Tag Archive: clarity

Case in Point – Are You Starting the New Year with Clarity?

March 22nd, 2018

As consultants, when we first start talking with clients at least 80% lack crisp clarity.  Often, this alone is a large cause of their under-performance or limitation vs. full potential.  Thus, why not take quick stock of your clarity of direction for 2018 as we head into working day #1?

It can be quite simple.  Forget about all the buzz words such as lean manufacturing, predictive analytics, SIOP (sales, inventory & operations planning), artificial intelligence and the like.  Although you know we talk about some of these as powerful concepts, they are JUST tools. Instead, think about where you are going and what you need to accomplish in 2018.

Start with what should be relatively simple – where are you going?  Hopefully you’ve thought about strategy. Remember, strategy is no longer a topic to address every 2-5 years.  Successful leaders think of it as a strategic sprint that has to be re-evaluated (rapidly yet effectively) at least once a year.  Of course, this leads to topics such as understanding your market, customers, and business differentiators, and so start with these topics at a minimum.

Once you have clarity of where you are going, the hard part starts – turning your strategy into reality.  You cannot be the only person with clarity for the New Year if you want to be successful. Is your executive team on board?  Are they communicating in alignment as of the first day of the New Year? In today’s Amazon-impacted environment, unless your leadership team is in lock step with clarity of direction early on, you’ll be left in the dust.  After all, if customers expect delivery same-day and powerful customer experiences, they aren’t expecting to wait for you to get your act together after returning from vacation.

Take a quick audit of your strategic clarity, fill any gaps and look for opportunities to fast-track progress.  Let me know how it goes.

The Latest Trends

January 26th, 2018

I spoke at APICS San Fernando Valley a few days ago on the latest trends and what’s in store for 2018.  We had a great discussion on topics ranging from people (or lack thereof) to technology.  

For manufacturers and distributors, a few of the highlights included:  

1) The Amazon Effect – the customer experience is the ultimate!  

2) Near-sourcing – I go beyond the mainstream and am boldly saying “Southern California is “the” place to be!  

3) The skills gap – if I could only convey how much trouble several clients are having finding the right fit for open positions…..!!!!!  

4) Technology (with lots of details behind this one!) and a few more.  

Have you thought about what trends are most likely to impact your business?

One tip to implement this week:
I also attended a Board meeting with a client a few days ago, and this topic is quite relevant.  Staying on top of what is likely to impact your business gives you the clarity of priority!  

Start by taking a few minutes with your top team to brainstorm.  Give a few customers a call to find out what’s happening with them.  Check in with a few of your key suppliers.  Drop in on your trusted advisors and attend a trade association and/or alumni networking meeting.  You’ll soon be well-versed to come up with what is trending AND relevant to you.

Once you have thought through the trends most likely to impact your business, it might make sense to think about how to transform these impacts into opportunities.

Profitable and scalable growth is the common thread among every single one of my clients – how can you leverage these opportunities to aid in creating scalable, profitable growth?   

Take a tip from the LEAN toolkit and involve your people.  You might be surprised how many opportunities will emerge if you put ALL the brain power in your company on thinking about how to do this.

Success with Cross-Functional Integration

October 3rd, 2013
Leadership is at the center of an business success.

Excellent leadership is required for successful supply-chain management and integration.

In the last few years, every supply chain consulting project has included an aspect of cross-functional, cross-company, or cross-border integration. Thus, what could be more important than figuring out how to integrate (businesses, projects, etc.) successfully?

It is an opportunity to leave your competition in the dust, as there are no easy solutions, and it’s not a problem that money alone can solve.

So, what are the keys to success? I’ve found these to be the top three: 1) Leadership. 2) Clarity of goals. 3) People, cultures, processes, systems.

1. Leadership. As my HR mentor says, “It begins and ends with leadership.” It is undoubtedly true; thus, you must start with leadership. Who will lead the integration?

Are they the best choice for bringing people together? Forget about technical requirements to start. It is essential to have a leader!

What is a leader? Consider these words or phrases: Respected. Trustworthy. A positive role model. Makes ethics and values a top priority. Willing to take prudent risks. Has strong communication abilities. Sees people as assets; not expenses. Always remembers the customer. Strives for the next level of performance and innovation. And my personal favorite – accepts accountability for issues but shares credit for wins!

Of course, there are no “perfect” leaders. Find the best qualified person, provide them support and tools, and “go.”

2. Clarity of goals. It is amazing how this one simple step consistently achieves results. Don’t think you’ve communicated goals, especially when it comes to logistics. Make sure they are clear, understood and supported. Typically, in cross-functional initiatives, unclear goals are the culprit of less-than-desirable results. It is not as easy as it sounds. You must get into enough detail cross-functionally, cross-culturally, cross-company to get to a goal that makes sense to everyone. Everyone must understand WHY they are working towards the goal. How do they provide value to the end result? Why does it matter? One way to make sure you have clarity of goals is to figure out your pay and rewards systems. Can one function succeed while another fails while achieving the objective? Sounds ludicrous but occurs frequently. Make sure everyone is on the same page to the degree of detail required to align rewards and recognition systems – even pay. For example, is the goal part of the pay performance criteria for each person? If not, why would everyone be on the same page?

3. People, cultures, processes and systems. Now the hard work. How can we integrate the people, cultures, processes and systems for the initiative in a win-win-win sort of way? This is why leadership and clarity of goals are critical, predecessor requirements.

In my experience, there are countless (and seemingly endless) issues that arise. These can range from how to free up enough resources to focus on the integration effort (as the same people are required for special initiatives and to run the daily business) to disagreement over which processes and systems will provide the best result. Addressing each of these issues, continually communicating and requesting feedback is vital. Again, remaining relentless on the goal is essential, as it helps to address many of these issues. There is no substitute for solid leadership and unrelenting focus. Value and utilize each person’s strengths. Find overlapping areas of cultures, processes and systems. Look for opportunities for each person, culture, or company to benefit from the other. Ask for feedback and ideas. Don’t give up. The path will emerge.

Achieving a win-win in integrating cultures, people, processes and systems will not only yield a huge financial return (and likely put you far ahead of your competition), but, more importantly, it will also result in happier and more productive and dedicated employees – what could be more important?