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2016

i've been thinking.jpgI dropped my phone last week which I've done many times before; however, this time it shattered. Thus, I had to use my insurance to get a replacement phone. I received my replacement phone and got everything working, and then I realized it wouldn't charge on the majority of chargers. Thus, I had to call to get a replacement for the replacement. I wasn't that upset about the phone issue until I had to call back 3 or 4 times and got transferred to at least 2-4 people on each call. I was getting very annoyed! That experience could easily turn a satisfied customer into a disgruntled customer rapidly. 

 

A year or two ago, my financial advisor changed firms and phone systems. It was supposed to be the "latest and greatest" phone system but it was the most annoying thing in the world to get in touch with him. I think all of his clients celebrated when he went back to his old process and phone. It truly went from "going the extra mile with customer service" to "phone hell". Do you have "improvements" that annoy your customers?

 

One tip to implement this week:

 

Think about what seemingly little things you are doing that could provide extra value – or be annoying – to your customers. Or to your employees, or peers. I have no doubt we all could find something. If one of the most approachable and accessible people could become impossible to reach (my advisor), it can happen to all of us.

 

What can you do to test that the little things are working? Have you tried calling into your company or to your office as an outsider to see how easy and pleasant it is to reach you? In the technology age, I am most happy when I have an on-line version if I want to resolve something at 1 am; however, I am very happy if I can also reach a person to help with the personal touch. Are you offering both? How can you improve on it from your customer's (internal or external) point of view?

 

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…”

i've been thinking.jpgCertainly, you'd have to be hiding under a rock to not have heard about the wild swings in the global stock markets lately. Although we've definitely become more comfortable with volatility, it still can cause executives to take a step back and think. What if China's slowdown affects manufacturers in the U.S. more than we realize? Should I be thinking about pulling back vs. a full court press on growth? Should I continue investing? What can I do about this wild foreign exchange market if I have suppliers and customers using different currencies?

 

Those executives who find a way to be comfortable with and leverage volatility will thrive! We might as well get used to it as it is the "new normal".

 

One tip to implement this week:

 

In thinking about leveraging volatility, the first order of business is to not overreact to fluctuations. As hard as it might be to not react when you see money rushing out the door with currency exchange rates or some other factor, the key is to remain calm. Take a step back. Is this change some sort of reaction that will likely reverse itself? Or is it based in a fundamental change that will affect your business over the long haul? Dig into the changes that are most impactful to your business and determine if they will affect you over the long term. If not, don't overreact. Instead, build flexibility into your work processes and business model. If so, put together a plan to proactively address the situation. Burying your head in the sand might seem like a good idea, but it isn't!

 

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…”

people strategies.jpgPeople are your #1 asset. It makes imminent sense to kick off the New Year with this tenet in mind. How can you start with gusto? 

Frequently, employees take off time near the end of the year, and so it can take time to get back into the swing of things. Don’t let your attention to your human resources take time off too. To shorten that cycle — and, most importantly, to empower and engage your people, think about leveraging some of the following strategies:

  1. Check in: Start the New Year by checking in with your employees. How are they doing? What are they working on? It's interesting how often we find out that we didn't know where our employees spend their time. Find out. Are they concerned about potential roadblocks? What would they most like to accomplish this year? Make it your priority to find out.
  2. Remind employees of the vision: You cannot emphasize the whys behind what your company does enough. Remind your employees of the vision. What does it mean to you? What does it mean for your customers? End users? In essence, remind everyone why what they are doing is worthwhile.
  3. Align on goals: I believe in quarterly goals with frequent check-ins. What lasts for a year unchanged anyway?  Not much! Your employees will ditch their cobweb goals with or without you. It is always better to align, discuss priorities, strategize on resources, etc. The bottom line is to make sure everyone has clarity and is involved in creating that clarity.
  4. Recognize successes: There's no better time to recognize small wins than after the holidays. It jump starts success. Success builds on success. 
  5. Communicate, communicate, and communicate:  In essence, the title says it all. Don't expect people to fully absorb with one communication. Be repetitive. Vary the medium so that you don't sound like a broken record or your mother. Collaborate on ways to communicate effectively. Involve the team in communication.  

