Tag Archive: opportunities

Immediate Strategy

May 7th, 2020

Do you want to be Amazon or Sears? Sears used to be the Amazon of its time, but they failed to change with the times. There is little life left in this former powerhouse of retail. On the other hand, Amazon continues to evolve and is clearly doing quite well in these trying times. In fact, our clients are experiencing growth across the board in only one category – e-commerce. Amazon continues to rule the day!

As I state in my eBook, Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19, if you want to be more like Amazon, you will rethink strategy but NOT like you might think. It should not be a lengthy process that looks across multiple years. Instead, create an ‘immediate strategy.’ What does that look like? Read about an immediate, 3 and 9-month strategy in the eBook:

  1. Immediate Strategy: Focus on establishing immediate priorities, assessing risks and understanding your customers, suppliers and other partners.
  2. 3-Month Strategy: Focus on how to keep moving forward and increasing value
  3. 9-Month Strategy: Focus on how to redesign to take advantage of the opportunities

As you think through the strategies outlined and determine your path forward, please keep us in the loop. We are interested in your journey, what works, and what pitfalls to avoid so that we can share insights and ideas. Don’t worry. We will protect the innocent; however, keep in mind one of the tenets of the eBook is to fail forward with innovation. Those who innovate will have a unique opportunity to sail past the competition as the world creates a new normal over the next year. If you’d like to discuss your strategy, please contact us.

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NOW is the Time to Invest in Employees

January 13th, 2020

Are you investing in your employees? If you have employees who want to do a good job but who don’t have the tools and skills to accomplish this goal, you’ll end up with frustrated employees who are not engaged. What percentage of your employees do you think are in this position? In our client experience, 70% of employees fall in this category!

Frustrated and not actively engaged employees do not deliver results. Not only are you wasting incredible talent, but you have unhappy employees to boot. There are countless statistics that tell us the dramatic impact of unhappy employees. According to a SHRM article, highly engaged employees were 5 times less likely to have a safety incident. In a separate example, increased employee engagement at Caterpillar saved the company millions in decreased attrition, absenteeism and overtime. It is certainly noteworthy!

According to our featured interview with the EVP of Operations at Fender Guitar, investing in employees in all seasons is key to success. Listen to our interview and how many of the core takeaways relate to investing in employees. It should give us pause to re-think our focus on all sorts of programs that don’t seem to deliver results. Instead, we should focus on our employees.

So, what are some ways we can invest in employees? Here are a few we’ve seen to deliver exceptional value:

  1. Gratitude – A simple thank you can go a long way!
  2. Specific feedback – Although all managers seem to fear providing feedback, the best employees value constructive feedback as well as genuine and specific positive feedback.
  3. Assign a mentor – This can bring meaningful and profound change and results. People learn by watching examples and trying new ideas with immediate feedback. That is what mentoring is all about when done well!
  4. Training programs – Building skills and gaining fundamental concepts are the essential building blocks of success. For example, for supply chain and operations professionals, the Association for Supply Chain Management’s APICS certificiations are best in class.
  5. Special programs for the “best of the best” – Instead of investing in our under performing employees by default, why not take the proactive approach and put together a special program with special experiences and training opportunities for your stars?
  6. Opportunities to try new approaches – One of the most important pieces to invest in employees is to allow employees to try new ideas. We must expect failure in our quest for success. Thus, it will require an investment of time, resources and potentially resolving the consequences of failures along the way.
  7. Celebrate success – Lastly, we should celebrate progress and success. As obvious as this seems, it isn’t commonplace.

Investing in employees is the best way to future-proof your manufacturing and supply chain. In fact, it is also the best way to future-proof your technology road map. Perhaps it is time to re-think your approach to investing in employees AND automation. These are not separate concepts as robots and autonomous vehicles will not work separately from human capital and talent. The most successful executives understand that the secret to success is how to invest strategically into both.

If you’d like an assessment of where you should invest (time, resources, money) to maximize your employee engagement and your business value, contact us if you’d like to assess your situation.

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Why Join A CEO Group?

December 6th, 2019

We recognized Ron Penland as our 2019 LMA Advocate. Ron has added value to our business in many ways over the years ranging from insights on what’s relevant to manufacturers and distributors and their bottom line to valued connections. Since Ron runs CEO groups, I thought it made for a good segue to discuss the value of interacting with peers. Are you drinking your own Kool-Aid or do you get push back when you need it?

