Category: Inner Circle

Women CEO Panel Takeaways

January 2nd, 2020

As an advisory board member of the School of Business and Public Management of the University of LaVerne, I participated with the annual Women CEO Forum. I always am inspired listening to the powerful stories of these CEOs, and the hardships they overcame on their journey to success. Do you get away to listen to speakers like these? I am always surprised how energizing it can be.  I always gain a nugget or insight to take our performance to another level. As my consulting mentor says, if you improve 1% a day, in 70 days you are twice as good. Now that is imminently achievable and impressive!

 

The key takeaways from the Women CEO Forum included the following:

  • Determination – It is without a doubt the reason for my success.  It shouldn’t be surprising that it is true for others. Are you undervaluing how important it is to “keep going” and find ways around, over or through obstacles?
  • Fail Forward – A powerful insight from one of the panelists. As I always say in speeches on innovation, you have to fail to be successful in innovation. Do we see our failures as ‘failing forward’? Or do we hide under a rock?
  • Pivot – Have you thought about when you should pivot and change direction/ strategy? The most successful people have multiple pivots in their careers. Nothing stays the same….the world, our industries, our colleagues. Do you know when it is time to pivot? Surround yourself with people and advisors who will help you!
  • Reinvention – If the pivot is when you should change course, reinvention is how you change course deliberately. The most successful people reinvent as a normal course of action. Have you thought about whether what you are doing is just what you’ve always done or if it is the best approach in today’s business environment?

Take a few minutes to think about your takeaways from your career to date. What is responsible for your success? How does it stack up with these insights? Figure out what works for you, GO for it and don’t let obstacles get in your way!

 



All Roads Lead Back to People

December 30th, 2019

All roads lead back to people. In working with executives from diverse industries of aerospace, building products, healthcare and food & beverage, whether a $10 million dollar family-owned business, a $50 million dollar private-equity backed company or a multi-billion dollar global conglomerate, the most successful have the best people. Little else seems to matter. The best strategies are destroyed by poor leaders, and the most mediocre of plans are wildly successful with the right leaders.

Since many of our clients are manufacturers, and October is manufacturing month, we thought it would be the ideal time to remind you that “all roads go back to leaders”. As much as it is relevant to stay on top of the latest technologies (learn more about artificial intelligence and computer vision in our “Just for Clients Section”) and search for the best practices for your business (such as SIOP (sales, inventory, operations planning) and lean manufacturing), it is even more important to think about your people. In fact, if you have the ‘right’ people, the rest will fall into place.

When thinking about people, you should consider several important groups:

  • New hires – Spend more time ensuring you have the ‘right’ person before wasting time and energy on a non-performer! Stop thinking about job descriptions and tasks.  Instead, think about what results you need and whether the person you are interviewing can ‘turn them into a reality’.
  • Your employeesThe most important category is your employees. If your people aren’t involved and interested, how do you expect to create fans of your customers?
  • Your suppliers – Do you consider your suppliers an extension of your team? You should! They can make or break your success.
  • Your customers – Certainly, there is such a thing as choosing the ‘wrong’ customer. Are you just taking any customer that comes your way or are you making sure they are a good fit for your business? Some customers will take you to new heights and others will send you accelerating backwards.
  • Your trusted advisors – Pay attention to who you listen to! Bad advice is far worse than no advice at all. As trusted advisors, we can attest that when our clients find ‘inexpensive advice’.  They come running to us because they tied up people getting nothing accomplished, or worse, the situation has gotten worse! In addition, having the ‘right’ banking, financial and legal advice at the ‘right’ time can prove invaluable.
  • Your trade & professional organizations, alumni groups etc. – The story is very similar to trusted advisors. You can gain invaluable insight and resources if you consider your network an important aspect of your business.

Watch our interview with  Ismael Reyes, Jr. and Cindy Baughman of Ingram Micro, the Manufacturing Council of the Inland Empire’s Innovation Award winners. We talk about the relevance and importance of talent and leadership as well as the dramatic impact it can have on bottom line results. They achieved over a million dollars in savings in process improvements.  And, they consider the key to success to go back to people.

Are you interested in bottom line improvement AND/or developing a superior customer experience? If so, start with your people!

If you are interested in an assessment of how you stand vs. the industry norm and would like recommendations and priorities to drive results, read through our articles for ideas or contact us to discuss further.



Why Join A CEO Group?

December 6th, 2019

We recognized Ron Penland as our 2019 LMA Advocate. Ron has added value to our business in many ways over the years ranging from insights on what’s relevant to manufacturers and distributors and their bottom line to valued connections. Since Ron runs CEO groups, I thought it made for a good segue to discuss the value of interacting with peers. Are you drinking your own Kool-Aid or do you get push back when you need it?

You might want to consider the unpleasant idea of gaining input even when you don’t want to hear it. The proof is in the pudding. Certainly, Ron’s CEOs have been FAR more successful than even the average CEO group as his CEOs get 2 to 3 times the multiples for the sale of their businesses when compared to the industry averages. That alone is noteworthy. I joined one of his groups simply to better understand what is on our clients’ minds. Of course they tell me what relates to our project but if I understand more about the broad spectrum of issues, I can ensure LMA provides an even more powerful return. That is an important win-win – the more value we help our clients create, the better for both of us!

