Tag Archive: diversity

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?

 



Do You Give Back?

September 27th, 2018

We are all so busy that it can be hard to find time to give back.  Yet, the future of our profession, future leaders and our region is at stake.  Making this a priority during your day may not be as difficult as you think.

Choose a way that works for you.
Some people prefer to donate time.  Others prefer to donate money. And others donate expertise.

 I started this journey because one of my colleagues, Ellen Kane, who has to be one of the most helpful people I know (and therefore there is no way to say no to such a wonderful person) asked me to participate with the first APICS Western region student case competition (with just a hand full of students from three colleges).  Fast-forward 10+ years….  We led the competitions together with over 100 students from universities around the globe (from the western region of the U.S. to Canada to China and beyond).

To give an idea of the types of activities you might get involved with in your profession, community or with future leaders, here are the giving back priorities of LMA Consulting:  

1) Manufacturing/ Supply Chain Community

2) Southern CA Community  

3) Students and the future of the profession

  

 

 

 

 

Within these categories, here are some of the examples of our activities.  Hopefully they will prompt ideas for you:

  1. IEEP (Inland Empire Economic Partnership) and IEGO (Inland Economic Growth & Opportunity):  We focus on advancing supply chain and advanced manufacturing in Inland Southern California to contribute to the economy of the area.
  2. MCIE (Manufacturing Council of the Inland Empire):  Certainly this group also has a focus on manufacturing in Inland Southern California to contribute to the economy of the area.  For MCIE, we lead the Innovation Awards and partner and recognize manufacturing in the region.
  3. APICS Inland Empire & Universities/ Colleges in the I.E.: APICS is the leading trade association for supply chain and operations professionals.  Our goal is to provide value to manufacturers and distributors in the area as well as to students/future leaders (Harvey Mudd, Cal Poly Pomona, CSUSB, UCR, University of LaVerne, Drucker & Norco College).  
  4.  Student internships & mentoring (Pomona College & the Drucker School): We also partner with students at Pomona College to provide internships in research and business topics and with students at the Drucker School to mentor women in supply chain.  
  5. University of LaVerne Board of Advisors:  As part of this role, our goal is to advise the business school, participate with the CEO Summit and contribute to the committee focused on advancing women in the business school.

One of the best pieces of advice we’ve received is to start small.  You can make a difference by giving back in a small way and expand where it makes sense for you.  There are no competitions when it comes to giving back. Do it in a way that makes sense to you. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.  Also, you might have completely different interests. For example, my business partner in the Society for the Advancement of Consulting contributes by volunteering for an association that focuses on diabetes.  I have colleagues who give back by taking care of aging parents.  

No matter your interests, it is likely to give you a bit of diversity in your life.



Holiday Parties & Diversity

December 13th, 2017

I participated with several holiday parties recently – and have a few more planned.  That is a nice benefit of leading and participating in so many groups.  The pictures below are from my APICS Inland Empire chapter holiday mixer and member appreciation event.  Thanks to Susan Brunasso for pictures!  What strikes me is the diversity of our APICS group – we range from students, supply chain professionals (such as planners, buyers, operations managers), executives/ business owners (thanks to Dan & C.C. Vest, Don Brithinee, Brian Reed, Kar Shanmugam and more for their great support), trusted advisors to manufacturers and distributors, sponsors (thanks Maggie Watson), Board members and more.  

Clearly our women are above (looking festive I might add) and our men below (although Susan always inserts me into the photos too).

And our UCR students (mainly) are below since our CSUSB student is featured above with the men.

One tip to implement this week:
Have you thought about the diversity of your employees, work groups, trade associations and more?  

There are many ways to think about diversity.  In terms of APICS, I was talking about the wide variety of roles and responsibilities that rallied around increasing value for manufacturers and distributors (although because Susan took photos of different groups, I unintentionally also spoke to gender).  

We gain value from diverse perspectives, ranging from the fresh ideas (often provided by students) to “what works” to the latest technologies.  I didn’t even mention that we have some technology experts on our Board as well!

I find that creating diversity doesn’t require rules and regulations.  In fact, forced diversity can harm organizations! Instead, valuing different ideas, solutions, points-of-view and more creates the environment for diversity. Undoubtedly, we achieve a FAR greater value for our members with a more complete view.  We definitely shoot to make 1+1+1 = 33, and our diverse group of experts achieves this objective.  

Are you valuing fresh perspectives (even if not in line with your own)?  

 



The Value of Strategy Discussions in Fiji

November 13th, 2017

I've Been Thinking

I just wrapped up strategy discussions with my global, growth-focused group (of top-notch consultants) in Fiji.  Since we are a group spanning multiple countries from the US to Australia and Japan, we meet in interesting locations throughout the Pacific Rim and western North America.  Interestingly, we all felt as though this was our best meeting to date.  Although there are several reasons, a contributing factor is certainly the location.  We were all “on” in such a beautiful setting.  This was our view from dinner one evening.  Do you think you would come up with more powerful insights in a setting like this?

