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The Resilient Supply Chain: Does Your Environment Support Fear?

November 27th, 2018

In today’s Amazonian environment, customers expect rapid delivery (same day/next day is preferred regardless of industry), 24/7 accessibility, easy returns, innovative collaborations and much more.  Add disruptors popping up all over (such as Uber, Netflix and more), trade war impacts and technology disruptors to entire industries (such as artifical intelligence to the accounting industry), it is quite clear we are in a new ballgame.  One of the keys to successfully navigate this environment is to rely on your people.

When it comes to your people, if they don’t feel empowered, they will not take a leap of faith and bring up ideas, test theories etc.  In essence, they need to overcome fear to rise to the occasion. What is the environment like in your office? Here are a few questions to ponder:

  1.  Will employees be shunned if they go against the grain?  For example, if employees bring up an idea that isn’t popular or one that the manager thinks puts him/her in not-as-good a light, will they get shunned?  Before leaping to the answer of “of course not”, perhaps take a second look one or two levels below you. You might find a different answer than you wish.
  2.  Is failure celebrated?  Of course, we don’t mean multiple failures repeating the same mistakes but is a single failure/learning experience celebrated?
  3.  Would failure still be celebrated if it impacts month-end numbers? Unfortunately, that is when it will occur.  It is just luck of the draw.
  4.  Is it OK to help a project team?  For example, if an employee helps a project team that requires his/her expertise even if it isn’t relevant or supportive to his boss’s success, will it be OK?  Worse yet, if this person is busy (which will always be true), is it OK if he diverts a few hours to help the project team for the greater good even if it doesn’t help his manager?  Will the manager answer the same way if he didn’t know you were listening?
  5.  Do you provide tools and training?  Some employees will take the leap on their own whereas others want the extra support to feel qualified to provide ideas and advice.  Are you willing to invest in these?
  6.  Will you provide mentoring and support? Beyond tools and training, ongoing mentoring and encouragement is needed to facilitate the process.  Whether formal or informal, do you have a process in place that provides this support?

It is definitely much harder than it appears to have your employees overcome fear when you aren’t looking.  

Are you willing to invest time and money into this effort to enable the growth of your employees and the scalable, profitable growth of your business?

 



The Sheer Relevance & Impact of Transportation (A Billion Here, a Billion There)

November 24th, 2018

Recently, I attended Mobility 21, the Southern California transportation coalition, and it reminded me of the sheer relevance of transportation.  No manufacturer can operate without transportation: distributors are out of business without trucks dropping off and picking up, healthcare would stop functioning and our frequent Amazon orders would be a thing of the past.  In essence, everything would come to a grinding halt!     

Certainly, trucks are what we typically think about when it comes to transportation.  They account for $722 billion in freight flows with Canada and Mexico, for example. Whereas rail still accounts for $174 billion (not pocket change).  The ports are our gateway to the rest of the world (and the Los Angeles ports alone bring in 40% of the U.S. volume). Air carries an impressive number of packages especially with the rise of e-commerce. UPS and FedEx are expanding at amazing rates, especially at Ontario airport, the hub of e-commerce activity.  For example, during the 2017 peak season, this region of UPS alone processed 13.1 million packages!

At Mobility 21, there were some interesting statistics throw out:

  • AAA has 60,000 service calls per day
  • Transportation has a $700 billion dollar economic impact on Southern California and accounts for 1/3 of the jobs in Southern CA!  
  • 350 billion miles each year are driven in California
  • The number of trucks is expected to go from 1.8 trillion to 3.9+ trillion by 2045
  • And the list goes on….

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
At a minimum, why not take a step back to think about your transportation network?  What does it look like? How do you receive materials and products? Do you use the ports?  Air? Rail? Undoubtedly, you use trucks! How expansive is your network? Are there many players involved?  Since it could cause your operations to cease, it makes sense to find out!

Next, think about what you’d like your transportation network to deliver.  Do your customers expect rapid deliveries and “above and beyond” service? If so, who is your partner in ensuring this occurs?  

Your transportation partners are your last face to your customer. And, in today’s marketplace, there is a significant demand and challenges your transportation partners must navigate.  If you plan to be successful, you must stay on top of your transportation network and partners. Are you attractive to them? Perhaps we better think about that further….



Disruption, Innovation, Global Trends & the APICS-IE Symposium

November 20th, 2018

Lately, I’ve attended various conferences and participated in a few events/ panels on a diverse set of topics with different groups (ranging from transportation to public policy to manufacturing and supply chain to consulting to universities/ students to women leaders).  Aside from it being a whirlwind of fascinating conversations, I’ve seen a few themes emerge across every one of these events – disruption, innovation and global trends.

In today’s Amazonian and Uberian environments, disruption is the new normal.  For example, at Mobility 21 (Southern CA transportation coalition), autonomous vehicles and Uber/Lyft type transportation/trucking concepts arose.  At the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM/ APICS) international conference, the idea the IoT, artificial intelligence, Netflix type disruption and more arose.  And at the Society for Advancement of Consulting local event held at Harvey Mudd, almost 50% of the attendees were originally from out of the country and key discussions occurred around global trends and disruption.

Thus, I’d be remiss if I didn’t invite you to join us at the APICS-IE executive panel & networking symposium with an amazing panel discussing “Advancing Innovation and Navigating Global Trends” on Nov 3rd at Harvey Mudd in Claremont.  Click here to learn more and register.

