Tag Archive: shutdown

Should We Prioritize or Deprioritize Innovation & Technology During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

April 3rd, 2020

What is the first thing that happens when a client is shutdown due to the coronavirus? Cut all unnecessary spending. Certainly, I agree with this approach in most situations. If you cannot pay for your employees, you shouldn’t pay for unnecessary expenses! However, if the situation isn’t dire, it might just be an opportunity to refocus on innovation and technology.

There are well-regarded statistics about the Depression and the Great Recession that those companies that invested while everyone else cut back were significantly more successful following the recession. Of course, it depends on whether you are investing in what will be needed as the lockdown ends or if you just continue with your prior plans because they were well-thought out previously. All bets are off! You must re-review your strategies, business plans and associated investments with the ‘new world’ in mind. Ask your executive team and key partners questions:

  1. What will have changed as we emerge from lockdown?
  2. What opportunities will it present for your customers?
  3. What new roadblocks will exist for your customers?
  4. Is there an opportunity for new customers?
  5. Do you have an opportunity to expand to new markets?
  6. What products and services will be needed?
  7. Can you get ahead of the competition so you’ll be out of the gate at 200 mph instead of crawling at a turtle’s pace?
  8. Will you need to re-tool?
  9. What skills will you need?
  10. What technology will you need?

Challenging times can create opportunity with innovation and creativity. Innovation will fast-track growth and profits. When has there been a better time to innovate? Although we started our innovation series a while back and have always been involved with encouraging innovation (such as the Manufacturers Innovation Awards), we are going to start adding content to encourage clients to focus on innovation since we think this is a critical time to ramp up your focus on innovation.

Innovation doesn’t have to involve technology as it could simply involve repurposing, repackaging, or repositioning. In fact, there is very little that is truly ‘new’. How often does a client invent something new like the sticky note? Certainly we hope a new vaccine will be developed rapidly, but many industries will simply come up with new ways of doing things and that type of innovation will fast-track growth and profits. The only precursor is whether you have an innovative culture. Now that is something we can control, and it doesn’t have to require capital or cash.

Why not put your top talent on an innovation project while under lockdown/ social distancing? There is plenty that can be accomplished via Zoom, and you might just be thrilled with the results. From all accounts, it appears as though the recession will be short-lived and in a V shape with a rapid recovery. Will you be ready to take advantage of the opportunities?

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Manufacturing Summit Recap: Innovation & Top Talent

Systems Pragmatist



The Value of Collaborating with Strange Bedfellows

February 19th, 2019

The topic of collaborating with strange bedfellows has recently come up repeatedly. There can be significant value and strategic advantage created in collaborating with unlikely partners if there are clear objectives, trust and an open mind. Just think about Amazon’s collaboration with the U.S. Postal service. Amazon is clearly famous for rapid, same-day, even Sunday deliveries whereas the U.S. postal service is definitely not known for agility and speed yet they understand and are proficient with the ‘last mile’.

Kash Gokli & I host the Harvey Mudd executive roundtables, and the topic of collaborating with competitors as well as unlikely partners arose in our recent roundtable. In the ‘right’ situation at the ‘right’ time, it can maximize service and value. Also, I am a Board member of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership and member of the Southern CA Logistics council, and this topic of collaboration has come up on multiple occasions. We recently led a collaboration session with 10 academic institutions. Of course, they all compete from several respects yet there are opportunities for 1+1+1 = 25. And this is just the beginning. When it is put together with collaborations with industry and government, perhaps 25 can turn into 100 or 1000. Last but not least, I met with UCR students last night to encourage their involvement in manufacturing and supply chain and invite their participation in APICS-IE. We had this exact conversation about collaborating with their competitors (Cal Poly Pomona, CSUSB etc.).

Are you exploring collaborations with strange bedfellows?

One tip to implement this week:
Perhaps it is as simple as opening your mind to new possibilities. Think about the person or entity you would most want to avoid joining your collaboration. What if you gave it a chance? For example, I remember a distinct time a few years ago when I was involved with a group. Someone in the group brought up a new member who would be the last person I’d want to join our group. I felt like I was collaborating with a diverse set of people, and we were making great progress. I just didn’t like this person. Although I didn’t say it, I cursed my bad luck on the way home because I just wasn’t excited about collaborating.

Fast-forward several months and it turned out that the new participant added unique value that probably would not have occurred otherwise. Although I still wouldn’t want to have dinner with this person outside of our work together, I’m glad I gave it a chance or I would have missed out on fantastic benefits and a learning opportunity. We have all been there, and sometimes we are right to be hesitant. Can you achieve a shared goal? Is trust possible as it relates to the objective? Assuming so, I vote for exploring the opportunity. Perhaps it is the next Amazon/ U.S. Postal Service collaboration.

Collaboration goes hand-in-hand with resilience. In today’s marketplace, there is no doubt the resilient will thrive. If your key supplier or customer is devastated by a natural disaster, power outage or unexpected shutdown or other disruptor, have you thought about collaborating with strange bedfellows to serve your customers? You cannot wait until the issue occurs! Creating a resilient end-to-end supply chain is of paramount importance.

For more information, check out our new resilient supply chain series and contact us if you’d like to have an assessment of your organization.