Tag Archive: business consultant

Eagle Eye Execution

November 5th, 2013
In supply chain management and other industries that require collaboration, eagle eye execution is what you need to make it happen.

In supply chain management and other industries that require collaboration, eagle eye execution is what you need to make it happen.

In my experience as a global business consultant and former VP of Operations, I’ve yet to find a business that failed solely due to a poor strategy; however, I’ve seen many die a slow (and sometimes sudden) death due to poor execution.  Execution is an often overlooked secret to success – it isn’t glamorous or exciting to discuss (at least not in comparison with the latest fads); however, it is the bedrock essential to delivering bottom line business results.

Even though I typically am called into clients to help elevate business performance derived through topics such as supply chain and operations management, my technical expertise on those topics rarely if ever relate to why the preponderance of my business is repeat business; instead, they call me back because I partner with them to ensure results occur.  I’ve often termed this “making it happen” – and recently updated it to “eagle eye execution.”

The following strategies are of upmost importance when it comes to execution: 1) Leadership and Culture, 2) Focus, 3) Exemplars, 4) Follow-up.

1.   Leadership and Culture:  Have you ever seen a successful company with weak leaders?  Doubtful.  I haven’t.  Undoubtedly, solid execution requires exceptional leadership – no exceptions.

What does this entail?  Leaders must start by conveying where the company is headed (vision), why it’s of importance, and how the employee adds value and contributes to the vision.  Additionally, collaborative goals must be established, performance management systems should be in place, immediate feedback (both positive & constructive) is a must, training, development & career paths should be a natural part of the discussion………and the list goes on.  Leaders must ignore the temptation to focus on inputs (# of hours worked, tasks and activities); instead focus on results.  Help employees develop plans, gain resources and overcome roadblocks to achieving the results.  Celebrate success.

Culture shouldn’t be an afterthought unless you’d prefer failure.  What set of beliefs govern behavior?  What does your culture support?  Does your culture appreciate collaboration or individualism?  For example, are you compensated and rewarded for team contributions or individual contributions even if at the expense of the team?  Do leaders say one thing and do another?  Don’t bother executing until your leadership and culture are in sync with your goals.

2.  Focus:  It’s amazing what focus alone can accomplish.  For example, a few of my clients have suffered for years with nagging problems.  Of course, they tried many alternatives to resolve the issue and were frustrated.  After we were able to resolve the problem working together, they often said that although they thought my technical skills would help to resolve the problem, it had little to do with it.  Instead, focus was the secret weapon.

Once focus is placed on a select few root causes, seemingly insurmountable roadblocks disappear.  The interesting thing about this is that it is as simple as it sounds but it is not as easy to implement as it sounds.  Why?  Designing and improving processes and leveraging systems and technology requires focus; however, aligning people takes an exaggerated focus.  How do we align disparate functions and people with conflicting goals and managers with a common focus?  Go back to point #1!

3.  Exemplars:  Another secret ingredient to execution success is to identify exemplars.  Who are the influence leaders in the organization?  Who sets an example that others will follow?  They’ll come from some seemingly strange places – certainly not in positional power oftentimes.  Take a step back and find them – once you watch and observe, you’ll wonder how you missed it before.

Bring the exemplars into the fold.  Ask them to trial the new program or process.  Incorporate their feedback. Ask for their support.  Empower them.  Soon the rest will follow.

4.  Follow-up:  I’m fondly known as a pit terrier when it comes to follow-up.  We can attribute or blame this on my mom!  However, it is a key reason for my success; I cannot count the times I’ve succeeded through determination alone.  If you’re interested in execution success, follow-up isn’t an option.

A few tips from the pit terrier gene pool:

1) Start with a solid plan.

2) Ruthlessly identify priorities.

3) Ask questions about the priorities.

4) Listen to the answers (sounds obvious but isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds).

5) Do not shy away from roadblocks and messy issues.

6) Continually improve your communication & presentation style as it’s essential in handling the messy issues.

7) Be upfront and trustworthy.

8) Track metrics but only focus on noteworthy ones.

10)  Remain vigilant.

Execution is essential in today’s new normal business environment.  Improving business performance can be a constant struggle.  Thus, what could be more important than being known as a rare person or company who consistently delivers results in a collaborative and engaging manner?

Did you like this article?  Continue reading on this topic:

Strategy Doesn’t Fail in Formulation; It Fails in Execution



The Power Of Relationships

October 24th, 2013
Never underestimate the importance of relationships - especially their effect on the bottom line.

Never underestimate the importance of relationships – especially their effect on the bottom line.

The power of relationships is immense! I typically partner with clients to accomplish significant bottom line results on a wide variety of topics ranging from organizational change and culture projects to process projects such as service improvement, inventory reduction and lean programs to technical projects such as leveraging and implementing ERP systems, and there is one common element across all of them – the power of relationships. To add fuel to the fire, it also holds true for personal success.

As tempting as it might be for executives to think that “all will be fine” if only they implement the latest fad (even if it is a “good” fad such as lean, green or whatever will be the next fad, probably rhyming with “een”), technical bell and whistle or best practice process, don’t fall in the trap! Although many of these might be valuable from one perspective or another (which is why it is so common to take a trip down this rabbit hole), the 80/20 rule to achieving bottom line results goes back to people. So, why waste so much time, money and resources on the “20” of the 80/20?

In addition to the traditional aspects of people (hiring exceptional people, valuing your employees, following a simple yet effective performance management process etc.), there is nothing more critical to success than developing and leveraging the power the relationships. Thus, a few tips include: 1) Take stock. 2) Build relationships. 3) Value your relationships.

1. Take stock – It sounds silly but it is not bad to start with simplicity – what relationships do you have currently? Which are those you consider long-term partners (customers, suppliers, trade association members, brokers, other people at your company or client, etc.) and/or people you’d like to stay connected to for the long term? Which are shorter in nature yet critical for a period of time? Which are already on a solid track? Which need help? Take a step back and think about how you’d prioritize? For example, as a leader, it is typical to spend the majority of your time on your non-performers yet your top performers deliver 80% of the results – where should you focus?

2. Build relationships – I’d be surprised if you didn’t find someone you need to build a relationship with and/or a relationship to nurture. So, how do you begin? How about taking a step back and thinking of how you can provide value to your employee, your boss, your customer, your supplier or whoever you’ve identified? No point in starting with what you want – how is that interesting to the other person? It’s not! Instead, ask compelling questions and listen – you’ll learn everything you need to know in order to build a relationship.

3. Value Your Relationships – My neighbor across the street from my house passed away suddenly recently – such a nice man. 15+ years ago, I remember him always wandering by to check on things if need be, and he really liked and appreciated my parents as they were whirlwind gardeners (and he didn’t even know what they did in the house!) – they came for a long weekend, and my garden/ landscaping could go from so-so to great in 8 hours flat! It makes you think – do you take your relationships for granted or do you value them? The same is true of your best, low-maintenance customer or supplier that you always overlook for your high-maintenance, low profitability customer.

There is only one nugget of wisdom which spanned every role in my 20+ year career without exception which ranged from roles of Production Planner to Project & Transition manager to VP of Supply Chain & Operations to Business Consultant, Entrepreneur and President of LMA Consulting Group, Inc. and APICS Inland Empire (and non-profits do throw a few wrenches into the mix) – it is the undeniable power of relationships. Think of it this way – who is there for you when the unexpected occurs? What are you doing to build and nurture your relationships?