 

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Empower Your People to GROW

 

What Does it Take to Have a Real Team

Fotolia_99189198_XS.jpgCompanies are in growth. Every single client is growing – many quite dramatically while others a bit slower, yet growth just the same. Although rapid growth is exciting, it can also be challenging. Systems can provide the perfect tool to leverage for success – and project management is your ticket to ensure success.

Growth can be challenging for companies both large and small. Whether the client is still relatively small and concerned with cash flow or whether they are much larger and trying to purchase buildings and machines, growth will bring growing pains. Customers do not care what you have to do to service them, whether they are large or small. They expect you’ll have what they need where they need it and when they need it. For example, Amazon has next day, same day and Sunday deliveries as options. E-commerce capabilities and mobile-friendly apps are expectations for all types of companies. Thus, a solid systems infrastructure is not only valuable but a requirement for survival to support growth.

Similarly, larger companies also can benefit from systems. One of the best ways to gain new customers, develop and sell new items, and to expand your product line by cross-selling is to upgrade your capabilities. You’ll need to leverage systems to be successful and efficient with these endeavors. There are a few reasons why: 1) Volume. 2) Best practices. 3) Automation.

  1. Systems will provide access to volume. Certainly, one of the key advantages of growth is the ability to leverage additional volume over the same or minimally larger infrastructure. This brings profit to the bottom line. A system does not care whether you perform 10 transactions (or calculations) or 10,000. A person does!
  2. Systems also provide the ability to leverage best practice processes. These processes can be embedded in the system. Unfortunately, I’ve seen clients (and people) who have the latest and greatest technology available to them yet they fail miserably. The reason this occurs is that they do not take the time to think through the optimal processes the system can utilize. One way to think about this is “garbage in, garbage out”. A system will only calculate errors faster if you don’t focus time and attention on your processes. How can you set up your daily, weekly and monthly routine to best support your business? Build these into your system, and your system will become invaluable to growth.
  3. Systems provide the opportunity to automate. There are countless opportunities to automate in every business. I’ve yet to walk into a new client without significant potential to take steps out of processes by having the computer perform steps and calculations within a set of guidelines. For example, instead of manually calculating what you need to purchase in order to meet your customers’ needs, an ERP system will figure that out for you and provide you with a recommended plan for review. Then, our job becomes managing exceptions and adding value instead of performing routine tasks.

SOLID PROJECT MANAGEMENT ENSURES SYSTEMS SUCCESS

As valuable as a system can be in supporting growth, it will be meaningless if not backed by solid project management. Certainly, I’ve seen more issues arise in implementing and leveraging systems than almost every other type of project. Thus, it is of utmost importance to focus on the critical project management techniques required to ensure systems success.

Reviewing those successful systems implementations, upgrades and projects to further leverage existing functionality, the vast majority have these tenets in place:

  1. A strong project leader – it must begin and end with leadership as my HR mentor used to say. Interestingly, the best projects with weak leaders fail whereas the weakest projects with strong leaders succeed.
  2. A well thought-out project plan with a clearly defined critical path and milestones – it is easy to get lost in system implementations; thus, simplifying the focus to the critical path is essential to success.
  3. Tracking mechanisms – it is too late to discover an issue once 50% of the project has elapsed. Instead, find ways to build checkpoints into the project plan. Make sure there are plenty of short tests so that you can rapidly discover issues and plans can be adjusted.
  4. Senior leadership support – similarly to project leadership, no matter how strong the team and plan, it will fail without executive support. Undoubtedly, a conflict will arise that will require support from senior leaders. Be prepared upfront for this need.

There are countless reasons to consider implementing a new system, upgrading your system or further leveraging your system to support growth. First and foremost, consider whether you want to grow by 5% per year using your current infrastructure and systems or whether you want to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Many of my clients have opportunities to grow by 20%, 50%, and 100%.

Next, why not increase cash flow and maximize profit while growing the business? Since it is often a no-brainer to further leverage systems, make sure you are prepared for success. Beef up your project management and success will follow.

 

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Why Care About Systems Transactions?

