Category: Inner Circle

Ramping Back Up

August 22nd, 2020

We are seeing business just beginning to ramp up. As said in our eBook, Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19, this is not an on/off switch. We should turn the dial carefully (as quickly as possible while accounting for the end-to-end supply chain). Every situation is different.  Yet, common concepts exist and preparation is required. A few highlights include:

  • Employee readiness: There are several rules and regulations in addition to considering your employees’ mindsets and readiness.
  • Customer readiness: Clearly, without predictable sales volume (at least to an 80/20 standpoint at a high level), it is impossible to know what to produce, purchase, store, prepare cash reserves etc.
  • Supplier readiness: Of course, no matter how ready our customers and employees, if our suppliers aren’t ready (and our suppliers’ suppliers), nothing will be accomplished.
  • Financial readiness: It sounds obvious but we also need the cash to operate our end-to-end supply chain successfully.
  • Risk tolerance: We are pushing clients to assess risk to make prudent decisions.  Yet, in order to be successful, they will have to take on additional risk. A no risk policy will result in bankruptcy!
  • Resiliency: Start the process of future-proofing your manufacturing and supply chain and make a commitment to continuously improve. Without this mindset, do not turn the dial.

Your most important job in the foreseeable future (minimally 9-12 months) will be to navigate this ramp up to the new un-normal, and even more critically, the most successful clients will take the bull by the horns and create their future.



Should We Be Reshoring?

August 14th, 2020

Are you thinking about your product supply strategy? You certainly should be! I was asked to talk on Bloomberg’s “What’d You Miss?” about reshoring since it is a hot topic in the news. I was also on a webinar with other CEOs and thought leaders recently about the Future of ManufacturingThe reshoring conversation took the majority of the hour because it was top of mind for manufacturers as well.

The surveys are ‘adding up’:

  • According to an EY survey, 83% of executives expect a regionalization of the supply chain.
  • According to Supply Chain Dive, 64% of manufacturers say reshoring likely following the pandemic.
  • According to Thomas Industrial Survey, 64% of manufacturers are likely to bring manufacturing production and sourcing back to N.A.

It doesn’t matter which survey is your favorite, at least review your product supply strategy in light of your current and most likely future conditions. As I said in my eBook on product supply strategies, there are many reasons compelling manufacturers to look at this topic. A few highlights include:

  • Customer demand: Customers don’t care where we produce or source what. They expect immediate delivery of customized products and services.
  • Customer changes: Customers expect to change their orders as their customers’ demand changes.
  • Total cost: Total cost is in alignment for non-commodity products. Mexico and the U.S. provide good alternatives for customer demand in N.A.
  • Working capital: Cash is relevant.  When you account for disruptions in your end-to-end supply chain as well as changing demand, it can become a significant number to watch.
  • Risk & Disruption: Look no further than COVID-19 to understand the impacts. Asia shut down for a few months. Mexico and Europe were unable to supply essential businesses in the U.S. according to multiple panels (aerospace executives, large CPG etc.)

With all this said, as I commented on Bloomberg, NOT all situations make sense for reshoring (and certainly not at 100% by tomorrow morning). Instead, use uncommon common sense, conduct a rapid assessment and develop a strategy and path forward. Also, put triggers in place to proactively manage and adjust as needed. If you’d like to discuss further, please contact us.



Collaboration is NO LONGER a Fluffy Topic

February 16th, 2020

I facilitated an executive panel discussion on “Collaboration for Advanced Manufacturing & Supply Chain Success” with diverse viewpoints from transportation (Ontario airport), manufacturing (AMETEK Ameron), technology for manufacturing and logistics from the global leader in GIS (ESRI), and innovation, incubator and accelerator gurus.  It was a fascinating discussion on the value of collaboration, to innovate or not, robots or people and other controversial hot topics.

The key takeaways included the following:

  • The Value of Partners – Several panelists talked about the value of choosing your partners wisely. No one person and no one company can do it alone. In fact, we often collaborate not only with “usual suspects” but also with ones we might not suspect, such as our competition. When you can find a way to collaborate with competition where you both “win”, a powerful outcome will result.
  • Fail Forward – This was 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?
  • Robots or People? – We had a bit of debate. Will robots replace jobs? Absolutely! But can they also create jobs? Fill gaps left by the retiring baby boomer? Increase the quality of manual tasks? And enable far greater capacity? Absolutely!
  • Is all Innovation Good?  –  Of course not! Again, if a topic is a good one, it will stir up debate.  Wasting lots of time innovating for non-existent returns on investment isn’t a smart move. On the other hand, the pure nature of innovation will require failure. How do we navigate when to innovate and when not to innovate?
  • Is all Collaboration Good? Again, absolutely NOT! Wasting time collaborating when a quick decision must be made is worse than a waste of time. On the other hand, if we can turn 1 + 1 + 1 = 33, it certainly seems worth it. Just don’t think about your standard partners only. Why not industry groups, educational institutions, and more?

Take a few minutes to think about collaboration. What have you seen work best? Actually, back up. No one should just think about collaboration. Instead, we should be thinking about our end result. Where do you want to go and what do you want to achieve? Now, think about the best use of collaboration, innovation, technology and other topics that will accelerate success.



Interview with Fender Guitar Executive

February 7th, 2020

Can people and robots work side-by-side? It seems to be the hot topic lately.  Fender Guitar’s Senior VP of Operations, Ed Magee and I talked about talent, technology and transition after the Manufacturing Summit. At Fender, skilled craftsmen and craftswomen are critically important.  Yet, Fender also automates where it makes sense. Technology working hand-in-hand with your #1 asset, your people, can assist in improving the craftsmanship, as well as safety. Ed considers training and development to be a key to success.

We also talked about potential recessions and disruption. Certainly, in today’s Amazon-impacted environment with global volatility, there will be continued ebbs and tides to navigate. Ed mentioned the importance of creating community and flexibility. Invest in your employees during times of boom AND bust. Don’t be afraid of the cycle and keep the lessons in mind as you think through your business cycle, and you’ll future-proof your manufacturing operation. Maintain focus, don’t cut back on training and development when everyone else does and you’ll be likely to speed by the rest.

Watch our interview to learn more and gain a few insights. What are you doing to future-proof your manufacturing operation and related supply chain? What should you be doing? Ed and I concur. If you aren’t starting with your people, nothing else will matter.

No matter how high tech key clients go, the most successful and sustainable clients accompany high tech with high touch. You’ll gain some strategies for people in our Profit through People archives as well as with our new LMA-i, LMA-Intelligence series, Future-Proofing Your Manufacturing & Supply Chain. Contact us to discuss further.

 

 



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!