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2016

Fotolia_79930144_XS.jpgAfter leaving the work force as a VP of Supply Chain and Operations with a successful track record, I knew I could help executives improve business performance; however, I had no idea how to find clients. Thus, I immersed myself in the keys to success of starting a thriving consulting practice. I discovered that referrals were much more important than a “nice-to-have”; they would make or break success. Fast-forward 11 years, and I have built my business on this tenet – it is a relationship business. At least 95% of my business has resulted from repeat business and referrals.

 

What do referral sources want? Results. If I can help ensure success, they will bring me back – and tell all of their friends. Thus, although process and systems expertise is required, the key to success goes back to people – culture change, change management, and leadership.

 

Unfortunately, the best strategy or plan becomes useless if not executed effectively. If your team isn’t on board, you will not succeed. Similarly, if your customers and suppliers aren’t on board, it is not likely you’ll succeed.  Similarly, if you communicate the plan but don’t involve people in the design, ask them for feedback, and give them the chance to try out new ideas, you won’t have long-term success. If you don’t address poor performers, your stars will lose their motivation.

 

Earlier today, I saw an amazing piece of technology and a substantial upgrade to warehouse operations. It expands capacity for growth, provides efficiency improvements, speeds up the process (shortens lead times) and provides a host of other benefits; however, it will be similar to hiding a new Maserati convertible in your garage if the people don’t come along for the ride. Remember to focus attention on culture change – and people.

 

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What Is Company Culture?

 

Lost in Culture Change Maze? Here are 4 Strategies for Success!

IveBeenThinkingBlog-1024x459.jpgLast weekend, the APICS Southwest district held its 10th annual student case competition. We had 25 teams and 108 students from 3 countries with another 11 teams on the wait list (including another country). We had about 50% undergraduate and 50% graduate level students who competed in a supply chain simulation of a juice company — the team with the highest ROI won the technical round. Next, each team presented to the judges who represented the Board of Directors of the company. Just as in real life, each score was 50% — if you have the best idea and cannot present it, you will not prevail!

 

For the 2nd time in 10 years, the same university took home BOTH the undergraduate and graduate 1st place prize. This time, San Diego State University took home the gold. It just so happened that their academic adviser attended the competition (or actually NOT such a coincidence as he took a proactive interest in his teams), and so I took the opportunity to ask how he did it (why did they both come in first this year). His answer was awfully simple (and aligns with what I've seen throughout my career) — preparation and practice.

 

Are you prepared?

 

One tip to implement this week:

 

So, what could we do this week to prepare? In listening to the adviser and reading feedback from the students as to what they learned at the competition, I think it could be quite simple. Start by making sure you are prepared. Have you read up on your topic? Have you practiced? Talking about it is NOT enough; even if you think you might fail, you must try. Start with something that won't become a disaster if you fail so that it is a safe trial. And work your way up. If you are a leader, provide guidelines and parameters for your employees so that they can try new ideas within a set of guidelines (which makes it safer). And if they fail (even if it is something important), do NOT get upset. You have to use it as a learning experience! The only reason to get upset is if they make the same mistake repeatedly. Instead, celebrate the fact that they took a risk to try something new and use it as a learning opportunity.

 

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…”

Harry.jpgMy best friend's dad was as close to a business genius as I've stood. He made his employers rich beyond their wildest dreams yet he was happy with this outcome as he enjoyed what he did and lived to 98 including many travels to exotic places — not the ones you might think of but ones he enjoyed. For example, he went to Nicaragua and had many wonderful stories to tell about crocodile farms and uzis. Somehow, he and his wife managed to trust people they probably shouldn't have, travel to a country not recommended, even by people they met along the way in the country, and come out of it in one piece — and with great stories and excitement.

