Why It’s Important to Say Thank You

November 30th, 2015

supply chainDuring the holiday season, it is extra important to remember to say thank you. There is added stress and loneliness in our personal lives it seems yet there is also added stress in our business lives. Year-end is approaching for many. Vacations need to be covered. Tax planning should be occurring. Preparations for 2016 should be occurring. And the list goes on. A simple thank you can go a long way!

I’ve worked with many clients, and I’ve yet to work with a client where I didn’t meet someone who felt unappreciated. Do you think unappreciated employees provide excellent customer service? No!

One tip to implement this week:

Look around you. Be observant. Find someone doing something well, and thank them. Or, think about who has helped you, probably without you even asking. Thank them. Catch your employees “doing right”. Actually, remember, this works just as well with peers, your manager and your Board members. Often, they rarely hear the positive. Change that during this holiday season. Perhaps it will be so successful that you’ll keep doing it in January….

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…”


How Tradition Can Be a Win for Company Culture

November 24th, 2015
work traditions

Employers can build a company culture by tapping into traditions that pull employees together through shared experiences that build cohesion and camaraderie.

Since Halloween recently passed, I’ve been thinking of the value of tradition with your people. Yesterday I went to a client that has an amazing people culture, and although the people were committed to the important session we were conducting, they all wanted to go to the Halloween pot luck at lunch. It was a fun and vast tradition – my client said that grazing started right away and lasted all day. Everyone looked forward to it, and it has become one of the few traditions that is meaningful in their culture. I have to say the food looked amazing!

This morning, I went to my hair person, and she told me that they really enjoyed having kids in costumes parade through the salon for Halloween. Next, I went to Ihop to get some multi-grain pancakes with chocolate chips, and everyone there had very cool costumes. They seemed to be really enjoying the Halloween spirit, and the customers seemed to enjoy it as well.

My Dad also got flowers for my Mom every Halloween, and so this Halloween is bittersweet since he just passed away. I liked that idea of tradition, and so the last two years, I ordered her flowers from him as he couldn’t do that anymore due to his Parkinson’s. Nice to receive flowers for over 50 years every Halloween!

These types of traditions can pull people together. We are much more likely to collaborate with those we like and trust than anyone else. Do you have any traditions at your company? Can you create one? How about in your department? Or with your group? Silly and fun traditions can yield great results. For example, one of the groups I belong to had a bowling competition, and even those who are not bowlers enjoyed the competitive spirit. Another group (a women’s professional group) really enjoyed a cooking class and bottles of wine. Who wouldn’t? I got to know several of the women much better that evening. And they found out I attended because I value relationships and like to eat!

Be creative and think of ways to start or build upon tradition. There’s no need to spend money or ask for approvals. Find something that is enjoyable and would pull people together. Ask your colleagues for ideas. You’ll be surprised how a silly Halloween costume could have folks talking for days to come….

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Why It’s Important to Take Time to Think

November 23rd, 2015

supply chainI was in Hawaii the last few days for a strategy session. It was great to have dedicated time to think through strategy, brainstorm and improve upon it with colleagues, etc.

Although this photo isn’t the typical beach scene from Hawaii, I thought it was a great picture and fascinating. Just like this tree, there is so much to notice and consider. Do you take the time out to get away and THINK?

time to think

One tip to implement this week:

No matter what is happening, set aside a few minutes to think. It doesn’t have to be laborious or lengthy. I find that new ideas pop up when you have time to think. And you’ll end up performing whatever tasks you are working on better/ quicker. No matter how much we think we can just keep going, everyone needs some time to just think. It doesn’t have to be about work; just set aside the time.  No matter what you think about, more ideas are guaranteed to start flowing.

Don’t leave it to chance. Plan it in your calendar. Tell your spouse or employees. Block it out from whatever roadblocks might arise. Even 10 minutes of thinking time this week could lead to significant benefits. Let me know how it goes. 

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…”


Strategies to Keep Your Project on Track

November 20th, 2015
project teamwork

The most successful projects are well-managed and kept on track. A strong plan and focus-oriented strategies will keep the team motivated and on task.

As easy as it seems to keep a well-planned project on-track, it isn’t! In working with hundreds of project teams over the course of my career, I’ve found that projects do not fail in formulation; they fail in execution. The best results follow those projects that are well-managed and kept on-track. Results are not just substantial in terms of monetary gain, but are also important to customer satisfaction and loyalty. In today’s Amazon-impacted marketplace, a leg up on the competition can be a vital competitive strategy. What are you doing to ensure success?

