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2016

motivationa.jpgThere is a lot of talk about rewarding employees; however, I see little action. How do you reward employees? Do you consider it a priority? If you are willing to focus attention on this topic instead of completing an analysis for the CEO, meeting with a customer or the like, then it is an obvious priority. How obvious is it to your organization?

Rewards don't have to be costly. The best require time. Some ideas to reward employees include:

  1. Catch people doing right:  Provide immediate positive feedback. Look for opportunities to find people who are doing a good job. It is easier to find those who aren't. Have you spent time specifically looking for those who are "doing right"?
  2. Say thank you: As easy as this is to do, it is rarely done. Take the time to say thank you. Be specific with your thank you. And, of course, be genuine. It goes without saying but I've seen it more than once. People will know if you truly appreciate what they've done or not.
  3. Publicize wins: I worked with a Director of Supply Chain who was excellent at publicizing wins. She sought out wins and made sure they were written up in the company newsletter. She found pictures, wrote paragraphs and made sure wins were publicized. They were noticed!
  4. Hand out small rewards at a company lunch:  Movie tickets or dinner gift certificates can go a long way. Small tokens of recognition can convey the importance of employee's actions. Many take them home with them and their family can enjoy in the reward.
  5. Recognize employees with meaningful work: One of the best rewards is to be included in meaningful work. Include your best performers in interesting projects. Don't bury them in problems because you know they'll get them done. Give their work meaning, and they'll thrive.

 

There are countless ways to reward employees and subsequently motivate them. Start with these ideas, add a few of your own and get started. You don't have to have a complete list to start. The most important item to success is to tailor your rewards to what will be meaningful to each employee.

 

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Leadership Qualities

        

Three C's to Leadership Success

IveBeenThinkingBlog-1024x459.jpgI frequently speak to groups about how we must celebrate mistakes. No one will innovate if they are afraid of being hit over the head if they make a mistake. Unfortunately, it occurs more frequently than imaginable! Yet only those leaders who encourage innovation will thrive in today's environment. Thus, we must consider mistakes as "good"! And we should encourage experimentation, which will drive more mistakes than the status quo.

 

With that said, I find myself "not celebrating" that I made a mistake. I was working with a client on several projects and feeling excited with the progress and the value we would achieve; however, I failed to communicate that clearly with my client. I wasn't following my typical process which builds communication in naturally (which we can partly attribute to innovation and partly just my mistake), and I ended up overlooking this critical step. NOT good. Thus, my objective with this note is to turn it into "good". We all learn from our failures — and hearing about other's failures.

 

One tip to implement this week:

 

Let's start with what you can do to proactively avoid mistakes that will have worse consequences than you are willing to live with in order to experiment/innovate. Put guidelines around your experiment or innovation. That way, WHEN you fail (as we are all bound to fail at some point), you know you'll stay within your planned range of error (and consequences).

 

If your mistake already occurred, take a step back and think about it. How bad is it? Was anyone else negatively impacted? Perhaps not. In this case, chalk it up to a learning experience and move on. Often-times, this is the best approach. 

 

Or did it have consequences to other people or teams that should be corrected? If so, jump to action and correct them. Don't argue about it — even if you weren't solely at fault. Just resolve what should be resolved. Apologize, resolve it and move forward in a positive way. In my case, this is the path I followed.

 

I've found this approach to be successful 90% of the time — after all, who doesn't make mistakes?!? With that said, if you happen to be stuck in the 10%, do your best, resolve it and move on. Don't get worked up; just chalk it up to bad luck in hitting the 10%, do your best and move on. Now, if you are repeatedly in the 10%, take a step back and figure out why. There is something else going on. Ask your colleagues for advice and feedback.

 

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…”

 

apics_ie april 30 symposium.jpgMany emerging trends will impact how supply chains are managed, designed and operated in the future influencing the decision-making process right now. APICS-IE is assembling a panel of experts on Saturday, April 30 at the Eagle Glen Golf Club in Corona, Calif., to proactively help manufacturing, distribution and logistics attendees understand and predict trends that may later cause disruption.

