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The Mexican government took away subsidies on gas, and so prices soared in the New Year. A 20% hike in gas prices has spurred on protests, looting and chaos at border crossings. Although the objective was to let the cost of fuel adjust to the market, the gasolinazo (which is how the price hike is known) is anything but just a market adjustment in the eyes of the people. They are not happy!


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It is already creating havoc in the Mexican supply chain. What should we be thinking about to stay on top of this supply chain trend?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?


This isn't likely to be a temporary change since it brings gas prices to market levels, and it seems to signal a change in direction from the government. Thus, one obvious change will be the need to build these costs into our transportation costs throughout the supply chain for items moving around/through Mexico. 20% seems like a reasonable number to use for analyses.


It has temporarily created supply chain disruption in the form of looting, border jams and the like. Since it is a signal of changes to come, perhaps we should account for a bit more supply chain disruption. Do we have backup plans?  Do we have alternate routes? Will a 20% increase in transportation cost create any supply chain redesigns? What will other supply chain partners change due to this increase (if anything)? Will we be ready for which of those are likely to impact you?




Posted by lisaanderson Jan 30, 2017



I am the Chair of the Innovation Awards of the Manufacturers' Summit for the Inland Empire, and we have been quite busy preparing for this Friday's summit (see below). It is important to encourage innovation for the obvious reason that if we do not innovate, we will stand still. And, if we are standing still, we end up moving backwards while our competition passes us. What have you innovated lately? 

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One tip to implement this week:


Innovation is certainly not something to accomplish in a week; however, it is definitely something to start this week. My best clients innovate by inspiring and rewarding creativity. The executives provide a vision of the future and encourage employees and partners to innovate. As my consulting mentor says, innovation is applied creativity. I bet you have a LOT more innovators (or potential innovators) at your company than you realize.


Are you creating a culture of innovation in your company, department or just with your colleagues surrounding you of innovation? Start by encouraging thinking and testing of ideas. Find areas where you've already innovated and apply for next year's innovation awards. Make sure your employees and colleagues are recognized for their successes!


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_125990049_XS.jpgLisa Anderson MBA, CSCP, president of LMA Consulting Group, conducted a proprietary research study to better understand outsourcing, near-sourcing and insourcing trends for U. S.-based manufacturers. Pending further analysis, Anderson reports on a preliminary finding that shows that 70% of responding executives expect near-sourcing to increase within the next five years. Survey data was collected from August to October 2016, and the U. S. presidential election may have an impact on this trend toward near-sourcing.

“I’ve seen that manufacturers were already considering insourcing to the U.S. and near-sourcing options to Mexico and other closely located countries because of the Amazon effect – the need for rapid response to customer needs. Thus, the industry was already moving in that direction prior to the U.S. presidential election. However, since tariffs are likely to increase and bad publicity could easily occur, the impact will probably steer some of those companies towards the U.S. instead of Mexico.

“In addition to the Amazon effect, I’ve witnessed a number of companies who poorly planned their outsourcing and off-shoring efforts,” shares Lisa Anderson. “They now have experience and data to make better decisions. Since the total cost of importing non-commodity products from Asia is equalizing with what can be achieved in the U.S. or Mexico, near-sourcing becomes a no-brainer when the customer and cash impacts are added to the cost equation. It is also far easier and more successful to communicate and manage when manufacturing is closer to the markets served.”

This is the third major research study conducted by LMA Consulting Group which included a Skills Gap Study and The Amazon Effect research project. With an uptick in manufacturing and continued concerns of the lack of skilled resources to fill new manufacturing jobs, Anderson is initiating a new Skills Gap Survey to assess the necessary skillsets for manufacturing positions. The data will be used to uncover new issues as well as compare and contrast results from 2013. Take the survey here or copy and paste this link into your browser

To receive the final report or participate in an Anderson-led webinar on outsourcing, near-sourcing and insourcing, enroll here or cut and paste this link into your browser

lead people.jpgOf course we talk about leadership more than anything else as it is #1 to business success. Thus, we are always looking for strategies and tips for success. One of our clients clearly prioritizes us — it is clear we are one of her top priorities. How often do you feel that way?

We happened to work with her in more than one company, and it was clear that her team appreciated her leadership style. People quite opposite in personality (who probably wouldn't agree upon much) seemed to enjoy working with her. Of course, no one is perfect (including her) but she had this particular quality down pat — she knew how to treat people. Do you?


