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During the holiday season, it is extra important to remember to say thank you. There is added stress and loneliness in our personal lives it seems yet there is also added stress in our business lives. Year-end is approaching for many. Vacations need to be covered. Tax planning should be occurring. Preparations for 2016 should be occurring. And the list goes on. A simple thank you can go a long way!


I've worked with many clients, and I've yet to work with a client where I didn't meet someone who felt unappreciated. Do you think unappreciated employees provide excellent customer service? No!


One tip to implement this week:

Look around you. Be observant. Find someone doing something well, and thank them. Or, think about who has helped you, probably without you even asking. Thank them. Catch your employees "doing right". Actually, remember, this works just as well with peers, your manager and your Board members. Often, they rarely hear the positive. Change that during this holiday season. Perhaps it will be so successful that you'll keep doing it in January....


Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”

traditions.jpgSince Halloween recently passed, I've been thinking of the value of tradition with your people. Yesterday I went to a client that has an amazing people culture, and although the people were committed to the important session we were conducting, they all wanted to go to the Halloween pot luck at lunch. It was a fun and vast tradition – my client said that grazing started right away and lasted all day. Everyone looked forward to it, and it has become one of the few traditions that is meaningful in their culture. I have to say the food looked amazing!

This morning, I went to my hair person, and she told me that they really enjoyed having kids in costumes parade through the salon for Halloween. Next, I went to Ihop to get some multi-grain pancakes with chocolate chips, and everyone there had very cool costumes. They seemed to be really enjoying the Halloween spirit, and the customers seemed to enjoy it as well. 


My Dad also got flowers for my Mom every Halloween, and so this Halloween is bittersweet since he just passed away. I liked that idea of tradition, and so the last two years, I ordered her flowers from him as he couldn't do that anymore due to his Parkinson's. Nice to receive flowers for over 50 years every Halloween!


These types of traditions can pull people together. We are much more likely to collaborate with those we like and trust than anyone else. Do you have any traditions at your company? Can you create one? How about in your department? Or with your group? Silly and fun traditions can yield great results. For example, one of the groups I belong to had a bowling competition, and even those who are not bowlers enjoyed the competitive spirit. Another group (a women's professional group) really enjoyed a cooking class and bottles of wine. Who wouldn't? I got to know several of the women much better that evening. And they found out I attended because I value relationships and like to eat! 


Be creative and think of ways to start or build upon tradition. There's no need to spend money or ask for approvals. Find something that is enjoyable and would pull people together. Ask your colleagues for ideas. You'll be surprised how a silly Halloween costume could have folks talking for days to come....


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


Labor Day Parades and the Value of Tradition

Do You Have Engaged Employees?

I was in Hawaii the last few days for a strategy session. It was great to have dedicated time to think through strategy, brainstorm and improve upon it with colleagues, etc.


Although this photo isn't the typical beach scene from Hawaii, I thought it was a great picture and fascinating. Just like this tree, there is so much to notice and consider. Do you take the time out to get away and THINK?



One tip to implement this week:

No matter what is happening, set aside a few minutes to think. It doesn't have to be laborious or lengthy. I find that new ideas pop up when you have time to think. And you'll end up performing whatever tasks you are working on better/ quicker. No matter how much we think we can just keep going, everyone needs some time to just think. It doesn't have to be about work; just set aside the time.  No matter what you think about, more ideas are guaranteed to start flowing.


Don't leave it to chance. Plan it in your calendar. Tell your spouse or employees. Block it out from whatever roadblocks might arise. Even 10 minutes of thinking time this week could lead to significant benefits. Let me know how it goes.


Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”

Fotolia_94370575_XS.jpgAs easy as it seems to keep a well-planned project on-track, it isn’t! In working with hundreds of project teams over the course of my career, I’ve found that projects do not fail in formulation; they fail in execution. The best results follow those projects that are well-managed and kept on-track. Results are not just substantial in terms of monetary gain, but are also important to customer satisfaction and loyalty. In today’s Amazon-impacted marketplace, a leg up on the competition can be a vital competitive strategy. What are you doing to ensure success?

