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My cat Smokey decided stretching out on my computer was a good idea. He can rest almost anywhere! I think cats have the right idea about rest in that we all need to take a bit of time to rest and recuperate now and then. Perhaps you did that this Memorial Day weekend or just take a few hours of your day from time to time. I had a lighter week last week in terms of meetings and so I felt rejuvenated after getting all sorts of website updates done and to my webmaster while also taking time to enjoy lunch at my favorite restaurants (Ihop, Olive Garden and Casa Moreno). No one has time! You have to make the time so that you'll be more effective afterwards....


work life balance

One tip to implement this week:


The good news is that it is quite simple to rest; however, it is rarely done (at least in my circles). Think about your particular personality traits — are you one that rarely stops working and is always thinking about the next task? Do you know what you want to do to relax or simply never thought about it because there was no time? Strangely enough, understanding what works for you is important. Not everyone is alike. What I consider rest would be taxing for my best friend — and vice versa. 


Don't just think about your next two-week vacation. You need rest frequently. What can you do that is quick but restful? As I said, I enjoy taking myself to lunch — and often enjoy sitting outside. You might like to take a walk around the block at lunch or on a break. One of my good friends does this and takes pictures on his lunch break because he loves photography. Or how about taking a drive to clear your head? Or simply escaping to read a book for 30 minutes might do the trick. Figure out what works for you and START doing it. Don't start with long stretches because it will probably be impossible to maintain. Instead, start small and see if you feel more rejuvenated. Smokey certainly does!



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…”

formulating a questionThere is a shocking number of clients and colleagues that struggle, gather teams, run kaizen events and do all sorts of other activities (and throw good money after bad more frequently than anyone cares to admit) to improve operations (improve the customer experience/service levels at greater profit and margins levels) while missing the most obvious answer — asking good questions.  


We've found that asking good questions can be the "secret weapon". Thus, we'll ask questions about asking questions...


1. Before leaping to a standard toolkit such as "run a kaizen event," have you asked common sense questions? Is common sense uncommon in your company?


2. Before scheduling more meetings to discuss topics (several of my clients run from one meeting to the next ALL day, every day), have you thought about asking if anyone has gone to "see" the issue? What did he/she see?


3. Do you think there is an art in formulating a question? If you've ever talked with an effective questioner, you'd know there is more to asking questions than just asking questions. What thought have you put into your question?


4. Do you think about the objective of your question? If you try it for a week, do your questions and meetings become clearer?




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

Lessons Learned: Asking Questions Isn't Enough


Project Success is All About the People


LMA Consulting Group


Amazon has announced plans to go to Australia in a big way — of course! This has many Australian retailers unnerved while simultaneously providing Amazon with a new beachhead for its global distribution network. And, it appears as though Amazon might have a supportive regulatory environment for testing deliveries via autonomous drones and road deliveries since there are vast remote areas for potential deliveries. It certainly seems like Amazon is a company to watch...


Amazon expands to Australia

I asked my Australian consulting colleagues about this announcement, and their response was "Bring it on!". Retail prices have been higher for quite a while and so it should definitely stir the pot. According to the Wall Street Journal and a Citigroup Inc. analyst, Amazon's sales could grow 8 fold medium-term in Australia — definitely not pocket change. Undoubtedly, it will be interesting to see how this unfolds.


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


As we have said repeatedly, we live in a global business environment and so we must stay abreast of trending factors. Amazon's strategy to gain a beachhead in Australia is noteworthy. Additionally, their continued focus in looking for ways to test drones and other technologies keeps innovation as a priority. And, certainly not to be overlooked, their ability to create disruption remains alive. 


Disruptions are becoming part of the new normal. The key is to be aware of potential disruptions and incorporate them into your strategic discussions. What happens if Amazon becomes a player in the UPS and Fed Ex world? Once drone deliveries are proven, how will that change the landscape? 


And, from the other viewpoint, ask your team — what disruptions might you initiate? Push the envelope a bit and think outside of the box. In my experience, the only way to pursue this path successfully is to start by creating a culture of innovation in your company. Have you thought about how to do that?





I attended the Renaissance Executive Forums all-members meeting last week, and one of the keynote speakers was a consultant I know from my affiliation with a global consulting association. It's a small world! His name is Alex Goldfayn, and he is the author of the Revenue Growth Habit. He is a successful consultant on, not surprisingly, increasing revenue, and I was especially intrigued by how easy he said success can be — it's just whether we choose to follow the plan. One of his tips is simply to follow up. Somehow I don't think we need to be a rocket scientist to figure that out; however, how many people follow up? Not nearly as many as you'd think! According to Alex who has worked with countless organizations, a simple follow up will increase revenues by 20%. It certainly seems worth it. Obviously the same type of statistic holds true regardless of why you are following up. Why not give it a try?


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One tip to implement this week:


I have a special affinity for this tip because it has been one of the reasons behind my success. I gained this insiders tip from my mom, and it has certainly paid off. I can't tell you how many millions follow-up has created for my clients' bottom lines. It seems almost too simple to be true but it is just not a common practice. Thus, the good news is that we all can make a dent in implementing this tip immediately.