In his work life, he spent many, many years working for the owner of Sealand, functioning as an investment banker and turnaround CEO. Thus, he'd source great deals and then if they weren't living up to the expected value, he went in and had a 100% success ratio in ensuring they did. What else can you ask for??!! He could turn around transportation companies to banana growers. Uncommon common sense applies to more than you'd think! One day, I asked him what he thought was most important in turning around these companies, and here are some of the key points that pop to mind:

  1. Observe - Interesting that one of his top points is common sense (oh, wait, I actually think they all were uncommon common sense). He said it was amazing how much he saw in walking a facility that showed opportunities. It reminded me of what has become known as Lean — turns out it doesn't have to be part of some fancy program; just observe and you'll uncover gems.
  2. Watch the money - This next tip is unfortunately more common than it seems it should be. Too many companies have someone committing fraud or "on the take". I certainly would never recommend implementing the cumbersome Sarbanes Oxley if not required by law; however, I would recommend implementing some uncommon common sense approaches to making sure you have the right checks and balances in place. I did a webinar for Financial Times' ExecSense on this topic a while back, and it is scary how common this can be. My research found that a typical company loses 5% of annual revenue to fraudulent acts. Hard to believe!
  3. Deal with sacred cows - Again, do we really have to be a genius to realize this is a good idea? He said that there are obvious examples of this in family-owned businesses. Perhaps a son or daughter is creating havoc and wasting money but remains in position. Worse than the waste of money, it demotivates the rest of the team. Another example of a sacred cow is a 'big' customer we try desperately to keep even though money flies out the door at a faster rate than it flows in the door when this customer calls. There are countless examples. The key is to observe, find the sacred cows and be willing to address them head on.
  4. Persistence - I've titled what he described as persistence. One of his doozy assignments was to go to Vietnam during the war and turn around a facility (this sounds quite appealing, doesn't it?). He was the MacGyver of the business world. Leverage underutilized assets. Find new solutions for old problems. Treat people fairly. Don't give up. He managed to turn the place around — of course.
  5. Integrity - I'm reminded of this quality since he spoke of it near the end. He felt that it was of critical importance. He isn't alone. When I performed a survey of executives, it came out as a top quality for success.

 

Harry was a guru and knew more about almost any topic at 98 vs. anyone I know. He'll be missed. We will help ensure your wisdom carries on!  

 

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Leadership Qualities

        

Develop a Talent Edge

Fotolia_52738301_XS.jpgRemaining focused on any one strategy, project or task can prove challenging in today’s new normal. Volatility is the new norm, and so it becomes easy to get caught up in the highs and lows of organizational life. For example, if your company is having a rough month due to volatility, management can begin to panic which causes deviations from the critical path to the latest crisis.

Soon, you are deterred from the project altogether as resources are lean and can only focus on so many places at once. Most major change initiatives, new product launches, cost savings programs, customer collaboration programs and the like are accomplished through projects. Thus, it behooves us to remain committed to the critical path – and ultimate project success.

What can you do to increase your chances of success? Stick to the critical path. The critical path includes the essential tasks that have the ability to delay the entire project and make it veer off the path. Thus, my most successful clients find ways to ensure the focus remains on the critical path. Some of the successful approaches include the following:

  1. It starts at the top: As with success overall, it is most easily deterred from the top. Make sure your executives know the critical path. Often, by taking the step to make the critical path clear to executives, the project has a significantly greater chance of success. For example, if a manager has a conflict with a critical path item, the executives will support the critical path if they understand the importance.
  2. Communicate the critical path to the project team: Certainly the project team has to fully understand the critical path. When it comes to fighting the daily battles and focusing attention, the project team is in the thick of it. If they understand the priority of the critical path, the project has a much greater chance of success.
  3. Make it visual: As is popular in Lean circles, make the critical path visual. The more it is apparent to everyone what tasks are a part of the critical path and the progress on those tasks, the more likely they’ll be to gain attention and receive priority. Put them on the walls. Be creative in how you make the critical path visual.
  4. Follow up with task owners prior to starting dates: The project manager should follow up with critical path task owners prior to their task starting. They should ask about resources, potential bottlenecks, etc. I find that critical path task owners know many of the likely issues ahead of time; however, if no one asks, they might not be communicating them. Ask questions in advance.
  5. Remind task owners just prior to start dates: Even if you engage with the task owner to talk through what is upcoming, doesn’t mean they will remember at the “right” time. Typically task owners have multiple jobs and responsibilities. If they aren’t thinking about the critical path at the time, they are likely to delay until the issue or project their boss is asking about is complete. A personal reminder can go a long way!
  6. Critical path transition: When moving from one critical path task to another, think about what would make it a smooth transition. Similar to running a relay race, it is important to have a code worked out in advance and to know each other well enough so that you can make up time or modify based upon the critical path task before or after you. Have you thought about the importance of collaboration?
  7. Critical path post completion follow-up: One way to ensure communications throughout the critical path is to complete a post-task follow-up. What was successful and helped to speed up progress or improve the result? What happened that could be improved? If you gain this type of feedback rapidly, you can incorporate it into later critical path tasks. Why wait until the next project?
  8. Monitor metrics: As with all projects and business, remember to focus on metrics. What core metrics should you measure to get a feel for whether the critical path is on track and whether the project team is achieving the objectives thus far? Put your heads together to identify these metrics and find a way to measure progress. It could be as simple as talking with critical path owners or talking with the recipients of the critical path tasks. Or it could be slightly more complex with numerical metrics. Find something that is meaningful and measure progress.
  9. Critical path milestones: Although it is easy to get caught up in a maze of tasks and to-do lists, don’t take your eyes off of your critical path milestones. Which tasks are more important and signify an output? Keep them in mind and focus on those actions that will contribute specifically towards achieving these critical path milestones.
  10. Final result: Last but not least, remember that you must be getting closer to the end result of the project. Whether you complete 2 or 200 tasks, it won’t matter unless the end result occurs.

Since executives consider projects a critical contributor to growing the business and delivering bottom line results, remaining focused on the most important tasks to achieving these end results is vital. Thus, leverage these strategies to keep focused on the critical path and continually search for additional options. Success will follow.

 

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Project Leadership Remains #1 Key to Success

 

Why is it So Hard to Focus on Priorities?

IveBeenThinkingBlog-1024x459.jpgLast week I attended a meeting of the top 1% of consultants globally. With this sort of talent in one room, I listened carefully. One of the speakers focuses on small- to medium-sized businesses in North America ($5 million to $250 million). He said that the top areas he finds "in need of focus" include strategy, the management team and resources (ERP, working capital, etc.). 

 

Since I focus on both small-medium and large, multi-billion dollar, global companies, I wanted to see what the top 1% of consultants thought about the list for the large companies as well. Interestingly, the one item both had in common was talent/management team.

 

How do you prioritize talent in your organization, your department or within your team of peers? From a personal perspective, how do you prioritize what you focus on in order to create an accelerated, growing career path?

 

One tip to implement this week:

 

If talent is the only item in common on both lists, it is undoubtedly true we should think further about talent. What is one item you can do this week to move the topic of talent forward, if even by an inch? Can you take a few minutes to mentor a colleague? Can you sign up for a class/training program? Can you request information from your manager about where the company is headed and what you should read to better understand your industry, customer and/or supplier needs? Have you thought about succession planning, career paths and/or professional development programs? Pick one and take one step forward. Don't worry about which one. Just pick any step to get moving in the right direction.

 

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…”

 

erp.jpgSince I've been working on several ERP selection and design projects lately, it has reminded me of how challenging these projects can be. It is no wonder 80% of them fail! There are countless details, complex designs, cross-functional and cross-organizational collaboration required and varying skills and leadership styles required to survive, let alone thrive.

Thus, it made me think about ERP system goals. When should you upgrade/implement an ERP system?

