Tag Archive: global

Boom or Recession? What is the State of the Economy?

May 6th, 2019

In the last few months, I’ve attended sessions on the global, national and regional state of the economy. Every executive, trusted advisor and colleague wants to know: Are we headed for a recession?

The bottom line answer is that there are no signs of a recession in the foreseeable future in terms of the economy. Instead of worrying, it might be just the time to take advantage of the opportunity. As Roy Paulson, president of Paulson Manufacturing said in our 2019 Predictions from Manufacturing & Logistics Executives report, “…expect to see more talk of tariffs, threats and waving of hands, all the while, those of us in exporting will be busy making deals, signing contracts and getting business done.”

Similarly, in manufacturing, there was concern over the worsening ISM (Institute for Supply Management) index even though it remained far above (54.2) the level that indicates expansion (50) yet the index rose significantly in March to 55.3, signaling great growth and stabilization. The largest contributor was from employment which had the biggest gain in 3 years. All cylinders seem to be firing.

Yet many remain concerned for the next shoe to drop due to the volatility and uncertainty of these tumultuous times. Perhaps it is time for us to get comfortable with volatility and pursue new product introductions, technology (automation, AI, IoT) for those that will add value in our businesses and experiment with innovative ideas. What better time will there be to get in front of the curve so that we can pass by the competition if/when a recession hits?

One tip to implement this week:
There are countless studies that prove that those people who remain calm, invest smartly while others panic and stay the course to what they know will add value to their business thrive. Perhaps we should take a page from their book.

Of course, stay up-to-date on the latest trends and don’t hide your head in the sand as issues arise.  Spend the 80/20 of your day looking for opportunities. What new ideas have you had lately? Have you asked your front line employees for ideas? Are you willing to invest in their education and give them the chance to fail?

When I was VP of Operations at PaperPak, I worked with a CEO who was constantly thinking about the ways for us to succeed. Gas prices rose (which we obviously couldn’t control), which had the potential to create pure havoc with our profitability (with a Board that didn’t consider gas prices a reasonable excuse). Instead of panicking, he would consult with key people throughout the organization and create opportunities to get ahead of the issue. We rose from the ashes more times than I can count because we kept focused, thinking of opportunities instead of becoming defeated by some rather significant curve balls.

Give it a try this week at the next sign of volatility and disaster. How can you turn it into an opportunity?



What is More Effective – On-site or Remote?

March 30th, 2019

Lately, I’ve had quite the mix of on-site and remote events.  So, it got me thinking about on-site vs. remote. Which is better?  

  • Manufacturers’ Summit – I introduced the innovation awards and announced the winners at the recent Manufacturers’ Summit. Could this be done effectively remotely? In my opinion, no!
  • Global Strategy Session – I also recently participated in a short check-in session with my global growth group. After resolving my video difficulties so that I wasn’t blurry,  it worked out perfectly. There is no reason I should go across the world for 3 hours!
  • The Society for the Advancement of Consulting –  My business partner, Linda Popky (in Northern CA) and I have participated on multiple Zoom calls with members from the U.S., Canada, Europe and the Pacific Rim to collaborate on increasing member value and related topics. We find these to be ideal remote settings yet we also have in-person regional and global events. You might find me sitting in my car prior to a client meeting on a Zoom call with Australia & Germany.
  • Client workshop with facilities across the U.S. and Canada to implement planning process upgrades – the reason I write this from Minnesota in sub zero temperatures is that this workshop is best done in person. With that said, we have weekly interactions remotely to implement successfully in-between these workshops (which occur about every 6 months). Since MN was chosen for March, perhaps AZ will be in August 🙂
  • ERP Demos – since I currently have several ERP selection projects, I have participated in several demos. Some need to be done in person to ensure project success and others would be a waste of time to attend in person. It depends!
  • Aerospace & Defense speech – the picture shows that clearly I presented in person. Although they record the session for members to listen to afterwards, the value is far more significant with in-person interaction!

One tip to implement this week:
Don’t just assume remote or in-person is always better. The answer is: “It depends”. If you are bringing together cross-functional participants in a workshop-like setting, perhaps you should invest in travel to get together. On the other hand, if there is an expert who can participate remotely to contribute as needed, that also can be value added and cost effective.

Don’t just do what you’ve always done. I used to drive 60+ miles each way to clients for a few hours frequently. Sometimes it was exactly what I should have done.  Other times it was because I defaulted to doing what I typically do. Then one day, I tried to call or do the meeting via Zoom, and I realized the value was equal yet the wear and tear was now non-existent! Thus, I always ask myself about what will achieve the desired outcome. Sometimes remote is better.  Other times, in-person is better. Use common sense.

Assuming you decide to test out the remote option, there are a few items to keep in mind:

  • Act as though you are sitting in a meeting, and don’t allow distractions to take over.
  • Make sure you keep ambient noise down
  • Use video to your advantage so that you can show each other items or emphasize your communications with non-verbal language.
  • Test out technology in advance
  • Just give it a try. What’s the worst that will happen?

And, keep in mind that in-person still provides value. The higher tech we become, the higher level of touch required!

 



U.S. #3 in Global Manufacturing Scorecard

August 17th, 2018

According to a new Brookings Institution report, the United States ranks near the top for overall manufacturing environment.  The report evaluated policies and regulations, taxes, costs, workforce quality and infrastructure and innovation.  The only two countries to rank higher are the United Kingdom (#1) and Switzerland (#2).  The high tax rate and healthcare costs and the lack of government grants/ loans kept the U.S. out of the top spot.

