Tag Archive: decision-making

Are You Able to be Resilient in Your Decision Making?

November 12th, 2018


As we kick off our new series “The Resilient Supply Chain”, we are thinking about all the aspects of resiliency.  It is overwhelming as to the volatility of almost every aspect of the end-to-end supply chain. Just in the last month, there have been many events/ factors that have created disruption:

  • U.S. and Mexico reaching a trade agreement
  • U.S. and Canada still at an impasse with respect to trade negotiations
  • U.S. and China still imposing tariffs on each other
    • Ford cancelled plans to produce a small car in China based on these tariffs.
  • Fires have and are plaguing California – the worst in history
  • The Big Island in Hawaii is just starting to pick up the pieces after the volcano
    • We’ve heard about severe impacts on the businesses and customers in that areAnd earlier this week, although not serious (thank goodness), there was an earthquake in the next town over from our office

The Resilient Supply Chain
Instead of panicking as each of these events or disruptors occur, creating a resilient supply chain can provide a proactive approach to this current state market condition.  One of critical aspects of taking a proactive approach instead of a reactive one is to think about whether you are able to be resilient in your decision making.

Here are some considerations:
1.  People – Good decisions stem from good people.  Thus, it always makes sense to start there.  Do you have people in leadership positions and other key roles that you would want to make decisions in your absence?  (Just this past week, a potential client was killed by a drunk driver while he was on a motorcycle. We would certainly rather be prepared for winning the lottery but the question remains:  Are your people ready to make decisions?)

2.  Data – Although good people can make up for a lot, you also need the “right” information and relevant background to make key decisions.  Do your systems allow you to retrieve meaningful data for decision making? Every single ERP selection client prioritizes business intelligence/dashboard reporting tools as high on their list of priorities for good reason!

3.  Input – Although this can be considered part of people and data, it’s worth calling out on its own.  Do you gain input from trusted sources (colleagues, customers, suppliers, trade association colleagues, industry groups and more)?  Recently, our APICS-IE instructors had an issue arise with updated learning materials – in essence, they were not set up for learning to occur.  Clearly a BIG issue for an education and value-focused organization! Fortunately, after 3 or 4 calls, we had several ideas on how to dramatically improve the process and overcome the obstacle.  In another example that occurred recently for a client project, we had a significant challenge in explaining a complex concept that was critical to success. If we didn’t get past that barrier, results would NOT follow.  It took 5 or 6 calls with excellent input from all as well as testing out ideas before we came up with the ideal way to convey the concept, and it “worked”!

4.  Speed – Slow decision making is worse than no decision making.  In today’s Amazonian marketplace, your customers will be LONG gone if you are slow to make decisions.  I’ve noticed that I am a LOT less tolerant of slow responsiveness even in my own business (and for things I would have been fine with a year ago).  I have to be to remain viable, and so do you! Thus, as it relates to having the ‘right’ people with the ‘right’ data and ‘right’ input, you must also have them at the ‘right’ time.

Have you put thought into your decision-making process before decisions must occur?  Ponder these critical elements, put them in place and you’ll be prepared to successfully navigate the volatility of today’s business decisions.    


Kaizens & the Importance of Metrics

December 20th, 2017

My colleague and I led a Kaizen workshop on metrics last week with a process manufacturing client.  It is always interesting to brainstorm which metrics are the most relevant in tracking a company’s success.  They are NOT always the same.  Companies are in different industries; they are different sizes; the profit drivers of the business are different; executives’ focus is different…..and the list goes on.   

However, every business should take a few minutes to strategize on metrics.  Do you know what you are doing AND whether the metrics you are tracking are relevant to your success?

One tip to implement this week:
As we said in kicking off the metrics Kaizen, it can be a great place to start by taking stock.  What are you tracking already?  Why?  Do you make decisions based on the metrics you track?  If not, why not?  In essence, take a pulse.  Next, it can be quite valuable to gain feedback on what should be tracked.  Have you asked the people talking with customers on a daily basis?  How about those producing and shipping to your customers?  I bet they will have something to say!  Certainly, executives always have a wish list for metrics.  Do you know which metrics are on the list?  

Although you might be tempted to jump on the long list you are likely to generate in talking with all the stakeholders in the organization, don’t do it!  Make sure to understand the impact.  Which will lead to decisions that will impact customers?  Which are likely to drive profitability?  Start with a small number.  Prioritize and start using for decision-making before you move on.



Cherry Blossoms & The Value of Time

April 20th, 2015

supply chainI was in DC this week for a conference. My theme last week was on continuous learning, and I put that into practice this week. Walked away with several ideas. It just so happens to be “cherry season” in DC. This is what got me thinking about time because the cherry trees are beautiful but only in blossom and last for 10-14 days. How ridiculous is that? Talk about a condensed tour season for cherry blossoms! Perhaps that’s why all the hotels were booked….

