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The Resilient Supply Chain: Are You Resilient?

December 31st, 2018

I was carpooling across town for an event tour (that had been postponed once) in rainy weather in rush hour in Southern California.  If this situation doesn’t call for resilience, I don’t know what does!  Of course, something is bound to go awry, starting with traffic jams galore.

We both had to be home at an early hour to get to key events that evening and we hadn’t had the best of days.  Not only did we miss key meetings to attend the postponed event, but the most important part of the day was cancelled due to delays, and several things weren’t coordinated too well.  Already a little frustrated, we headed home.

My carpool partner was already concerned about driving through large puddles with her small car because she didn’t want it to stall out.  Prior to the tour, we made several trips around the parking lot.  We decided to move to higher ground or we’d be up to our knees in water when we returned.  After the tour, while making our way to the exit, we had to drive through big puddles. On the last big puddle before exiting the lot, the car started making a loud noise.  Not good!

After we pushed through and pulled off to the side, it was apparent that the undercarriage cover came off.  Clearly the water didn’t make it fall off, but there must have been something in the water that caused it to separate.  We were at a male dominated facility with at least 4 guys at the exit. They came over but couldn’t define the problem.  My carpool partner was no expert at cars but saw that it was the undercarriage.  So we decided to back up so that we could see it and weren’t dragging it along.  She asked them for ideas or recommendations for a shop nearby. No one had any idea and just pointed out that the undercarriage was dragging below the car. My carpool partner was becoming frustrated.
After a few more minutes with no help from “the guys”, she decided we could tie the undercarriage up so that it would stay for the ride home – BUT, we needed rope.  Of course, no one had a clue. Luckily, she found rope in the backseat (which, I admit, would never be found in my backseat…until this experience). Next she tied it up herself as one or two of the bystanders watched.  We needed a scissors to tie it up. What do you think happened next? Of course – no one knew. I went over to the guard shack and borrowed a pair. She cut the rope and we drove back in the rain for about 2 hours in heavy traffic.

Since she is new to the area and didn’t want to leave the temporary rope option too long, it occurred to me that my mechanic is amazing at customer service and would probably help us out.  I texted him, told him the story and said we’d drop by in 20 minutes. When we showed up, he took us immediately, offered us coffee and conversation while they assessed the issue. He returned with a temporary solution and showed us why she would have to purchase a new undercarriage cover.  Less than 30 minutes later, we left with the car intact and safe to drive until the dealer could order a cover that he offered to put on for her. My mechanic didn’t charge us for this service and left us thanking him profusely. My carpool partner even left with a tip on how to buy a new truck for her husband who was moving out the next day.  Who doesn’t value relationships!?!

In this situation, we could have become seriously delayed (missing our evening events or taking Uber on a lengthy drive), stuck, angry and more.  Instead, my carpool partner took control of the situation, got us going and then we leveraged fabulous connections to ensure the temporary solution would “stick”.  Resilience and perseverance won out in the end!

What would you have done?

 

 



The New NAFTA & What It Means

December 27th, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently, the USMCA (new NAFTA) agreement was signed by the U.S., Canada and Mexico.  It still needs to be ratified by lawmakers but several immediate protections went into effect.  Since I am surrounded by manufacturing and supply chain organizations and professionals in terms of clients, colleagues, trade associations and more, I can say that there is largely positive commentary about this partnership in N.A. and the improvements to the old agreement.  Of course, there was a lot of negative commentary and debate about the particulars and the impact on trade (you’d have to live under a rock not to hear them!), but it is a noteworthy step forward from our current position!

What does this mean for your business?  Are you “ready” to leverage the opportunities and minimize any risks?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Although most clients and colleagues expected something to work out in terms of NAFTA, many were still in a bit of a waiting pattern.  No matter the final details, it shows that collaboration will take place. I think it is noteworthy that collaboration is an integral part of the business success equation. Many years ago, collaboration was seen as a fluffy topic but it has become key to success. Perhaps we should all think further about how well we communicate and whether we can collaborate with those who don’t see eye-to-eye with us.

From a technical point-of-view, there are bound to be many implications on our businesses,  whether we source materials or products from Mexico or Canada or not. And if you are in another country, there will be an entirely different set of impacts. Think about your extended supply chain, from your suppliers’ suppliers to your customers’ customers and everyone in-between.  Are there opportunities? Risks? Be proactive, and I bet you’ll find at least one opportunity. This is another example of the need for a resilient supply chain.

Check out our new video and article series as well as our soon-to-be offered Rapid Resilient Supply Chain Assessment service:

 



Seasons Greetings from Lisa Anderson

December 26th, 2018

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

I’ve decided not to mess with perfection and so I’m keeping this enticing cup of hot chocolate…..

I hope your holiday is cheerful and filled with family and friends.  I am in AZ to see my mom and relatives for Christmas.  My mom’s best friend since grade school will be coming to town right after Christmas as well, and so it will be fun to spend time with everyone and get a bit of work done around here as well.  

 

 

Thank YOU  for another successful year.  You are core to our success. Thanks to my APICS-IE Board of Directors for another great year!  

And thanks to my ProVisors ONT group (top left), Global Strategy Consulting Group (top right), Harvey Mudd executive roundtable group, MCIE group, IEEP group, Renaissance Executive Forums group, SAC group, clients and many, many other colleagues.  I’m fortunate to have many wonderful people surrounding me!