 

Uncommon Common Sense Project Management

exec thinking.jpgIn thinking about an eagle's eye (in concert with my Eagle Eye service line), it comes to mind that vision is a key contributor to success. An eagle can see 4-5 times further away than a human, colors are more vibrant, etc. They also have an amazing ability to zero in on their prey. In order for an eagle to spot its prey, it needs to have vision. If you think of these qualities in executives, having a vision contributes significantly to success.

 

Vision is about creating clarity and purpose around why your company does what it does and being able to see further out into the future. Once you understand your vision, it should drive your focus and contribute to all of your decisions. In essence, executives can zero in on the vision to make sure you are going in the "right" direction to accomplish goals and achieve success. 

 

When executives have vision, employees follow. It becomes part of the culture. Employees pick up on the understanding and importance of the vision and contribute to its success. You should be able to ask anyone in the company whether vision exists, and the answer will be obvious. Vision provides a great guideline to follow – does activity xyz fit with the vision? If so, move forward. If not, question whether it is the right next step. It can be as simple as that.

 

Continue reading on how to strengthen your Eagle Eye:

 

What is Culture?

 

Are You Working on the Right Priorities?

Accelerator.jpgSince I work with clients ranging in size from small, family-owned businesses to multi-billion dollar corporations, industries ranging from aerospace to building products to value-add distribution and on topics ranging from growth to service level improvement to increasing business performance, I have the opportunity to see countless businesses — and what works and what doesn't work.

It seems like a great time to share what is important as we head into a new year, new quarter or even new day. There is always opportunity to take that critical step towards success. 

From a systems standpoint, here a few of the top strategies/areas to consider as a next step in driving business success:

  1. Leverage what you have - Even though I dedicate a portion of my practice to selecting the "right" system to best meet business objectives, I find that 80% of the time, the current system (almost no matter how bad it seems) can be further leveraged to drive results. There are two situations I can think of where the client was extremely system challenged but we found a few ways to improve upon processes, even in the worst of cases. Start by thinking about what is most important to your business. Then dig into the areas of the system that could support that critical business process. It can be as simple as that.
  2. Upgrade when it makes sense - As I said earlier, every business can be improved with its current system; however, there is a limit. If you are in a high-growth mode and leveraging a system geared to small business, you'll begin to run into the wall in terms of capabilities. It might be time to upgrade. If you have gone through a merger or acquisition, it is likely you'll need to consider upgrading to have a common platform. If you have a highly customized system to support your business with limited growth potential without continuing down the customization path, it is likely time to consider upgrading. If you want to make a leap forward with your technology and are using an outdated system that has weak support and might be bought up by the next software giant to come along, it might be time to consider an upgrade.  
  3. Select the "right" system to drive business results - I have helped many clients select the best system to meet their business objectives the last several years. It can be a dog-eat-dog world with radically different estimates and smooth-talking salespeople; however, there are also great suppliers selling highly functional and flexible systems to bring your business to the next level of performance. The bottom line is that it boils down to how well the software options support your critical business factors (which should be a short list; not 100 items) and how well the software suppliers will partner with you for success. Implementation will cost more than software and it will cost more than you expect to do it well, yet it will deliver substantial results after things smooth out. 
  4. CRM - In today's Amazon-impacted marketplace, service is of critical importance. My clients are expected to deliver faster, provide more options, suggest value-additions, be available 24/7 — and the list goes on. CRM software can help you keep track of your relationships, potential business and provide extra value to your customers.
  5. Warehouse automation - As e-commerce continues to grow in importance around the globe, many manufacturers and distributors must rise to the occasion. It isn't as easy as using the same processes that work effectively for your regular business. E-commerce drives significant differences to warehouse operations if you want to be able to provide the level of service consumers have become accustomed to at the price they are willing to pay. These changes are driving significant investments in different equipment and technology for those companies with heavy e-commerce business. Bring in experts. Do your research. It will make or break success.
  6. SIOP functionality - More and more of my clients are further leveraging their planning, capacity planning, demand planning/forecasting, MPS/MRP and advanced planning systems to better align demand and supply for improved service levels, reduced lead times, improved margins, accelerated cash flow and to support growth.   

