Let’s Spur Innovation

September 24th, 2018

Last month, I led a manufacturing roundtable on the topic of innovation.  Undoubtedly, if we want to be successful over the long-term, we must innovate. Problem solving only gets us back to our standard level of performance.  Although necessary, it will not be enough!  Instead, to exceed our customers’ expectations while enabling profitable growth in today’s Amazonian marketplace, innovation is a requirement.

Innovation is raising the bar to an entirely new level of performance.  It doesn’t require you to develop the next iPhone or 3M’s famous sticky pad.  In fact, the best innovators might not even think they are creative.  The great news is that everyone can innovate.  It doesn’t have to require significant investments.   What it does require is a culture that enables innovation.

An Innovation Culture
Here are a few “musts” when creating an innovation culture:

  1. Engage your people -You aren’t going to be successful innovating in isolation – at least not for long!  Involve your employees – view each employee as a valuable asset.  You never know what ideas can be unleashed if you have a culture of innovation that values each employee’s input and ideas.  Start here. Until your people are engaged, there is no point in going further.  How long do you think you’ll have happy, innovative customers with unhappy, not engaged employees?  NOT long.
  1. Engage your customers – One of our clients is creating an innovative culture.  They recently purchased a clay manufacturing company and are working to raise the bar.  The owners and executives value the input of their people and extend that to their trusted advisors, customers and suppliers.  I happened to be in Hawaii last month and my best friend wanted to see a pottery shop of an artist she really liked.  So I went along for the ride. When we arrived, I brought up my client because I thought the owner know of them. They were so excited.  They said they were a customer for life of Laguna Clay  (my customer) because they provided exceptional service.  They proceeded to provide input, ideas and much more. I took pictures and texted them back to my client. My client had engaged their customer in the innovative process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Provide opportunities– Next, provide opportunities for innovation.  Do you provide a “safe zone” for your employees, partners and others to collaborate and innovate?  Most importantly, you’ll have to set aside time for them to focus on this priority.  Beyond time, provide your vision and get the process started by spurring idea generation and give them a few guidelines.
  1. Stick by your commitment –  Innovation will create failures which is why guidelines are helpful so the failures can be isolated within a reasonable tolerance.  There is something wrong if failures don’t occur. Thus, be prepared for them and celebrate the progress. Don’t be disappointed, or worse, beat up your people. That will mark the end of their innovation.

Creating an innovation culture is “the” key to innovation. Start there. End there.  We’ll talk through more of the details in the middle in future editions (or feel free to contact us to help you accelerate progress); however, this is the 80/20 of success.  It’s well worth raising the bar of performance.



According to the Industry Week U.S. 500, Manufacturing is STRONG!

September 21st, 2018

 

According to the Industry Week U.S. 500 (America’s largest manufacturers), manufacturing is STRONG!  In fact, the author uses the words VERY STRONG – most likely the largest opportunity for manufacturing since the end of World War II.   Now that is saying something….

The economy is strong and is supplemented by a tax overhaul that supports manufacturers combined with a deregulation focus.  The key is to leverage the opportunity. Even though there are lots of worries about trade wars and skill shortages, thus far, manufacturing continues to outperform.  Get ready for agile and speedy manufacturers with high tech tools to outpace the pack and further spur the economy! Will you be in the fast lane or watching them race by?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Take a pragmatic look:  Are you in the fast lane, driving with the pack or in the slow lane?  

With the VAST opportunities for manufacturers to succeed, perhaps it is time to put on your turn signal and step on the gas!  As one of our LMA Associates has been saying lately, perhaps we should all “make hay while the sun shines”. Are you?

Making It Happen
Strangely, one of the most important to-do’s should be to not get carried away with all the negative “what if’s” (such as trade wars).  Of course, don’t hide your head in the sand. Stay up-to-date on what’s most likely and relevant to your industry.  Focus 95%+ of your energy on how to distinguish your company from the competition while providing superior customer experiences and enabling scalable, profitable growth.  

Make hay while the sun is shining. Bring your best team players together.  Bring in experts to accelerate progress.  Ignite innovation.  Create the environment to ensure success.  Remember your supply chain partners.  AND THEN, “get out of the way”. Success will follow.



The Importance of Continual Learning

September 18th, 2018

Recently, we updated our website.  It prompted a lot of thinking about many aspects of business.  One is the importance of continual learning.  As you’ll see on our Continual Learning webpage, it is a priority.  With that said, I’ve noticed that the most successful people (clients, colleagues, fellow Board members etc.) have continual learning in common.  There is definitely something behind this trend!  It reminds me of one of our LMA Advocate winners, Valerie Ladd – her continual learning is quite impressive.  She never stops learning – and all with a positive attitude to boot.

