ve stayed in touch.

Over the years, I was amazed and thrilled how many benefits came from this way of looking at life and career.  Last week, I was on an 8-night, 5-stop, cross-country journey where I interacted with some of these “good people” and it made me think…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I started in:
1) Arizona to see my Mom and family
2) Chicago for the Association for Supply Chain Management where I collaborated with
LMA Associates, clients, APICS Inland Empire global student case competition finalists from Harvey Mudd, a CSUSB professor and contingent of transportation-related business owners from China and met several new colleagues
3) New York to lead the
Society for Advancement of Consulting annual meeting with my business partner, Linda Popky
4) Atlanta to meet with Georgia Tech and
IEEP colleagues
5) Palm Springs to meet with Renaissance Executive Forums CEOs  

Although exhausted, it did make me think about this concept of “collecting good people”.  Do you collect good people?

One tip to implement this week:
FAR more important than collecting industry trends, company history, technical skills and anything else, GOOD PEOPLE are the most valuable.  You meet people in all walks of life from college to colleagues at a job to customers and suppliers you might interact with along the way to industry and trade groups you participate with and much more.  I’ve found that there are “good people” all along the way. Sometimes, it just takes recognizing them. As life changes, keep in touch. It is easier today than ever before with social media.

When I first started on Linked In, I found the daughter of my first boss from Coca-Cola in order to re-connect with my first boss as well as her daughter (as we worked together briefly near the end).  I am really glad I did as they are definitely in the “good people” category. Other “good people” have become LMA Associates. Others have become clients.  And, others have become trusted colleagues and so on.  

No matter what happens in the future, wouldn’t you rather keep in touch with the “good people” throughout your life? It certainly makes it richer!

 



The Resilient Supply Chain: Are You the Disrupted or the Disruptor?

November 1st, 2018

At the Association for Supply Chain Management’s (ASCM/APICS) International Conference, almost every presenter mentioned disruption.  It is prevalent in today’s Amazonian, technology-ridden environment.  

Similarly, after attending APICS, I flew to lead the annual meeting for the Society for the Advancement of Consulting. During the first lunch, my colleagues spent the entire time discussing disruption.  One (a former Apple executive) lives it daily and coaches executives on disruption.  Another is a leadership expert who sees the significance and is writing a book on disruptors.  Interesting!

In the interim, we have dealt with a few client challenges – guess what?  You got it. They relate to disruption! And last but not least, the next leg of my trip was entirely about disruption.  Technology has the potential to vastly impact manufacturing and distribution jobs, so it makes a lot of sense to find a proactive approach instead of playing the victim.  

According to a proactive CPA partner, artificial intelligence (AI) is going to transform the industry.  According to a healthcare expert, it has vast potential to disrupt the healthcare industry. Gartner thinks 33% of all occupations will be performed by smart robots by 2025.  Forrester Research says AI will take over up to 16% of jobs in the U.S. And, if that wasn’t shocking enough, Google thinks                                                                     robots will achieve human intelligence levels by 2029.  

So, do you want to be the disrupted or the disruptor? We choose disruptor!

Since I had lunch with two disruption experts, I asked the critical question:  Can we learn to become a disruptor? The great news is that it is possible! Start paying attention to disruptors.  What do they do differently? What would you like to emulate? You don’t have to do exactly what they do. Find your own path but look for commonalities.  One of our colleagues is writing a book on this exact subject. When it comes out, we’ll pass it along.

In the interim, start asking a few questions….