Tag Archive: investing

Should We Prioritize or Deprioritize Innovation & Technology During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

April 3rd, 2020

What is the first thing that happens when a client is shutdown due to the coronavirus? Cut all unnecessary spending. Certainly, I agree with this approach in most situations. If you cannot pay for your employees, you shouldn’t pay for unnecessary expenses! However, if the situation isn’t dire, it might just be an opportunity to refocus on innovation and technology.

There are well-regarded statistics about the Depression and the Great Recession that those companies that invested while everyone else cut back were significantly more successful following the recession. Of course, it depends on whether you are investing in what will be needed as the lockdown ends or if you just continue with your prior plans because they were well-thought out previously. All bets are off! You must re-review your strategies, business plans and associated investments with the ‘new world’ in mind. Ask your executive team and key partners questions:

  1. What will have changed as we emerge from lockdown?
  2. What opportunities will it present for your customers?
  3. What new roadblocks will exist for your customers?
  4. Is there an opportunity for new customers?
  5. Do you have an opportunity to expand to new markets?
  6. What products and services will be needed?
  7. Can you get ahead of the competition so you’ll be out of the gate at 200 mph instead of crawling at a turtle’s pace?
  8. Will you need to re-tool?
  9. What skills will you need?
  10. What technology will you need?

Challenging times can create opportunity with innovation and creativity. Innovation will fast-track growth and profits. When has there been a better time to innovate? Although we started our innovation series a while back and have always been involved with encouraging innovation (such as the Manufacturers Innovation Awards), we are going to start adding content to encourage clients to focus on innovation since we think this is a critical time to ramp up your focus on innovation.

Innovation doesn’t have to involve technology as it could simply involve repurposing, repackaging, or repositioning. In fact, there is very little that is truly ‘new’. How often does a client invent something new like the sticky note? Certainly we hope a new vaccine will be developed rapidly, but many industries will simply come up with new ways of doing things and that type of innovation will fast-track growth and profits. The only precursor is whether you have an innovative culture. Now that is something we can control, and it doesn’t have to require capital or cash.

Why not put your top talent on an innovation project while under lockdown/ social distancing? There is plenty that can be accomplished via Zoom, and you might just be thrilled with the results. From all accounts, it appears as though the recession will be short-lived and in a V shape with a rapid recovery. Will you be ready to take advantage of the opportunities?

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The Resurgence of Manufacturing – it’s up to you!

February 20th, 2014
Resurgence of manufacturing is occurring if we choose to take hold of it!

Resurgence of manufacturing is occurring if we choose to take hold of it!

As I recently attended the Manufacturing Summit in the Inland Empire and have been preparing for my Association of Operations Management Inland Empire Chapter’s 2nd Annual Executive Panel & Networking Symposium entitled “The Resurgence of Manufacturing & Logistics in Southern CA”, it’s become readily apparent that resurgence is occurring if we choose to take hold of it!

As most manufacturers suffered during the recession and haven’t seen robust growth since, it seemed appropriate to discuss what my best clients and contacts are doing to jump on board the resurgence. There are a few key strategies they have in common: 1) Focusing on the export market. 2) Investing smartly. 3) Leveraging relationships.

1. Focusing on the export market: Undoubtedly, the manufacturers and distributors growing most rapidly have export business. It’s not required to grow yet it certainly jump-starts dramatic growth. For example, according to one manufacturer with export business, the last two months have been 30% higher than last year. Not too shabby!

While listening to an export panel at the Manufacturing Summit, I learned that significant growth is not uncommon especially with Made in the U.S.A. products. This is especially true in industries regulated by the government such as by FDA. International consumers are quite interested in these types of products as they can “count” on the quality.

As the vast majority of the world’s population resides outside of the United States, it only makes sense to expand internationally. There are programs designed to support companies interested in exporting; thus, the opportunity exists if we are interested in taking advantage of it. Sure, there are additional complexities; however, you can avoid issues with a bit of common sense and research.

2. Investing smartly: Certainly during the recession, I had trouble finding companies interested in investing – in anything. No ERP system upgrades. No capital equipment. And in several cases no cash outlays even with huge returns (like 10:1 or 15:1 returns on investment). However, I’ve found studies from ALL past recessions inclusive of the Great Depression that has proven the opposite – in essence, those companies that invest during these times of crisis leapfrog their competition.

Of course, if you took advantage of the recession to make smart investments when your competition didn’t, you’re likely growing rapidly in comparison. However, if you haven’t, all is not lost. I find that although my typical clients have more cash, they are still a bit reluctant to spend it in today’s environment of volatility. In general, they are starting to put their toe in the water; thus, if you’d like to join the resurgence, jump into the water for solid opportunities!

3. Leverage relationships: It might be hard to understand how relationships can be a key to success yet it has proven time and again to be so! In today’s new normal business environment, it is not nearly as simple to grow sales and increase profitability as it was during the boom years and when supply chains were less complex.

In my experience, those companies that partner with suppliers and customers to elevate the entire supply chain not only perform far better than the rest but they also generate additional revenues by virtue of a relationship-orientation. People purchase from those they respect, like and trust. How can they do that if they don’t know you? Or if their only interaction is when you try to negotiate with a win-lose approach? Additionally, as supply chains are increasingly complex with elevated levels of risk, who will you likely support when issues arise?

It is an opportune time to join the manufacturing resurgence. The good news is that it requires working smarter; not harder. Why not put a plan in place, rally your team around it and give it 120 days? You’ll be glad you did.

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