  • Support growth: No matter how lovely QuickBooks reports look and how easy it is to use, it will not support profitable and rapid growth in manufacturing over the long haul. QuickBooks is not alone; there are many examples of other ERP systems with limiting factors that will no longer support growth. If you aren't growing, you are declining. Thus, you must think about the infrastructure required to support growth before the decision is made for you.
  • High levels of customization: Unfortunately, the more you customize with older systems, the harder it will become to upgrade yet the more important it will become to upgrade. The sooner you tear off the bandage, the better. Otherwise you could wind up super glued to an anchor weight on a sinking ship. Who wants that? 
  • M&A: If your company is running multiple systems due to mergers and acquisitions (or for other reasons), it is time to consider an upgrade. In order to grow and to prosper, you'll need to be able to see across your facilities, companies and the like. 
  • For the Customer: Customers are requesting higher and higher levels of service. Business models are changing. For example, in some industries, e-commerce functionality has become a must. In other cases, large customers are dictating programs and requirements which bring the need for upgraded systems. Are you thinking about where your customers are headed?
  • Leverage: One of the keys to success in any business is leverage. Can you deliver faster? Can you turn a 10-person job into a 1-person job? Can you grow quicker than your competition while providing exceptional customer service? You'll need leverage. 

 

For as challenging as upgrading and implementing a new system can be, you should be crystal clear on your reasons WHY. However, once you have your reasons identified, do not delay. Throw out the idea unless it’s compelling. However, if your reason is compelling, MOVE! It can be overwhelming to think about a new system; however, it is also easy to get passed up by your competitors who aren't bogged down with outdated infrastructure.  

 

There is no "right time"; unfortunately upgrading your systems infrastructure is always painful; the question is whether you spend a lot of money, resources and time when it's too late to turn it into an advantage. In essence don't wait for it to become a survival project; move when it is still a project that will accelerate your success. 

 

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Why Upgrade Your ERP System

 

6 Process & Systems Trends for Success

 

Fotolia_54041095_XS.jpgIf you looked at the last day, week or month, how much of your time are you spending on execution vs. strategy? Is it a surprise? A disappointment? How does it align with your best skills?

 

Also if you think about your energy level – how are you feeling?  Does this relate to where you are spending your time? Are you excited about your area of focus? Should you adjust the amount of time you are spending on either? Don’t fall into the trap of thinking the answer relates to your position!

 

Although CEO’s are likely to spend more time on strategy, it is something we all should focus on. Actually when I ask CEO’s this question, the answers are not much different than the rest. They wish they focused on strategy but get sucked into execution. Of course, execution is critical – the best strategies fail in execution. And, we need people who love both. If you aren’t going to focus on one of these, you will need to hire, train and develop people who do.  

 

This topic isn’t one to gloss over. There is no wrong answer. Dig into what will work for you. And consider what is needed for the success of your company or supply chain? Put the two together and develop a path that achieves a win-win.

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Why It’s Important to Take Time to Think

 

Challenging Bridge and Execution Strategy

global.jpgSeveral of my clients are in the aerospace industry. In that industry, supply chain readiness audits are commonplace. These are especially prevalent today as growth in that market is substantial. Companies must be prepared for significant growth to support the doubling of the world's fleet in the next 20 years to give their customers comfort in their long-term viability.

 

Although this is especially prevalent in aerospace, I'm finding double digit growth widespread in the marketplace today. Manufacturing is making a comeback. How ready is your supply chain? There are several aspects that should be reviewed to make sure growth will be seamless. A few of the top ones include: 1) Capacity readiness. 2) Staffing readiness. 3) Supplier readiness. 4) Financial readiness. 5) Process readiness. 6) Systems readiness. 7) Network readiness.