Do you have any venues for interacting with top notch peers? After all, just interacting with someone in a peer position willing to talk to you could be even worse than being a hermit! Kash Gokli, head of Harvey Mudd’s manufacturing practice and Director of their clinic program and I gather CEOs a few times a year to help foster a community of executives and to discuss timely topics in our Harvey Mudd executive roundtables. Of course, we don’t go into depth and specifics of company performance like you do in a CEO group. Yet, it can add definite value. Contact us if you are interested in joining us.

There are other options as well for building these invaluable connections. Think about volunteering for a community benefit to provide expertise. In the Inland Empire and surrounding areas of Southern CA, we are starting a consortium for advanced manufacturing and supply chain success. We are currently looking for manufacturers and exporters who would be interested in being involved from the ground up in an advisory capacity. Please contact the Inland Empire Economic Partnership (IEEP) or me if interested. And a local manufacturing executive asked me to participate in CAIEDEC which is an organization supporting export. CEOs are involved in both of these initiatives and these groups are the first to pop to mind.

There are plenty of opportunities to gain ideas, insights and push back. Are you seeking them out? If not, why not? Wouldn’t you like to exceed corporate objectives to fast-track your career or sell your company for double the industry average? Pick just one item to test this month, and results will follow.



Priorities, Priorities, Priorities

November 21st, 2019

When teaching a CSCP class for a large Target distribution center recently, one of the managers asked me about what drives results across all clients. One of the great benefits of speaking and teaching is that attendees stimulate new ideas and/or insights. I gave him what popped to mind immediately.

However, it got me thinking. Why not share these with my clients as it might stimulate ideas across the board! Here’s what popped into my mind: We gained the biggest benefit when figuring out where to focus attention to achieve the desired end result (such as increasing revenue, profit or cash flow). In essence, what is the priority?

Unfortunately, this sounds so obvious that most people think they have it covered but they do NOT! I’ve yet to meet a client with the following situation:

  • Just a few key priorities that were best suited to drive the results they desired
  • Key players in the organization (and perhaps key supply chain partners) were aligned on this same page.

More typically, there are FAR too many priorities AND the issue is that they all sound like priorities.

  • The Board wants x.
  • Our key customer is demanding y.
  • There are projects to launch new products.
  • There are projects to save costs.
  • Employees need education and training to know how to grow the business.
  • And the list goes on.

So what should we do? If it were easy, it wouldn’t be so commonplace. Yet, it is doable. We start at the end and work our way back. What are the desired results we need x months or years into the future? Then we look at how we get from where we are to where we need to go. Again, it sounds quite simple but, of course, it isn’t. And then, we look over what we see as priorities and how they fit into what we need to get from here to there.

Next, we look at three aspects:

  • What is the impact of the priority?
  • How urgent is the priority? This is often confused with impact. Often, they are NOT the same.
  • If we did nothing, what would happen? Would the situation get better on its own, stay the same or get worse?

Re-think your priorities. Why are you doing what you are doing? I was just reminded of this recently by a partner. She asked about the results we were achieving jointly and wondered if the level of effort was worth the outcome. I had to say, she was right! What were we thinking? Consequently, we are re-evaluating our priorities.

How about you?  It also often takes an outside view to stir the pot to re-think priorities. Are you comfortable? If so, you might want to take another look.



Inventory or Capacity?

November 18th, 2019

Inventory has emerged as a hot topic lately. In today’s Amazon-impacted business environment, customers expect rapid, customized deliveries, the ability to change their mind anytime and easy interactions (placing orders, returns etc.). Since clients are growing, they are also concerned with keeping up with the increasing volume. Thus, they have responded  by stocking more inventory to support increased sales and to respond to these increasing expectations.

However, as clients are taking a step back, they see inventory tying up bunches of cash unnecessarily.  Just because they have more inventory doesn’t mean they have the ‘right’ inventory in the ‘right’ place at the ‘right’ time. Inventory not only ties up cash, but it also increases costs. We are hearing about concerns regarding space, efficiencies, transportation cost impacts and more. In essence, there is a double hit to cash and profit yet the appropriate level of inventory (varies by network and strategy) is required to meet customer expectations.

In addition to pursuing inventory improvement programs to maximize your service, cash and margins such as SIOP (sales, inventory and operations planning) and proactive vendor managed inventory/ collaborative inventory programs, you might want to consider your capacity.

We had a client a few years ago who called because service issues had started to arise and customers were angry. Leadership thought the the operations team was under-performing because there must be something wrong with them since sales revenues were not increasing over 5% a year.

As we dug into the issue, we found that the product mix changed significantly which drove a greater level of operations requirements for the same dollar volume. When this occurred in the past, it didn’t create a problem (lending support to the perception that the operations team was at fault).  Yet, it turns out that as people left, they stopped replacing them because they wanted to bring down costs.

In the past, since they had excess capacity (machinery) and a small excess level of trained, highly skilled direct labor resources, they could produce what was needed as conditions changed without a problem. They no longer could use this magic bullet!

Would it make sense to maintain excess capacity/skills in a key bottleneck area of your operation (whether manufacturing, technical or office)?

If you’d like to talk about your inventory and/or capacity situation further, please contact us.