Boston & Expanding Your Thinking

May 17th, 2018

I've Been Thinking

Last week, I spent a few days in Boston at a consulting convention to expand my thinking on consulting so that I can continually provide more value to clients (which is always spurred on by seeing new scenery like the Boston sites below).  

While at the convention, my business partner and I also launched our newly upgraded and expanded value of our new venture, the Society for the Advancement of Consulting that provides value to consultants and entrepreneurs.  When I agreed to take this role on, I had no idea the value it would bring to my consulting practice with expanded thinking.   

 

 

 

 

 

We have not only strategized on growth strategies which are quite applicable for my clients but we have also expanded our horizons in building a scalable, profitable, lean infrastructure so that the 80/20 of the processes will be seamlessly sustainable once the foundation is put in place.   We have also combined different strengths quite productively for win-win results. I’m looking forward to applying these additional ideas and principles with my clients as the appropriate situations arise!

One tip to implement this week:
Have you thought about how to expand your thinking?  A first good step would be to take a step back and think about ways to expand your thinking.  It is quite easy to get stuck inside your current reality. Consider some ways to deliberately push the envelope.

For example, should you invite someone who is quite different from you to brainstorm?  I have gained some interesting and unexpected insights by partnering with someone new.

Should you attend a different event you wouldn’t typically attend and deliberately set out to meet a few new people and ask them about a trending topic?  Since I was in the limelight explaining this newly enhanced consulting society, I met many people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

Can you ask your customers and suppliers for ideas? How about trade associations? After all, that is part of the point of this consulting society within our particular field.  What about you?

 



Amazon Prime Members Hit 100 Million

May 14th, 2018

Supply Chain Briefing

While sitting in a conference today, I received several updates from Amazon Prime – that my mom’s subscription service to a cleaning product would be delivered; that my cat Smokey would be able to eat well this week since his food is ‘on the way’; a confirmation email for an order I placed with ‘1 click’ for a book that a colleague recommended and more.  

In the last week, how many of us have placed an order using Amazon Prime?  Over 100 million most likely. If we consider how often we take out our phone to order an obscure or quickly needed item via Prime using free 2-day shipping, it is frequent.  

10 years ago, I had zero thoughts about receiving Amazon updates on my phone, let alone that I could do anything about time sensitive needs that arose at the last minute.  Amazon went from selling books to transforming into a subscription and e-commerce powerhouse, driving continual disruption! Are you thinking about the value of subscription services?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Have you put thought into what has become commonplace – subscription services like Prime?  What has Amazon actually achieved? Are you more likely to go to Amazon because you already belong and get free shipping?  Are you excited that you have a special video and music subscription service for free as a Prime member? Do you go to Amazon because it is easy and they seem to know you and what you need?  Perhaps we’ve become subscription junkies….

Now take a step back and think about what type of subscription service your company could offer?  What value would your customers come to expect that they might not even know they ‘need’ at this point?  After all, who knew they needed to be Amazon Prime before it came out?

Would your customers be more loyal and likely to go to you as a first priority if you developed some sort of subscription / value-add service?  Gather your team, ask customers, talk with suppliers, attend industry events, brainstorm with people who have nothing in common with your industry – you never know where the best subscription/value-add service idea might come from.  I just got back from dinner with a consultant that overlaps 0% with my market, and I got more ideas from him than anything I heard in the conference thus far.

Let us know how you are addressing the impact of the Amazon effect and any ideas you have had as you brainstorm with others.

 



Are You Achieving Scalable, Profitable Growth?

May 9th, 2018

When we look back over the last 13 years of consulting with closely-held building products manufacturers to medium, private-equity backed food and beverage firms to large aerospace corporations, every single client has one goal in common – achieving scalable, profitable growth.  It sounds somewhat easy but is far from simple in reality.

PROJECTS THAT ADDRESS SCALABLE, PROFITABLE GROWTH

in the last few years, these types of projects have been of particular interest – all of which spur this result.