Look through your tasks for the week. Are there some that will more likely be successful or set up to be successful if you followed up? Start there. Think about last week's activities. Should you follow up on any items? I am sure you have at least one! Consider how you could help your manager, colleagues or Board members/corporate officers be more successful if you were to follow up on an important project. Don't delay — move at least one item forward an inch TODAY!


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…”

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According to a survey by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, more than three quarters of Americans surveyed believe the U.S. should invest in the manufacturing industry. Nice to see what I see on a daily basis come to life and gain momentum! Specifically, more than 80% see manufacturing as vital to America's livelihood, 76% believe the U.S. needs a more strategic approach to developing its manufacturing base and 90% believe manufacturing jobs will require a higher level of technical skill.



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Interestingly, the overall public ranked manufacturing 3rd, just after technology development centers and health care facilities, in terms of the country's leading sectors for job creation. The bottom line is that manufacturing is "in"! Are you thinking about how to leverage this opportunity?

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


Manufacturing is riding a popularity wave. While Americans are seeing the relevance of manufacturing, there will be more interest, investment and education in the sector. Take stock of your professional career and of your company's position. What can you do to get ahead of the curve so that you'll be ready for opportunities?


For example, from a career perspective, what is your ideal job? Do you have the skills, experiences and behaviors required to move up the ladder? There will be vast opportunity with manufacturing's popularity, which will be heightened as baby boomers retire. Sign you and your team up for relevant classes. For example, APICS Inland Empire has several classes in manufacturing processes. Become a mentor and simultaneously find a mentor. I find being a Drucker Women in Supply Chain mentor, a Pomona College mentor and an APICS student case competition chair and mentor rewarding, and I learn just as much as my mentees. On the other side, I wouldn't be nearly as successful without my consulting mentor and business mentors. There is no better way to learn than from someone who has "been there, and done that". 


From a company perspective, shore up your skills, resources, processes, technologies and the like so that you are the ideal source for new business. Tailor your approach to the most likely opportunities. Do you have capacity availability to jump on opportunities? Think strategically about what will arise down-the-line and put your company in a proactive position purposefully. Think about your supply chain partners and include them in your plans.



cyber security.jpgCyber security has taken over the news and trade magazines lately as risk levels are elevated and cyber crime is a real threat. Are you developing strategies to address cyber security concerns? It is no laughing matter as you listen to what could happen....


Tonight, we attended a ProVisors (group of trusted advisers) cocktail reception. In two hours, we ran into multiple people who talked about the relevance and risk associated with cyber security. If you aren't thinking about these questions, you should sit up and pay attention:


1. Does your company have the appropriate security and protocols in place to fend off hackers? If each of us thinks we aren't important enough for a hacker, someone will be surprised.


2. Have you thought about your supply chain partners and cyber security? It can be a vast topic. Although the risk might be low, the impact can be high. Just ask folks like Target and Home Depot.


3. Have you thought about cyber security and your manufacturing machines like CNC machines and manufacturing execution systems? Suddenly the topic got a lot bigger!


4. How about the internet of things? Have you thought about how to prevent cyber security threats from non-work devices that can connect with work-related devices?


5. Do you have cyber security insurance?



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


What’s Important in Technology?


Why Care About Supply Chain Risk?


I attended the DMA (Distribution Management Association) event earlier this week, and I heard a compelling speaker from the Los Angeles office of the FBI talk about cyber crime. It is simply a massive industry. In 2015, internet fraud led to a loss of $14.6 million per month. Talk about a massive amount of cyber crime, just in Los Angeles vs. bank robberies nationally in 2014 at $2.4 million per month. Are you protecting your business from Ransomware and BEC (business email compromise)? If not, I now am armed with several horrifying statistics to pass along.



One tip to implement this week:


Every executive should be thinking about cyber crime. Is it worth saving a few dollars on a less expensive, inexperienced IT resource? Absolutely not! 71% of breaches occur in small businesses because they tend to be more vulnerable, and 60% of them close their doors within 6 months. Certainly these types of statistics should encourage you to be vigilant. 


It isn't just IT resources. A lot of cyber crime has to do with education and culture. If employees open emails that look harmless and don't know what to look for or how to handle the situation, it can go from bad to worse in a hurry. One executive got in a heap of trouble when attacked by BEC because the culture was such that the CFO didn't question blindly following what looked like an email from the CEO with instructions of where to wire funds. Start by learning about cyber crime. Find out what you should be looking for and make sure your employees understand how to handle these situations. Crooks will continue to go after these untapped funds and so we must be proactive and alert.


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…”

service.jpgUnanimously, since the recession, our clients have seen an increase in customer expectations. Excellent customer service has become expected. Instead, we must stand out from the crowd to keep the business. What must we do to maintain our preferential position in our customers' eyes?


A few questions to think about include the following:


1. Are you investing in customer service like you invest in people, systems and programs? How much do you put aside for this critical endeavor?


