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Collaboration in the Supply Chain

May 31st, 2018

To succeed in today’s Amazonian environment, we must keep strange bedfellows.  We just love the Amazon example of innovation – partnering with the U.S. Postal service – known as one of the least-innovative organizations out there.  But it works! Who ever thought you’d see a U.S. postal service mail truck delivering on Sunday for Amazon?

cross-functional teams

 

At the Southern California E-Commerce and Logistics Summit, there were several intriguing collaborations:  

  1.  Union Pacific and BNSF Railway – Although there was a healthy competition over resources (not surprisingly since both are experiencing a skills gap), there was also much collaboration over issues.
  2.  The AQMD and Staunch Opponents of Indirect Sourcing – Although there is little compromise in the widespread concern over indirect sourcing, there were panelists who are working to bridge the gap.
  3.  Political leaders and Business Owners – Working together for progress, even with the distractions and disruptions that occur on a daily basis.
  4.  Amazon and their Latest Partner – Doesn’t it seem like there is a new intriguing partner announced every week.  Kohl’s could be considered a foe but partners for win-win results but it is ‘old news’.  Recently, Amazon announced another competitor partnership with Best Buy. Who will be next?  Are you thinking about how to partner with competitors?
  5.  Technology companies and all others – In the era of data and technology, people like Google, Microsoft and Apple are collaborating with everyone – car companies, IoT devices and machinery manufacturers, systems providers and many more.  

Are you taking a hard look at your collaborations and partners?  Perhaps take a more innovative approach to what you might have “assigned” to procurement last year, so you’ll be around next year.

 



The Skills Gap Emerges as #1 at Prominent Supply Chain Conference

May 28th, 2018

At the Southern California Supply Chain and Logistics Summit conference, there were several keynote speakers from industry icons such as Amazon, UPS, Union Pacific and more.  One might expect quite a lot of interesting insights into the latest supply chain trends yet the most common theme among the presentations tied back to the skills gap. It boils down to having the “right people” for success – both in terms of employees and supply chain partners.

 

Several of the themes emerged the supply chain summit:

  1.  Automation: Friend or Foe? With the advances of automation in the supply chain, there is much worry over the impact on people. Yet, several speakers said they HAD to automate and leverage technology just to have a hope of keeping up with the expected growth over the next several years.  When adding in the retirement of baby boomers, will you have the skills to support your business growth?
  2. Someone has to be behind the robot – Even though some robots use artificial intelligence concepts, they aren’t programming themselves.  There is someone behind the robot – programming, maintenance and more. Are you preparing for a job that can be replaced by a robot or are you programming the robot?
  3.  Robots and people side-by-side-  There are some tasks that robots can automate and improve upon whereas there are others it makes sense to employ workers.  Are you preparing your resources to see value in both?
  4.  Matching skills with roles – How does your company stack up?  Another topic of much discussion – mentioned by panelists and attendees alike – the vast majority of executives feel they are falling short when it comes to gaining the skills they need to run their business at the “right” margins.  How clear are you on what you need to successfully run your business? Or are you living on hope it will all work out?
  5.  The rise of flexibility – With the rise of e-commerce, we have BIG spikes.  We need to be thinking about how to incorporate flexibility into our thinking. How flexible are you?
  6. Would you want to be in the role?  There are some jobs set up to be thankless (such as drivers in several environments).  If you wouldn’t want to do the job, how can you expect to keep your workforce?

Since having the “right” talent in the “right” place at the “right” time is #1 to success, investing in talent could be your most important investment of the year.  Do you spend as much time thinking about your people (whether current or new) as you do a major machine or technology purchase? You should!

 



The Value of New Beginnings and the Old

May 24th, 2018

This weekend I was in North Carolina for the wedding reception of my Godson Alex and his bride, Grace. They were happy, planned the perfect day and it all went fabulously……such an impressive – and young (or maybe I’m just getting older) – couple! I spent lots of time in high school and college hanging out with my best friend Sandi and her family, and so it is always great to go back to spend time with family.