 

  1. Capacity readiness: What is your projected demand? Turn that demand into machine hours. Do you have enough machine capacity to support it?  Make sure you look out into the future long enough to cover growth with plenty of time to research, order, install and ramp up your machine(s) successfully.
  2. Staffing readiness: Similar to capacity readiness, it is also imperative to review staffing. What does your demand plan say when converted into people needed? How many do you need to hire? What support positions are required? Do you need to fill gaps with temps or contractors? What skills are needed?  This will also lead to cross-training and skills development. Neither can be accomplished overnight; however if you start months and years in advance, you'll be successful.
  3. Supplier readiness: Once you know what you'll need to produce and outsource, you'll know what supplier support will be needed. Are your suppliers ready to grow at the rate required? Do they even know about your growth expectations? Will you need additional suppliers? Will you need to partner with your supplier to create new materials/ products? 
  4. Financial readiness: Growth requires cash. It seems like such a great problem to have; however, growth causes far more complications than contractions. Although unpleasant, it is easy to figure out how to cut back yet it is not so easy to be prepared for growth. Have you figured out what your capacity, staffing, supplier support and other infrastructure requirements will be? Do you have the cash to support the ramp up? You will have to pay before you get paid. Cash flow planning is essential.
  5. Process readiness: Doing more of what you've been doing is rarely sufficient. Instead, consider process improvements. Will lean principles improve your ability to grow quicker? Will SIOP (sales, inventory, and operations planning) support your growth? Are your foundational processes sufficient to support double digit growth? Are there opportunities to be more efficient and/or create customer loyalty? How about customer collaboration programs? 
  6. Systems readiness: One of the best ways to support growth without adding significant overhead is to leverage systems. Most companies use 20% of their ERP systems at most; consider how to increase that percentage in the "right" functionality to support your business. Is there additional technology that could provide a massive return on investment and support your growth? Keep updated on technology trends and pick those that will fit with your strategy and help deliver results.
  7. Network readiness:  Remember to think about your entire supply chain network. Are you producing the right products in the right facilities at the right time? Is there an opportunity to re-balance and improve your ability to grow profitably? Where are your customers and suppliers in relation to your facilities? What types of transportation and distribution nodes do you utilize? What lead time should your network support? There are many considerations to think about when evaluating your network. 

 

Although evaluating your supply chain readiness is paramount to support growth, there is no reason to wait for your customers to request an audit. Integrate supply chain readiness into your yearly strategy review process. This way you'll be in front of your customers and ready for unexpected opportunities. Imagine the possibilities to grow quicker and larger!

 

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Warehousing Thoughts

 

Leverage Supply Chain Trends for Success

inventory.jpgNo matter how many engaging conversations I have with clients, contacts and trade groups about emerging supply chain trends, the less exciting topic of inventory management oftentimes can deliver a higher value than the latest and greatest most-talked about trend. As the Programs chair of APICS Ventura chapter said when requesting this topic for a recent speech, inventory management is core to success and remains a timeless topic. 

 

This prompted me to think about what I see across all types of clients: Whether a $5 million fast-growing manufacturer in the building products industry, an $80 million dollar food processing company or a multi-billion dollar aerospace company, I've found inventory management to be vital to bottom line results. Three of the top reasons inventory should be seen as core to success include:

 

  1. Inventory accuracy - If you cannot find the product, you cannot ship it. It can be as simple as that; however, it often goes much further.  If you think you have more inventory than you do, you will not purchase or produce what you need to in order to fulfill customer needs. Certainly, this will prompt higher costs, poorer service and a host of other issues. Additionally, a critical asset is not valued correctly. Do I need to go on?
  2. Inventory levels - Most accountants prefer to hold less inventory as it ties up precious cash. Most Sales folks prefer more inventory because they don't have to worry about it being available to sell. Most Operations folks prefer to run larger quantities so that they can optimize efficiencies and minimize downtime. Lean gurus prefer to resolve process issues so they can reduce changeover times to run less inventory. Managing risk could dictate more inventory if you are concerned about service if natural disasters or political events hold up your inventory. Managing cash flow certainly dictates less inventory. No wonder it can be such a tough challenge for often-times under-appreciated planners!
  3. Customer service - One of the goals of inventory management is to have the right product in the right place at the right time. It sounds easy enough yet rarely is easy. Often-times, inventory is available somewhere in the system but isn't at the right facility at the right time to satisfy customer requirements. What good is it if you have inventory in Miami when you need it in Seattle? Worse than none since you have cash tied up without the benefit. Since customers have little patience as there are typically competitors waiting in the wings, poor customer service (or even mediocre service vs. the competition) can have a detrimental effect on your business.