So, what are you doing to make your employees, peers, managers, trusted advisors and the like feel important? First, regardless of the fact that it is certainly a nicer way to live your daily work life, it will deliver results. Will you go the extra mile for someone who is rather grumpy and doesn't seem to appreciate what you do or for someone that makes you feel important? 


Some of the strategies I've seen that achieve this goal include the following:

  • Ask for their opinion.
  • Show up to scheduled meetings (sounds really silly but is a BIG deal).
  • Don't say you have an open door policy and then keep looking at the clock when they show up at 4:50pm.
  • Find out what is important to the person and tailor projects to his/her interest.
  • Appreciate him/her when everything isn't going perfectly.
  • Take the time to review goals and performance at least quarterly (no matter what crisis is going on).
  • Promote them and their projects to the rest of the organization.
  • Ask how you can help.


Which of these will you start using tomorrow? There is NO reason to wait to make people feel important — after all, people are our #1 asset.


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


Leadership Will Make or Break Success


Leadership Qualities



While driving up the street to my house on the way back from driving both directions to the port of San Pedro for a port tour in a horrific storm (for Southern California), I see the calm after the storm. Southern Californians know just how challenging the rush hour freeways can be in a rain shower, and so it is especially significant to see the beautiful effects that can come from such havoc. 

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How many times do we get caught up in some sort of storm at work (ERP implementations, merger or acquisition, a major change project such as a lean transformation or SIOP initiative) and fail to appreciate the calm after the storm — and celebrate the results?


One tip to implement this week:


Unfortunately, we all can probably think of many, many storms in our work life without prompting. If we keep our eyes on the goal even in the worst of it, we'll see the sun shine through as we complete a milestone or as we drive it home.


While in the midst of a storm this week, remember to keep focused on the goals. Provide a visual of those goals to your team, colleagues and partners. Create a visual if you don't have one. Generate some excitement about the next milestone. Soon, you'll emerge on the other side and you'll see the skies open up and your end results shine through. 


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…”

businessman reading chart.jpgIf you have the systems to measure your ideal metric, go for it but don't let it become an excuse! Find one that will measure progress and start immediately!

For example, in one of our clients, not only were the run rates incorrect but they were wildly different for similar items which would make planning an utter nightmare! However, there are still ways to measure progress and plan. Find a metric that won't change and stick to it. In this case, we used earned standard hours, and we are able to measure improvements in the metric. Of course, as data is cleaned up, we should put better metrics in place but it doesn't have to hold up progress! And we were able to plan to the expected earned standard hours as well. All is solved to an 80/20 standpoint which is all that is needed.

This type of scenario has come up on multiple occasions — actually almost every client has some sort of situation that fits in this mold (the only question is how significant). It could be that measuring inventory levels is challenging because the system reports aren't set up correctly. In this case, it could be that you count pallet rows or something else that is visible and easy. It could be that your system doesn't support run rates effectively (unfortunately that was true with one client). In this case, we found a manual process to keep the load visible while storing information in the system. 

What is in common in all these examples is to start immediately with what you have and find a way to make progress. It certainly doesn't sound like rocket science but it drives results. If it was common, so many of our clients wouldn't make significant progress once we find the "right lever" to pull, similar to these situations.


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


Uncommon Common Sense Project Management 


The Value of CRM



I went to see the movie, "Hidden Figures" last weekend and really enjoyed it! It was an uplifting story about what perseverance can achieve. Three brilliant African American women were the brains behind the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit at a time when women, let alone African-American women were not considered important or involved in anything important. 


One of the women ran the group of African-American women known as human computers (although wasn't recognized as a supervisor). As a new contraption came on board (an IBM computer), she realized they would be without a job. Instead of digging her head into the sand or complaining, she found a way to continue to provide value. She taught herself Fortran (computer language) and developed the group into computer operators. Do you take this approach with much less threatening situations?



One tip to implement this week:


I find that we have gotten into a bit of a rut — there is a lot of complaining, talk about "they" causing problems, and looking for blame in organizations. This week, let's jar ourselves out of this rut!


The next time you think about a frustrating topic or someone brings up a topic and wants you to commiserate about the sad state of affairs in your company, department, government or whatever else might arise, STOP. Think about these brave women in Hidden Figures who were at a much higher risk for just doing a good job. How could you respond to the situation more productively? 


Can you find a solution? Can you brainstorm with your colleagues to contribute to a solution or path forward? If nothing comes to mind, perhaps follow the old school route of these women — get a book to stir ideas. You probably won't even have to steal one from the library! These days, we can find almost anything we need on the Internet. Or, get in touch with a trade or industry organizations. There are countless resources available — and we don't have nearly the roadblocks on our road to success that these women in Hidden Figures experienced. Think solution; not roadblock.