 

 

 

 

 

Sandi and I turn 50 in the next month and so we plan to do a few trips this year to commensurate the occasion.  It is great to have a friend that I’ve known most of my life. There is certainly value in the old as well as the new.  Are you appreciating your long-term customers who have been with you through thick and thin as well as your new, ideal customers?

One tip to implement this week:
Don’t we tend to take our long-term, valuable relationships for granted?  Admit it! Of course, it is easy to do so.

Perhaps we should think about valued customers, suppliers, employees and other partners.  Pick up the phone and give them a call or stop by for a visit. I find it is always good to catch up. There were several relationships from my first large client that got me started.  I wouldn’t be successful today if it weren’t for what I learned from them and/or the chance they took on a new consultant.

Although I started this by thinking of new beginnings, I am reminded that I fly back at a terribly early hour on Monday (as anyone who knows me would be horrified) because one of those key contacts from my first client is in town and we are going to our old haunt, Red Robin.  Should be fun! Later that day, I meet with some new contacts to start new beginnings. Nice to have a great mix.

Who will you be first on your list to connect with?

 



3D Printed Houses – Fast, Inexpensive and Fights Homelessness

May 21st, 2018

Supply Chain Briefing

3D printing is becoming mainstream and addresses MANY of the challenges in today’s Amazon-impacted marketplace.  In this case, a non-profit, New Story, teamed up with a construction tech company, Icon, to create the Vulcan – a 3D printer that prints single-story homes.  These homes are printed in 24 hours (WOW!), for under $4000 (again, WOW) and it’s being used to fight homelessness. Check out their video:

Are you thinking about how 3D printing might impact and transform your industry?  

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Although we should consider potential impacts of 3D printing in our industry, the more important consideration is to let our minds think about the future.  

  • What technological innovations are likely to impact your industry? Unfortunately, it is not enough to just think about direct correlations.
  • Which industries relate to your extended supply chain and what might occur down-the-line?  
  • And/or what is likely to impact your customers?

Stay on the leading edge about what is trending and potential impacts to your company and your career.  You’ll be FAR more successful navigating the waters ahead – as the only constant is change in today’s Amazon-impacted marketplace.

We are in the era of the customer. What might that mean?

One way to stay on top of the latest trends and predictions is to attend industry events.  Our APICS – Inland Empire Chapter is hosting an executive panel and networking symposium on “Managing Rapid Growth when Manufacturing and Supply Chain are Hot” on May 5th @ Harvey Mudd.  Join us!



Boston & Expanding Your Thinking

May 17th, 2018

I've Been Thinking

Last week, I spent a few days in Boston at a consulting convention to expand my thinking on consulting so that I can continually provide more value to clients (which is always spurred on by seeing new scenery like the Boston sites below).  

While at the convention, my business partner and I also launched our newly upgraded and expanded value of our new venture, the Society for the Advancement of Consulting that provides value to consultants and entrepreneurs.  When I agreed to take this role on, I had no idea the value it would bring to my consulting practice with expanded thinking.   

 

 

 

 

 

We have not only strategized on growth strategies which are quite applicable for my clients but we have also expanded our horizons in building a scalable, profitable, lean infrastructure so that the 80/20 of the processes will be seamlessly sustainable once the foundation is put in place.   We have also combined different strengths quite productively for win-win results. I’m looking forward to applying these additional ideas and principles with my clients as the appropriate situations arise!

One tip to implement this week:
Have you thought about how to expand your thinking?  A first good step would be to take a step back and think about ways to expand your thinking.  It is quite easy to get stuck inside your current reality. Consider some ways to deliberately push the envelope.

For example, should you invite someone who is quite different from you to brainstorm?  I have gained some interesting and unexpected insights by partnering with someone new.

Should you attend a different event you wouldn’t typically attend and deliberately set out to meet a few new people and ask them about a trending topic?  Since I was in the limelight explaining this newly enhanced consulting society, I met many people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

Can you ask your customers and suppliers for ideas? How about trade associations? After all, that is part of the point of this consulting society within our particular field.  What about you?