 

Inventory can be a strategic advantage or a weight around your ankles when treading water.  Take a proactive stance to take charge of your inventory and planning processes. If you are a distributor or manufacturer, there is nothing more fundamental to success.  If you'd like to talk about your inventory strategy, email me.

 

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Is Your Inventory System Working?

 

Warehousing Thoughts

to do list.jpgEvery executive I work with struggles with this question as there is always more to do than can be accomplished in any day. Time has become a differentiator in today’s marketplace. For example, if you can deliver quicker, you are likely to gain business. If you can close the month quicker, you’ll gain an advantage as you’ll be able to make informed decisions and adjust to issues more rapidly. If you have business intelligence with immediate access to information, you can analyze trends more rapidly. No matter how many of these tools you have, I’ve yet to work with an executive who was able to finish all their to-do lists each day.

 

Thus, figuring out what to work on is important. By default, we’ll work on whoever screams the loudest and is present and knocking on your door; however, these could be the opposite of what would deliver results. Thus, I’d consider thinking about a few strategies:

 

  1. Think ABC – do a quick run through of your tasks to determine if it is an A, B or C priority. Stop working on C’s all together – no matter how easy or quick to accomplish. Focus exclusively on A’s until complete and spend the rest of your time on B’s.
  2. Consider the impact – will it affect a customer? An employee? A supplier?  Investors? Board members? I’d offer a radical approach to start with your employees as you will not support your customers if your employees are not supported. Next support your customer as you’ll need your customers to support your investors. And so on. I find this is often opposite as the more pressing need seems to be that customer crisis or investor/board member request. Of course they are important; however, if you focus on A employee tasks, less customer tasks will arise and so on.
  3. Remember risk – if there is a high risk of unacceptable outcomes occurring if you do not address an item, it is prudent to evaluate risk. Do not get lost in analysis paralysis. Do a logical review of risk and incorporate into your decision.

 

Continue reading on how to strengthen your Eagle Eye:

 

Why is it So Hard to Focus on Priorities?

 

How to Select Priorities

IveBeenThinkingBlog-1024x459.jpgSo, other than being a bit depressed that the Arizona Cardinals are not in the Super Bowl, I am thinking about the Super Bowl (hard not to since the hype is everywhere). You'd have to be hiding under a rock to not know that it is Super Bowl weekend. If nothing else, it is a good excuse for a party and to get together with family and friends. The Super Bowl has become much more than a game. 

 

Many people (myself included) are more interested in the commercials than the game — it has become "the" opportunity to stand out from the crowd with advertisements. If your ad is popular, it will go viral. Social networks can have a powerful effect — similar to Super Bowl commentary and ads, the same vehicles will have an impact on our brand. What is said about you will show up to potential employers. You might have thought about that; however, did you think about potential employees? Before deciding if they want to work at your company, they will check the company out — and you. After all, people do not leave companies; they leave leaders. The same is true for customers and suppliers. How are you perceived?

 

One tip to implement this week:

 

One easy tip related to personal branding is to act as though everything you say, your leadership style behind closed doors, etc. will be published in tomorrow's New York Times (or placed on an advertisement during the Half Time show of the Super Bowl). It could be — or at least the equivalent. This does NOT mean that you should hide under a rock and do nothing. Doing nothing is the equivalent to saying your approach/leadership style is to "do nothing". Is that how you want to be known? 

 

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…”

lisaanderson

Observation

Posted by lisaanderson Feb 4, 2016

Fotolia_77901216_XS.jpgIt is worth it to take a step back on a daily basis, if not more frequently, to observe. There is a significant power in observation – for your business, your career and your life.