There are several powerful strategies to keeping a project on track. Some of the most impactful are as follows:

  1. It starts at the top: As with success overall, keeping your project on track starts at the top. Leaders can make or break success. Thus, selecting the best project manager is key to success. Of course, it is beneficial also to have the best project sponsors and executive support; however, the 80/20 of success is putting the right leader in place.
  2. Put time in upfront to understand the project plan: Although it is a common desire to jump into the project and start performing tasks, it is significantly more successful to take the time to develop a strong project plan. Make sure to coordinate with all relevant parties and incorporate input. Ask questions and consider potential issues. Be clear on your plan, and results will follow.
  3. Focus on the critical path: One of the secrets to success relates to focusing exclusively on the critical path. It is easy to get deterred on all the project plan tasks as they all seem important; however, the most successful projects consider the 80/20 as the critical path. In essence, the focus is on the tasks that are most likely to hold up the project from progressing at the optimal pace and those which are likely to impact whether results occur.
  4. Follow up with task owners: Following up with task owners can ensure success. I’ve found that a quick check in with task owners to remind them of upcoming tasks, especially critical path tasks, can be invaluable to making sure the owner is prepared to start on time and that they have the resources available to successfully complete the task. Ask if there are any concerns and work to address them prior to the start date.
  5. Embrace project supporters: Whether a project sponsor or a peer to the project team, project supporters are integral to project success. Identify project supporters and keep them in the loop. Make sure to provide information so that they understand how they help to contribute to the project success. Make it easy for them to support your project.
  6. Celebrate successes: An important part of any project is to celebrate small wins along the way. Don’t wait for the project to be completed to celebrate success. Success breeds success. Find people doing right. Look for indicators that the project is moving in the right direction. Recognize the progress and celebrate the contributions of the team.
  7. Simplify: Complex project plans do not deliver success. Contrary to popular opinion, I’ve found that more often than not, success stems from simplification. Simplify to the tasks required to deliver your end result. Avoid complexity. It will become easier for the team to understand and execute.
  8. Monitor metrics: Do not wait until the end to evaluate project success. Identify milestones. Keep an eye out for critical path milestones. Monitor progress towards these milestones. For the critical milestones, develop interim checkpoints so that you can monitor progress along the way. That way, you’ll have the opportunity to adjust as needed.
  9. Don’t take your eye off the prize – results: Although it is easy to get caught up in a maze of tasks and to-do’s, don’t take your eyes off of your desired end results. Keep them in mind and focus on those actions that will contribute specifically towards delivering end results.
  10. Communicate, communicate and communicate: Just as in real estate where location, location and location are the three most important attributes of a new house, communicate, communicate and communicate are the three most important attributes in keeping your project on track. If all team members, supporters, sponsors and other related parties are not aligned, the project is likely to veer off track.

Since executives count on projects to deliver the vast majority of improvements to company performance (such as growing the business, increasing margins, and accelerating cash flow), keeping the project on track is essential. Those who follow these ten strategies will succeed significantly more often than those who don’t. Why take a chance on what’s vital to business success?

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Why Marketing Shouldn’t be Overlooked with SIOP

November 18th, 2015

supply chainI’ve been partnering with clients to design and implement SIOP (sales, inventory and operations planning) programs the last several years as I’ve found them to be a GREAT way to achieve several results simultaneously: 1) Support growth, 2) Improved service levels/quicker turnaround of deliveries (shorter lead times), 3) Improved margins and efficiencies, 4) Accelerated cash flow; and 5) Improved employee morale and teamwork. Although the technical side plays an important role (figuring out future demand and aligning with manufacturing, staffing, suppliers, etc.), the aspect that generates the best results is that it aligns the executives and functions within the organization (and can even go to customers and suppliers).

We’ve achieved significant results in all sorts of industries and company sizes, and Marketing always plays a key role in the process. One of my innovative clients renamed the process SMIOP (with an added M for Marketing) as they wanted to highlight marketing. I thought that was a great idea. If you don’t have your marketing processes in full force, your demand plan will be lacking and you won’t be synced up with your supply side. Thus, I wanted to share the importance with you.

One tip to implement this week:

Many of you probably think you are not responsible for marketing; however, in the best companies, all employees relate to marketing. What is your brand and perception in the marketplace? Each employee can have an impact on that. Also, how well are you engaging your customers? Do they see you as the experts in your industry? If so, they will be more likely to partner with you. From a SIOP perspective, marketing has invaluable input into the demand plan.

Take a step back and think about how you affect your customer (even via internal customers on the way to the customer)? Start there. What ideas and suggestions do you have? Could you read up on industry news and share it with your supply chain team? It could be invaluable insights. One of my aerospace clients had a GURU when it came to knowing the industry. He was extremely valuable in areas that were related to his position but could be overlooked if his manager didn’t value marketing.

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…”