The study also measured manufacturing output and manufacturing employment.  China ranked #1 in manufacturing output with the U.S. just behind in second place whereas Poland ranked #1 in manufacturing employment (with 20.2% of its workforce in manufacturing) vs. the U.S. at number 16 (with 10.5% respectively).  Manufacturing contributed $2.17 trillion to the U.S. economy or 12.1% GDP.

Are you finding ways to leverage this unique advantage of U.S. manufacturing?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Manufacturing has been getting considerably more attention in the last few years. Yet, we still hear skeptics asking if there is any manufacturing left.  If we have the third best environment for manufacturing, why aren’t we leveraging this opportunity?

According to the report, there has been a resurgence of manufacturing in the U.S. the last few years. With a continued focus on innovation, education and workforce development, we can keep this trend going so long as it is supplemented with a focus on the appropriate technologies for our business (automation, artificial intelligence, big data), governance predictability and appropriate levels of infrastructure.  

Have you put together plans to involve and educate your team on these concepts? Start there as progress will start with your #1 asset – your employees.

 



What Should We Be Thinking for the 2nd Half of the Year?

August 15th, 2018

As hard as it is to believe, we are almost half-way through the year.  As a result, we should be thinking NOW about what to stop, start and continue for the second half of the year.  I learned this exercise from my HR mentor (a P&G-trained guru) as we performed it with our team with great results (thanks Debra!).

Stop, Start, Continue  

Here are the questions to ask yourself and your team:

  1.  Stop – What should we stop doing?  This is actually the hardest. Not only do I find it hard to stop doing things I’ve included in my daily and monthly routines, my clients seem to find this quite challenging as well.  Are you selling to a customer and losing money? Or, does this customer always create some sort of hardship for your team? Is your team putting together reports because they always have even though they are no longer necessary?  Do you open them and make decisions based on them? If not, stop. Are you hanging on to that so-so supplier because you’ve developed a nice friendship even though they are no longer delivering or are at high cost? Perhaps you should have a discussion with them about it.
  2.  Start – Let’s assumed you’ve stopped something.  Now you have time to start something new. I am bad at this sometimes as well – just add, add, add but not stop.  Are you falling into that trap as well? I am going through my activities currently and making sure to stop more (or at least equal) to the start activities.  Start those activities that you think will yield an improved return on investment. Undoubtedly, there are several of these opportunities if you look. We find that our clients have many more ROI opportunities than they realize when we perform an assessment – every time without fail.
  3.  Continue – Thank goodness, not everything we are doing should stop or start.  Continue those activities that add value and contribute a result. Do you measure success by activity (time) or by result?  I definitely advocate for the latter – you’ll double your success.

Put it in Context with Market Forces
Although it is always a good idea to take stock of what you should start, stop and continue, it will be helpful to put it in context with market forces.  Here are a few questions/priorities to consider.

  • Amazon Effect – No matter your business, you are being impacted by the Amazon Effect.  Elevated customer expectations, immediate deliveries, 24/7 accessibility, easy returns and more.
  • Customization – Who doesn’t want a product or service tailored just for them?  We all would. I am an executive platinum status on American Airlines and they always offer me a complimentary meal as a thank you for my status.  It’s a small thing but I do appreciate it.
  • Resurgence of Manufacturing – Somewhat in response to the Amazon Effect and the desire for customization, executives are discovering it makes sense to locate manufacturing and last minute customization close to the customer.  For example, even though California is not the state anyone would think for manufacturing, it makes imminent sense when you consider that it is the 5th largest economy in the world. If only we could get CA politicians to support us!  
  • Additive manufacturing – What could be closer to your customer than 3D printing on the fly?
  • Logistics rules -Again, when considering the impacts of the Amazon Effect and customization, it is quite clear that warehousing close to the customer is also desirable.  However, there are vast cost pressures.  So, you need to be thinking about how to take performance to a new level.  The same is true with transportation – if you even can source a carrier. The last mile is certainly gaining a lot of attention. “Last mile. Last minute” is my new favorite expression.
  • Global – We are in a global world.  Are you making global considerations as well as local ones?

What else do you think we should consider?  Drop me a line as I’m interested. No matter what – give the second half of the year some thought and you’ll increase your chances of success.

 



Navigating the Global Supply Chain

October 13th, 2016

supply chain

Last week, I participated in the development of the Supply Chain Roadmap 2025. It will result in a compilation of what more than 100 industry thought leaders had to say about the future of material handling and logistics. It is quite an interesting process to take a step back from the daily grind and sometimes fire-fighting to think strategically and long-term. I look forward to the report coming out in the spring of 2017!

Similarly, I have been focused on finalizing the executive panel for APICS Inland Empire’s upcoming symposium on navigating the global supply chain — we have an amazing lineup of experts! Certainly many topics crossed over between these two events.

global supply chain

Join us for intriguing discussions with manufacturing and logistics thought leaders — learn more and register here. We are connected globally more than ever before. I cannot name a client who isn’t connected with another country when looking at their extended supply chain and the maze of suppliers and customers. Thus, it is worth learning how to effectively navigate these waters!

One tip to implement this week:

At first glance, it seems a bit challenging to figure out what can be done in a week. However, since the global supply chain is all around us, it isn’t that hard after all. How about we start by taking stock? What connections do you have when thinking globally

Perhaps your company has international locations? Suppliers? Customers? If not, go one layer deeper. Do any of your suppliers have global suppliers? How about your end users? Where are they located? Or do you utilize distribution? Are they global? How about your transportation partners? UPS and FedEx certainly are global! And, let’s not forget your trade associations like APICS — they are global. Soon, you’ll have an interesting map evolving. Share your findings with your colleagues.

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…”