One tip to implement this week:
Since disruption and innovation go hand-in-hand, there are many ways to think about this topic.  One suggestion is to gather your team and business partners/trusted advisors and brainstorm about what disruptions are likely to impact your industry.  Also consider which disruptions are likely to come down the pike. Understanding your environment and how you are positioned is a great starting point – and you’ll be better off than most organizations who might already be known in innovation circles to repeat this exercise on some sort of regular basis!

Additionally, join our unique networking and educational event on “Advancing Innovation and Navigating Global Trends”.  We have an amazing panel including the deputy executive director of the port of Los Angeles, the COO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the Chairman/Dept of Surgery at the City of Hope, a senior executive in aerospace and a senior director of supply chain & operations.  It should stir up some really engaging discussions on innovation and global trends! The event is on Nov 3rd in Claremont, CA from 8-11:30am. I hope to see you there.  Learn more and register.

 



UPS, the Rise of e-Commerce & Peak Season Multiples!

November 16th, 2018

Recently, I went on a tour of UPS’s Ontario hub with the Inland Empire Economic Partnership‘s Regional Leadership Academy.  It was a blast seeing their 2nd largest hub!  The numbers are staggering as to the impact of e-commerce and therefore the holiday season peak.  One supervisor said he went from a daily throughput of 4 planes a day to 26 or 32 (now I forgot which but either is a massive difference!) during peak season.  Now that’s seasonality!

UPS Ontario has a great retention rate.  If you add that with the HUGE seasonality peak, you know people must like working there!  Interesting how it always seems to go back to people, similar to our thinking with our original brand and newsletter, Profit through People!  

 

UPS handles 299 million packages per year!  The average package is handled 5.6 times, and here’s a shocking statistic: if you can save a tenth of a package handle, it is $25 million in savings.  That certainly puts efficiency gains in a new light!

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that again and again, our most successful clients and the most successful and profitable companies put their attention on people.  

Have you thought about your people lately? Would they stay if the competition offered them a raise? Remember, people leave people; not companies.  So, if you are in the same salary range, you better start thinking more about your people.  If you aren’t in the ballpark, you better start paying attention to your marketplace.

For the peak season, UPS has to hire a HUGE amount of temps and ensure efficiencies aren’t harmed in the process, given the serious impact to the bottom line.  If that situation doesn’t require resiliency, I don’t know what does! It is quite similar to one of our clients, QC Manufacturing/ Quietcool.  They have a HUGE summer season, and I’ve always thought their success can be traced back to their attention to people and innovation.



Are You Able to be Resilient in Your Decision Making?

November 12th, 2018

 

As we kick off our new series “The Resilient Supply Chain”, we are thinking about all the aspects of resiliency.  It is overwhelming as to the volatility of almost every aspect of the end-to-end supply chain. Just in the last month, there have been many events/ factors that have created disruption:

  • U.S. and Mexico reaching a trade agreement
  • U.S. and Canada still at an impasse with respect to trade negotiations
  • U.S. and China still imposing tariffs on each other
    • Ford cancelled plans to produce a small car in China based on these tariffs.
  • Fires have and are plaguing California – the worst in history
  • The Big Island in Hawaii is just starting to pick up the pieces after the volcano
    • We’ve heard about severe impacts on the businesses and customers in that areAnd earlier this week, although not serious (thank goodness), there was an earthquake in the next town over from our office

The Resilient Supply Chain
Instead of panicking as each of these events or disruptors occur, creating a resilient supply chain can provide a proactive approach to this current state market condition.  One of critical aspects of taking a proactive approach instead of a reactive one is to think about whether you are able to be resilient in your decision making.

Here are some considerations:
1.  People – Good decisions stem from good people.  Thus, it always makes sense to start there.  Do you have people in leadership positions and other key roles that you would want to make decisions in your absence?  (Just this past week, a potential client was killed by a drunk driver while he was on a motorcycle. We would certainly rather be prepared for winning the lottery but the question remains:  Are your people ready to make decisions?)

2.  Data – Although good people can make up for a lot, you also need the “right” information and relevant background to make key decisions.  Do your systems allow you to retrieve meaningful data for decision making? Every single ERP selection client prioritizes business intelligence/dashboard reporting tools as high on their list of priorities for good reason!

3.  Input – Although this can be considered part of people and data, it’s worth calling out on its own.  Do you gain input from trusted sources (colleagues, customers, suppliers, trade association colleagues, industry groups and more)?  Recently, our APICS-IE instructors had an issue arise with updated learning materials – in essence, they were not set up for learning to occur.  Clearly a BIG issue for an education and value-focused organization! Fortunately, after 3 or 4 calls, we had several ideas on how to dramatically improve the process and overcome the obstacle.  In another example that occurred recently for a client project, we had a significant challenge in explaining a complex concept that was critical to success. If we didn’t get past that barrier, results would NOT follow.  It took 5 or 6 calls with excellent input from all as well as testing out ideas before we came up with the ideal way to convey the concept, and it “worked”!

4.  Speed – Slow decision making is worse than no decision making.  In today’s Amazonian marketplace, your customers will be LONG gone if you are slow to make decisions.  I’ve noticed that I am a LOT less tolerant of slow responsiveness even in my own business (and for things I would have been fine with a year ago).  I have to be to remain viable, and so do you! Thus, as it relates to having the ‘right’ people with the ‘right’ data and ‘right’ input, you must also have them at the ‘right’ time.

Have you put thought into your decision-making process before decisions must occur?  Ponder these critical elements, put them in place and you’ll be prepared to successfully navigate the volatility of today’s business decisions.