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People Remain “In”

December 27th, 2016
people first

If you want to achieve profitable business growth apply the people plus initiative equation and see how your bottom line transforms.

No matter how many conversations go on about technology and the latest and greatest processes to drive results in manufacturing and distribution companies (including robots and automation taking over lower-skill positions), people remain “in”. Without exception, our best clients consider people their #1 asset.

Who develops the programs for the robots? Who figures out how to utilize business analysis tools and predictive analysis/artificial intelligence concepts? And who implements best practice processes such as lean manufacturing, SIOP/S&OP and the like? People!

There is zero doubt that the best employees with mediocre machines, technologies and less-than-desirable systems will outperform mediocre employees with the best machines, technologies and systems — every time! We cannot count the times a facility turned around with a new, exceptional leader. On the other hand, we have also seen large complex organizations change out General Managers like singers change clothes in concerts (for example, Reba used to change clothes 15 times in one concert!) — with NO better results (and often worse results) repeatedly. Eventually, a strong leader arrives with largely the same team and transformation begins. Since we pride ourselves on our successful track record of achieving tangible results in partnership with our clients, it is obvious how important people are in achieving this goal. Our initiatives can turn from tough challenges that will take longer to achieve success into fun, exciting rapid-change projects that deliver bottom line results based on the leader we partner with on the project. 

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Season’s Greetings

December 24th, 2016

I wanted to take this opportunity to wish my clients, colleagues, family and friends a happy and healthy holiday season!

Although I have ZERO desire to move back to the Chicago area where I grew up, I love snowmen and thought this picture would be a fun way to share holiday spirit.

snowmen

Which would you be? Sometimes I feel like the one standing on her head; however, I don’t think I’d be able to walk anymore if I tried that!

Thank YOU  for another successful year. I would not be successful without my fabulous family, friends and colleagues. Of course, thank you to my APICS-IE Board of Directors for another great year! We recently enjoyed a holiday party and so I have a picture of several of us.

apics-board-of-directors

It was a week of parties…… I also had a great time with a white elephant gift exchange in my ProVisors ONT group (top notch trusted advisors) – such a wonderful group of people and high-quality CPA’s, attorneys, financial gurus and business advisors (let me know if you ever need a referral).

pro-visors

Kash Gokli and I enjoyed a great year with our Harvey Mudd Executive Roundtable group; Ellen Kane and I had our best year yet with a sold out, GLOBAL APICS West Coast Student Case Competition; Wally Brithinee and I had a successful MCIE (Manufacturing Council of the Inland Emprie) Innovation awards program; my ACA Group collaborated successfully to deliver client results and I started/continued several university and mentoring affiliations [joined the University of LaVerne’s Board of Directors for the business program, joined the Pomona College internship program, joined the Drucker School’s women in supply chain mentoring program, helped one of my favorite former clients (Jim Cenname) with Cal State Fullerton mentoring and worked with Norco College’s Logistics advisory board]. 

I had some great clients in 2016 (enjoyable projects and results – what could be better!) and was able to travel a bit. Of course I went to AZ to spend time with my Mom and family and was able to get to NC for my best friend’s daughter’s engagement party. I went to Australia for a strategy session and stayed to enjoy a few weeks in Australia and New Zealand with my other best friends. And, I went to Japan for a board of advisors meeting and enjoyed several days of tours – who could ask for more?

2017

Turning to the New Year, I look forward to the New Year and collaborating with clients to help them achieve even greater levels of success.

I am in AZ to spend Christmas with my family and will help my mom with some jobs around the house (hopefully we are quite productive so she feels like something has been accomplished), and I’ll be with my best friends for New Year’s in Charleston – should be great fun!

Have a happy, healthy & prosperous 2017!



Do You See What is in Front of You?

December 21st, 2016

supply chain

Driving back from a client earlier this week, I suddenly noticed beautiful fall trees along the side of the road less than one half mile from my house. It hit me that I must have been driving by these trees for a while and didn’t notice, yet I specifically looked for a tour in Japan to see the fall leaves. I could have completely missed what was right in front of my nose!

notice things

How often do we miss things at work? Do you pay attention to who you walk by in the morning? How about the waste you pass up? How about system errors ignored? And the list could go on……

One tip to implement this week:

As my former ProVisors (a group of high-quality trusted advisors) colleague told me recently — you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. She had to put her membership on hold and is trying to work out the obstacle, and she really misses being a part of such a high-quality, well-connected group. The same holds true for our workplaces. What are you not noticing or appreciating on a daily basis? I bet it could be a long list.

Pay close attention this week. Look as you walk. Pay attention to what you walk by — people, waste, process changes, equipment, systems notices (visual systems, error messages, etc.). You’ll be surprised as to what you might be missing. Perhaps you are driving by fall trees also. Keep your eyes open and you’ll find opportunities.

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…”

 



Technologies Transforming Supply Chains

December 20th, 2016
artificial intelligence

One of the ways to become cost competitive with lower labor cost countries is to automate. Look for all the new uses for technology in supply chains.

