Tag Archive: competition

The Resilient Supply Chain: Cross-Organizational Collaboration

January 4th, 2019

I’ve been coordinating a process involving several disparate players, ranging from multiple educational institutions who are not aligned with one another, government players (with many differing goals) and business partners (with a completely different set of needs).  Although there are others, these 3 core groups are more than enough!

Success will only come to those who find common ground with collaboration.  If collaboration was as easy as simple communication, everyone would do it. We would probably have a lot more happy customers and more profits to share with investors, employees and for reinvestment and giving back.

What should we think about if this is the outcome we wish to create?

  1.  Look for the win-win-win –  If someone wins and someone else loses, it isn’t a successful collaboration.  If you think hard enough, there is usually a way to turn a situation into more of a win-win-win with some shared give-and-take.
  2.  Think about positioning –  If your idea is presented in isolation, it has a much greater chance at failing than if it is presented in light of the bigger picture. Why is it important?  How can each person play a role? Does each person know how he/she fits in and provides value?
  3.  Value diversity – Each time I think “I don’t want to be on this person’s team because he/she is annoying or won’t add value”, I find that I am completely wrong (luckily these are just thoughts, not actions).  The best ideas come from the most unlikely places.  And, interesting suggestions that can lead to “big” ideas typically come from someone who is quite opposite and thinking about the situation from a different perspective.
  4.  Recognize progress of the team –  Who doesn’t want to be recognized with a pat on the back as progress is made?  The key to collaboration is not to say positive things about collaboration and then reward individual performance.  Instead, reward team progress, even if that progress is simply gaining an understanding of how much they do not agree with each other yet are willing to listen.  
  5.  Consensus isn’t needed – As much as collaboration can achieve dramatically better results than each superhero individual thinking on his/her own, consensus is overrated.  Set the expectations upfront of how collaboration works. Feedback and input is expected. Discussion and debate participation is mandatory. But consensus isn’t required for every decision.  Otherwise, you might get there eventually but your competition will be LONG gone. More importantly, determine how to collaborate and make decisions upfront.decisions

The importance of collaboration comes up more frequently than almost any other topic.  Since executives are collaborating with customers, suppliers, trusted advisors, other supply chain partners and even competitors, there is just no room for poor collaborators.  

If you’ll notice, many disruptors collaborate with strange partners. Perhaps this core skill is a key ingredient to success…. Or, think of it another way, how will anything get done without it?

 



Amazon’s Deal with Party City & More Competitors

September 8th, 2018

While I presented on the Amazon Effect to a specialty group of ProVisors (trusted advisors) members focused on manufacturing and distribution recently, Amazon was firming up a deal with Party City to offer an assortment of items. This is just the latest in a stream of retailers collaborating with the competition.  Party City follows Kohl’s (see the sign in the picture below), Sears, Nike, Chico’s and more. This is especially interesting because at our recent Harvey Mudd executive roundtable event, almost every CEO mentioned a time when he/she collaborated with the competition.  Perhaps we should be keeping our mind open to the possibilities?

 

 

 

 

 

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?

Since Amazon is willing to search for win-win deals with the competition, who knows what will come next?  Are you impacted by Amazon? Every client we work with has said they are impacted in one way or another – yet 1% actually work or compete directly with Amazon.  They have certainly become a disruptor! Perhaps that’s why such an ‘old’ topic is still requested by several groups in speaking circles.

Who is the Amazon of your industry?  Or, can your company take on that role?  It can be easier to create the rules than to follow behind.  Yet, if no one follows, that can be an equally significant issue, as well.  

It may be worth asking questions of your employees – are they paying attention to what’s going on in the industry and with your supply chain partners?  Do they have ideas that might revolutionize your customer experience? How do you know if you haven’t asked? Or encouraged innovation?

In 100% of our clients, we’ve found employees with ideas that management knew nothing about.  9 times out of 10, the ideas have some merit. You never know…..it may very well lead to being the  disruptor.

 



Manufacturing Expands at the Fastest Rate in 14 Years

March 21st, 2018

Supply Chain Briefing

According to ISM (Institute of Supply Management), manufacturing expanded more than it has in 14 years in February – it is on fire!  Improving global economies and firm business investment are fueling this expansion. The factory index climbed to 60.8 from 59.1. Export orders are also up from 62.8 from 59.8 which is the fourth consecutive improvement and the longest stretch in six years.  Are you taking advantage of this manufacturing boom? How can you? Coincidentally a recent article was on exports – perhaps that is one area of opportunity? It appears to be for the vast majority of U.S. companies.