One tip to implement this week: Settings, Creative Ideas, Strategic Insights, Successful Outcomes

I’m not suggesting everyone hop a plane to Fiji………although it might be fun.  At the minimum, think about what settings are conducive to creative ideas, strategic insights and successful outcomes.  What do you think?

In my experience, it is rarely the same ideal setting for each person.  If not, what would be the value without diversity?  We have a good diversity of people, professional focus areas, cultures and more in our group.  Thus, we also have preferences as to ideal locations; however, we found one that would raise the bar for the collective group.  Why not think about doing the same for your work team?  What settings surround you?  

I’ve seen some of my clients decorate inside their offices and stimulate new thought.  That is certainly doable, inexpensive and can be great fun.  Other clients go to a historic hotel such as the Mission Inn in Riverside for a special meeting.  And, others go to an ideal setting such as the beach (regardless of the hotel or conference room).  Perhaps you can suggest that your customers or suppliers use a conference room next to an interesting restaurant or setting.  Think outside the box and you’ll find that strategic insights follow.  

For example, I remember one situation of a particularly exciting work group in 1994 where we drove success in the most mundane of locations.  We were motivated, came up with new ideas and achieved dramatic results – working from the kitchen of a colleague.  

Remember, it can sometimes be the subject, the team, the learning opportunity and more.



Keys to Delegation Success

May 20th, 2016
delegation

With today’s high customer expectations for quick service, 24/7 accessibility and expanded services supply chain managers are increasingly overloaded. Delegation is key to meeting demands and working efficiently.

In today’s Amazon-impacted world, customers have higher expectations of rapid turnaround, 24/7 accessibility, and increased levels of service. These events have contributed to an information-overloaded society.

Not only do we receive countless emails, texts, social media messages, marketing messages and the like, but we also are expected to be able to make sense of it all and execute projects successfully – on-time, on budget and on results. A tall order to be sure!

Survival seems challenging enough, let alone thriving in these sorts of conditions. In taking a step back from the details, it becomes clear that we must employ tools to increase our chances of success. And, of course, we’d like to make the process easier and clearer along the way. One option to achieve these goals is to delegate. Those who properly delegate will have more time to focus on critical priorities while keeping details moving in the right direction. A few tips that will help ensure success include:

  1. Choose wisely– One of the keys to delegating successfully is to select the “right” tasks to delegate. Delegating away your strengths rarely achieves success, and it does nothing for morale. Typically, delegating your areas of weakness can be a good approach; however, it is vital to take a few precautionary steps. Gain expert advice in surrounding yourself with strong project team members and supporters. Leverage those strengths of your team members that happen to coincide with your weaknesses. Don’t waste time delegating “C” items. Ignore them. Every action requires effort. Focus your efforts on what’s most important. Delegate the next set of priorities as you’ll want to make sure those get accomplished. Think about “C” items when all else is done.
  2. Empower– Don’t throw around the word empowerment lightly. It is the rare project manager who knows how to empower his/her team. It means you must start by being a great leader. Provide guidelines. Collaborate on goals. Address the hard issues. Encourage team members to try new ideas. Support them in their failures. Take responsibility for the problems and share successes. Give your project team the ability to make decisions within their guidelines with full knowledge that they’ll be supported no matter the result. Soon, your team members will feel empowered. Once they are empowered, delegation becomes more of a collaborative affair.
  3. Diversity– There are many different tasks required to ensure a successful outcome for a project team. In order to leverage your team members’ individual strengths while minimizing their weaknesses, you’ll need a diverse set of skills and people. Thus, you’ll have a much better chance of success in delegating the diverse types of tasks required if you have a broad set of skills in your team with a wide array of backgrounds. This will also stimulate ideas and debate which can encourage empowerment so long as the leader supports experimentation.
  4. Core Metrics– Undoubtedly, no matter how effective you are in delegating, it will fall apart without core metrics in place. Work with your team to determine which critical milestones should be monitored. Develop leading metrics that will raise a red flag if the project is veering off-track. Put effort into making sure that the metrics selected will provide warnings in advance if needed. Don’t have too many metrics which become burdensome to track; instead, select the “right” few that will be indicators of success. Agree upon them with your team upfront.
  5. Provide training & mentoring– In addition to delegating assignments, it is imperative that you take the time to accompany that task with the proper training and experiences to go with it. Mentoring can be valuable as well. Mentoring provides an example of someone who has “been there, done that” who is also an expert who is available for advice. By providing mentoring and/or helping your project team members find mentors in their area of expertise, you have, in effect, purchased insurance for your delegation. As anyone who has even been in an accident knows, insurance becomes invaluable when you need it.

Delegating project tasks has become a must in today’s new normal business environment. No leader has enough time to “do it all himself”, and no leader has the broad and diverse set of expertise required to be the ideal resource to handle every task. Instead, delegation provides not only a way to make sure the project gets done on time but it also adds to the quality of the result by leveraging team members’ strengths for the collective good.

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to become a Systems Pragmatist:

Put Your Eagle Eye on What’s Key to Success-Leadership

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