 

The Inland Empire Chapter of APICS, the leading association for supply chain and operations professionals, is focused on investigating and predicting supply chain trends that may impact your business with its Spring Executive Panel & Networking Symposium: Emerging Supply Chain Trends on Saturday, April 30, 2016. Expert panelists including include Dr. Chris Gopal, Senior Fellow at the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management, Claremont Graduate University, and Executive Director of the Drucker Center for Supply Chain & Logistics, Craig Young, VP of Manufacturing Niagara Bottling, and Roy Paulson, President, Paulson Manufacturing, will not only share data and trends, but also how companies should be forward thinking and respond to slow moving stock, supplier reliability, lead times and forecasting. Attendees will also be able to ask questions, network and benchmark with area companies and build contacts within the manufacturing and distribution community to also help them build their career.

“In today’s Amazon-paced world, it is imperative to stay on top of emerging supply chain trends,” says Lisa Anderson, President of APICS-IE and LMA Consulting Group.  “This session will be a great opportunity to not only hear what the experts in supply chain think will happen in the future but it also is an unmatched networking event for students, professionals, executives and the media in supply chain.”

The APICS-IE Spring Executive Panel & Networking Symposium, Emerging Supply Chain Trends will be held Saturday, April 30, 2016 at the Eagle Glen Golf Club in Corona, Calif. Fees to attend the event from 8:00 AM to 11:30 AM are $15 for members, $25 for non-members and students are free. Breakfast buffet is included. Register here or cut and paste this link into your browser:  http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07ec9kly6bbcbf5469&llr=pd7pgykab#

systems transactions.jpgAs mundane as system transactions seem, I continually find that whether or not they are deemed a priority can make the difference between a successful operation or not. The bottom line is that my clients who make sure they design the optimal process, document the systems transaction steps and ensure the timely and accurate execution of transactions succeed.

 

If you think of it like building a house, system transactions are part of the foundation. If you have an unstable foundation, no matter how much money you put into your house, it will be unsteady. Unfortunately, I've seen this occur a few times. When growing up in Schaumburg, our house was built on an unstable foundation and began to sink. Thank goodness my Mom got the builder to help resolve the problem after much ado. The foundation had to be shored up to resolve the issue which was much harder/costlier to resolve later than it would have been when building. On a lesser scale, the wood floor in my house had HUGE gaps a few months after moving back in (after it was rebuilt due to a fire). Several months later, it took taking the wood floor up and re-leveling the floor with cement and sanding it down to resolve.

 

Thus, make sure one of your key managers is responsible for transactions. They should not be an afterthought. Instead, design or re-design transactions to optimally and most efficiently leverage the system to track appropriate data. I've worked with several clients to accomplish this task. In every case, inventory accuracy improved greatly. This contributed to improved customer service (as they could find what was needed to ship), reduced inventory levels and freed up cash (as they could count on what they had and so didn't need to keep extra stock just in case), and improved efficiencies (as they could optimize their processes). Emphasize the importance of transaction timing and accuracy. Provide training and make sure priority is clear. For example, it is not enough to say transactions are a priority but de-prioritize if overtime is required to complete them.

 

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Watching Metrics Trends

 

Transaction Criticality

Fotolia_82619656_XS-250x140.jpgOnly if you want to ensure results! My view of supply chain is from your suppliers’ supplier through your manufacturing processes (internal and external) to your customers’ customers. Thus, very little is not impacted by it. How could you not include this critical piece in your strategic thinking?

 

The good news is that I’ve seen a continual evolution of the last several years where it has gained in strategic importance. More and more, the leaders of supply chain are being given a “seat at the table”. The tricky part is that it can be known by many names – Operations, Product Supply (that was my title when VP of the supply chain as described above), Materials Management and many more. No matter what you call it, include these key people in strategy, key decisions and forming the future of the company.

 

The supply chain has a dramatic impact on several areas of the company – the ability to grow and “keep customers promises”, profitability, cash flow, and customer service. What could be more critical to success?!?

 

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Collaborative Planning

 

Strategy to Kick-off the New Year

Fotolia_101597037_XS.jpgAs I work with manufacturing and distribution clients from all industries such as aerospace, building products, and medical products and across a wide range of sizes from a few million to multi-billion dollar companies, I find that project management is one common thread across every client. Since growing the business and improving performance is of paramount importance to compete, new programs, process improvements, and other organizational changes continue to increase in numbers to support this expectation. Thus, project management is increasingly a strategic imperative to success.

