Tag Archive: experimentation

Do You Treat Your People as Critical Assets to Your Success?

June 24th, 2019

As several CEOs lament continually and as Steve Erickson, president of Corona Clipper, Inc. and UK Business Unit Group, said in our 2019 predictions document, talent is a hot topic in today’s tight labor market. Perhaps it is time to put a bit more thought into our talent.

As a consultant who works with organizations from a few million in annual revenue to multi-billion dollar conglomerates, it is quite clear that talent is an issue across-the-board. It doesn’t matter the industry, the size, or the ownership (private equity, publicly traded or closely-held). Talent is an issue that is top of mind of every executive interested in growth and innovation. The trick is whether you just think about talent or are willing to invest in talent. Which are you?

Certainly, those who invest are far more likely to retain top talent and develop new talent. In zero unemployment markets, there is something to be said about creating your own talent. If you aren’t focused on this topic, it is quite likely the competition will steal your talent away.

There are many ways to invest in talent:

  1. Provide mentor opportunities – If your organization looks for ways to support the growth of employees with mentors, you are bound to be more successful than the norm. In our experience, the best companies realize that people need to learn through practical application and mentoring provides this opportunity.
  2. Invest in leaders to encourage continuous coaching – aAyearly review is quite useless. Who can remember what happened that long ago and understand how to improve or build on a strength? Instead, I found that 90 day one-on-one performance conversations with a limited number of objectives do the trick. Continuous feedback and investment of time can go a long way. But let’s not expect leaders to know how to conduct these sessions if we haven’t invested in them. Remember, it trickles down hill.
  3. Provide training opportunities – Search for training topics that will supplement what your employees should understand. For example, any employee in operations and supply chain should take APICS courses to understand the fundamentals of supply chain and operations management and related principles. If nothing else, it will provide the body of knowledge and associated language.
  4. Provide experiences – In larger companies, there might be job rotations or overseas assignments.  No matter the size, there are cross-training opportunities as well as enabling visits and collaborations with customers, suppliers, systems and technology providers, consultants/experts and other partners.
  5. Allow the freedom for experimentation – To encourage new ideas and innovation, it is important to design programs that educate employees as well as provide a framework to try out new ideas. In our consulting travels, we find that employees who are allowed to test new ideas in a safe zone feel invested in.
  6. Address poor performers – Instead of ignoring your poor performers because it is an unpleasant task or you are worried about repercussions, proactively address them. Work with them to turn them around or move them out of the organization, and you’ll unleash your top talent.

Why not merely increase your engagement by investing in your already-existing talent? According to all the surveys, engagement is at horrific levels in the vast majority of organizations yet engagement is key to driving performance. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out investing in your people is not only common sense but it can do more good for your bottom line than almost anything else. The key is to not treat investment as throwing money at an issue but instead seeing it as a priority. Let us know what ideas you have to engage your most critical assets.


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Profit Through People


The Importance of Innovation

April 27th, 2016

supply chainI was the Chair of the Manufacturers Council of the Inland Empire (MCIE)’s Innovation awards committee for this year’s Manufacturers’ Summit. It was inspiring to hear the stories of manufacturing innovation at today’s awards ceremony! These companies innovated in many different ways ranging from workforce development to marketing to resource efficiency, and each had tangible and significant results.

As I said when giving out the award, there is a significant difference between problem solving and innovation. Problem solving “gets you back to some sort of standard performance” — important yet extremely different from innovation. Innovation, on the other hand, raises the bar to an entirely new level of performance! As Angel Sanchez said from Phenix Technology (in the center below next to me), after being in business for 40 years, coming up with an innovation that more than doubled sales was a game changer!

mcie innovation awards

One tip to implement this week:

The key to innovation is to support experimentation. If you are a leader, give your people time this week to try new ideas. Encourage them to test new theories and try out new approaches. Make sure they know you will support them, no matter the results. Innovation requires experimentation and failure. Edison didn’t invent the light bulb on the first try. It took COUNTLESS tries!

If you are not in a leadership position, go to your leader and tell him/her about a new idea. Ask for the opportunity to test out a new process or new idea. If you can find a way to test it out within a reasonable set of guidelines so that the negative impact wouldn’t be too significant, it is likely you’ll be able to convince your manager to give it a try. Talk up the potential benefits! It is amazing what can be done if you set aside a few minutes to innovate — and ASK!

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…”


Turning Mistakes into “Good”

March 23rd, 2016

supply chainI frequently speak to groups about how we must celebrate mistakes. No one will innovate if they are afraid of being hit over the head if they make a mistake. Unfortunately, it occurs more frequently than imaginable! Yet only those leaders who encourage innovation will thrive in today’s environment. Thus, we must consider mistakes as “good”! And we should encourage experimentation, which will drive more mistakes than the status quo.

With that said, I find myself “not celebrating” that I made a mistake. I was working with a client on several projects and feeling excited with the progress and the value we would achieve; however, I failed to communicate that clearly with my client. I wasn’t following my typical process which builds communication in naturally (which we can partly attribute to innovation and partly just my mistake), and I ended up overlooking this critical step. NOT good. Thus, my objective with this note is to turn it into “good”. We all learn from our failures — and hearing about other’s failures.

One tip to implement this week:

Let’s start with what you can do to proactively avoid mistakes that will have worse consequences than you are willing to live with in order to experiment/innovate. Put guidelines around your experiment or innovation. That way, WHEN you fail (as we are all bound to fail at some point), you know you’ll stay within your planned range of error (and consequences).

If your mistake already occurred, take a step back and think about it. How bad is it? Was anyone else negatively impacted? Perhaps not. In this case, chalk it up to a learning experience and move on. Often-times, this is the best approach.

Or did it have consequences to other people or teams that should be corrected? If so, jump to action and correct them. Don’t argue about it — even if you weren’t solely at fault. Just resolve what should be resolved. Apologize, resolve it and move forward in a positive way. In my case, this is the path I followed

I’ve found this approach to be successful 90% of the time — after all, who doesn’t make mistakes?!? With that said, if you happen to be stuck in the 10%, do your best, resolve it and move on. Don’t get worked up; just chalk it up to bad luck in hitting the 10%, do your best and move on. Now, if you are repeatedly in the 10%, take a step back and figure out why. There is something else going on. Ask your colleagues for advice and feedback.

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…”