Tag Archive: business success

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:

 



The Value of Getting to Know Each Other

January 2nd, 2018

The holidays tends to bring on conversations with old colleagues and catching up with family, friends and clients.  Often times, we zip through life and business and don’t stop to get to know the people we interact with on a daily basis.  How could this be?  

I have a few colleagues and friends who are particularly good at finding out all about the lives of people they work with (without wasting all sorts of time).  They always seem to have some detail I never knew about someone I talk with frequently about business matters.  Couldn’t we always do better?  

You can even learn new things about family and friends by spending time in new settings.  This year, my Mom (with our help) hosted Christmas for my aunts, uncle, brothers and nephew.  My nephew is seated between my aunts/uncle below.  Since it was also my Aunt Joan’s birthday on Christmas Day, we have multiple cakes to celebrate and we learned new things by watching some really old family movies!      

 

One tip to implement this week:
There is no need to wait a year to get to know each other.  Why not take a few minutes this week to find out one fact about someone you work with that you didn’t already know?  I bet if you ask a question or two, you’ll discover something interesting.  Who knows? It might give you a closer relationship so that you enjoy that project a bit more or are more effective working as a team.  It certainly won’t hurt!  

Reach out. In addition, reach out to your supplier, customer, trusted advisor or former colleague to say hi and see how he/she is doing.  Ask if there is anything you could do or someone you could put them in touch with who might provide value for him in his career or life.  I’ve found that a simple introduction can go a LONG way in alleviating stress, improving business success, increasing engagement and more.  For example, my aunt needs a new physician in her area and so I reached out to a former client to ask for recommendations because I knew he used to live in that area (Mesa, AZ), and his wife is in the medical profession.  Since joining ProVisors, I have found that there is a VAST network of connections in the world that can accelerate and enhance personal and business success.  Interestingly, this same aunt needed an important medical referral in Boston previously and a consulting colleague provided me with a perfect referral. It IS a small world.

Find out how you can provide value.  The pay back can be huge!

 



The Million Dollar Project Manager

May 31st, 2017
million dollar project leader

Project managers drive initiative results yet they aren’t often treated with the respect nor given the support they need to thrive.

In our experience working with manufacturers and distributors from small, family-owned businesses to medium-sized, private equity backed companies to global large, complex organizations, projects account for 80% of the improvement. There are projects to improve efficiencies, reduce inventory, grow sales, expand into new regions, consolidate operations and the list goes on. Thus, if we must rely on projects for business growth and profitability, should we think about our project managers as million-dollar project managers?

Most likely the answer is yes. However, in our experience, project managers are not often treated with much respect. Oftentimes, they are seen as lower level resources responsible for executing initiatives, coordinating resources and reporting progress up the chain. But, is this how we should treat our resources who can have such a far-reaching impact?

Let’s think about the reach of project managers’ impact. There are several key points to consider:

  1. Impact on resources:Undoubtedly, the number one concern from all levels of leadership relates back to resources. There are “too many,” “not enough,” “not the right skills,” “not allocated properly” and so on. Thus, anyone who has a significant impact on resources should be considered valuable.
  2. Daily decisions on which tasks gain priority:Similar to the impact on resources, determining the priority of tasks is crucial. As a project manager, there is a constant need to prioritize among tasks, collaborate with departments, etc.
  3. Ingrained in the business:Project managers are in the “thick of things” on a daily basis. In order to complete tasks and achieve results, project managers are involved in a wide array of activities. They are familiar with what is working and what isn’t working in each department as it relates to project tasks. There are very few projects which are confined to a singular department.
  4. Communicate across the organization:In order to complete their tasks, the project manager must communicate and collaborate across departments and layers of the organization. Since high-quality resources are hard to come by, it is vital to keep communications in a positive light.
  5. Impact on profit:Certainly, almost every project relates back to profitability in some respect. Whether we are growing the business, increasing margins, automating key processes or improving efficiencies, there is a direct impact on profit.