We can be more assured we’ll achieve success with our projects if we have strong teamwork. Two minds are better than one tends to come true 99.9% of the time. What one person misses another one catches. What is one team member’s strength is another’s weakness. One person’s relationships supplement the other team members’ relationships. Thus, a team can accomplish at least 10 times what any individual can achieve. It is well worth it to figure out how to increase teamwork success. Several keys to success include:

  1. It starts at the top: As with success overall, it is most easily stimulated from the top. If the project leader and project sponsor foster teamwork, it will occur. As project leader, notice when team member’s work together to brainstorm ideas or when they help each other with tasks. If you notice and communicate the value of these, teamwork will increase.
  2. Communicate the value of teamwork: Again, solid leadership will “win” the day. Set your project up for success by communicating the importance of teamwork. Make sure you provide examples and clearly communicate the importance and how teamwork will tie to the end result and the value to the organization.
  3. Establish common metrics: One of the keys to increasing teamwork is to establish common metrics. If one member can succeed while another fails, teamwork will not occur. The team must understand that they are in “it” together. Make sure your metrics drive the behaviors you want to occur.
  4. Ask teamwork questions: While following up on the critical path and project progress, make sure to ask specific questions related to the importance of teamwork. People do not pay attention to what you pontificate about; they pay attention to what you seem genuinely interested in on a day-to-day basis. Thus, include questions that demonstrate that you value teamwork.
  5. Bring out individual strengths: One value-added way to encourage teamwork is to bring out each person’s strengths. If the team can leverage the collective strengths of its team members, there is no doubt success will follow. Search for the strengths of each member. Highlight them. Encourage people to focus on strengths and deter the parts associated with their weaknesses to teammates with strengths in that area.
  6. Communication skills: Develop your project team. Teamwork can be a learned skill. Help each person understand the best ways to communicate and collaborate to aid teamwork. Provide examples.
  7. Mentoring: As much as we’d like to think that a training class solves all ills, it is just the start. Mentoring is required for success. Dictating teamwork is like dictating to complete calculus homework without any idea of how to complete the problems. Mentoring means “living an example.” Make sure you exemplify the right behaviors. Find other exemplars to refer to as well. Give people an opportunity to test new ideas. Do not beat them up for mistakes; instead provide corrective feedback and make sure they know that you believe in them.
  8. Critical path focus: Typically, the critical path is focused on cross-functional tasks as they are the ones that directly contribute to the project’s timing and success. Emphasize the importance of teamwork as it relates to cross-functional tasks. Undoubtedly, teamwork is bedrock to succeeding in a cross-functional environment. Make sure your team understands this tenet.
  9. Performance feedback: Since project metrics have been set up to track team progress, make sure that performance feedback also aligns. Again, as obvious as it sounds, the team member must receive performance feedback from their manager that aligns with the value of teamwork. They cannot succeed in getting a huge raise if they acted as a lone ranger on a project. If so, teamwork will fail. Follow up with the managers of your team members, and make sure they understand the metrics, their employee’s strengths and weaknesses as it relates to the project, etc. Make the time to ensure this feedback makes its way into their performance review.
  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 achieving any desired objective. If all team members, supporters, sponsors and other related parties understand and value teamwork, it will succeed.

 

Since executives count on projects to deliver the vast majority of improvements to their company performance, fostering teamwork can greatly increase the chances of delivering a project on-time, on-budget and on-results. Those who follow these 10 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:

 

Project Execution Paramount for Success

 

Retaining Project Management Top Talent

 

IveBeenThinkingBlog-1024x459.jpgIn today's Amazon-impacted world, if you cannot make rapid yet effective decisions, you'll be left in the dust. It is no longer acceptable to wait for IT to write a report in order to make a decision. Executives must have the "right" information at their fingertips to guide their companies to success. Does your company have this capability?

 

I find that it is often called BI (business intelligence). Sometimes it is called dashboard reporting. Certainly those executives who have access to a dashboard with graphics and capabilities to slice and dice information in order to make decisions have an edge. Less often, it can be referred to as navigating "big data". It can also be plain vanilla reporting — so long as the information needed is available, it doesn't matter what technology or manual process is going on in the background! With that said, every ERP selection project participant requests information at their fingertips literally — on an iPhone, Samsung or iPad.

 

One tip to implement this week:

 

You might think implementing BI is the way to go. Although it can be part of your solution, it is extremely unlikely to occur in a week. So, how could we make progress this week? Identify your requirements. 