 

 

 

 

When thinking about continual learning for LMA Consulting, we focus on three categories:

1) Future trends in business, the economy, the industry, our area of expertise etc.
2) Technology trends & disruptors
3) Local & global trends.

What are you learning?

One tip to implement this week:
There are countless ways to add or expand on your continual learning.  Instead of getting stuck in a sea of possibilities, just choose one or two and start there.  Don’t worry if they are the best ones or will provide the greatest benefit.  Just start!  Waiting for perfection is a LONG road….your competition will certainly pass you by.

With that said, if you’d like some ideas of where to go for continual learning, here are several that pop to mind:
1) Ask your mentor.
2) Talk with colleagues and ask what they are learning – or ask to learn more about their role and challenges.
3) Go to a trade association meeting.  For example, APICS Inland Empire provides programs, symposiums, tours and education to provide value to manufacturing and distribution professionals.
4) Go to an alumni meeting.
5) Attend a local chamber or business club.
6) Read the news, magazines and blogs related to your field.
7) Call a customer or supplier.
8) Join a mastermind.
9) Call a former colleague or manager.
10)  Attend a tradeshow.

What are you going to do?



Trans-Pacific Trade Delays – Are You Prepared?

September 16th, 2018

Thanks to Dave Porter for recently sharing: Vessel operations and capacity in the last 10 days have been severely impacted by two typhoons in Asia (Central & North China).  Major ports such as Shanghai have been shut down for 2-3 days which has caused a ripple effect such as roll overs and cargo backlog.

 

In essence, it is creating havoc – vessels are leaving before the entire operation is concluded (leaving many containers behind); port calls are being omitted and/or cancelled; and, heavy congestion and berthing delays are occurring.  If that wasn’t enough, rates are going up again 15-20% as of September 1st!  How resilient is your supply chain?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Recently, we decided to start a new series of interviews, articles and conversations about “The Resilient Supply Chain”.  This just highlights the critical importance of the topic! Our first video interview will debut in September, so stay tuned.

There is a LOT of conversation about trade wars, tariffs and politics yet what has created havoc this past week is an act of mother nature.  Our clients are telling us they are already experiencing transportation delays and rate increases, and demand is NOT slowing down.  These additional issues are bound to add stress to an already challenged system.  Leaving it to luck and hope that nothing will impact your global supply chain clearly is not the best laid plan…

This reminds me of a situation that occurred when I was VP of Operations at PaperPak.  The city where our largest facility was located went ‘under water’ due to a hurricane.  Even though our facility was built on higher land (thanks to P&G), no one could get in or out and everything came to a stand still.  Materials couldn’t arrive.  Shipments couldn’t leave.  Employees couldn’t get to work.  If we didn’t have backup suppliers and resiliency plans, we would have been down FAR longer even when the facility did start up because our suppliers were impacted.

Have you thought through “what if” scenarios?  Are you willing to invest in them?

 



Miniature Office Golf & a Pathway to Know, Like & Trust

September 14th, 2018

I attended a ProVisors social of miniature office golf last week.  We had great fun (thanks to James Valmonte and Kit Mac Nee for arranging such a great social).  As you’ll see, there was much creativity in setting up golf holes in an office setting.  I liked the hazards – especially the water holes! Although I can hang in there with scramble golf, I didn’t fare as well with mini office golf.  But who can complain about winning a  booby prize?

Regardless of golf skills, it was enjoyable.  It is also a great way to get to know colleagues better.  People do business, partner on projects and contribute to success of those they know, like and trust.  It happened while we were playing golf – a business referral transpired. When have you thought about getting to know, like and trust your colleagues, customers and /or suppliers?

One tip to implement this week:
You don’t have to be as creative as designing an indoor miniature golf event, but why not think about how to get to know, like and trust your colleagues, customers and suppliers better?  It is a progression. Clearly, you cannot like someone if you don’t know them.  And, you are unlikely to trust them if you don’t like them. Start at the beginning and think about ways you can really get to know your colleagues.  

Ask questions and listen.  Pay attention and take notes.  Have you noticed how you feel good when someone is taking notes on what you have to say?  

Next look for ways to create the situation such that you’ll develop a ‘like’ for your colleagues.  Miniature office golf is a silly activity that is entertaining.  Yet, it helps to facilitate the process of getting to know one another and ‘like’ each other.  There are also countless things you can do to improve your likeability. Start by thinking about the other person. Make it “all about them” and you are likely to be the star.  Brainstorm at least 3 ways and try one to start. See how it goes and modify as you go.

What do you plan on doing?  Let us know how it goes.