Tag Archive: opportunities

Manufacturing Adds the Most Jobs in the New Year

February 1st, 2019

According to Industry Week, manufacturing employment increased almost 300,000 over the last year!  This is after increasing around 200,000 the year prior – more than a 40% increase. This is much more significant than the numbers alone convey because, according to the National Association of Manufacturers, for every $1 spent in manufacturing, $1.89 is added to the economy.  Manufacturing is hot and relevant.

Not only is manufacturing relevant to the economy, it is relevant to the customer experience.  Have you thought about how much more flexible you can be with your customers’ desires if you can manufacture on the fly? There won’t be a better time to ride this wave to success. Are you debating or jumping on?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Whether you are in manufacturing or related to manufacturing or impacted by manufacturing, you should pay attention. As manufacturing surges and takes on a new relevance in the economy and to your ability to provide a superior customer experience, you might have opportunities to grow and scale your business to new heights. Have you thought about how you’ll take advantage of these opportunities?  Will you be a follower or an innovator?

At a minimum, being informed about manufacturing and supply chain industries, latest trends and opportunities seems like a good idea.  Join an organization such as the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM/APICS) and participate with classes, tours and webinars, read articles on the topic (there are hundreds, if not thousands, in the archives), listen to experts, pick up the Wall Street Journal or attend an industry event. Why not kick off the New Year informed?  Being informed is part of what’s needed in creating a resilient supply chain. For additional strategies to create a resilient supply chain, check out our new series:



The New NAFTA & What It Means

December 27th, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently, the USMCA (new NAFTA) agreement was signed by the U.S., Canada and Mexico.  It still needs to be ratified by lawmakers but several immediate protections went into effect.  Since I am surrounded by manufacturing and supply chain organizations and professionals in terms of clients, colleagues, trade associations and more, I can say that there is largely positive commentary about this partnership in N.A. and the improvements to the old agreement.  Of course, there was a lot of negative commentary and debate about the particulars and the impact on trade (you’d have to live under a rock not to hear them!), but it is a noteworthy step forward from our current position!

What does this mean for your business?  Are you “ready” to leverage the opportunities and minimize any risks?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Although most clients and colleagues expected something to work out in terms of NAFTA, many were still in a bit of a waiting pattern.  No matter the final details, it shows that collaboration will take place. I think it is noteworthy that collaboration is an integral part of the business success equation. Many years ago, collaboration was seen as a fluffy topic but it has become key to success. Perhaps we should all think further about how well we communicate and whether we can collaborate with those who don’t see eye-to-eye with us.

From a technical point-of-view, there are bound to be many implications on our businesses,  whether we source materials or products from Mexico or Canada or not. And if you are in another country, there will be an entirely different set of impacts. Think about your extended supply chain, from your suppliers’ suppliers to your customers’ customers and everyone in-between.  Are there opportunities? Risks? Be proactive, and I bet you’ll find at least one opportunity. This is another example of the need for a resilient supply chain.

Check out our new video and article series as well as our soon-to-be offered Rapid Resilient Supply Chain Assessment service:

 



Let’s Spur Innovation

September 24th, 2018

Last month, I led a manufacturing roundtable on the topic of innovation.  Undoubtedly, if we want to be successful over the long-term, we must innovate. Problem solving only gets us back to our standard level of performance.  Although necessary, it will not be enough!  Instead, to exceed our customers’ expectations while enabling profitable growth in today’s Amazonian marketplace, innovation is a requirement.

Innovation is raising the bar to an entirely new level of performance.  It doesn’t require you to develop the next iPhone or 3M’s famous sticky pad.  In fact, the best innovators might not even think they are creative.  The great news is that everyone can innovate.  It doesn’t have to require significant investments.   What it does require is a culture that enables innovation.

An Innovation Culture
Here are a few “musts” when creating an innovation culture:

  1. Engage your people -You aren’t going to be successful innovating in isolation – at least not for long!  Involve your employees – view each employee as a valuable asset.  You never know what ideas can be unleashed if you have a culture of innovation that values each employee’s input and ideas.  Start here. Until your people are engaged, there is no point in going further.  How long do you think you’ll have happy, innovative customers with unhappy, not engaged employees?  NOT long.
  1. Engage your customers – One of our clients is creating an innovative culture.  They recently purchased a clay manufacturing company and are working to raise the bar.  The owners and executives value the input of their people and extend that to their trusted advisors, customers and suppliers.  I happened to be in Hawaii last month and my best friend wanted to see a pottery shop of an artist she really liked.  So I went along for the ride. When we arrived, I brought up my client because I thought the owner know of them. They were so excited.  They said they were a customer for life of Laguna Clay  (my customer) because they provided exceptional service.  They proceeded to provide input, ideas and much more. I took pictures and texted them back to my client. My client had engaged their customer in the innovative process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Provide opportunities– Next, provide opportunities for innovation.  Do you provide a “safe zone” for your employees, partners and others to collaborate and innovate?  Most importantly, you’ll have to set aside time for them to focus on this priority.  Beyond time, provide your vision and get the process started by spurring idea generation and give them a few guidelines.
  1. Stick by your commitment –  Innovation will create failures which is why guidelines are helpful so the failures can be isolated within a reasonable tolerance.  There is something wrong if failures don’t occur. Thus, be prepared for them and celebrate the progress. Don’t be disappointed, or worse, beat up your people. That will mark the end of their innovation.

Creating an innovation culture is “the” key to innovation. Start there. End there.  We’ll talk through more of the details in the middle in future editions (or feel free to contact us to help you accelerate progress); however, this is the 80/20 of success.  It’s well worth raising the bar of performance.



Hello Dolly and Turning the Mundane into Magnificent

March 25th, 2018

I had the opportunity to catch Bernadette Peters and Victor Garber in Hello Dolly on Broadway while in New York, and it was fabulous!  Bernadette is “made for the part” (although I see the perfect fit for Bette Midler as well). Imagine how a musical that debuted in 1964 with FOUR Broadway revivals and international success remains wildly popular…..  

 

 

Hello Dolly certainly turned the mundane into the magnificent!  A strong-willed matchmaker and widower (Dolly) travels to Yonkers to find a wife for an ordinary yet half-a-millionaire local merchant (Mr. Vandergelder), and adventures ensue.  Actually, all the previously ordinary people surrounding the miserly Mr. Vandergelder get swept up into Dolly’s adventures. Great fun!

One tip to implement this week:
Are you turning the mundane into the magnificent?  Why lead a humdrum existence on a daily basis? Instead, search for opportunities to turn your everyday interactions into exciting and profitable opportunities!  Profitable doesn’t have to mean financial returns; consider your engagement and interest in what you do on a daily basis – don’t you think where you spend 8 hours a day (or more!) should be interesting?!?  Why not consider your customer as well – if you can deliver extra value and create a happy customer, isn’t that a profitable experience for you?

Executives and owners, search for ways to empower and engage your employees.  That alone will dramatically improve their interest in performing daily job functions.  Do you put thought into this? What could be more important for retention in an age of a significant skills gap shortage?

NO MATTER your position, DON’T let go of your responsibility for turning the mundane into magnificent.  It is yours alone. Look for ways to bring new ideas to the table. Be creative. Ask your colleagues to participate in finding ways to make the work more interesting – and impactful.  Pick just one item and move it forward. No matter how far it moves forward, you are closer to magnificent.

Dolly never gave up. Instead, she came up with a new idea – or scheme. What about you?

 



Case in Point – Are You Starting the New Year with Clarity?

March 22nd, 2018

As consultants, when we first start talking with clients at least 80% lack crisp clarity.  Often, this alone is a large cause of their under-performance or limitation vs. full potential.  Thus, why not take quick stock of your clarity of direction for 2018 as we head into working day #1?

It can be quite simple.  Forget about all the buzz words such as lean manufacturing, predictive analytics, SIOP (sales, inventory & operations planning), artificial intelligence and the like.  Although you know we talk about some of these as powerful concepts, they are JUST tools. Instead, think about where you are going and what you need to accomplish in 2018.

Start with what should be relatively simple – where are you going?  Hopefully you’ve thought about strategy. Remember, strategy is no longer a topic to address every 2-5 years.  Successful leaders think of it as a strategic sprint that has to be re-evaluated (rapidly yet effectively) at least once a year.  Of course, this leads to topics such as understanding your market, customers, and business differentiators, and so start with these topics at a minimum.

Once you have clarity of where you are going, the hard part starts – turning your strategy into reality.  You cannot be the only person with clarity for the New Year if you want to be successful. Is your executive team on board?  Are they communicating in alignment as of the first day of the New Year? In today’s Amazon-impacted environment, unless your leadership team is in lock step with clarity of direction early on, you’ll be left in the dust.  After all, if customers expect delivery same-day and powerful customer experiences, they aren’t expecting to wait for you to get your act together after returning from vacation.

Take a quick audit of your strategic clarity, fill any gaps and look for opportunities to fast-track progress.  Let me know how it goes.