Modern marvels and new information technologies are transforming supply chains. Automation, robots, AI (artificial intelligence), 3D Printing, Bitcoin technology and the IoT (internet of things) are changing the way we look at supply chains. Are you thinking about any of these technologies down-the-line? Or are you thinking about the impacts of your competitors pursuing them? You should!

We partner with clients to keep them at the forefront of these information technologies. At the core, we partner with executives to help them select the optimal ERP system to support their business objectives. Certainly, automation has always been a hot topic. Recently, AI and predictive analysis have become popular as executives think about making strategic decisions. Many clients are also thinking about the strategic value of data and how they can utilize data from their extended supply chain for mutual benefit.

We remember robots being tested 25 years ago and so they are not “new” yet they are gaining in popularity. One method to become cost competitive with low labor rate countries, yet source supply closer to customers for rapid delivery, is to automate. Using robots and automated conveyor systems is commonplace in distribution and material handling. Manufacturers are also gaining steam on these topics. Are you evaluating these alternatives? At a bare minimum, my most successful clients are evaluating, testing and trialing. Similar to the outsourcing craze of the last 10 years, there is no reason to jump on the bandwagon for the sake of following the crowd; however, looking into the options is prudent.

The Internet of things is taking over in our interconnected world. Are you looking into what this could mean for your industry? And to throw a somewhat radical-sounding concept out there — how about bitcoin? There are many potential uses for this technology in supply chains today.

 

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Best Practices in Project Teamwork

December 19th, 2016
project teamwork

Since projects lift bottom-line business results, companies depend on these initiatives for growth and profits. Cultivating a strong project team and handing them a clear goal are keys to success.

In working with clients ranging from small businesses to large, complex, global organizations across multiple industries, I’ve yet to run across a client that doesn’t rely heavily on project results to support customers, grow the business and increase profitability. What else could be more important to business success?

Since projects cannot succeed with a sole participant, project teams are essential to success. Therefore, discovering the best ways for project teams to work together will lead to results. After leading and participating in hundreds of major projects and many smaller projects over the last 25 years, I’ve compiled a short list of best practices for project teamwork.

1. Clarity of Goals

As with almost every team, the team will be far more successful if the individual teammates understand the goals. Start with the goal of the project. Why are we doing this? What does it accomplish? What are the expected results of the project? Answering these questions will provide clarity of the overarching goals.

Next, go over the critical path milestone. What is the goal of each milestone? Who needs to do what to make them happen? Following this exercise provides clarity of the project plan and project objectives. All team members are on the same page up front.

2. Resolve Goal Conflicts

Of course, gaining clarity on the goals and critical path alone won’t foster teamwork. The next step is to resolve goal conflicts. I’ve found that as teams go through this process, 80% of the time, some sort of conflict will arise. The main conflicts fall into two categories – resource availability and department conflicts.

In today’s Amazon-impacted world, speed is of the essence. Equally troubling, since the recession, organizations are running lean and so time is limited. Thus, conflicts related to resources are commonplace. For example, let’s assume there are 16 hours remaining this week, and one team member has to complete a project task on the critical path that would require 8 hours of time by the end of the week in order to keep the project on-track. Alone, this is not a problem. However, his/her line manager also has a priority task that requires 16 hours of time that must be complete by the end of the week. An inherent conflict exists. The sooner this problem is uncovered, the sooner it can be resolved.

Equally commonplace are inherent conflicts between departments. For example, if a project task requires Purchasing to get volume discounts while a different task requires Planning to reduce inventory which would require more frequent deliveries, even though both team members are available to complete their tasks, there is a conflict between the two. Again, the sooner this is uncovered, the sooner it can be resolved.

3. Reward Project Goals; Not Individual Goals

One of the most common issues that arise is when the individual is rewarded for doing what benefits them instead of the project team. Similar to aligning goals, rewards and recognition need to follow the team. If each person does their part to contribute to getting a milestone accomplished, the entire team should celebrate success. If one person can be rewarded for achieving an individual goal while the team doesn’t meet its goal, a miss-match will occur.

4. Metrics

I’ve found that one of the most important ways to align teams is to have a common set of metrics. What is measured will be achieved. Thus, if the team has a clear set of metrics, everyone will be tracking the same items. Thus, as conflicts arise, the metrics will provide initial direction. Also, the metrics focus teams on what is most important. In my experience, the simple act of selecting and tracking a few metrics can create significant teamwork. The team unites behind improving the metrics.

5. Celebrate Successes

Lastly, celebrating success is an important way to tie it all together. Teams unite when the individuals get to know one another. Celebrating success allows the team to connect in a different way and it creates momentum. Thus, celebrating small wins along the way (such as the achievement of critical path milestones) can go a long way to enhancing teamwork.

Teams with stronger levels of teamwork surpass the results of those with high individual contributors that do not work as effectively together. In my experience, even if the high individual contributors are the best of the best as compared to medium contributors that work well as a team, the team of medium contributors will win that race. Appreciate the value of teams and consider implementing a few of these strategies to accelerate success. Bottom line results will follow.

 

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