 

Start simply by looking at your business, your function or your day-to-day job. What information do you need to make effective decisions? Start to think about what is needed to make those decisions and document your requirements. I guarantee it will be more than half the battle to know what you need! You'll then have a far easier time translating those into BI reports rapidly.

 

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…”

ERPchart.jpgI've always focused part of my business on ERP selection projects as these leverage the unique combination of my strengths — understanding the cross-functional and cross-organizational view in combination with the strategic priorities to identify the critical success factors. We then align these factors with the optimal business process design and system functionality to ensure success. 

 

I'm in the final stages of developing a new proprietary process for ERP selection, called ACE (assess and align critical success factors to achieve your desired endgame). The key to success lies with critical success factors. Think about the following when thinking about critical success factors:

 

  1. Profit drivers - What drives the company's profit? What is key to success? For example, when I was VP of Operations, I was responsible for cost. Although labor cost was utmost on the Board of Directors' minds, it wasn't the most important cost driver. Raw material costs were a much more significant percentage of product cost. Thus, focusing resources on material cost was the smartest way to drive profit.
  2. Alignment with strategy - Strategy can dictate a critical success factor. For example, if customers are core to success, making sure the system can easily address core customer requirements is cornerstone. How flexible is the system to meet those needs in alignment with your strategy?
  3. Differentiators - What does your business do differently from the competition? What are your unique differentiators? Make sure your system supports these.
  4. Unique system functionality - Often-times, there is functionality which is unique to your industry or way of doing business. For example, in metal processing, there can be attributes of metal which have to be considered in understanding items and inventory. Does your system support this without having a separate item for every possible combination of attributes?

 

Start by identifying your critical success factors. You wouldn't want to start building a house by picking out curtains when you didn't have the proper foundations in place. Consider your ERP system in a similar light. Stay tuned for the introduction of my new proprietary ACE process in next month's newsletter.....

IveBeenThinkingBlog-1024x459.jpgMany of my Inland Empire colleagues and trusted advisors have been supporting the transfer of ownership of the Ontario Airport back to the city of Ontario (from LAX airport) for YEARS. It was a big surprise when the Los Angeles Times reported breaking news that it is likely to occur within a year. A major win for the Inland Empire!


As a supply chain consultant, this is HUGE news. Having the ability to take a declining airport with underutilized assets and vast potential and transform it into a vibrant contributor to the economy – and the manufacturing, distribution and transportation network within the Inland Empire – is significant. As is usually the case, developing the strategy to regain control of the airport was easy; however, on the other hand, the execution took years (and often seemed impossible even for the most optimistic of supporters). Now, it will be essential to make sure that hard work pays off with a successful execution of the transition plan. We are counting on it!

One tip to implement this week:

 

Strategies rarely fail in formulation; however they often fail in execution. So why do executives pay so much more attention to the development than the execution? Thus, my tip for this week is to consciously focus on execution. If you are an executive, think back to your strategy and determine one item you could do to move the execution forward in a positive direction. And do it! 

 

If you are not an executive, think about a plan you put together (whether you wrote it down, shared it or not). Determine one item you could fit into your schedule that would move it forward in some meaningful way. Since you probably do not have "extra" time, you'll need to be creative. Ask your colleagues for ideas. Evaluate two or three options briefly, pick one and GO. You'll be surprised as to what can be achieved.

 

inventory levels.jpgCertainly reducing inventory on hand is typically preferred as you can accelerate your cash flow. It is one of the key focus areas of my consulting practice. I have found that reducing inventory by 50% is typically quite achievable with the optimal mix of people/skills, processes and systems. Keeping money flowing is one great way to improve your business results. However, it is never black or white. There are times when increasing inventory is my recommendation!

 

The best practice process should not dictate low inventory levels for the sake of having low inventory levels. If it does, throw out your best practice process. I see this most often arise when implementing Lean programs. According to Lean, inventory is a waste. Thus, many people take this as black or white and reduce inventory regardless of how it fits with the company strategy and requirements.  Don’t blindly follow what seems to be a generic rule! Lean doesn’t not consider inventory a waste if it has a value.

 

There can be a purpose and value for inventory. For example, if you have customer volatility, you will need to cover for that volatility if you want to keep your service levels intact. Of course, you should also collaborate and partner with customers to reduce volatility. As volatility is reduced, inventory can be successfully reduced. However, unfortunately I’ve come into several clients with horrific service levels because they followed a mandate to slash inventory without a plan of how to accomplish this goal successfully.