Persevere and I bet success and personal fulfillment will follow.


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…”

customer is king.jpgOne of our clients has a healthy obsession for the customer! It might drive some of his employees a little mad but it is effective. Adopting a bit of healthy obsession for your customers can go a long way!

In this case, our client was particular with every customer-facing document, interaction, piece of information and the like. This owner would keep track of who ordered what throughout each day, kept a pulse on what was going on vs. prior years, like years and would ask his employees who interacted with customers for customer feedback and the pulse of customers multiple times a day. Every employee and business partner/trusted advisor knew customers were important.

In today's Amazon-impacted marketplace, keeping a pulse on customers is even more critical. Are you assuming what customers told you a year ago still holds true? Do you think it does? Probably not! Or are you relying on your salespeople to communicate changes to you? Do you prompt them or follow any proactive measures to make sure you find out what your customers prefer? Change is occurring on a rapid basis. Are you asking? For example, I'm sitting in first class on a flight to Dallas and they handed me a cookie for dessert. He didn't ask whether I'd want it heated up (which is the first time that happened). That small difference made a huge difference to me. It wasn't worth eating cold yet I'd have loved it heated up. I suppose it might be good that I didn't eat it but this small question could have gone a long way with customer service.

Technology for technology’s sake is expensive and useless. Put it to work. If you have a CRM system, find a new way to use it that will give you valuable intelligence on your customers. If you have an e-commerce site, find a way to find out more about your customers — and potential customers. If you have access to business intelligence tools, use them to gain business intelligence on your customers' needs. And, if you have Excel, you can still track key characteristics about your customers. Who doesn't at least have Excel?! Become a little more obsessed with your customers.


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


Why Customers Rule


  Is Your Inventory System Working?




I went to Charleston over New Years and enjoyed time with my best friends, food and fun. Charleston is an intriguing historical city. The houses in town cannot change their structures, and so purchasing a home is not only expensive but the maintenance is ten times more expensive than the original purchase; however, the homes and historical significance are amazing. They used to build homes with a front door to nowhere (see below) so that neighbors would know that if the door was open, it was a good time for socializing and if it wasn't, they should come back later. What a great idea! This reminded me of open door policies in business. Are you doing something to show that you are open to interactions with your colleagues?



One tip to implement this week:


The great news about open door policies is that it is easy to implement in a week, let alone 2 minutes. Just open your door. 


Of course, if you are not approachable, opening your door might not be sufficient. Think about how you can be clear if you are available to talk with colleagues and employees. And, if you are available, focus your attention on the person; not your email or your phone. Show that he/she is a priority.  


If you always leave your door open but are not really available, make some sort of visual signal or way for everyone to know whether you are available. There is no reason to imply that you are available yet you are distracted the entire time with another priority. The mistake I see most often falls into one of two categories: 1) looking available with an open door but not paying any attention because you aren't really available OR 2) always appearing unavailable. 


Instead, pick times you will be available, find a way to communicate this availability, stick to it and listen. Be upfront when you aren't available as you can't give them the focus anyway.


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…”


Lisa Anderson MBA, CSCP, president of LMA Consulting Group and program awards chair for the Manufacturers’ Council of the Inland Empire (MCIE) Manufacturer’s Summit E=mc² Innovation Awards, a special award ceremony celebrating innovative businesses solving challenges in today’s manufacturing industry, is pleased to announce a new category award of Student Award in addition to the five award categories of Innovation in Product Development, Innovation in Resource or Process Efficiency for Manufacturers, Innovation in Human Capital and Talent, and Innovation Marketing. Submissions are due by January 16, 2017, with awards made at the Manufacturing Summit, the largest event of its kind in Inland Southern California, to be held at the Ontario Convention Center on Friday, February 3, 2017.


The E=mc² Innovation Awards are a great way to showcase what a company is doing to be innovative to raise the bar,” shares Award Chair Lisa Anderson. “In a climate of robust global competition, talent shortages due to skills gaps, Amazon and mega distributors changing the competitive landscape and poor employee engagement, these awards can prove to Inland Empire companies and their employees, that they are innovative and have great ideas to grow their business and remain competitive. And with the addition of the student category, we now have a spotlight on hiring recent graduates who showcase their talents with their submissions.”


