Tag Archive: regional

Boom or Recession? What is the State of the Economy?

May 6th, 2019

In the last few months, I’ve attended sessions on the global, national and regional state of the economy. Every executive, trusted advisor and colleague wants to know: Are we headed for a recession?

The bottom line answer is that there are no signs of a recession in the foreseeable future in terms of the economy. Instead of worrying, it might be just the time to take advantage of the opportunity. As Roy Paulson, president of Paulson Manufacturing said in our 2019 Predictions from Manufacturing & Logistics Executives report, “…expect to see more talk of tariffs, threats and waving of hands, all the while, those of us in exporting will be busy making deals, signing contracts and getting business done.”

Similarly, in manufacturing, there was concern over the worsening ISM (Institute for Supply Management) index even though it remained far above (54.2) the level that indicates expansion (50) yet the index rose significantly in March to 55.3, signaling great growth and stabilization. The largest contributor was from employment which had the biggest gain in 3 years. All cylinders seem to be firing.

Yet many remain concerned for the next shoe to drop due to the volatility and uncertainty of these tumultuous times. Perhaps it is time for us to get comfortable with volatility and pursue new product introductions, technology (automation, AI, IoT) for those that will add value in our businesses and experiment with innovative ideas. What better time will there be to get in front of the curve so that we can pass by the competition if/when a recession hits?

One tip to implement this week:
There are countless studies that prove that those people who remain calm, invest smartly while others panic and stay the course to what they know will add value to their business thrive. Perhaps we should take a page from their book.

Of course, stay up-to-date on the latest trends and don’t hide your head in the sand as issues arise.  Spend the 80/20 of your day looking for opportunities. What new ideas have you had lately? Have you asked your front line employees for ideas? Are you willing to invest in their education and give them the chance to fail?

When I was VP of Operations at PaperPak, I worked with a CEO who was constantly thinking about the ways for us to succeed. Gas prices rose (which we obviously couldn’t control), which had the potential to create pure havoc with our profitability (with a Board that didn’t consider gas prices a reasonable excuse). Instead of panicking, he would consult with key people throughout the organization and create opportunities to get ahead of the issue. We rose from the ashes more times than I can count because we kept focused, thinking of opportunities instead of becoming defeated by some rather significant curve balls.

Give it a try this week at the next sign of volatility and disaster. How can you turn it into an opportunity?



What is More Effective – On-site or Remote?

March 30th, 2019

Lately, I’ve had quite the mix of on-site and remote events.  So, it got me thinking about on-site vs. remote. Which is better?  

  • Manufacturers’ Summit – I introduced the innovation awards and announced the winners at the recent Manufacturers’ Summit. Could this be done effectively remotely? In my opinion, no!
  • Global Strategy Session – I also recently participated in a short check-in session with my global growth group. After resolving my video difficulties so that I wasn’t blurry,  it worked out perfectly. There is no reason I should go across the world for 3 hours!
  • The Society for the Advancement of Consulting –  My business partner, Linda Popky (in Northern CA) and I have participated on multiple Zoom calls with members from the U.S., Canada, Europe and the Pacific Rim to collaborate on increasing member value and related topics. We find these to be ideal remote settings yet we also have in-person regional and global events. You might find me sitting in my car prior to a client meeting on a Zoom call with Australia & Germany.
  • Client workshop with facilities across the U.S. and Canada to implement planning process upgrades – the reason I write this from Minnesota in sub zero temperatures is that this workshop is best done in person. With that said, we have weekly interactions remotely to implement successfully in-between these workshops (which occur about every 6 months). Since MN was chosen for March, perhaps AZ will be in August 🙂
  • ERP Demos – since I currently have several ERP selection projects, I have participated in several demos. Some need to be done in person to ensure project success and others would be a waste of time to attend in person. It depends!
  • Aerospace & Defense speech – the picture shows that clearly I presented in person. Although they record the session for members to listen to afterwards, the value is far more significant with in-person interaction!

One tip to implement this week:
Don’t just assume remote or in-person is always better. The answer is: “It depends”. If you are bringing together cross-functional participants in a workshop-like setting, perhaps you should invest in travel to get together. On the other hand, if there is an expert who can participate remotely to contribute as needed, that also can be value added and cost effective.

Don’t just do what you’ve always done. I used to drive 60+ miles each way to clients for a few hours frequently. Sometimes it was exactly what I should have done.  Other times it was because I defaulted to doing what I typically do. Then one day, I tried to call or do the meeting via Zoom, and I realized the value was equal yet the wear and tear was now non-existent! Thus, I always ask myself about what will achieve the desired outcome. Sometimes remote is better.  Other times, in-person is better. Use common sense.

Assuming you decide to test out the remote option, there are a few items to keep in mind:

  • Act as though you are sitting in a meeting, and don’t allow distractions to take over.
  • Make sure you keep ambient noise down
  • Use video to your advantage so that you can show each other items or emphasize your communications with non-verbal language.
  • Test out technology in advance
  • Just give it a try. What’s the worst that will happen?

And, keep in mind that in-person still provides value. The higher tech we become, the higher level of touch required!