There are several powerful strategies to keeping a project on track. Some of the most impactful are as follows:

  1. 1. It starts at the top: As with success overall, keeping your project on track starts at the top. Leaders can make or break success. Thus, selecting the best project manager is key to success. Of course, it is beneficial also to have the best project sponsors and executive support; however, the 80/20 of success is putting the right leader in place.
  2. 2. Put time in upfront to understand the project plan: Although it is a common desire to jump into the project and start performing tasks, it is significantly more successful to take the time to develop a strong project plan. Make sure to coordinate with all relevant parties and incorporate input. Ask questions and consider potential issues. Be clear on your plan, and results will follow.
  3. 3. Focus on the critical path: One of the secrets to success relates to focusing exclusively on the critical path. It is easy to get deterred on all the project plan tasks as they all seem important; however, the most successful projects consider the 80/20 as the critical path. In essence, the focus is on the tasks that are most likely to hold up the project from progressing at the optimal pace and those which are likely to impact whether results occur.
  4. 4. Follow up with task owners: Following up with task owners can ensure success. I’ve found that a quick check in with task owners to remind them of upcoming tasks, especially critical path tasks, can be invaluable to making sure the owner is prepared to start on time and that they have the resources available to successfully complete the task. Ask if there are any concerns and work to address them prior to the start date.
  5. 5. Embrace project supporters: Whether a project sponsor or a peer to the project team, project supporters are integral to project success. Identify project supporters and keep them in the loop. Make sure to provide information so that they understand how they help to contribute to the project success. Make it easy for them to support your project.
  6. 6. Celebrate successes: An important part of any project is to celebrate small wins along the way. Don’t wait for the project to be completed to celebrate success. Success breeds success. Find people doing right. Look for indicators that the project is moving in the right direction. Recognize the progress and celebrate the contributions of the team.
  7. 7. Simplify: Complex project plans do not deliver success. Contrary to popular opinion, I’ve found that more often than not, success stems from simplification. Simplify to the tasks required to deliver your end result. Avoid complexity. It will become easier for the team to understand and execute.
  8. 8. Monitor metrics: Do not wait until the end to evaluate project success. Identify milestones. Keep an eye out for critical path milestones. Monitor progress towards these milestones. For the critical milestones, develop interim checkpoints so that you can monitor progress along the way. That way, you’ll have the opportunity to adjust as needed.
  9. 9. Don’t take your eye off the prize - results: Although it is easy to get caught up in a maze of tasks and to-do’s, don’t take your eyes off of your desired end results. Keep them in mind and focus on those actions that will contribute specifically towards delivering end results.
  10. 10. Communicate, communicate and communicate: Just as in real estate where location, location and location are the three most important attributes of a new house, communicate, communicate and communicate are the three most important attributes in keeping your project on track. If all team members, supporters, sponsors and other related parties are not aligned, the project is likely to veer off track.

Since executives count on projects to deliver the vast majority of improvements to company performance (such as growing the business, increasing margins, and accelerating cash flow), keeping the project on track is essential. Those who follow these ten strategies will succeed significantly more often than those who don’t. Why take a chance on what’s vital to business success?

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to become a Systems Pragmatist:


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


What is a Systems Pragmatist?

I've been partnering with clients to design and implement SIOP (sales, inventory and operations planning) programs the last several years as I've found them to be a GREAT way to achieve several results simultaneously: 1) Support growth, 2) Improved service levels/quicker turnaround of deliveries (shorter lead times), 3) Improved margins and efficiencies, 4) Accelerated cash flow; and 5) Improved employee morale and teamwork. Although the technical side plays an important role (figuring out future demand and aligning with manufacturing, staffing, suppliers etc.), the aspect that generates the best results is that it aligns the executives and functions within the organization (and can even go to customers and suppliers).


