Tag Archive: customers

Vivid Sydney is Spectacular

June 8th, 2016


This past weekend, I was in Sydney for a strategy/mentor advisory meeting. Sydney happened to have Vivid Sydney (a color light show throughout the city with entertainment, etc.) in full force for the first two weeks of June — what a great way to spur excitement at the start to the winter season! Of course the iconic Opera House is truly amazing (see one of MANY, continually rotating color displays below):

Vivid Sydney

Similarly, what are you doing to attract new customers, employees and other partners during your low season? Or when everyone else is worrying about oil prices, the economy or something else? Or, what are you doing to generate excitement over what you already have (current products, services)? The Opera House isn’t new! One of my best clients hired top talent at the bottom of the recession when he didn’t have specific work ready. It has come back to him in spades!

One tip to implement this week:

Think about what you could do this week to rejuvenate one of your classic products or how you could get your customers excited about a new twist or view of what they’ve been receiving for quite a while. Ask your colleagues. Often, the best ideas come from where you least expect it. You could also simply get them together to share ideas and best practices — who doesn’t want to hear more on that topic? I still laugh when I remember what James said (a Planning Manager who reported to me when I was a VP of Operations of PaperPak) — referring to forecasting models in a software we used, he said, “Why would we ever choose a forecast method other than the one called ‘best’?”

It doesn’t have to be as extravagant as Vivid Sydney (as that is not doable in a week anyway). What small step could you take that might be a new way of looking at your product, service or customer experience? Vivid Sydney had to start with one lighting design or idea.

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”


Should You Upgrade Your ERP System?

February 16th, 2016
enterprise resource planning

Although upgrading and implementing an ERP system is challenging, you need to see across your facilities to accurately assess whether you are getting bogged down by your own infrastructure.

Since I’ve been working on several ERP selection and design projects lately, it has reminded me of how challenging these projects can be. It is no wonder 80% of them fail! There are countless details, complex designs, cross-functional and cross-organizational collaboration required and varying skills and leadership styles required to survive, let alone thrive.

Thus, it made me think about ERP system goals. When should you upgrade/implement an ERP system?

  • Support growth: No matter how lovely QuickBooks reports look and how easy it is to use, it will not support profitable and rapid growth in manufacturing over the long haul. QuickBooks is not alone; there are many examples of other ERP systems with limiting factors that will no longer support growth. If you aren’t growing, you are declining. Thus, you must think about the infrastructure required to support growth before the decision is made for you.
  • High levels of customization: Unfortunately, the more you customize with older systems, the harder it will become to upgrade yet the more important it will become to upgrade. The sooner you tear off the bandage, the better. Otherwise you could wind up super glued to an anchor weight on a sinking ship. Who wants that?
  • M&A: If your company is running multiple systems due to mergers and acquisitions (or for other reasons), it is time to consider an upgrade. In order to grow and to prosper, you’ll need to be able to see across your facilities, companies and the like.
  • For the Customer: Customers are requesting higher and higher levels of service. Business models are changing. For example, in some industries, e-commerce functionality has become a must. In other cases, large customers are dictating programs and requirements which bring the need for upgraded systems. Are you thinking about where your customers are headed?
  • Leverage: One of the keys to success in any business is leverage. Can you deliver faster? Can you turn a 10-person job into a 1-person job? Can you grow quicker than your competition while providing exceptional customer service? You’ll need leverage.

For as challenging as upgrading and implementing a new system can be, you should be crystal clear on your reasons WHY. However, once you have your reasons identified, do not delay. Throw out the idea unless it’s compelling. However, if your reason is compelling, MOVE! It can be overwhelming to think about a new system; however, it is also easy to get passed up by your competitors who aren’t bogged down with outdated infrastructure.

There is no “right time”; unfortunately upgrading your systems infrastructure is always painful; the question is whether you spend a lot of money, resources and time when it’s too late to turn it into an advantage. In essence don’t wait for it to become a survival project; move when it is still a project that will accelerate your success.

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

Continue reading on how to become a Systems Pragmatist:

Why Upgrade Your ERP System  

6 Process & Systems Trends for Success



February 4th, 2016

Make a conscious effort everyday to stop what you’re doing and look around your workplace and beyond. By becoming observant you’ll soon spot people and areas that need your attention.


It is worth it to take a step back on a daily basis, if not more frequently, to observe. There is a significant power in observation – for your business, your career and your life.

Although observation sounds easy, it isn’t nearly as easy in reality.  A few strategies for success include:

  • Start off your day by looking out the window – what do you see? It can go a long way to clear your mind and just observe.
  • As you walk around your workplace, keep an eye out for what others might “step over” – a classic example of this is trash on the production floor. Instead of walking over it (and not noticing it), pick it up. This sounds really simple but can go a long way. Train yourself to “see” what is around you. Do you see oil on the floor? Do you see orders that could be missed?
  • Watch for trends – assuming you see the same people each day, watch for noteworthy changes. Is someone who is always happy down one day? The same holds true for machines, products, etc. If the production line always runs in a certain way and it is slightly different one day, take note. Find out what is going on so you can avoid larger problems down-the-line.
  • Take a step back and “look” at your supply chain – how are your customers, suppliers and other partners? Are there any trends going on?
  • “See” your team – whether they report to you, they are peers or they are your superiors, pay attention. 80% of success boils down to people so please pay attention to people!

Getting used to observing can be more challenging than it sounds. I often drive by countless people, cars, situations, etc. that I don’t notice.  Practice observing so that you don’t drive by your career, business or life.

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to strengthen your Eagle Eye:

Manufacturing Connector℠ Eagle Eye Requires Keen Observation, Focus

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Supply Chain Collaboration

October 7th, 2013
Collaboration is at the center of successful working relationships with your supply chain partners.

Collaboration is at the center of successful working relationships with your supply chain partners.

Collaborating with supply chain partners not only develops stronger partnerships but it also can deliver significant bottom line business results.

I’ve noticed that my strongest clients dedicate time and attention to developing relationships and collaborating with their suppliers, customers, transportation partners, brokers, trusted advisors etc.

There are countless options to think about …

1. Collaborative ordering – I’ve worked with multiple companies to set up processes so that they can determine what to order and when for their key customers (such as Boeing) – this creates a win-win.  You are a stronger partner to Boeing and you have the opportunity to optimize inventory, freight and internal efficiencies.

2. Supplier partnerships – Instead of win-lose negotiations; successful companies find win-win opportunities.  How can both companies increase profit, reduce time etc.?

3.  Warehousing partners – Look in unusual places for partners to share warehouse space – customers, suppliers, friendly competitors, other key relationships?  For example, who does your commercial banker know who might need to share costs?

4. Transportation partners – There are an amazing number of options to get from point A to point B.  Do you just hire a carrier or ship everything via UPS?  Have you thought about using rail in collaboration with local companies?  Pooling trucks?

5. Collaborative R&D – Are you involving your customers, suppliers, equipment suppliers, transportation providers and others in your product development process?  How else will you optimize packaging, customer needs, material options and more into one plan?

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Supply Chain Collaboration