  • MANAGING GROWTH – How to make sure the back end keeps up with growth – seamless execution of rapid growth is far more challenging (and exciting) than it appears.
  • OPERATIONS – How to scale operational processes to support elevated customer expectations on-time and on-margin targets.
  • SYSTEMS INFRASTRUCTURE – How to scale your systems infrastructure to support your customer experience without adding people and costs every step of the way.
  • TECHNOLOGY INFRASTRUCTURE – How to scale your technology infrastructure without going overboard and getting caught up in fads while losing your objective.
  • TALENT AND TRAINING – How to scale your people (skills and talent) to support growth – there are a myriad of topics ranging from training and education to cross-training and capacity planning to scale in the appropriate skill areas that will provide the largest impact.
  • SCALING MANUFACTURING CAPACITY – How to scale your manufacturing capacity to support growth – gaining a view in advance can go a LONG way to alleviating a world of service and cost issues down-the-line.
  • SCALING WAREHOUSE CAPACITY – How to scale your warehouse capacity to support growth without expanding into new buildings unless absolutely necessary – after all, warehouse space is at a BIG premium, if you can find it at all.
  • SCALING SUPPLY CHAIN – How to scale your supply chain to support growth – no matter how prepared and perfect your company, if your suppliers, trusted partners and other supply chain partners are left in the dust, you’ll falter quickly.  For example, lately, we’ve heard a lot of buzz about issues causing delays from China, ranging from unexpected pollution controls to government mandates to Chinese New Year.
  • SCALING YOUR CULTURE – How to scale your culture as you transition from a small to medium-size company, medium to large and so on.  It is easy to get stuck in “no man’s land” – NOT where anyone wants to be!
  • And more….

Our best clients are thinking about each of these topics on a frequent basis.  In today’s Amazon-impacted marketplace, you don’t have a second chance. Instead, you’ll see your competition speeding by….

What is your plan to achieve scalable, profitable growth?

 



LA Metro & Innovative Transportation

May 4th, 2018

 

L.A. Metro & Innovative Transportation

I was able to hear Joshua Schank, Director of Innovation of L.A. Metro talk at a ProVisors meeting last week.  So, it seemed appropriate to share the complexity of L.A.’s transportation network and some of the innovations starting to gain momentum.

The single largest innovation he discussed is the ability for L.A. Metro to receive unsolicited proposals for ideas. Since they implemented this idea in 2016, they’ve received over 100. Many of these are gaining momentum – and getting implemented in a private/ public partnership QUICKER than ever before and under budget.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

They also have submitted a strategic plan for approval that goes beyond on-time arrival to improving mobility.  He told us an interesting statistic – in the recent past, 2.3 million people were added to the L.A. area and 2.1 million cars were added during the same time period.  It will require innovation to bring L.A. Metro from last resort transportation to attractive to its potential customer base!

One tip to implement this week:
Interesting that even with one of the areas not typically seen as modern (a governmental agency related to transportation), innovation is seen as a priority – so much so that they have a position dedicated to it.

The Amazonian marketplace has even made its way to transportation as I heard him say customer focus and quicker delivery of projects multiple times. He said projects used to typically finish far later than the delivery date and significantly over budget.  Now, many are delivered early and under budget. If an governmental agency can increase speed, why can’t you?

Of course, it isn’t as simple as dictating quicker delivery.  Put some thought into what it would take to come up with innovative ideas.  In their case, they allowed for unsolicited proposals. That was probably seen as radical.  

Are you merely content with continuous improvement or are you taking the stance of L.A. Metro to look at dramatic change?  What would you need to do to encourage your employees, customers, suppliers and others to tell you about their ideas for positive innovations?  

Put thought into how you could encourage that – there’s no time to delay if you plan on  remaining competitive!

 



The Highest # of Factory Jobs Since 2008!

May 1st, 2018

Supply Chain Briefing

According to Industry Week, we have the highest number of factory jobs since 2008!  We have reached over 12.6 million people employed by the sector. This is all the more impressive when we consider the significant rate of automation and deployment of technological advances occurring the last several years.  

In the era of the customer, executives are locating manufacturing in close proximity to their customers. Since customers expect rapid deliveries and high levels of customization, it is making more and more sense to locate manufacturing in Southern California and especially the Inland Empire with lower costs, extra space and access to top talent.  Are you prepared to grow?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Since manufacturing is transitioning from a necessarily evil into a strategic advantage supporting superior customer service, it is well-worth thinking about how you are positioned.  A

re you leveraging the opportunity if you are well-located by a significant customer base? What can you offer to provide customized, specialized experiences for your customer? Undoubtedly, the executives thinking this way will surpass their competition.  

Similar to retail shopping – if the store you go to doesn’t have what you want customized for you when you want it, what do you do? Buy from the competition! We don’t wait for products to arrive on a boat from China patiently.

Take note if you would pay more for customized, quick service.  I find that I am willing. Are your customers?