2. Who is responsible for customer service? Is it a Customer Service or Sales Manager? Why isn't it a part of each person's performance? Does the CEO consider himself/herself ultimately responsible?


3. Are all customers created equal? Do they receive equal priority? Or, do your top customers that do not complain receive less attention because the squeaky wheel gets the attention?


4. Do your customers know they are important to you?



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


Why Customers Rule


Obsession with Your Customer

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This past weekend, my APICS (premier association for supply chain and operations professionals) Inland Empire chapter had its spring executive panel and networking symposium on the topic of "Disruptive Innovations in Logistics". We had an amazing panel of experts covering trucking, rail, import/ export, distribution and policy. It was clear that rail can have a profound impact on logistics, and there is much more involved in rail than obvious at first glance.


For example, Union Pacific (represented on our panel) and BNSF are the two core freight rail lines supporting the U.S. There is an amazing amount of disruption and innovation going on in the rail industry to increase fuel efficiency, decrease emissions, enhance safety and improve outcomes for customers. For example, the new train configuration emits 15% less emissions/improves fuel efficiency. There are initiatives going on to stop any train from having an accident with any other train technologically. However, it is never as easy as it sounds. Will the tracks support it? Will the technology and satellites support it? Will the infrastructure support it? There is an amazing amount of money being invested as well. For example, a tier 3 locomotive costs around $1.5 million whereas a tier 4 environmentally-friendly locomotive that also maintains power and performance is double that amount.


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


You might wonder if rail matters to you. For the vast majority of companies, rail will impact the end-to-end supply chain in some manner which will impact them. On Friday, I met with a client who was re-evaluating their supply chain network. Rail is and will remain a key aspect of their network because it is an efficient way to transport goods across the country in combination with trucks, ports, etc. In this case, they transport finished goods; however, in many cases, it might not be that direct (and obvious). Many of our clients' suppliers use the rail system extensively. When I was a VP of Operations and Supply Chain, rail was one of the modes of transportation we utilized (as it was lower cost and reliable, albeit a little slower), and of course, our suppliers definitely used it as well. Undoubtedly, it will impact you in one way or another.


Thus, it is helpful to be aware of what's going on in the rail industry. Stay in tune with what issues are affecting your logistics system as these topics will impact costs, service and visibility at a minimum. Also, what disruptions are likely to occur? Are you ready for them? Are there risks associated with these areas? Certainly, natural disasters can have a profound impact, let alone strikes, accidents, etc. Within the last year, the freight rail systems largely came to a halt in Southern California due to fire. What backup plans do you have? And, do you understand how you are impacted by the rest of your logistics systems?



empowered.jpgLately, there has been a common theme at seemingly unrelated events — the importance of employee engagement and empowerment. Just in the last several weeks, it has come up at the Drucker Supply Chain Forum, the Harvey Mudd executive panel event, and at the CEO Summit.

Do you have empowered teams? Or do you just think you do? In thinking about empowered teams, we can ask a few pointed questions:

1. Do you communicate the importance of employees acting in the best interest of the customer? Do your teams understand what they are able to do to satisfy a customer?


2. If an employee makes a decision within reason of the guidelines you set and with the "right" end goal (whether or not it is the way you would have made the decision) do you pat them on the back?


3. Would your team members ever cite policies and procedures to internal or external customers as a reason something cannot happen if pressed for an answer? How do you think it makes your customers feel?


4. Can your teams spend money to satisfy a customer? How much is too much?



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


Do You Really Support Empowerment?


Empower Your People to Grow


I attended a consulting convention last week in Chicago, and the theme of the week was the critical importance of relationships. Jonah Berger spoke about his book Contagious: Why Things Catch On. I thought a fascinating fact he talked about is that 91% of people buy (or business is gained) by word of mouth. Simply amazing! The same goes for almost anything — finding a job, getting a promotion, getting a project approved and so on. Have you thought about this?

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Also, I happened to see my best friend from grade school and junior high while in the Chicago area (prior to hearing this startling fact I must add) as I thought it would be nice to catch up. And, I was able to see my cousins as well — it was really nice seeing them in person, even though it is far easier to stay connected to some degree with Facebook these days. I remember jumping into Wauconda Lake many times with my cousin and having a blast in the old days. Of course, I also met up with consulting friends while in Chicago — one I haven't seen in 12 years, two members of my global strategy group and several others. Are you keeping in touch?


One tip to implement this week:


The great news is that it is quite easy to value the people in your life. Have you picked up the phone lately to tell your colleague that you appreciate them? Instead of thinking about how you can gain ground at work, think about how you can help a well-deserving colleague get ahead. Be generous.


Keep in touch with valued former colleagues — whether in a different department, company or even country. It is so much easier than it used to be with technology like Skype, Zoom and others. Or, go old fashioned and send a note. Strangely enough, it has come back into style. Don't worry about format and timing; just START. Walk down the hall. Pick up the phone. Schedule a trip. Mail a card. Or do whatever works for you.


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…”