 

 

 

 

 

And, of course to my family and friends…. I thought my cat Smokey was adorable in a Christmas basket and so I included him for good measure. 

 

 

 

 

 

And congratulations to my nephew, Ryan Felter for kicking off the holiday by graduating from one of the best computer boot camps in the country with an expertise in node Javascript (featured below with his cohort and his girlfriend Tori).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bottom line: I appreciate my clients, colleagues, family and friends!

I look forward to more exciting opportunities, dramatic client results and, most importantly, enjoying more interactions with all of you!

Turning to the New Year, I’m looking forward to taking my Resilient Supply Chain Series to the next level.  As volatile as the business environment will remain, it is also one of the best opportunities you’ll ever see for manufacturers and distributors.  

Have a happy, healthy & prosperous 2019! 

Lisa Anderson

LMA Consulting Group Inc.

  

 



Global Consultants & The Value of Diversity

December 23rd, 2018

 

When I was in Australia recently week for a meeting with my global consulting strategy group, it hit home that there is power in diversity.  We represent 4 countries (Australia, Japan, U.S. and Canada), a diverse group of company types (from tiny to Fortune 100 businesses ranging from manufacturing to healthcare to nonprofit/government), a diverse group of specialties (strategy, innovation, organizational change, financial performance etc.) and more.  Diverse viewpoints definitely add value!

I joined the group around 3 years ago. At the time, I was the only woman (although another joined shortly after), and our mentor said he thought I’d add a unique value for that reason in addition to others.  I didn’t see his point until I was the only woman for a brief period of time, and it turned out he was right! I also have received significant value from the group members who have the least in common with me – a fresh perspective can go a long way!  Along the way, I’ve noticed that some of the best feedback comes from unlikely sources. Have you sought out diversity, even when it isn’t comfortable?

One tip to implement this week:
Let’s start by thinking about the groups and people we interact with on a monthly basis.  Are we hanging out with people who are just like us? For example, there is a member of my group who does practically the same thing as I do, just in Australia.  He is easy to talk to (of course), and he adds a unique value because he understands my questions/ concerns but if the group was full of these people, I imagine I would have received only 20% of the value to date.  

It is easy for us to become comfortable with people like us and not seek out diverse, sometimes scary opinions from others.  For example, I remember when one group member pushed back on my comments, and I truly didn’t agree at the time but when I listened to the session again in the car a few months later, I realized he was right.  I just wasn’t understanding and/or ready to think about it at the time. How many of these have you ignored, thinking you were right?

Although I see great value in the global nature of my group, it isn’t because I focus on having a global practice (although part of my practice focuses on international global corporations).  Instead, it simply brings a diverse viewpoint – even if I worked 100% in my hometown and never strayed (as one of our members does in a small Australian town), I’d get huge value from thinking differently.  He has no desire to move beyond his hometown yet he said our group is one of his most important priorities.

Don’t think about diversity in the light they talk about on the news. How many Fox News and CNN people listen to both programs?  Actually, I’ve heard more Australians who tell me they listen to both to understand than I’ve heard Americans. Instead, why not embrace that next person you think “on, no!  I don’t want him/her in my group” and see what happens and whether you gain a diverse perspective. I’ll bet 80% of the time, you’ll feel better off in the long run. And, remember, one bad apple (the 20%) doesn’t make a trend.

 



How Resilient Are Your Business Partners?

December 20th, 2018

As we kick off our new series “The Resilient Supply Chain”, we are thinking about resiliency from all angles that will impact success.  One of the first that pops to mind is the resilience of your business partners.  You and your company could be 100% proactive and resilient; however, if your business partners aren’t, you’ll still crash and burn!

In thinking about recent client examples of disruptions and volatility, there are many!  Here are a few, along with some questions to think about:

 

  • Tariffs started impacting suppliers.  If/when this happens to you, do you know broadly how to handle it?
  • Capacity shortages starting to increase throughout the supply chain.  This has been especially true in aerospace.  Do you know in advance and have backup plans and partners? Or, are you surprised when this occurs?
  • Sales revenues increased more than expected.  A bit of unexpected success can be a nice lift but it also can create several unintended consequences to keep service levels intact. Are you proactively communicating with your supply chain partners?  And, how about your trusted advisors, such as your bank?
  • Transportation shortages have been creating havoc.  The conversation is no longer about price and saving pennies, it is about finding trucks.  Moreover, the key question is whether you will get the truck or whether your competitor will.  Are you the preferable partner to do business with?
  • Shifts in e-commerce and direct to customer have been changing industries. What are you doing to stay on top of these trends and share them with your business partners?
  • New technologies are creating disruption, obsoleting industries and bringing profit opportunities to the surface.  Do you have a plan?  Are you talking with technology trusted advisors, as well as finding ways to collaborate with supply chain partners to find the win-win?
  • And, what about your negotiations with suppliers?  According to APICS 2018 International Conference speakers from companies like Cisco, AkzoNobel, McDonald’s and NASA, it is no longer about negotiation.  It is about win-win collaboration.

This list could go on and on.  At our most recent Harvey Mudd executive roundtable, the CEOs discussed how culture (with employees and business partners) was the key to growth.  Making sure you are partnered with the “right” business partners who share your goals and are resilient might just make or break your success.

It pays to give it some thought!