 

Although observation sounds easy, it isn’t nearly as easy in reality.  A few strategies for success include:

  • Start off your day by looking out the window – what do you see? It can go a long way to clear your mind and just observe.
  • As you walk around your workplace, keep an eye out for what others might “step over” – a classic example of this is trash on the production floor. Instead of walking over it (and not noticing it), pick it up. This sounds really simple but can go a long way. Train yourself to “see” what is around you. Do you see oil on the floor? Do you see orders that could be missed?
  • Watch for trends – assuming you see the same people each day, watch for noteworthy changes. Is someone who is always happy down one day? The same holds true for machines, products, etc.  If the production line always runs in a certain way and it is slightly different one day, take note. Find out what is going on so you can avoid larger problems down-the-line.
  • Take a step back and “look” at your supply chain – how are your customers, suppliers and other partners? Are there any trends going on?
  • “See” your team – whether they report to you, they are peers or they are your superiors, pay attention. 80% of success boils down to people so please pay attention to people!

Getting used to observing can be more challenging than it sounds. I often drive by countless people, cars, situations, etc. that I don’t notice.  Practice observing so that you don’t drive by your career, business or life.

       

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Manufacturing Connector Eagle Eye Requires Keen Observation, Focus

 

People Strategies to Kick Off the New Year

eagle eye on priorities.jpgI'm frequently reminded of how critical priorities can be. Of course, this is why it is one of the pillars in my 5P Accelerator model for fast-tracking results. Do you pay attention to priorities? You should!

In today's Amazon-impacted world, my clients want — and need — quick results. Fast progress will not occur if you are working on the wrong priorities. It seems apparent; however, it is worth noting as it is such a common occurrence. Here are some recent examples and types of priorities to ponder:

  1. Priority clarity: I've been working on an ERP project design and implementation. Priorities are absolutely essential in this case. There are always countless tasks that need to be completed in order to go live. How do you know you are working on those most critical to an on-time, on-budget, on-results implementation? Take the time to wade through priorities to obtain priority clarity.
  2. Skill set priorities: On another ERP project, skillset related priorities are cornerstone to success. In this case, there are limited resources with specific skills. Thus, the priorities related to these specific skills must be elevated in importance. This is similar in concept to focusing on the bottleneck of an operation with the theory of constraints. Elevate the priorities surrounding the scarce resource to ensure success. 
  3. Cross-functional priorities: In a SIOP project, the goals of different departments created the need to focus in on cross-functional priorities. Instead of working on whichever priority was most important to the department we happened to be talking with, we had to evaluate the business as a whole and look for cross-functional priorities. Which priorities would provide the largest win overall even if some departments or individuals were negatively impacted? Look for the win-win-win.

 

The bottom line is that if you are interested in success, you must keep an eye on priorities. Don't get lost in details; look for the priorities.

       

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How to Select Priorities

 

Are You Working on the Right Priorities?

Fotolia_70242933_XS.jpgI often state that people are our #1 asset – more important than any multi-million-dollar machine, ERP system, bank loan or the like. How are we treating our #1 asset on a daily basis? Have you thought about this lately?

 

One way to ensure people remain top of mind (instead of in last place after all urgent customer needs, Board requests, bank requirements, etc.) is to follow these people priorities:

 

  • Check in with your people every day – find out what is going on and how they are doing.
  • Ask for ideas – get their minds stirring.
  • Ask them who has gone “over and beyond” lately that you could recognize – gets positive momentum flowing.
  • Ask them if they see any potential bottlenecks or have any concerns – and listen.
  • Ask them for ideas to delight the customer – creating customer loyalty won’t occur without a focused effort.

 

If you follow these people priorities, results will follow – and, more importantly, your people are much more likely to be engaged employees.

 

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Employees: Your #1 Asset

 

What Will Motivate Your Team?