Technology – Should We Take It or Leave It?

July 18th, 2017
business intelligence

Technology is a hot topic. It seems we can’t stop talking about Artificial Intelligence (AI), 3D printers, and Autonomous Vehicles. But many technologies can be fads. Pay attention to what value can be gained before buying in.

Technology is a hot topic. Artificial intelligence. Autonomous vehicles. 3D printers and additive manufacturing. Business intelligence. We can’t stop talking about it. Many times, these topics are somewhat like fads. Even though there are benefits, we can get carried away and not even pay attention to whether we are gaining value.

Thus, we should take a step back and ask a few questions:

1. Do we need the technology or is it just cool?

2. What value does it provide? Does it yield a return on investment? What is that return on investment?

3. What is most valued by our customers? Time? Price? Features? Services? Which best aligns with their needs?

4. Is the technology supporting the business goals or the other way around? Which is your lead for your conversations?

5. Are you caught up in bells and whistles or focused on value?

6. Are you leading with tech or with the customer experience?

7. What do your customers expect? Can you leverage automation for a win-win?


Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to become a Systems Pragmatist:

Technologies Transforming Supply Chains

What’s Important in Technology


Strategic Thinking & the Value of Changing Your Environment

July 17th, 2017

Last week, I went to Rhode Island to meet with my global strategy group. It is simply amazing how a change of scenery can achieve wonders when it comes to emptying the mind so that strategic thoughts can enter. I haven’t spent time in Providence and East Greenwich previously and both are starkly different from Southern CA. Providence is one of the oldest cities in the U.S., and home to Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design (pictured below) whereas East Greenwich is hard to beat when it comes to charm and food. Do you get away to empty your mind?

changing your environment

One tip to implement this week: 

Are you thinking about your environment when it comes to strategic thinking? I cannot tell you how many of my clients have strategy sessions in the conference room with employees interrupting to ask about key customer shipments, Board member calls or the like. How conducive is that to strategic thinking? Think about your environment overall — if the people are negative, do you start to feel more negative? And how about if they are optimistic? Where are you spending your time?

With that said, you don’t have to get away to Rhode Island or another place equally different from where you typically work to immerse yourself in a different environment. In Southern CA, there are so many different environments, we wouldn’t even have to leave the state — mountains, beaches, cities, deserts, Sequoias, and more. Or, you could even go to a local restaurant or hotel to get away from the day-to-day grind. Start by remembering that your environment is an integral element to your ability to think and to be comfortable and confident (just think about speaking), and be more deliberate about your environment.

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


Samsung Expanding Manufacturing in the U.S.

July 12th, 2017

Samsung announced that it is expanding manufacturing operations and its commitment to American consumers, engineers and innovators. They are putting money where their mouth is by investing $380 million with the plan to hire 1,000 workers for this new state-of-the-art facility that will manufacture appliances. This facility will take over manufacturing being done in Mexico. In this case, near-sourcing to customers in Mexico isn’t enough; they want to be even closer to customers, engineers and innovators!

manufacturing in the U.S.Manufacturing in the U.S. AND locating manufacturing to the U.S. is making sense! In Samsung’s case, there is a commitment to sourcing and collaborating closely with the customer in combination with incentives to relocate. Similarly, bicycle producer Kent International is re-shoring. In addition to the critical nature of customer proximity, offshoring costs were rising significantly (materials, labor, transportation and currency); thus, Kent decided to commit to an expansion of manufacturing in the U.S. Are you keeping an eye on your customers, costs and cash flow?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?

Samsung and Kent International are two examples of firms leading the way with a commitment to manufacturing and the U.S. How often are you re-evaluating your strategy and keeping a pulse on your strategy? A once-a-year review no longer suffices! Similarly, a 5-year strategic plan is a waste of energy in most cases. Does anyone know what will occur 5 years out that prohibits making strategy an ongoing priority?!

In addition, manufacturing is definitely on the rise! With that said, let’s not assume it will return fully to the “glory days” and start overreacting in the opposite direction. For example, folks outsourced because it was popular at time (sometimes with only a cursory review), whether or not it actually made sense from a total cost AND total customer experience perspective. As the U.S. and individual states become more competitive and technology and automation continues to evolve, change will occur. Don’t be caught off guard — what impacts will these changes have on your business? Are you prepared for them — or, better yet, are you in front of them so you can be proactive instead of reactive?


Time or Money – Which Gets the Priority?

July 11th, 2017

Customers have come to expect instantaneous delivery. Here are 7 questions to consider when weighing time vs. money.

In today’s Amazon-impacted world, we believe in instantaneous delivery. It has become an expectation. Even my mom who orders on Amazon by calling me believes a two-day delivery is a bit long. After all, she might not realize she needs something until the last minute. Thus, which is more important – time or money?

Here are a few questions to ponder when thinking about time vs. money:

1. Do you expect rapid deliveries across the board?

2. Are you willing to spend extra money for speed? Are your customers? Do you know this answer or are you guessing?

3. How important is cash flow to your business? How long is your supply chain? Regardless of how well inventory is managed, how much will be tied up by virtue of your supply chain design? How does that compare with delivery expectations?

4. Have you thought about investing in your demand plan instead of into inventory to be better prepared to deliver quickly without sinking cash into what is likely to become slow moving inventory?

5. Have you thought about investing money into strategically placed inventory? Having what your customer needs when they need it might be the difference between success and failure.

6. In your business, can you have time AND money?

7. What other types of time and money are you overlooking?  Get the full picture before jumping in.


Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to be the Strongest Link in your organization:

Slashing Lead Times to Counter the ‘Amazon Effect’

Lean or No Lean, a Demand Plan is a Must


Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade and Compelling Timeless Experiences

July 10th, 2017

Last week, my brothers and nephew were in town for a vacation around Southern CA. One of our stops was Disneyland, and my brother Brian purchased lunch tickets that enabled us to have good seats for Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade. It has always been my favorite since my first trip to Disneyland on a family road trip from Chicago across country when I was quite young. See below…. how could it not be your favorite?

timeless experiences

Disney did a fabulous job of putting this together. They go the extra mile for the “little touches” that make the difference. In this case, I love the music that accompanies the parade. Of course, they have people, bugs, magic dragons (another favorite), and firework displays that go by in an amazing experience. That’s why people “camp out” for a few hours to get a good seat! I remember doing that with my parents, and my dad would get us snacks to pass the time while we waited.

Disneyland has retired this parade several times but it is a timeless classic that keeps coming back (thank goodness). What amazing timeless experiences are you creating for your customers and employees?

One tip to implement this week: 

What type of experience would keep your customers coming back — and even standing in line to partner with you? An intriguing question…..  Even better, what would keep your employees engaged? Have you ever seen happy customers with unhappy employees? Me either!

So, don’t worry about creating a Disney experience on day one; however, take some time to think about how to create compelling customer and employee experiences. Ask for input. However, I’ve found it is usually hard for people to articulate what they want before they experience something like it. For example, I never would have thought I needed to see a Main Street Electrical Parade — until I saw it. Thus, ask questions about what is important to your customers and employees. Understanding what is important will help you think of experiences that will matter to them. Brainstorm. I have no doubt my favorite parade wasn’t a one-person creation!


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