Skills Gap – Where Do We Stand?

December 8th, 2019

The skills gap has been a hot topic for many years. Our original research shows a 87% gap. For example, any time Kash Gokli, Engineering Clinic Director at Harvey Mudd and I gather CEOs to talk about timely topics in executive roundtables, no matter the topic of the evening, the lack of talent (or the ‘right’ talent in the ‘right’ place at the ‘right’ time) arises. As technology comes on to the scene in a BIG way, there is even more conversation, confusion and interest in how to successfully navigate the skills gap.

According to research, automation and robotics have the potential to take over countless jobs. This can be seen as mass destruction of high paying blue collar jobs or it can be seen as a significant opportunity to scale up rapidly to meet rising customer expectations and providing new skills to the workforce. As business owners and executives, we view having the ‘right’ technology at the ‘right’ place at the ‘right’ time as a win-win-win. Better customer experiences. Better for the bottom line. Better for our employees as they learn new skills. The trick is navigating this skills gap successfully.

We are also starting to see more and more baby boomers start to retire or think about retiring. The unfortunate thing for our clients is that their knowledge base cannot be replaced with one person, maybe not even two sometimes.  That certainly throws a wrench into the plans! Have you started to unearth what knowledge is in your employees’ minds that you take for granted? Innovative companies are pairing up experience with young, fresh ideas. There can be much to gain if managed well.

Please help us understand what is most relevant in today’s business environment. We will share the results for you first, and we appreciate your support. Take our survey here.



Why Join A CEO Group?

December 6th, 2019

We recognized Ron Penland as our 2019 LMA Advocate. Ron has added value to our business in many ways over the years ranging from insights on what’s relevant to manufacturers and distributors and their bottom line to valued connections. Since Ron runs CEO groups, I thought it made for a good segue to discuss the value of interacting with peers. Are you drinking your own Kool-Aid or do you get push back when you need it?

You might want to consider the unpleasant idea of gaining input even when you don’t want to hear it. The proof is in the pudding. Certainly, Ron’s CEOs have been FAR more successful than even the average CEO group as his CEOs get 2 to 3 times the multiples for the sale of their businesses when compared to the industry averages. That alone is noteworthy. I joined one of his groups simply to better understand what is on our clients’ minds. Of course they tell me what relates to our project but if I understand more about the broad spectrum of issues, I can ensure LMA provides an even more powerful return. That is an important win-win – the more value we help our clients create, the better for both of us!

Do you have any venues for interacting with top notch peers? After all, just interacting with someone in a peer position willing to talk to you could be even worse than being a hermit! Kash Gokli, head of Harvey Mudd’s manufacturing practice and Director of their clinic program and I gather CEOs a few times a year to help foster a community of executives and to discuss timely topics in our Harvey Mudd executive roundtables. Of course, we don’t go into depth and specifics of company performance like you do in a CEO group. Yet, it can add definite value. Contact us if you are interested in joining us.

There are other options as well for building these invaluable connections. Think about volunteering for a community benefit to provide expertise. In the Inland Empire and surrounding areas of Southern CA, we are starting a consortium for advanced manufacturing and supply chain success. We are currently looking for manufacturers and exporters who would be interested in being involved from the ground up in an advisory capacity. Please contact the Inland Empire Economic Partnership (IEEP) or me if interested. And a local manufacturing executive asked me to participate in CAIEDEC which is an organization supporting export. CEOs are involved in both of these initiatives and these groups are the first to pop to mind.

There are plenty of opportunities to gain ideas, insights and push back. Are you seeking them out? If not, why not? Wouldn’t you like to exceed corporate objectives to fast-track your career or sell your company for double the industry average? Pick just one item to test this month, and results will follow.



The Power of the Recognition by Peers

December 4th, 2019

My business partner and co-Executive Director of the Society for the Advancement of ConsultingLinda Popky and I just held our Annual Meeting in New York City. Our association provides growth by association for consultants, coaches and speakers across the globe. Although this is our tagline, it is much more than the typical marketing tagline.  It is how we operate. Every decision goes through this filter.  So, we were especially thrilled to have launched our first annual Advancing Consulting Awards to recognize the best of the best in an emerging category and an established category.

We are thrilled to recognize Amy Segami from Chicago, IL (Emerging) and Andrew Hollo from Melbourne, Australia (Established) with the awards (pictured with the Awards Committee and co-Executive Directors). The core criteria included client success, growth by association, innovation and resilience. Andrew’s comments were particularly noteworthy when  accepting the award: In essence, he said what was most meaningful is that he was selected by a group of top notch peers. Isn’t that what we all want?