Award winners have tapped into new ideas, processes and manufacturing techniques to build and improve their businesses. Previous winners include Riverside, Calif.-based Newport Cottages, a children’s furniture manufacturer and winner of the Innovations in Human Capital and Talent Award, struggled with workflow issues unable to increase sales from new orders while managing the demand from current customers. They partnered with the Riverside County Workforce Investment Board to promote and facilitate a Lean Manufacturing Transformation Rollout Program and turned their disorganization into a true company transformation.


Last year’s Innovation in Resource & Process Efficiency Award Winner, Celestica, a design and engineering through to manufacturing and after-market services firm based in Ontario, Calif., had to overcome a dual problem of reducing costs as requested by customers while improving efficiency to handle more orders. They had to evaluate their operation, perform a Kaizen Blitz to eliminate non-value add activities and rely on employee’s creativity to improve receiving and overall operations.


The 2015 E=mc² Innovation in Marketing Award went to the Riverside, Calif.-based Phenix Technology, a recognized manufacturer and seller of high quality professional fire helmets, for revitalizing this Made in America, 40-year old company into a global powerhouse. Angel Sanchez, Chief Operating Officer and Director of Global Operations of Phenix Technology explains, “As a small business in California, we struggle to compete with large manufacturers from all over the world. Many have what seem to be unlimited budgets for marketing along with reduced costs for doing business.” But part of not just surviving, but thriving is the innovation many in the Inland Empire have. “We are committed to making our products in the Inland Empire, says Sanchez. “To ensure we can continue doing so for decades to come we focused our energy on innovation. From lean manufacturing to creative marketing, we work hard to thrive in California. It was an honor to be recognized for our efforts and hopefully our model can help other small business to succeed.”


The 2017 Manufacturing Summit will be held Friday, February 3, 2017, at the Ontario Convention Center. For more information, visit MCIE Website or cut and paste this link


Thinking Long Term

Posted by lisaanderson Jan 4, 2017

long term view.jpgWe all know we should think long term. And we talk about thinking long term. But, do we actually think long term — and live with our decisions even when it's hard? Not nearly as often as we should!

Since we work with already successful manufacturers and distributors that want to build upon and accelerate success, we have worked with many executives who think long term; however, it remains a rarity. Just think about those executives who make a great long-term decision but waver when the going gets tough. I imagine we all know too many!

One client hired expensive engineers and R&D experts during the worst of the recession when they struggled to find a job. He had no need for them at that time but he realized that longer term, he'd be able to start designing a new product line to enter a new market ahead of the competition and would gain top talent to help with this endeavor. Do you think they left at the top of the market when the competition could have offered a nice pay increase? Not on your life!

Another client could have gained more profit by squeezing a bit more out of suppliers but took the long view instead. The executive team knew that finding win-win solutions would be the better long-term approach even though Board members and private equity partners would have preferred immediate progress. Later, when critical materials went on allocation, we were able to support customer needs when the larger competition (who should have had more pull) struggled due to this long-term view. Imagine how differently the sale of the company would have gone if we couldn't service our customers?!

Decide which long-term views are worth pursuing and don't waver. You'll thrive over the long-term. We find that people tend to "give up" with their long term strategies just prior to huge success. Don't become one of those statistics. Instead, stick to your long-term view.


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


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The Hidden Benefit of Observation

IveBeenThinkingBlog-1024x459.jpgI took the APICS CLTD (certified in logistics, transportation and distribution) exam yesterday (and passed!); therefore, I have been knee deep in logistics topics this week. Who knew logistics was such a BIG topic? Well, we have been excited at APICS-IE to start teaching this certification class as it is critical to manufacturing, distribution and transportation success. Since taking on CLTD, we have noticed an increased interest from people like the Wall Street Journal and, of course, the proactive supply chain professionals in Southern CA! If you don't have the right product, at the right place, at the right time, in the right condition at the right cost etc., etc., your business will lose profits and potentially customers — quite a big deal!



Did you know Southern CA is #1 in NOT only manufacturing but also logistics in the U.S.? Are you thinking about logistics or does it just "happen"?


One tip to implement this week:


As I said, logistics is a large topic. There are 4 LARGE books for the CLTD exam. How about starting by taking an assessment of your area (such as Southern CA) or your company? Find out how important logistics is to your area and your company. It certainly HAS to be related if you move anything anywhere, have inventory, etc. And, if you live in an area like Southern CA, it is vital to your life. Logistics is cornerstone to the economy and has global implications. Certainly the LA and Long Beach ports are the BIG daddy of all ports. The #2 port is a FAR smaller second in comparison. We have massive distribution centers, and manufacturing is nothing to blink about as #1! Imagine the opportunities.


Have you noticed how often paying attention can go a long way to starting progress?


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…”