Tag Archive: Leverage Social Networks to Drive Business Results

Cross-Supply Chain Opportunities

April 7th, 2015
cross-supply chain opportunities

Look beyond your immediate customers to their customers, and so on, for cross-supply chain opportunities that could spell win-win-win for all.

I find that cross-functional teams can be some of the most valuable teams that generate winning ideas. By taking a diverse team of people with different backgrounds and areas of focus and providing a common goal, ideas arise that never would have occurred with a silo approach. In my estimation, my clients that support cross-functional teams achieve at least 30% better results. Thus, why not consider the same idea with cross-supply chain opportunities?

Start with your customers. Typically there are several customers within a supply chain. At the most basic level, there are internal and external customers. However, outside of your organization, think about your customers’ customers?  Is there a way you can create a cross-customer team to find ways to achieve customer delight throughout your supply chain?

If your customer sells to the end user, consider customer surveys or polls. If your customer sells through a distributor, involve the distributor. And so on… Then search for opportunities to leverage across your supply chain for win-win-win-win results.  Even if you achieve a win-equal-equal-win, it would be worth it. Your end customer received a win. Wouldn’t it be likely that growth would follow? Also, if you collaborate for combined success even though you come out “even”, I’ve found that it gets your cross-supply chain team thinking. A win often arises for you as well from unexpected places.  

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The Collaboration Platform


The Power of Partnerships

March 9th, 2015

supply chainI helped to kick off a SAP Bootcamp for my APICS (#1 trade association for supply chain management) chapter in combination with our partner, Cal State University, San Bernardino. Cal State University San Bernardino is one of the only universities I am familiar with that teaches students about ERP systems (enterprise resource planning) and provides hands-on exposure. Certainly, ERP systems are the backbone of how manufacturers and distributors run their business, and SAP happens to be the #1 ERP system. Thus, we are very excited to be partnering with such a progressive team.

We had students from other universities and supply chain professionals in attendance including several from surrounding chapters – obviously the session attracted people to drive considerable distances on a Saturday morning. Partnerships are not always ideal (and often require hard work and upfront communication); however, finding ones where 1+1=56 can be well worth the effort.

One tip to implement this week:

What partnerships do you have in place? Take a few minutes to gather your team and think about strategic partnerships. I’ve found them to yield significant benefits and create employee loyalty. After all, who doesn’t like to be a valued member of a partnership that is achieving great results? Think about customers: can you develop a partnership with additional members of your supply chain for a mutual benefit? For example, can you use your customer’s warehouse to reduce lead times and/or create transportation efficiencies? How can you make that a win-win? The same holds true for your suppliers? START by thinking about what you can offer your supply chain partner. Undoubtedly, they will think about how they can make it a win for you as well. How about your banking partners and other trusted advisors? Local colleges and universities? Think outside the box for accelerated results.

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…”


Data Mining for Dummies

August 19th, 2014
data mining

Maneuvering in today’s fast-paced business environment requires actionable information, which data mining provides. Locate your data to make your next strategic move.

As I’ve been putting together a SIOP (Sales, Inventory and Operations Planning) executive meeting presentation, it made me think about data mining. In this case, there is very little information available – in comparison to other clients, the ability to retrieve information is in the bottom 20%, yet I was still able to put it together. Thus, it made me think about a few tips: 

1. Base reports: So long as the company uses a system, there will be some data you can access. Even the worst case scenarios, which make the ERP experts shudder, have untapped information. Find it.

2. Manual information: I’ve yet to go into a client who didn’t track some sort of information. True, it is often too much of the wrong information; however, they are tracking something. Find those people and understand what they track.

3. Accounting: Again, every company has to have financials. Thus, worst case, start with the Accounting team.  They might be leery to provide it but if you involve them in the process, you’ll likely be successful.

4. Track it yourself – To get ballpark estimates for some metrics, you can take a sampling approach and go out and track it yourself.

5. Report writer – Every system (even the most fundamental and surprisingly inexpensive ones I’ve seen for smaller companies) have some sort of report writer or the capability to integrate with a report writer such as Crystal Reports. Pursue this path!

6. Hire IT experts – I’ve seen countless times where folks who are good at retrieving data can glean information even from the worst systems.  At one client, they called him the “Data Ninja”.  I loved that term as I’ve run into data ninjas at many clients (although I have to agree, he was the best!), and those who don’t have one can bring on a temporary Access expert or SQL expert etc.

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Are You Working on the RIGHT Priorities?

August 14th, 2014

Make time to examine and rank priorities to make sure you are focused on the most important aspects of your business.