 

Uneven demand is another reason inventory is required. Inventory can help level load production which is not only required to manage costs but, more importantly, if the uneven demand requires more capacity than is available at certain times, customer service will be impacted. Lean understands this as well; however, I often see this ignored when implementing Lean.

 

Last but not least, inventory can be of value for any number of reasons that makes sense for the business. For example, in one client, we wanted to increase inventory levels so that we could reduce turnover. Turnover can cost between 16-250% of the cost of the employee in lost productivity, training, reduced efficiencies, etc. If we could keep employees with a level load and offer options for time off during the grueling, hot time frames, turnover improved.

 

Don’t make black and white statements without understanding the impact. I’ve witnessed too many clients calling me in to help resolve angry customers, higher costs and the like solely due to following a typically great, generic rule like reducing inventory is always good.

 

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Top 3 Causes of Poor Inventory Management  

 

Start with Your Customer

IveBeenThinkingBlog-1024x459.jpg

I've been spending considerable time helping clients select, design and implement ERP systems and leverage functionality and reports to make quick yet effective business decisions. It is considered "old school" to have to do these functions from a computer screen. We don't even have to look solely at business — how many Grandmas use iPads, Samsung Galaxy 6's and the like? Many!

 

No sales executive wants to log on his/her computer from the road instead of accessing information at his/her fingertips on a hand held device. During a customer meeting, isn't it convenient to rapidly look up an answer to a question and show the customer a fancy graph from your iPad? Of course! Mobility has become an expectation.

 

One tip to implement this week:

 

So, how can we make progress on this topic this week? This is a tougher one as it typically involves your IT resources and ERP software suppliers. However, there is always a way to make progress. Pick one area you'd like to be able to access via your phone that would make a significant difference to your work performance. Ideally, it should involve customer service or collaboration. For example, one topic could be staying up-to-date on order status for your top customers.

 

If you are the leader, get your technical experts together and ask them to find a way to start down this path rapidly. Don't worry about achieving nirvana; start with a good step forward. Keep taking steps forward while working on a more comprehensive, long-term solution. If you are not a leader, ask to meet with your leader. Explain why you think it would be valuable to automate information on the selected topic. Request that he/she pursue with technical resources. In the interim, suggest a relatively easy solution. Almost every company can provide access to email on these devices. Send a group email with updates on your selected topic. You'll be surprised; even what can seem like a low-tech way to get started can achieve wonders as people begin to collaborate.

 

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…”

InventoryMgmt.jpgI've incorporated three planning method options into a presentation on inventory management best practices. I've been receiving more and more requests for this topic as executives experience the impact poor inventory management can have on an organization — it can stunt growth, weaken profits, tie up cash unnecessarily and negatively impact operational efficiency.

I run across conflicts frequently among these options. Unfortunately, the method is often dictated. Resources are not valued. And results struggle. On the other hand, my best clients view these as complementary options to be used at the "right" time in the "right" situation for the "right" products. 

Briefly reviewing these methods:

  1. Lean: In lean circles, planning is seen as a Kanban process. In essence, the demand is pulled through the system by the customer. For example, when a customer consumes 5 pieces, the manufacturer produces 5 pieces. This type of process works effectively when demand is even. 
  2. MPS/MRP: Master production schedules and material requirements planning are system tools and related processes that derive production requirements and purchase plans from a compilation of demand (sales orders, forecasts, independent demand), inventory levels, expected production plans and receipts etc. This process looks at lead times and calculates what should be produced, regardless of the environment (make-to-order, make-to-stock, configure-to-order, etc.). This type of planning can work effectively with uneven demand.
  3. TOC: The theory of constraints focuses on subordinating all resources to the bottleneck or most overtaxed resource. The focus is often-times on throughput.  Since throughput will be limited by the bottleneck, it makes sense to focus there.

I cannot tell you how many disagreements I've seen over the years on the optimal planning method. In some companies, executives have become purists to one method or another, and it created havoc unhappy customers, high costs, etc. Instead, I've found it is well-worth it to evaluate what combination of methods makes the most sense for each particular company, product line, machine, team, etc. My most successful clients use a combination approach.

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Often Overlooked Value of Production Planning

 

What’s Driving HUGE Supply Chain Results in Manufacturing?

