Tag Archive: organization

The Resilient Supply Chain: Do You Have Resilient Employees?

October 24th, 2018

Resiliency isn’t easy,  If it were, every organization would have already perfected it.  Yet, in today’s volatile, Amazon impacted, disruption-heavy environment, you must build resilience.  

What is Resilience
Let’s start by talking about our meaning of resilience.  In addition to having the ability to adjust and recover quickly to changing business conditions.  A company must also have the capability to proactively think through the most likely disruptors and develop strategies to thrive amidst the chaos.   

Are your employees resilient?
If a customer changes his mind, how does your team handle it?  Do they see it as a challenge or a chore? Do they complain or start asking questions to understand what’s behind the change and whether it is likely to impact future orders?  Do they communicate upstream and downstream so all parties are in the loop and aware of what is coming?

If a supplier runs into a capacity issue and is late to deliver, what do your employees do?  Actually, let’s back up – do they know about the delay in advance? If so, has it been communicated?  What approach is taken with the supplier in these circumstances? Do you know whether your demands are realistic or not?  Or are you overloading your low cost supplier so you don’t get beat up for purchase price variances? Think about these questions and then go back to answering the resiliency question.  

Learning from Failure
Here is another key question:  What does your team do if they fail?  Do they look for the person to blame? Does the leader blame the weakest link?  Or does the leader blame “them” (next level management)? Or does the leader accept responsibility even if it isn’t his/her fault?  No matter who is at fault, how does the team react? Do they jump on the situation and look for solutions? Will they be more likely or less likely to collaborate upstream or downstream to find answers or ideas to test?  Perhaps most importantly, will they hide under a rock or spur into action?


Start by understanding your resiliency culture.  Then, you can purposefully change it to focus on resiliency.  



Gaining New Ideas to Increase Business Value

August 8th, 2018

Every executive we work with is interested in increasing the value of the business.  Whether a small closely-held business with an owner who might want to sell the business or exit with an ESOP, a private-equity backed company aiming to achieve the ideal exit strategy per the private equity agreement or a large, complex organization working to increase shareholder value, increasing the value of the business remains a unanimous top priority.

Understanding this objective is quite different from fulfilling it.  There is a reason the most successful businesses have teams of people rather than one person who has to come up with every idea – it is certainly more sustainable!  

So, how can we encourage these ideas? Here are several ways that we’ve seen success achieved consistently over 25+ years in both the corporate and the consulting world with manufacturers and distributors.

  1. Engage your employees – Definitely one of the “easier said than done” items; however, it is also one of the most consistently successful.  As the Gallop polls show, those companies with a higher percentage of engaged employees significantly outperform the rest.
  2. Involve your customers – Who can better than your customers to generate ideas that will ensure a superior customer experience while increasing the value of the company?  Don’t just go to your top 10 customers in volume. Think about your long-term customers. It can also be worth it to collaborate with customers on the brink of being an unprofitable and prompt ideas to turn it around or end the relationship on a “good note”.  You never know what might happen. We’ve seen dramatic turnarounds, just as often as we’ve seen the rest of the company improve when getting rid of the “rotten apple customer”.
  3. Collaborate with your suppliers – Aside from your customers, who else might have a substantial impact on your performance?  Your suppliers! If you can devise new win-win approaches together, imagine the possibilities.  For example, when I was a VP of Operations and Supply Chain for a mid-market manufacturer, we collaborated with suppliers to develop a new material so that we could reduce our usage (increasing our profit) and provide a benefit to our customers (better performance/ higher value for them).  We became a closer partner with our supplier and grew each of our businesses and profits while enhancing the value to our mutual customer. A win-win-win.
  4. Ask colleagues outside of your area of expertise – Just because your colleague is in a different function doesn’t mean he/she won’t have a great idea.  Take the time to explain an important project to related colleagues outside of the project or your area of expertise.   Ask for their thoughts, watch-outs and the like. You never know where the next great idea will come from.
  5. Consult with experts / advisors – Attend trade association meetings.  Dig into industry journals. Ask questions of LinkedIn groups. Pursue alumni colleagues.  Consult with an advisor, consultant or financial expert. Join a peer group.  

There is no doubt that the most successful executives utilize all of these techniques to make sure they generate a seemingly never-ending stream of ideas to increase the value of their business.  Set aside time on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to priorities these activities.  Do not expect an immediate payoff.  However, if you are consistent, you’ll find success one day down-the-road.  After all, it may only that one idea to make a significant impact!

 



Is Your Supply Chain Ready for Growth?