Think about which of these might benefit your business. Leveraging systems is one way to grow without adding overhead and it will improve your business performance by utilizing an already-existing asset in most cases. Give it a try. Contact me for support with these strategies and/or to let me know how it goes. Sharing success stories and even failures can propel you to success.

 

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6 Process & Systems Trends for Success

 

The Value of CRM

IveBeenThinkingBlog-1024x459.jpgIt is somewhat of a coincidence that I've heard a few presentations about China recently (thanks to international attorney and China guru John Tulac as one of these experts) which synced up with the stock market plunge in China — and in the U.S. (and thus globally). Of course, that has also spurred on other conversations about China. The bottom line is that manufacturers and distributors should be weary and on alert. 

 

It is very likely that if you are a small to mid-size business, the quality you receive from China will suffer eventually. It is less likely to affect companies like Apple but it is very likely to affect the rest. Lowering quality levels is one potential impact of the slowdown. It is also possible that suppliers could go out of business if their owners lose a bundle in the stock market. There could be many impacts......the key is to be on the alert and thinking ahead of time about your specific supply chain and potential impacts.


One tip to implement this week:

As one of my consulting colleagues said, this is no surprise. He had been warning his clients for years about this outcome. With that said, it is easy to be lulled into thinking the present will continue into the future. Instead, before it is too late, take action. Start by making sure you have solid relationships with your supply chain partners. You're less likely to be impacted if you have good relationships. Next, no matter how great your relationships, you should have backup suppliers, backup plans and metrics to track progress. You'll want to catch issues early. 

 

The most successful supply chain partnerships I've seen are when you are upfront with all supply chain partners. This means you cannot keep a backup that you never use until you are desperate. It also means you cannot pretend as though you don't have a backup. Solid supply chain partners understand the value of having a strong supply chain and monitoring its health. Take steps to make it so!

 

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_65907954_XS.jpgAs supply chains have become complex, it is no longer a “nice-to-have” to perform supply chain checkups. It has become an imperative. Supply chain performance will have a direct impact on whether a company can grow, whether customers are happy (or searching for competitive alternatives), whether profit will increase, and whether cash will be available. Thus, it must move from being an afterthought to a vital component of strategy.

 

Supply chains have countless components and moving parts. Strategy, culture, people, processes, and systems are all relevant and must be considered in supply chain design. They are cross-functional, cross-organizational and global. Sales and marketing play a key role. Finance must be a strategic partner. Thus, the only possibility of success is to develop a clear strategy, plan and metrics – and then perform a checkup to ensure progress to these plans. And, if you don’t have these in place, stop, take a step back and perform a supply chain checkup to figure out where you stand and put plans in place to develop your strategy, plans and metrics. If you are interested in working with an expert in these areas, give me contact me.

 

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Keeping the Big Picture in Mind

 

Is Your Supply Chain Ready for Growth?

IveBeenThinkingBlog-1024x459.jpg

I was meeting with a client who is in the midst of implementing an ERP system this morning, and our conversation centered around the need for speed — keeping the momentum going, not wasting time in what could seem like unnecessary meetings and conversations, etc. With that said, it is very easy to run straight into a brick wall by not fulling understanding the details behind an ERP design and implementation. Thus, the key is to go fast while monitoring key check points along the way so you aren't racing down the wrong freeway passing everyone along the way. You'll get to the end point early but if you end up at the wrong address, you'll end up behind the Granny driving in the slow lane.

 

The reason I am writing my book, the Amazon Effect is largely due to this topic. How do we keep today's complex supply chains moving? If you don't have speed, you will be left in the dust!

 

One tip to implement this week:

 

The good news about speed is that it is easily understandable; however, the bad news is that going fast doesn't help if you aren't achieving the objectives along the way. This is an especially tricky formula for complex projects such as ERP implementations. When we're working with the tier of software supporting mid-size, slightly more complex companies, it becomes an entirely different proposition than it is with the ERP software that supports small to medium sized, less complex businesses. More people are involved. More functionality is available. Amazing benefits can be achieved; however, it is not as simple. And it seems that we could talk for hours about what should be a seemingly routine topic. So, what can we do? 