  • Fotolia_85953105_XS.jpgExecutive commitment – start with executive commitment.  Otherwise, you might as well hang up your hat, as it is really unlikely to succeed. Provide a compelling case to senior leaders on why your particular initiative should be pursued. Put your energy here before anything else!
  • Choose your initiative leader carefully – since leaders make or break success, it is important to choose carefully. Find a leader who is willing to go the extra mile to keep executives up-to-speed, and one who will share success and accept blame. A good leader will create success; whereas a so-so leader can kill even the best of teams.
  • Explain the why behind the initiative – team commitment will also make or break success, especially as team members have multiple conflicts on a daily basis. Make sure your team understands why the initiative matters.
  • Develop a plan – even the best of teams will fail if they don’t have a well-thought out plan. Make sure you look at the critical path, assign task owners and understand sequencing.
  • Follow up – last but not least, follow-up. Check in with team members. Find out what issues might occur. Ask about them. Find out how you can help avoid potential pitfalls. Don’t leave it to chance; follow-up!

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to strengthen your Eagle Eye:

 

Project Execution Paramount for Success

 

10 Ways to Stay Focused on the Critical Path

 

 

 

 

IveBeenThinkingBlog-1024x459.jpgThis weekend, I went to a "paint your pet" event at the Purple Easel. You'll see my handiwork below of my cat, Smokey. Whether this looks like Smokey is debatable; however, it reminded me of the value of creativity. The teacher encouraged the class to use color and take a creative bent. In business, I find that my most successful clients encourage their employees to be creative, generate new ideas and innovate. These leaders have told me that some of their best ideas that benefited customer loyalty, growth and profits came direct from employees. Do you encourage creativity and innovation?

Smokey.jpg

 

One tip to implement this week:

 

So, how can we encourage creativity? First, if you are an employee, take a few minutes every day to think about new ideas, new ways to perform your daily tasks, new ways to collaborate, etc. Just by thinking about it, you're likely to come up with something you might never have thought of otherwise. 

 

If you are a leader, encourage your employees to be creative and innovative. Provide them with guidelines and 'safe' work spaces for experimentation. Encourage trials and tests for new ideas. Celebrate failed ideas that they are willing to try. Do NOT give them a hard time for a failure that happens to negatively affect you. Eventually, they will not only come up with a good idea but, more importantly, they are likely to become more engaged and interested in their work!

 

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…”

cultureworkplace.jpgThere is quite a bit of talk on culture in organizations; however, if you were asked to define your culture, could you? I think this question would give many executives pause to think.

In today's work environment, all potential employees will discover what your culture is like when evaluating whether to work at your company. Since information is readily available on social media and in the news, there is no doubt if someone wants to understand your culture, he/she will. What will he/she find out? Is it what you'd expect?

I prefer my consulting mentor's definition of culture — that set of beliefs that governs behavior. Ponder on this definition, and it becomes quite clear. Rah, rah speeches meant to influence culture are pointless. What really matters with this definition are those beliefs that influence what happens.

For example, I worked with a client who wanted to change from a culture focused on dollars to one focused on the customer. That was a tall order because dollars was ingrained in every person's mindset. The planning group focused on orders of high dollar value. The production group would produce based on projected dollars shipped for the month. Of course, shipping would backorder customers based on getting the higher dollars out the door regardless of due date. Certainly, dollars were behind the beliefs held by all team members. 

In order to successfully change to a customer-focused culture, the leader had to change these underlying beliefs. He started by revising the metrics. He no longer held people accountable for dollars. In fact, he didn't provide dollars on any reports as they were not important; instead, he provided customer due dates. This really stressed out the masses for the first several weeks! However, by changing the focus to due dates, the culture started to shift.

This leader also held his ground with resistance — from employees, peers and with corporate. No one thought he'd be successful in the beginning since much of this culture was dictated by corporate; however, as he stuck to his guns and supported the culture with daily decisions, the culture soon started to turn. He also had to make an example out of people defying this new culture. One example went a long way as people took notice. The customer was #1. 

In this case, the interesting result was that although we expected and experienced a slight decline in sales in the first month since we no longer were going to ship based on dollars as the #1 priority, we increased sales for the quarter. We were so concerned about the quarterly impact that we ran around in circles for years (which is NOT uncommon) when it had zero negative impact for the quarter.

Change the set of beliefs that govern behavior and you'll change the culture!

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Lost in the Culture Change Maze? 4 Strategies to Succeed

 

The Hidden Benefit of Observation