December 9th, 2017

Recently, we worked with a large, complex organization to provide an external assessment of the supply chain organization and how well it was prepared to support scalable growth.  It reminded us of the value of taking an outside view every now and then.  Whether you take yourself outside of your organization, hire a consultant or ask an executive from another division or trusted customer to take a deep dive into your organization, you’ll likely wind up with a few ideas – or, at a minimum, a confirmation that your i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed and ready for growth.

Growth has many challenges
It is MUCH easier to downsize than it is to grow successfully.  NOT more pleasant but it is simpler to cut back.  Unfortunately, we are all too familiar with this exercise.  Yet growth has many of the same challenges:

Cash is a constant challenge – by virtue of growing rapidly, you spend money in advance of shipping and receiving payment.  The quicker you grow, the tougher it can be without a line of credit especially for a smaller organization.

  • Are your people ready for growth?  What “used to work” might no longer be sufficient.  Have you prepared for these needs?
  • Can your operations keep up?  Do you have the resources, equipment, and support resources?
  • Suppliers are likely to be ill prepared unless they are in lock step with your growth plans.  Regardless of the preparedness of your team, nothing will occur unless your supply chain is aligned.
  • If caught by surprise, you can certainly throw resources at the issue but to achieve scalable growth, you should have thought about your processes, systems, metrics and more.  For example, determining that you’ve outgrown your ERP system as you “hit the wall” is too late.  It will take time to select the best system for your needs AND it will take between 6 months to 18 months to implement, depending on your size, complexity, ERP partner, scope etc.

Growth is a hot topic.  For example, according to our recent Supply Chain Briefing, McKinsey predicts 20% manufacturing growth by 2025.  However, regardless of your industry, if your company isn’t growing, it is dying.  We have NEVER seen an organization “stand still” and “maintain” successfully.  Have you?  Thus, growth is core to success.  

Plan or After-Thought
The key is whether it is a plan or an after-thought.  Which is it for you and your organization?

 



Keep a Strategic Eye

December 8th, 2017

observation

 

The verdict is in – those executives that keep a continual eye on strategy outperform the rest.

Certainly, after spending a week in Fiji thinking about strategy, I am focused on the power of keeping a strategic eye at all times.  It is undoubtedly what our most successful clients do. We have learned to keep an eye on what “works” across organization sizes, industry types, and more. 

Recently, we were in a final project review meeting with a large, complex organization’s CEO, and he continually kept an eye on strategy. As much as he appreciated the tactical results, the strategic conversation was top of mind. It was a night and day difference to another client review meeting we participated in recently. There is no doubt which organization would make the better investment – not just in terms of cash but also in terms of referrals of resources. Top talent is attracted to top talent with an eye to the future.

We also met with a potential client recently who is vastly smaller in size than both of the above examples yet he had an eye to strategy and was willing to invest in the “right” talent to ensure his strategy translated into reality. This conversation engaged our interest in collaborating with him because we know the focus would be on outcomes that tie to strategy instead of deliverables that might have no relation to a result.

Are you engaging your employees, customers, suppliers and trusted advisers with an eye to strategy?

 



How Organization Can Be Your Secret to Success

January 8th, 2016
work organization

Being disorganized at work will lead to lost opportunities. Get organized to be able to act on the right item or information at a moment’s notice.

I’ve always been organized. My mom said that my 5th grade teacher who also owned a business and was in politics said I was the most organized person she had known – adults included. This was a high compliment coming from her. I don’t really remember much about that but I know it has been one of the key skills that led to my career success. I’ve noticed that some of the most successful people I’ve known credit organization as playing a pivotal role in their success.

Why does organization play a big role in success? Let’s consider a few examples. If your manager calls to ask an important question, can you retrieve the information quickly? If your customer has a time-sensitive opportunity and needs you to be able to pull together a presentation of your collaborative efforts, will you be able to track down the data needed? If your #1 customer asks for a special delivery of a unique item, can you find it rapidly? If you have more on your agenda than can fit into a day, do you have a way to quickly see which items are most critical and pick them out? And if you have to find all of the documents related to your key supplier to address an issue, will you find the documents all together or will you have to track them down one-by-one?

Being organized is NOT the same as being neat. Sure, being neat can help with organization but it isn’t the most important factor. Organized is not the same as being smart. Although I prefer to think that organized people are smart, it doesn’t have to be true. Organization gives you leverage so that you start with a “leg up” on the competition. For example, I remember testing fine in certain areas in school yet far exceeding those statistics with organization and dedication. To me, the bottom line is that being organized allows you to access the “right” information/item at the “right” time at the “right” place in order to make informed, timely decisions and take the “right” actions at the “right” time to thrive. Why not give organization a boost in your repertoire?

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to strengthen your Eagle Eye:

The Power of Dashboards

Organization Essential to Strategic Focus