 

As you know, my goal isn't to solve world peace with "one tip" to implement this week. With that perspective, what I've found to work is to have a clear action list, summarized in a way that makes sense with the end objectives. This provides the clarity to focus on the required tasks with speed while making sure it still "adds up". Unfortunately, I've seen many projects go awry when it seems clear but the tasks don't "add up" to the intended end result. Spend the time upfront to understand in enough clarity to make sure it will "add up" and then put it in high gear!

 

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…”

strategydrivessuccess.jpgIf there is one area that changes on a seemingly daily basis, it is your end-to-end supply chain. World events change it. Natural disasters impact it. Security concerns dictate it. And customers’ changing expectations drive supply chain change. How do we keep up with it all?

 

As opposed to talking about the latest supply chain trends, I thought it might be valuable to think about ways to keep up with supply chain changes which could be critical to your success:

  • Pay attention: Look at your trends. What is changing? Are customers ordering smaller packages? More interested in packaging? What is happening?
  • Ask your employees: I guarantee that you'll be amazed at the valuable information your employees have tucked away in their minds. Ask them what they see. Ask them what they have to do more of lately — and why. If you don't ask, you won't receive!
  • Ask your customers: Pick up the phone or get in the car/plane and go find out what is changing for your customers. It doesn't have to relate directly to you at this time. What challenges are they facing? Can you help? What do they see coming down the road? Again, ask and you shall receive.
  • Ask your suppliers: Similarly to your customers, your suppliers have a wealth of knowledge about the industry, your organization (probably a different view than yours) and your competitors. Ask them what they see. Ask them what you can do to make it easier for them to do business with you. 
  • Go to your trade and industry groups: One of our goals at APICS-IE is to discuss the latest trends and help companies gain the skills and tools needed to succeed. We are more than happy to share our knowledge, and we have members across almost every industry, company size, etc. We are not alone. What trade associations, industry groups and alumni groups can provide ideas of what is critical in the supply chain?
  • Read: You'll pick up on what is important by reading the Wall Street Journal, your local newspaper and trade journals. Subscribe to my newsletter and read my blog. Stay up-to-speed and share your knowledge.

 

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Hot Supply Chain Trends

 

What’s Driving HUGE Supply Chain Results in Manufacturing?

performance review.jpgAs mundane as performance reviews can be, they are vital to success.  Hopefully you are spending time with each of your direct reports weekly; however, at a minimum, performance reviews should summarize what you’ve been discussing throughout the year. It is one of the only times you dedicate solely to each employee. Make it count!

1.     It’s not an event; it’s a process – if you look at the yearly review as an event, it will be a waste of time. Instead, view it as a part of your daily,         weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly routine.

2.     No surprises – you should never show up to a review and be surprised. The most successful and respected leaders provide immediate positive and constructive feedback.

3.     Track progress – even more important than a yearly review is a brief review of progress, goals and potential roadblocks on a quarterly basis. Why wait a year to find out you are way off course?

 

4.     360 degree assessments – these can be a good vehicle for obtaining well-rounded and actionable feedback on strengths and opportunity areas.

 

5.     Leverage strengths – don’t waste all of your energy and focus on correcting weaknesses. You’ll gain more by focusing the 80/20 on leveraging strengths

 

 

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The Value of Feedback

 

Motivate Employees as One Critical Way to Retain Top Performers

communication styles.jpgIf there is one thing that ALL of my clients have in common, it is that communication always needs improvement. It almost seems like no matter how much effort is placed on communication, improvement opportunities exist. In essence, just like in real estate where "location, location, location" is #1 to success; in business, "communication, communication, communication" is paramount.

 

In order to communicate effectively, here are a few tips to be as effective as possible:

The Rule of 7 - the rule of thumb is that people need to hear a message 7 times before it is absorbed. Repetition is your friend!

Varied messages - do not repeat the exact same message. Instead, vary the phrasing while keeping the meaning. Different phrasings might get through to different people.

Varied media - different people learn (and remember) in different ways. Email appeals to some. Phone calls to another. Physical letters to others. Social media to others. TV/video works for many. Vary your media for different styles.