One Tip to Implement This Week:
When I think back to the awards and recognition I’ve received that are most meaningful to me, I realize Andrew was completely correct. A short compliment in passing by a respected peer is more meaningful than an elaborate ceremony most of the time. Of course, I wouldn’t turn away both! With that said, when I was nominated for the Community Builder Award by NAWBO earlier this year, this fact was absolutely true. They do the awards ceremony in a BIG way in my neck of the woods.  Yet, what was most meaningful was being recommended by a top notch executive, being supported by a friend and APICS Board member colleague and being cheered on by a client. What else can you ask for?

Are you taking the time to think about recognizing your peers? Who has been particularly helpful lately? Most likely it is someone you take for granted but couldn’t survive without! Why not tell them something specific about what you appreciate? Stop running for a minute to think about who you should recognize.



Drones are More Than a Pipe Dream

December 2nd, 2019

In reading an Cnet article on drones, it is clear drones are more than an Amazon pipe dream. In fact, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said that he expects at least one U.S. city to have have the ability to control hundreds of unmanned aerial systems by 2028. NASA is using a “grand challenge” incentive program to improve the technology’s maturity, and there are many key companies working on drone technology. Of course, Amazon is one.  They are joined by folks like UPS and Uber Elevate. Drones soon will become a reality.

One of our clients makes drones for military use, and they have a “mini Cal Tech” feel. The future will be in the hands of those who can transform technology into practical applications, improving the customer experience and the bottom line simultaneously. Are you thinking about how drone technology and other technologies might impact your industry, your company and your employees?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Certainly, there are a vast number of challenges in flying commercial drones especially in dense population areas like Los Angeles. However, as NASA says, with the brightest minds thinking through how to bring this to a reality, it will occur. The only question is whether you will be surprised and left in the dust by the impacts or whether you will be positioned to thrive. We plan to ensure our clients are thinking ahead to be squarely in the “thrive” category!

Drones might seem unrelated to our immediate future and to our business. However, if we receive anything or ship anything, I imagine drones might be relevant. Perhaps we should re-think the impact. And, more importantly, it isn’t the drones themselves.  Instead, it is the technology and that translation of technology into practical applications. Whether it is autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, blockchain or another buzzword, the key question is whether we are thinking about our vision and objectives and how we can leverage technology to accelerate our progress towards these objectives. Now that is worth something!

Since we are unveiling another LMA-i, LMA Intelligence category of Future Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain, this is quite relevant to preparing to successfully navigate your future. No matter what happens in the volatile global marketplace, if you are set up to thrive no matter the conditions, you’ll come out ahead. Stay tuned for article archives related to future proofing, just as we have for the Amazon Effect, the Skills Gap and the Resilient Supply Chain.



Collaboration for Advanced Manufacturing & Supply Chain Success

November 30th, 2019

Our Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM/ APICS) Inland Empire Chapter is knee-deep in planning for our fall executive panel and networking symposium on the topic, “Collaboration for Advanced Manufacturing & Supply Chain Success“. We are finding this to be a powerful topic as executives must not only collaborate with their customers and suppliers to achieve scalable, profitable growth but they also need to collaborate with industry groups, trusted advisors, software providers (ERP experts), and other partners if they want to succeed in today’s Amazon-impacted, globally volatile, complex regulation environment.

We’d love for you to join in on the discussion and Q&A with experts in the end-to-end supply chain. We have manufacturing experts, logistics experts, technology experts and end-to-end supply chain experts on our panel to talk about trends, issues, and how they have collaborated to drive results. Our attendees include students, planners, buyers, operations and supply chain managers, finance and IT resources related to the supply chain as well as executives and the media.

One Tip to Implement This Week:
When I first started consulting over 14 years ago, collaboration was seen as a “fluffy” topic. I always found that the most powerful results came via collaboration but it wasn’t seen as important. Fast-forward 14 years, and if you aren’t collaborating, you aren’t thriving. No one can handle the level of complexity in today’s manufacturing and logistics environments alone while still servicing customers and driving profitable growth.
Of course, there is no point to collaborating for the sake of collaboration. In fact, as my consulting mentor says, if you want someone to like you, get a dog. Instead, collaboration is for turning 1+1 = 22 by taking the best of different ideas and combining into exponential success. For example, when I was VP of Operations & Supply Chain for a mid-market manufacturer, we had to redesign products to show customers we were on the leading edge and “back” (a force in the market) while offsetting significant material price increases due to oil and gas price pressure as well as optimizing our ability to save money on freight. There was no way for one person, 1 department or even 1 company to accomplish this task without collaboration. Instead, we involved customers, material suppliers, freight carriers, packaging experts, equipment suppliers and more. In the end, we achieved the trifecta. You should even add competitors to your thought process as the most successful executives consider this option for certain situations.
Why not pick a “hot topic” and start thinking about collaboration partners where you could achieve a win-win-win? Just asking folks to think outside the box in new ways can stir some powerful energy and bottom line results. If you are interested in discussing an assessment to help find a few of these powerful ideas to prioritize, contact us. Let us know how it goes!