In today’s new normal business environment, executives run from meeting to meeting, call to call and rarely have time to THINK.  How do we know we are working on the right priorities?

I’ve found that my most successful clients plan time to think about strategy, growth, innovation and topics such as these.  It cannot be an after-thought!  Actually, this is one advantage of the horrible traffic in the L.A. area – sometimes it provides quality thinking time about your business.  However, who would hope for bad traffic?!  Instead, set time in your calendar to think and brainstorm about these types of topics.  This will develop your Eagle Eye.  I’ve found that developing this skill is critically important to allocating your time to the most beneficial items – those which will have the most impact, are most urgent and which require attention.

One opportunity to achieve this would be to attend an upcoming invitation-only executive roundtable discussion at Harvey Mudd College, moderated by me and my colleague Kash Gokli, professor of Manufacturing.  If you are an executive in the Southern California area who is interested in innovation, please review more information about our event on August 28th and let me know if you are interested in attending.

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What is Eagle Eye Strategic Focus?

Metrics Rule

The Power of Networks

June 24th, 2014
business links, teamwork and collaboration for business success

Business success relies on the extent and effectiveness of your network. Developing quality relationships can take your personal and professional life to the next level.

I’ve always seen the power of networks; however, there is a heightened sense of urgency surrounding the topic for those executives who would like to thrive in today’s new normal business environment. In just the last month, I’ve witnessed countless examples of the critical importance of networks. You’ve run out of materials and need urgent attention. You need to find an exceptional leader ASAP. You have a technical challenge and don’t know where to start. The answer = the power of your network.

What is a network? For a recent presentation I gave on leveraging social networks to drive operational performance, I referred to Webster’s definition of social networks – “a network of friends, colleagues and other personal contacts”. A network can take many forms from in-person to on-line, etc. Options are endless in today’s information overload society.

Although we could talk for pages on the topic, I thought we’d focus on a few questions to start: 1) What’s the value of a network? 2) What is the current state of your network? 3) Where do we start?

1.  What is the value of a network? – Relationships! This cannot be understated in its value. None of us do business with companies. We do business with people. Take a step back from there – we do business with people we know, like, trust and respect. It’s as simple as that.

Perhaps you think it doesn’t relate to you in your current position? Wrong! We never know what will happen from one day to the next. You might be let go from your job. You might get a challenging yet critical assignment from your manager or CEO. You might get a visit from an unhappy employee or the Chairman of the Board. An unexpected event might occur in your personal life (whether good or terrible, it requires immediate attention). Where do you start? In my 20+ years of experience as a business consultant, former VP of Operations & Supply Chain, and as a trade association leader across multiple industries and globally, the answer never varies – with your network.

For example, I’d go to my well-connected relationships to ask for advice in the best ways to search for a new job. I’d go to my industry and functional network contacts to ask for help in researching my critical assignment. I’d go to my organizational development contacts and mentors for help with the unhappy employee or to answer the Board member’s question. And I’d go to whichever expert relates to my personal situation. Recently, my 20-year-old cat whom has been cared for by my adoring parents for the last 12-14 years was dying, and it was traumatic. It helped that my cousin is a veterinary expert. The bottom line is the following: What could be more important than your network?

2.  What is the current state of your network? – This is most often overlooked yet is an essential step in creating a powerful and enduring network. Who is in your network? I guarantee you that no matter how bad you think the state of your network is currently, there is something there to start with – everyone has someone in their network. How have you been treating your network? What do you receive from your network? Prior to jumping on the bandwagon to meet all sorts of new people to add to your network, it has proven extremely valuable to take stock of your current network. Nurture your network.

3.  Where do we start? – So, at some point, we realize we need to expand and build our networks. The first key point is to not neglect your current network! Otherwise, you are 1 step forward, 1000 steps back. Not a recipe for success. Beyond rule #1, it is a good idea to think about your objectives. What are your professional goals? What types of projects will you need to focus on in the next several years? What types of issues continually arise? What opportunities are you pursuing? How do these questions correlate to your skills and your current network? Be clear on your goals.

Next, identify the types of people you’d like to include in your network. What is their core philosophy? It is surprising how often this question is ignored until it’s too late. It’s a waste of time to build a network of people who do not align with the way you do business and your principles and values. What expertise do they have? Are they a functional expert? Industry expert? Is geography important? (Are in-person meetings important?) Do they share a common passion? Do you enjoy spending time with them? Are they members of your extended supply chain?

Success or failure boils down to the power of your network. Do not overlook this essential building block for success.

Prioritize developing a talent edge and everything else will follow. It isn’t capital intensive and doesn’t require precious cash so why not give it a try?

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