So, since it is clear that project managers have a substantial impact on business success, it is wise to think about how to maximize their performance. As a metaphor, the million-dollar project manager is appealing since there is often million-dollar impacts. Thus, what should we do to ensure project managers are treated more like million-dollar project managers?

  1. Provide clarity of the big picture:Project managers will be more invested in their projects if they understand the impact on the organization. Make sure to provide clarity of the big picture and how they fit in.
  2. Give them discretion:There have been countless studies as to what is most successful in keeping valuable employees (like your million-dollar project managers), and the net conclusion is that employees want some ability to affect the outcome of their work. We must give them some level of discretion to make decisions and guide their projects within reasonable parameters.
  3. Recognize small wins:Managing projects can be a slog into details with little to show for it. Find small wins to celebrate. Make a big deal of the importance and tie it back to the project manager and their team.
  4. Support their decisions:There is nothing more important than supporting your project managers. Of course, providing constructive feedback is essential; however, when in the heat of the battle, it is vital to support your project manager’s decisions. Without this support at critical junctures, the project will suffer, and the project manager will become dismayed.
  5. Promote the project:Promoting the project throughout the organization can do quite a lot for its chances of success. How do you get resources to want to join your project team? Start by being attractive. This oftentimes goes back to how compelling the project seems. Make it so! Do you think the best leaders’ projects for improving margins happen to be more enticing than the average leaders’ projects of the same type? No; perception becomes a reality.

Since projects will have a substantial effect on your customer loyalty and bottom line – the two most critical aspects of any business – it is worthwhile taking a few steps back to think about the project managers driving these results. If you think about their impact, a million dollars might not be sufficient. Therefore, start thinking about your project managers as though they have a million-dollar impact and results will follow.

 

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Do You Really Support Empowerment?

March 28th, 2017
empowerment

To be an effective leader oftentimes means empowering employees to make changes and decisions to help customers even if those decisions don’t align with yours.

The 80/20 of business success stems directly from leadership. The best leaders can make even the worst-performing teams excel and, unfortunately, the weakest leaders can drag down even the best of teams. A few questions to ponder include:

1. Does your culture encourage empowerment? Regardless of what you say, do people believe they will be rewarded for empowering employees?

2. Do your managers jump to answer questions or give their employees a chance to shine?

3. Do you communicate empowerment but would get upset if your employee made an empowered decision that created a month-end shipping crisis?

4. Do your employees understand the guidelines within which they can make an empowered decision?

5. Are you willing to live with and vocally support an empowered decision that doesn’t align with how you would have handled the situation?

 

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to Profit Through People:

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Business Success: Thanks to My LMA Advocate Awardees

June 22nd, 2015
business success LMA Advocates

People are cornerstone to business success. LMA Advocates are acknowledged for their contributions to LMA Consulting Group on its 10th year of business.

As my initial newsletter subscribers know, Profit through People has been my focus since day one! After 10 years of consulting, following 15 years in organizational life, it is apparent that PEOPLE are our #1 asset. Those leaders who leverage, engage and empower people thrive.
People are cornerstone to business success. Apparently this shines through with everything I do and write. In 2013, it was time to give LMA a face-lift, and so we labored for days to develop logo options. I sent them to you for feedback and was thrilled with the vast # and specificity of responses; however, there was no clear “winner”. Less than an hour later, I received an email from my webmaster. He had read my email (since he typically posts my newsletters), and he thought the people element wasn’t emphasized enough (as he obviously had been paying attention!). He not only gave me that feedback but sent the perfect logo attached in the email. I promptly received rave reviews from you – the clear “winner”. Thanks Scott!

Clearly, this story indicates that my success is no different. I have FAR too many people who have supported me along the way (starting with my parents and a long list from there) to name them all. Therefore, boiling the list down to the 10 who had the largest effect on my business’ growth and success was extremely difficult. I appreciate the contributions of so many, and I will be in touch with each of you…..

