Tag Archive: progress

The Resilient Supply Chain: Cross-Organizational Collaboration

January 4th, 2019

I’ve been coordinating a process involving several disparate players, ranging from multiple educational institutions who are not aligned with one another, government players (with many differing goals) and business partners (with a completely different set of needs).  Although there are others, these 3 core groups are more than enough!

Success will only come to those who find common ground with collaboration.  If collaboration was as easy as simple communication, everyone would do it. We would probably have a lot more happy customers and more profits to share with investors, employees and for reinvestment and giving back.

What should we think about if this is the outcome we wish to create?

  1.  Look for the win-win-win –  If someone wins and someone else loses, it isn’t a successful collaboration.  If you think hard enough, there is usually a way to turn a situation into more of a win-win-win with some shared give-and-take.
  2.  Think about positioning –  If your idea is presented in isolation, it has a much greater chance at failing than if it is presented in light of the bigger picture. Why is it important?  How can each person play a role? Does each person know how he/she fits in and provides value?
  3.  Value diversity – Each time I think “I don’t want to be on this person’s team because he/she is annoying or won’t add value”, I find that I am completely wrong (luckily these are just thoughts, not actions).  The best ideas come from the most unlikely places.  And, interesting suggestions that can lead to “big” ideas typically come from someone who is quite opposite and thinking about the situation from a different perspective.
  4.  Recognize progress of the team –  Who doesn’t want to be recognized with a pat on the back as progress is made?  The key to collaboration is not to say positive things about collaboration and then reward individual performance.  Instead, reward team progress, even if that progress is simply gaining an understanding of how much they do not agree with each other yet are willing to listen.  
  5.  Consensus isn’t needed – As much as collaboration can achieve dramatically better results than each superhero individual thinking on his/her own, consensus is overrated.  Set the expectations upfront of how collaboration works. Feedback and input is expected. Discussion and debate participation is mandatory. But consensus isn’t required for every decision.  Otherwise, you might get there eventually but your competition will be LONG gone. More importantly, determine how to collaborate and make decisions upfront.decisions

The importance of collaboration comes up more frequently than almost any other topic.  Since executives are collaborating with customers, suppliers, trusted advisors, other supply chain partners and even competitors, there is just no room for poor collaborators.  

If you’ll notice, many disruptors collaborate with strange partners. Perhaps this core skill is a key ingredient to success…. Or, think of it another way, how will anything get done without it?

 



California Steel Industries and Whether Progress Follows Passion

November 10th, 2018

Recently, I went on a tour of California Steel Industries (CSI), the leading producer of steel in the western United States.  We walked through the steel mill and the pipe mill.  You’ll see a video of the steel manufacturing process below.

It is quite an interesting process.  However, as amazing as it is to see, what is even more impressive is the dedication and passion of the employees who took us on the tour.  What I thought was most impressive is how the team members enjoyed the culture.

 

 

CSI has never had a layoff although they have used their employees to not just fill temporary roles but also to perform all services during tough years.  This dedication shines through.  For example, the pipe mill supervisor had a lot of pride as he told us about his story and the fact that it is the newest pipe mill in the world yet it is housed in the oldest building at CSI.  Perhaps progress follows passion in CSI’s case….

One tip to implement this week:
Culture seems to be popping up at every turn lately (tours, Harvey Mudd executive roundtables, successful CEO feedback) as key to success.

Have you thought about your culture and the impact on your employees and progress?  For example, on a tour, would your employees talk to the process and leave it at that?  Or would they talk about how much they enjoy working there?  Perhaps we should all “take a tour” of our facilities and find out.

If culture is simply as my consulting mentor Alan Weiss defines it (that set of beliefs that govern behavior), it is quite simple.  The issue is that it isn’t easy to build.

How might we create that set of beliefs that govern behavior?  Perhaps we start by deciding what we are willing to stand up for – and not waver from when the “going gets tough”.

If your influencers start believing in your culture, it will spread.  The trick is the only way I’ve ever seen influencers believe is by gaining their trust and respect and showing them (not telling them) what your new culture supports.

Why not start by simply thinking about what beliefs you support currently (whether intentional or unintentional)?  Can you see the impact of these beliefs in your culture?  The first step to any progress is to fully understand where you are now.

 



Leadership during Busy Times

October 3rd, 2016
calm leadership

Work amounts fluctuate but busy times are guaranteed. Set the work tone with calm leadership so team members don’t panic during hectic periods.

Every week is busy, don’t you think? We always think next week will be better, but is it? Doubtful. Another corporate priority arises. A customer wants to tour your facility. An employee calls in sick. Month-end reports are due. We are bombarded with data. Who knows what else might happen! If this is the status quo, the key is how to lead effectively during these busy times.

We have found that it is most effective to go against the tide. Haven’t you found that the most successful person is zigging when everyone else is zagging? Certainly in almost every stock market crash, everyone was in a panic to buy while the market was hot. So, how do we go against the tide with leadership during busy times? Remain calm.

Our clients with the best leaders remain calm under the most pressing of circumstances. Of course, when it rains, it pours. Thus, customers will not spread their issues out evenly throughout your week. Your machines will all break down at once – on 2nd shift when your supervisor calls in sick. How can we encourage our teams to remain calm yet act aggressively and proactively to resolve issues and raise the bar? Have you thought about implementing standards and processes? However, they will fail miserably without consistent leadership to back them up. Build resilience and flexibility into them. Stay on top of what is happening. Monitor progress. Celebrate successes. Provide opportunities for your people to succeed. Most will rise to the occasion.

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to Profit Through People:

Put Your Eagle Eye on What’s Key to Success-Leadership

10 Ways to Stay Focused on the Critical Path

 



Are You Ready for Year-End?

November 7th, 2013
Supply chain managers planning for 2014.

While wrapping up 2013, be proactive about making 2014 the best year ever.

As the year wraps up, successful executives are thinking about how to not only finish up the year on a strong foot but also, how to kick off the New Year with rapid progress.

So it makes sense to take a step back and think about a few year-end planning items:

1. Tax planning – have you thought about whether there is anything you can do proactively for this year or next year?

2. Projects – which projects will have the largest impact to your success?  Is there anything you can do to accelerate progress?  Divert resources to focus on them?  What roadblocks do you expect and what can you do to minimize the likelihood of occurrence?

3. Holiday preparation – anything you can do to ensure the business will run smoothly during the holidays?  Have you recognized your key relationships?  Employees?  Supply chain partners?

4. Thank you – what better time to take a step back and remember to say thank you.  A simple, heartfelt thank you goes much further than you’d expect.

5. Season of giving – instead of thinking about what you’ll receive or your wish list, spend that time thinking of how you can make a difference for your employees, peers, managers, families, friends etc.