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What Sort of People Culture Do You Need for Lean?

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It just so happens I’ve been working closely with a few lean gurus in the last 6 months, and I’ve been partnering with clients to implement lean processes, stemming from traditional operations to critical administrative functions such as order management and planning. None of these efforts will achieve anything if they aren’t backed by the “right” people culture. A few items to think about if you are going down this path: 1. Culture of innovation – Contrary to how most companies operate, a lean culture dictates that mistakes are good.  In essence, if you don’t try anything new, you won’t make a…
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Are You Prepared for a Systems Failure?

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According to today’s Wall Street Journal, the U.S.’s largest drugstore chain Walgreens had a database glitch and customers were unable to fill prescriptions.  The database issue hit 8200 pharmacy locations.  Some customers were inconvenienced while others might be waiting in excruciating pain for the system to be fixed.  In this case, the culprit was a system upgrade; however, it could have been any number of potential causes. No matter how unlikely, in today’s business environment, customers expect high service levels and are less likely to stick by you when issues occur.  Unfortunately, Murphy’s Law will occur somewhere down the road.…
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Overcoming Project Bottlenecks

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Have you ever seen a project without obstacles? In my hundreds of projects over the last 20+ years, I never have! Yet every one of my clients over the years has multiple projects running as they are cornerstone to success. Project results are considered essential – improve service, increase margins, accelerate cash flow, implement or upgrade an ERP system without a hiccup, etc. Thus, it is wise to consider how to overcome obstacles upfront. Prepare for success! How do we effectively do that and deal with obstacles? 1) First, prepare to avoid them. 2) Remain calm. 3) Think about options.…
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Data Mining for Dummies

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As I’ve been putting together a SIOP (Sales, Inventory and Operations Planning) executive meeting presentation, it made me think about data mining. In this case, there is very little information available – in comparison to other clients, the ability to retrieve information is in the bottom 20%, yet I was still able to put it together. Thus, it made me think about a few tips:  1. Base reports: So long as the company uses a system, there will be some data you can access. Even the worst case scenarios, which make the ERP experts shudder, have untapped information. Find it. 2.…
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Fit Matters! Just Ask J.C. Penney

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According to today’s Wall Street Journal, J.C. Penney’s climb out from potential imminent disaster continued last month.  J.C. Penney reported higher sales, wider margins and a smaller quarterly loss.  Although that might not seem like much to celebrate, it is a night and day difference from results experienced under their disastrous overhaul led by successful former Apple Inc. executive, Ron Johnson.  J.C. Penney tried a new strategy with Ron Johnson, and rapidly discovered that “fit matters”!  Customers provided their opinion by leaving in droves.  I applaud J.C. Penney for trying something new and pursuing innovation; however, it is critical to…
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Are You Working on the RIGHT Priorities?

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In today’s new normal business environment, executives run from meeting to meeting, call to call and rarely have time to THINK.  How do we know we are working on the right priorities? I’ve found that my most successful clients plan time to think about strategy, growth, innovation and topics such as these.  It cannot be an after-thought!  Actually, this is one advantage of the horrible traffic in the L.A. area – sometimes it provides quality thinking time about your business.  However, who would hope for bad traffic?!  Instead, set time in your calendar to think and brainstorm about these types…
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Rapid Assessments for Success

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I will be rolling out a new diagram/ graphic next month that depicts how my service lines “work together” to dramatically improve performance.  In the interim, I thought I’d talk about the first step which is rapid assessments that deliver success.  A few tips include: 1. Take a cross-functional view – Only assessments which cross functional lines will provide significant value as no function works alone. 2. Look for connections – It is where the various functions, systems, processes, and people cross that is essential.  Focus on these areas. 3. Focus only on those areas impacting the critical objectives – Too many…
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McDonald’s Proves Quality Must Be An Assumption

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According to today’s Wall Street Journal, McDonald’s July sales were DOWN by 2.5% – the worst in over 10 years! A significant contributor to this weak performance was due to the meat-supplier scandal in China affecting its sales in Asia and Africa.  As businesses try to find ways to grow sales in today’s highly competitive environment, fundamentals must remain in place to ensure quality and service.  What could be worse than finally achieving some success with organic growth to have it squashed by quality concerns? (In McDonald’s case, meat expiration date concerns..) Once customers leave, they are far less likely…
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The Amazon Effect: Which Came First? Service or Product Offering?

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In today’s world, Amazon and mega distributors like Amazon have turned the way consumers purchase on its head!  Who knew Sunday deliveries would be possible – delivered by the Post Office no less!  Rapid delivery is commonplace.  If you aren’t thinking about how to UP your value AND deliver quicker, you will be passed by your competition. Amazon has changed the way we view service.  They know their customers.  Gather information about their customers’ preferences and utilize that information to provide value add services customers don’t know to ask. However, once the customer receives the value added service, there is…
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What can we learn from Amazon with service?

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Amazon has certainly made a splash in recent years with out-of-the-box thinking in terms of customer service!  Who thought Sunday deliveries would be possible?  Same-day deliveries are becoming commonplace.  Immediate downloads of a huge selection of Kindle books is expected.  Drones are a discussion point. What can we learn from Amazon when it comes to customer service?  A few tips pop to mind: – Speed rules: If you aren’t decreasing your lead times, you’ll be passed up by the competition.  Immediate deliveries are not just increasing with Amazon.  Just ask your customers. – Customer experience: Good is no longer enough! …
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