You might want to consider the unpleasant idea of gaining input even when you don’t want to hear it. The proof is in the pudding. Certainly, Ron’s CEOs have been FAR more successful than even the average CEO group as his CEOs get 2 to 3 times the multiples for the sale of their businesses when compared to the industry averages. That alone is noteworthy. I joined one of his groups simply to better understand what is on our clients’ minds. Of course they tell me what relates to our project but if I understand more about the broad spectrum of issues, I can ensure LMA provides an even more powerful return. That is an important win-win – the more value we help our clients create, the better for both of us!

Do you have any venues for interacting with top notch peers? After all, just interacting with someone in a peer position willing to talk to you could be even worse than being a hermit! Kash Gokli, head of Harvey Mudd’s manufacturing practice and Director of their clinic program and I gather CEOs a few times a year to help foster a community of executives and to discuss timely topics in our Harvey Mudd executive roundtables. Of course, we don’t go into depth and specifics of company performance like you do in a CEO group. Yet, it can add definite value. Contact us if you are interested in joining us.

There are other options as well for building these invaluable connections. Think about volunteering for a community benefit to provide expertise. In the Inland Empire and surrounding areas of Southern CA, we are starting a consortium for advanced manufacturing and supply chain success. We are currently looking for manufacturers and exporters who would be interested in being involved from the ground up in an advisory capacity. Please contact the Inland Empire Economic Partnership (IEEP) or me if interested. And a local manufacturing executive asked me to participate in CAIEDEC which is an organization supporting export. CEOs are involved in both of these initiatives and these groups are the first to pop to mind.

There are plenty of opportunities to gain ideas, insights and push back. Are you seeking them out? If not, why not? Wouldn’t you like to exceed corporate objectives to fast-track your career or sell your company for double the industry average? Pick just one item to test this month, and results will follow.



The Future of Manufacturing Is Bright: Harvey Mudd Takes 1st Place in Global Student Case Competition

November 15th, 2019

As President of APICS Inland Empire, one of my favorite activities is encouraging students. We encourage students from all of our local universities to participate in plant tours, symposiums and student case competitions to learn about manufacturing and supply chain, as well as to expand their professional network. Our Board of Directors has been proud over the years to see multiple teams from Cal State San Bernardino, Cal Poly Pomona and Harvey Mudd win regional competitions to compete in the Association for Supply Chain Management International Student Case Competition. And this year, our student team from Harvey Mudd College took home the gold!

Harvey Mudd placed first, followed by Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Case Western University. As an audience member during their presentation to the Board of Directors of the case study company, I can assuredly say that my clients would be thrilled to hear this sort of presentation to their Board and it gives us high hopes for the future of manufacturing. There are no limits with students of this caliber! And, as a former co-leader of a highly successful Western region student case competition, I can definitely say a big thank you goes to their academic advisor, Kash Gokli as well as mentors and exemplars that have aided their progress along the way.

Harvey Mudd College facilitates students’ involvement with manufacturing companies as a part of their Clinic program so that students walk away with practical, hands-on knowledge and the company walks away with bottom line results. Another Harvey Mudd team won the Manufacturing Council of the Inland Empire‘s Innovation By Students Award earlier this year for working with manufacturing company, Laguna Clay, to improve processes and drive performance improvement in their manufacturing process. Gone are the days when top notch students think in theory.  Instead, practical manufacturing work experience is the norm and we have many top notch engineers going into manufacturing again!

Additionally, I would be remiss not to recognize that earlier this year another student team from Cal Poly Pomona won the regional competition for the Global Student Challenge and went to the Netherlands to compete in the global competition. There is no doubt that if we provide the tools and education, the future leaders of manufacturing will achieve goals we can’t even imagine at this juncture.

What are you doing to support our future leaders and to encourage the pairing of fresh ideas with solid experience? When paired successfully, it is an unbeatable combination with both the new employee and the tenured employee gaining new ideas and excitement from the process. Take a step back and think about how to make 1 + 1 = 64. And, please refer your friends and colleagues to our APICS Inland Empire chapter as there are numerous opportunities for student involvement and growth.

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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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