We've achieved significant results in all sorts of industries and company-sizes, and Marketing always plays a key role in the process. One of my innovative clients renamed the process SMIOP (with an added M for Marketing) as they wanted to highlight marketing. I thought that was a great idea. If you don't have your marketing processes in full force, your demand plan will be lacking and you won't be synced up with your supply side. Thus, I wanted to share the importance with you.

One tip to implement this week:

Many of you probably think you are not responsible for marketing; however, in the best companies, all employees relate to marketing. What is your brand and perception in the marketplace?  Each employee can have an impact on that. Also, how well are you engaging your customers? Do they see you as the experts in your industry? If so, they will be more likely to partner with you. From a SIOP perspective, marketing has invaluable input into the demand plan. 


Take a step back and think about how you affect your customer (even via internal customers on the way to the customer)? Start there. What ideas and suggestions do you have? Could you read up on industry news and share it with your supply chain team? It could be invaluable insights. One of my aerospace clients had a GURU when it came to knowing the industry. He was extremely valuable in areas that were related to his position but could be overlooked if his manager didn't value marketing.


As several of my clients are building their systems infrastructure to better support their aggressive growth, it just so happens I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about design lately. Design will make or break your ERP success. Today's systems have come a long way — they have a

more simplified "front" with extreme complexity and flexibility built in behind the scenes. Thus, it is important to start with the optimal design in order to avoid serious complications down-the-line. 

System design is similar in concept to the foundation of the house. If it isn't solid, no matter how pretty the accessories, you'll still have an issue. Worse yet, it is much more expensive to fix the foundation later. For example, one of my clients didn't put enough thought into the system design upfront, and so they called me to see how they could best move forward. Once they figured out that there were changes they'd like to make, the problem was that it was going to be quite costly to make the changes — double the price. And, it was a challenge to figure out how to make the changes without negatively impacting other areas of the operation. Of course we determine a plan forward; however, it would have been much better if they were able to design these in upfront. It isn't that anyone sets out to skimp on design; however, it requires thinking several steps ahead, knowing what you might need several years down-the-line, having a cross-functional team involved and spending some money upfront to ensure complete information and review of options — each of these elements at a minimum should be incorporated. It is also the best time to design in best practice processes.

A current best practice that achieves results while keeping speed and flexibility in mind is to review how the ERP system works for each functional area while discussing requirements. That way, it is a hands-on view to options and possibilities and stirs thoughts. It is also good to involve a cross-functional team as you'll want to consider needs and impacts across the organization. I cannot think of a system transaction that affects only one department or functional area. Make sure to involve all key people in design decisions and supplement your process expertise if possible to ensure success. 


Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to become a Systems Pragmatist:

The Critical Importance of Design

Watching Metrics Trends


Supply Chain Skills

Posted by lisaanderson Nov 13, 2015

Fotolia_81317054_XS.jpgI just talked with several recruiters who see significant growth potential in supply chain management jobs. Thus, they have launched a concerted effort at mid-level supply chain management jobs. They were curious as to what companies need, which types of positions are most prevalent, what types of skills are needed, etc. This compliments what Jack Welch said at APICS 2015.  Supply chain professionals are in demand!


What we both saw is that supply chains are increasingly important to executives. Supply chains are becoming more complex and require higher skills levels technically – along with robust communication skills.  A few of the emerging roles and skills include:

  • Planners
  • Buyers
  • Logistics analysts
  • Import/export
  • Operations managers


What are you doing to make sure you KEEP your top notch talent and to continually have an eye out for what talent you’ll need to stay ahead of the curve? Your competition is starting to think about it. Those with top talent will thrive and have vast opportunities to leapfrog the competition.


Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to be the Strongest Link in your supply chain:


Retaining Project Management Top Talent


Develop a Talent Edge