Innovation Tips from the APICS-IE Executive Panel & Networking Symposium

May 6th, 2015

supply chainMy APICS (#1 trade association for supply chain and operations management) chapter hosted an executive panel & networking symposium which was focused on the topic of innovation. Innovation is a critical topic! Problem solving and maintaining the status quo is no longer enough as customers expect more, regulations increase, etc. Thus, how do you create a culture of innovation in your company?

10 tips that pop to mind that came up during our panel discussion include: 1) Empower your people. 2) Learn continuously. 3)  Try new things and don’t be afraid to fail (which can be considered learning what not to do next time, just like Edison did with the light bulb.) 4) Think about innovative products, services, processes, ideas….. 5) Toyota & Lean concepts apply! 6) You don’t have to be first to market to be an innovator. 7) Think about driverless cars and alternative fuels. 8) Can we be innovative in dealing with the water shortage in CA? 9) Test out Vocademy, a makerspace for 8-98 year olds. 10) Participate in groups like APICS to brainstorm and get your innovative juices flowing.

One tip to implement this week:

A common problem with thinking about 10 tips (let alone the 100 tips we probably received at the symposium) is that it can be overwhelming. Instead, pick your favorite. Or if that is too challenging, pick the first tip. Think about what you can do this week related to this tip. For example, if you are thinking about empowering your people: What can you do so that your people will know you have confidence in them and will be OK if they try out new ideas? Even if they fail! Could you celebrate the best idea that didn’t work?

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…”


What You Don’t See

May 5th, 2015
going around with blinders

Missing important clues at work because they’re not obvious or visible is as good as going around with blinders.

Part of having an eagle eye is knowing what you don’t see. I’ve found that being observant while walking around a manufacturing or distribution facility can yield many hidden gems. What don’t you see? Do you not see bins of trash? If so, could it be that waste is minimal? Or do they recycle? Find out why you don’t see trash bins.

What else don’t you see? Once upon a time, I worked with a company that went live on a new ERP system. They were not prepared to go live and struggled. Their shipments fell off the map – where they used to ship 20 trucks a day, it fell to 10. However, no one was looking for what wasn’t there, and so it became a bigger problem before it was noticed. Pay attention to what isn’t there!

I’ve had long conversations with a friend who had a 30+ year career as an investment banker and turnaround guru. He never had a failure, and so I asked him for his secrets to success. I can be half brilliant – know who to ask! It turns out that watching for what isn’t happening (such as people not talking about certain items or not working together or costs not showing up) was in the top 10. Thus, take it from his boss who made millions if not billions following this man’s advice – watch for what is not there. 

Continue reading on how to strengthen your Eagle Eye:

How to Spot Trends 

Are You Working on the Right Priorities?