Does Everyone Need a Vacation?

July 7th, 2009

Absolutely! Several years ago when I was a VP of Operations, my HR mentor used to give me a hard time about taking more vacation, as I had to not only enjoy more time off but she also wanted me to set a good example for my team. It was tough to fit it in – after all, isn’t there always a new crisis brewing? She was absolutely right.

Time off not only gives you a chance to rest and rejuvenate which typically helps you come back to work in a refreshed frame-of-mind but it also gives you quality time with family, friends and/or alone. After all, what’s life about if you cannot take time to enjoy it.

The last few years, I’ve been fortuante to be able to go on vacations with my family (parents, brothers, nephew etc), friends, and alone (typically to visit relatives, friends etc). I see a lot of people working really hard especially in the recession (for example, my brother is a high quality electrical engineer who works a significant # of hours in order to keep the projects on track with fewer peers to help complete them), and so I think it’s important to remember vacation/ rest. I’ve been on vacations ranging from low cost (enjoying time with friends at the beach) to the luxury/ rare (such as going to Europe), so there can be something for everyone. I just returned from a family vacation – it was a bit crazy at times (what family vacation isn’t after all!) but it was a great experience – full of family, fun, new experiences, and learning.

When is your next vacation, even if it is “the weekend”?

Maximizing Plant Management Success

July 5th, 2009

To succeed in today’s environment, it is no longer desirable to have a world class operation focused on providing a value add while maximizing resources; it is a requirement. Today’s global business climate is becoming more competitive. It is tough to stand out in the crowd, and it is increasingly difficult to squeeze out an operating profit. Clearly, the trend has been to move operations to lower cost countries such as Mexico and China where there are lower wage rates, less intensive laws and regulations, etc.

There are no quick fixes. Success almost always boils down to a day-to-day persistence in combining continuous improvement with a touch of radical change from time to time. Since it is a long term strategy focused on the basics (blocking and tackling), rarely is the Plant Manager perceived as a “hero” as is the Sales Manager “elephant hunter” when he/ she wins a large order. The Plant Manager is viewed as merely “doing his/her job”. Three keys to success include: 1) leading by example, 2) focus, 3) implement a metric tracking process.

Read the rest of my recent article in the ACA Newsletter here.

Innovate or Die

July 2nd, 2009

In today’s economic environment, slow and steady progress, a continuous improvement philosophy and a low-cost producer, commodity focus will likely result in death. Why? Because it takes more than “good” to stand out in the crowd and deliver consistent and growing profitability; it takes radical change and innovation. In a recent survey by Deloitte & Touche LLP and the Manufacturing Institute, it was discovered that Americans continue to view manufacturing as the most important industry for a strong national economy. In my experience in working with multiple companies across multiple industries, I wonder how we will survive, let alone thrive, with the current state of our typical manufacturing environments – some are good but how can a commodity business with average customer service compete with products produced in low labor cost countries with minimal cost burdens such as health care costs, regulatory requirements and environmental costs? We can’t! Instead, we must change the playing field (and therefore the rules of the game) – throw out the old business models and practices; instead, think innovation.

Read the rest of my latest newsletter article – Innovate or Die

Helping co-workers during the recession

June 23rd, 2009

Have you wondered how you might be able to help your co-worker during the recession? Read the column, Workwise, in the Business Journal to find out what the experts suggest. I was quoted a few times in the article, and I’d be interested in your feedback and ideas on the topic: Read article

Should you be prepared for an economic recovery?

June 15th, 2009

Absolutely – whether you believe one is coming or whether you believe we will be in a recession for several years, it is still imperative to BE PREPARED for an economic recovery. It is quite unusual for the economy to go straight up or straight down (just check the stock market, and you won’t find any completely straight lines); therefore, it is absolutely essential to be prepared to take advantage of any recovery – no matter how short lived. Don’t you want to be one of the only companies or people who gets the new customer? the new contract? the new job? If so, it is essential to be prepared to take advantage of the opportunity – create flexibility, plan & remember liquidity. Read my latest newsletter to gain additional insights and details on preparing for an economic recovery: Profit through People Newsletter