 

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?

Let’s start by taking a look at your latest trends.  Has your volume increased? If not, why not? Are you in an industry that has been negatively impacted?  How do you perform vs. your competition? Most likely, you are growing. Do you know how your growth compares with the industry’s growth?  Could you be growing more quickly? Perhaps it would just take a small tweak….

If you are set up to be agile and are positioned to grow, you are likely to grow faster than your competitors.  In today’s Amazon-impacted marketplace, no matter your industry, if you cannot deliver on-time and within the expected time frame (which is quicker and quicker with each passing month), you will lose the order to your competition.  Even in contract-oriented industries, you have to be alert. Not only might you lose the order, you could lose the next contract.

Are your manufacturing facility and supply chain ready for growth?  Have you provided your suppliers with updated forecasts? Are they able to keep up?  Do you and your extended supply chain have the staffing, training programs, equipment, cash, and more in place?  If you aren’t sure, find out!



I’ve Been Thinking about Competition – Or Are They?

October 6th, 2017

I've Been Thinking

Last week, Kash Gokli (Professor of Manufacturing Practice and Director of the Engineering Clinic at Harvey Mudd) and I led our most recent Harvey Mudd Executive Roundtable on the topic of competition. We created these roundtables to bring Southern California executives together to network and discuss timely topics for organization success. We had a fascinating discussion about two general themes: How to develop a strategy to make you stand out from the crowd so you have no competition AND how to collaborate with your competition for win-win success. In today’s Amazon-impacted, competitive world, it is wise to be thinking about your closest business challengers unless you want to be left in the dust.

Harvey Mudd Executive Roundtable Attendees

One tip to implement this week:

Let’s start by making sure you know your competition. Certainly, as an executive, you’ll be aware of your competitors. The key question is most likely: Could your teams identify the key players? Which competitors are most prevalent in your industry? Now for the clincher – how well can you and your organization describe how you stack up vs. your competition? Start here and really drill down to the details.

Next, let’s move on beyond understanding the competition. Do you understand your vision and whether you are fighting it out on a weekly basis? Or do you have a strategy for how to distinguish yourselves from other businesses such that for all intents and purposes, you have no competition? It’s easier said than done but definitely worth considering.

And let’s not forget collaboration. Almost every attendee could come up with an example of how they were collaborating with a competitor for the “right” situation at the “right” time. Can you find ways to collaborate for win-win success? It might just pay to remember that your relationship network is one of your most valuable assets.

If you liked this article, read more about the importance of cultivating business relationships.

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Is Digitization Hype?

March 8th, 2017

Well, let’s start with a definition of digitization. According to CIO.com, McKinsey defines it as technologies that virtualize and automate products, services and supply chains. We certainly hear about digitization in the news frequently; however, according to McKinsey, even though CIOs embrace it, digitization is a slow-moving process.

On the other hand, don’t see this as an opportunity to take a break. According to McKinsey, 49% of the leading companies are investing in digital more than their counterparts do, compared with only 5% of digital laggards. Perhaps it is an opportunity to leapfrog the competition?

technology

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?

Digitization isn’t going to take over our day-to-day operations anytime soon; however, if we want to lead in our industry and provide exceptional service to our customers, we better get ahead of this curve, no matter how slow-moving at the moment. If Amazon has proved anything, it is that everything can change in a heartbeat. Thus, we should get our strategy going and think about what digitization would make sense in our industry. What would help us provide a superior customer experience? I find that is always a good place to start to spur thinking.

It also makes sense to research the best practices in digitization (regardless of industry). After all, if it is a slow-moving process, we cannot rely on our competition and colleagues to be on the leading edge to push us to innovate. Instead, we need to explore what’s working for completely different industries and think about how it could apply these ideas to our industry. With that said, be selective and smart. Do your due diligence but don’t get overly excited about digital technology that won’t provide a competitive advantage or significant value for your organization. Empower your people to open their minds and ideas will flow. You’ll find a gem out there somewhere.