Next, on to the 10 people I recognized as LMA Advocates at my 10 year celebration…….

(In alphabetical order)

  1. Andrea Belz: Andrea and I were accountability partners for several years during a crucial period of my business growth and transition. I’d send her a case study, bio or article, and she’d slash it in half while improving it! Andrea is also the person who introduced me to ProVisors (a group of trusted advisors to executives and business owners).
  2. Mike Brown: Mike is the reason I was able to start my consulting practice. He gave me the opportunity to be the VP of Product Supply for PaperPak and fought off Board members and the like who might have preferred a grey-haired man from Harvard running their operations; instead, he stayed true to his focus on values and results. He has also been very supportive of my business and has involved me in interesting business deals.
  3. Susan Brunasso: Susan has been one of the most supportive and customer service oriented people I know. I met her early on through the Claremont Chamber of Commerce, and I quickly discovered that she knows everyone – whatever random need I have, she will rapidly shoot off 2-3 referrals. Additionally she has been cornerstone to bringing me from text to visuals with photos and videos with extreme patience (starting off with 18,000 takes for 1 video…..)
  4. Jim Cenname: Jim is a a consummate professional, friend and many times repeat client who has been pivotal to my practice’s growth and success. He is truly a pleasure to work with and is committed to achieving results with an eye towards the value of people. He has also been instrumental in providing introductions, keeping in touch, giving feedback on my business and marketing ideas etc.
  5. Vicki Jeter: Vicki has been a trusted colleague and friend and has been instrumental to my business growth. When I look back at the origins of my business growth (and top sources), Vicki is tied for #1! She is also the catalyst for my Systems Pragmatist service line as she has the best business acumen tied with systems applications and design experience I’ve ever run across.
  6. Ellen Kane: Ellen and I met relatively early on through my APICS connections, and she has become a colleague, friend, ACA alliance partner and my 3rd top source/ catalyst of business growth with both referrals and collaboration (especially as it relates to my ERP selection services). She has got to be one of the most helpful and giving people I know which is why I always say that she is one of the only people who is “impossible to say no to”.
  7. Valerie Ladd: Valerie and I met when I joined the APICS Inland Empire Board of Directors in the very early stages of my consulting practice. Valerie epitomizes customer service and extends that to all of her relationships. Thus, early on, Valerie made introductions for me, was always there to lend an ear or provide advice / ideas, and was instrumental in getting me known in the Inland Empire. And I could not forget to mention that she has kept our APICS chapter intact with finances and is an unrelenting volunteer – just invaluable!
  8. K Means: K is not only a top-notch person and repeat client but she also shares knowledge readily – What a fantastic profession where you can provide value AND learn as you go (if you have someone like K in your corner)! K is also a fabulous combination of one of the best number-crunchers I know (her spreadsheets are truly amazing) and one of the most creative as well. She helped me put together my first graphic. Seems like a minor thing but a catalyst to my success!
  9. Jolene Myers: Jolene was my first long-term client, and I am most appreciative of her unrelenting confidence and support. We worked together at PaperPak previously, and she tracked me down early in my consulting practice to discuss working together (what could be better?!). Jolene has been extremely supportive, enjoyable to work with and when I look back at the origins of my business growth (and top sources), she is tied for #1!
  10. C.C. Vest: C.C. and I met early on in my LMA tenure via NAWBO. We kept in touch throughout the years, and later collaborated on selecting the optimal ERP system to support her company’s goals. C.C. and Dan were a true pleasure to work with (couldn’t ask for better!), and C.C. has been exceptionally supportive of me and my business at every turn – introducing me to people, suggesting events to attend, providing recommendations and referrals – and the list goes on….

Wouldn’t you say I am very fortunate? I value these people (and many, many others) and am extremely thankful.

I’ve yet to meet a long-term successful leader who didn’t value people. Have you told your team of their value lately? 

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to Profit Through People:

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