Thus, cherry trees made me think about the impact of time in our work life as well. If there is one common theme I hear from executives, it is that TIME matters – there isn’t enough time in the day; customers are demanding quick deliveries; month-end close must be rapid for quick decision-making, etc. I guarantee if you take too long to make decisions, you will miss opportunities. When you are 80% ready, GO! Sure, sometimes you’ll be wrong but you’ll gain many more successes that would be missed opportunities than you’ll experience in failures.

One tip to implement this week:

The nice thing about time is that it is not a resource; it is a priority. We cannot increase or decrease the number of hours in a day; however, we choose where we spend our time – a priority. Thus, one easy tip that might be hard to implement is to stop whining about the lack of time!  Instead, think about where you are spending your time. Even track what you are doing for a day – hour by hour.

Did you waste much more than you thought? Reallocate your time to what will drive results – your A tasks. Ignore your C’s – you might never get to them; however, wouldn’t it be better to miss a C than an A because you started with what was easy vs. what should be your priority? Also, consider this: Find a non-essential activity you can cut 15 minutes from on a daily basis. It will be pretty easy if you create that hour-by-hour log. If you do that for a year, you’ll have found 91 hours!

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…”


Why Doing It Right the First Time is NOT Always Right

January 26th, 2015

supply chainWe commonly hear the phrase “Do it right the first time”. Of course, generally speaking, who wouldn’t want to do that? Waste is bad. However, I’ve found that there is a time when doing it right the first time is NOT the path to success – when you hold off for perfection as your view of “doing it right the first time”.

We’ve all been there; however, for the future, think about following a new plan: “When you are 80% ready, move”. I heard my consulting mentor phrase it this way, and loved the simplicity! This week, one of my clients is experiencing a few challenges because he places an immense amount of value on doing it right the first time. Believe me, he is not alone. Think about this example: if you were to have to repeat a training session in order to start with “what is available” and follow-up at a later date with the optimal solution, it wouldn’t be doing it right the first time. However, if you would be addressing a critical gap in the process with a short-term solution so that you kept customers happy until the optimal solution was ready, would you do it? I’d celebrate the opportunity to do it twice!

One tip to implement this week:

Think about a decision you need to make where you are waiting for additional data or input. Do you have 80% of the critical information required? (Notice I didn’t say 80% of ALL information desired.) If you do, make a decision and move on. You’ll find that you’ll be much more successful. The last 20% requires 80% of your time with little to no improvement in the quality of the decision. On the other hand, waiting for the additional information can bring an undesirable result! 

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…”


Production Scheduling

May 13th, 2014
The fun of production scheduling is also the most important aspect, managing competing priorities and variables to find the best overall solution.

The fun of production scheduling is also the most important aspect, managing competing priorities and variables to find the best overall solution.

Production scheduling has been a part of my expertise since my post-college days at Coca-Cola Enterprises. It has been a part of every job I’ve held (whether directly or indirectly) and a part of almost every project I’ve consulted on since. Thus, I have a passion for this topic.

I’ve always found production scheduling to be fun and exciting as you have the opportunity to optimize among competing priorities and variables (inventory levels/cash flow, service levels/sales, and costs/operational efficiencies) to find the best overall solution. The best production schedulers not only find the optimal answer but they also communicate effectively and align everyone on the same page. A tall order yet invaluable! A few considerations for success include:

1. Start with the customer – As with everything that pops to mind in business success, it’s best to start with the customer.  What does the customer need?  Understand your customer’s requirements and priorities.

2. Cycle time – How long does it take to run an item through the standard production process?  How does this compare with the customer’s lead time?  Are there unique materials /purchased components?  How does this affect your cycle time?

3. Understand cash flow – Follow the money!  Inventory ties up cash.  How much inventory do you need?  Why?  What does Finance expect you to produce?  It matters – without cash, your business will not thrive.

4. Consider operational efficiencies – Do you know the impact of your decisions? Are there changeovers (changes in size, color, etc.)?  If so, how long do they take?  Do some take longer than others?  Is there a sequence which makes more sense?  Can you work with operations to reduce the batch quantities?  

5. Understand staffing impacts – What is the regular schedule for Operations?  Will your schedule require overtime?  Hiring?  Temps?  Can you move volume among machines?  Machine groups?  In-house vs. outsource?  Can your schedule affect the skill requirements?  Perhaps you can optimize with the available staffing.

6.  Understand equipment and tooling impacts – Will your schedule affect the number or type of machines required?  Does flexibility trump capital costs?  

Did you like this article? Continue reading more on our blog or check out these other production scheduling topics:

The Million Dollar Planner  

Would You Like to Add an Extra Hour Every Day?