Consider your audience - change your communication style to appeal to your audience. It is natural to use the style you are comfortable with; however, it is not what will be most effective. Find out what will appeal to your audience.

Spend more time listening than talking - as odd as it might seem, listening will enhance your communication skills. Listening allows you to know how to tailor your communication to be effective. Presentations are often boring whereas discussions can be engaging.

Consider pace - talking at 100 miles an hour can be very hard to follow; however, slow communication can be equally challenging. 

Remember tone - Have you ever heard someone drone on that could make landing on the moon seem mundane? We all have! Align your tone to the situation. If you want people to follow, be engaging and communicate excitement.

 

Those who communicate effectively will thrive. Undoubtedly, a strong communicator with medium technical skills will outperform a weak communicator with strong technical skills every day of the week. 

 

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Communications Rule!

        

Develop a Talent Edge

Fotolia_27664578_XS.jpgI’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 information 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?

 

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The Power of Dashboards

 

Organization Essential to Strategic Focus

 

IveBeenThinkingBlog-1024x459.jpgI was in a meeting with one of the members of the executive team of a new client who is responsible for the customer experience this morning, and I asked why their customers buy from them. He had a great answer and turned the question around on me. I was thinking about the topic and what I knew of this client in my answers which led me astray vs. common sense. Why do we leave our common sense at the door at times?!?! In essence, he referred to what he said anyone who has gone door to door would know (if they cleared their mind of extraneous information and thought about the question, I can attest) — the answer is they buy if they like you (at least that is a good place to start). 

 

As my ProVisors group says, "know, like, trust, refer." No one starts at refer. Instead, similar to my client — of course we have to be aware of someone; then, we start with "like". In case you are wondering, OF COURSE, you must be credible and have a good product/service but it still won't get to that point if you aren't likeable.

 

One tip to implement this week:

 

It seems it should be easy to figure out a way to be likeable; however, I don't think that's necessarily true. One way to think about this is to start by thinking about what makes you like people. Certainly, everyone likes working with certain co-workers over others. Why is that? Obviously, I'd never suggest we play silly games or lie to be liked; however, there are a few easy things you can consider. Perhaps just start with a smile. I found when I was a server in college that smiling alone made me more likeable (and generated larger tips!). Instead of talking, how about you listen? There are countless tips and ideas to consider. Start with one that is meaningful to you. It doesn't seem like there is a downside!

 

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…”

start 2016.jpgStrategy is often thought about near year-end. What was your strategy and is it still valid? Is it effective? Do you have a short-list to think about if you want to ensure your strategy delivers results?

 

I have found that strategy rarely fails in formulation. Instead, it fails in execution. This would indicate that less time should be spent on formulating strategy and putting it into pretty binders. On the other hand, more time should be spent on how to ensure success. One of the reasons over 80% of my business is repeat business is because I help my clients through the implementation of their strategy and plans — and results follow. Execution requires focus, hard work, persistence, strong people and culture — and more. Is it any wonder we struggle with this topic? A few keys to success:

 

  1. Leadership - Since success begins and ends with leadership, this must be #1. Read one of my countless articles on the topic to delve into the details.
  2. Project management - I find that these skills are often undervalued yet are critical to success. Start asking your executives who have a talent in project management and leverage the expertise.
  3. Cross-functional view - Strategy cannot be implemented in a silo. Thus, it seems somewhat obvious that a cross-functional and cross-organizational view should be leveraged yet it is easy to fall back into our silo at the sign of the first conflict. Incorporate into your performance expectations, training and mentoring programs and projects to ensure success.
  4. Collaborative approach - Are all the areas of your organization on the same page with the same game plan? I've spent quite a bit of time helping clients implement SIOP (sales, inventory and operations planning programs). The HUGE results come mainly from getting everyone on 1 page. Once you are on 1 page, check in with your customers and suppliers? How successful will your strategy be if they are going in a different direction from you?
  5. Communicate, communicate and communicate - Since communication is at the root of success, it would be unheard of to overlook it on this list of critical success factors for strategy.

 

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Strategy: It Doesn't Fail in Formulation; It Fails in Execution

The Hidden Benefit of Observation