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Are You Ready for a Surprise Inspection of Your Service?

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In almost every client, trade association and trusted advisor meeting I attend, service emerges as a hot topic. In today’s Amazon-impacted world, our expectations are high. Although we might not complain, good service is no longer sufficient. If you don’t meet and frequently exceed expectations, you will lose customers. There are countless options available and loyalty runs only so deep. Thus, it makes sense to put aside time to think over key questions with your team: Who is responsible for customer care in your organization? Are they able to impact service? How do you measure servicing success? And how does it align…
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Tour of Combustion Associates & Collaboration

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Earlier this week, I participated in a manufacturers’ roundtable and tour at Combustion Associates as an APICS Inland Empire chapter event. It was an enlightening conversation and tour since the products and services are quite unique and the power of collaboration shined through at every point in the process. See a few of APICS-IE Board member colleagues pictured below. (Tony, we missed you for the photo!) Not only did Kusum Kavia (EVP of Combustion Associates) make sure it was an interesting event, she invited a wide variety of colleagues from international resources to government officials to local manufacturers to participate with our APICS-IE members.…
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The Secret to Successful System Implementations

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I’m in the middle of helping a client implement a companywide system and the challenges and issues we are facing in this effort remind me of the importance of the basics I’ve written about before. As I have said in earlier articles, large scale implementations are complex undertakings whose success is by no means ensured. Studies have shown implementations fail almost as often as they succeed. The secret of success is understanding that there are two major deliverables in every system implementation: Getting the solution ready for the business and Getting the business ready for the solution.
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Is Digitization Hype?

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Well, let’s start with a definition of digitization. According to CIO.com, McKinsey defines it as technologies that virtualize and automate products, services and supply chains. We certainly hear about digitization in the news frequently; however, according to McKinsey, even though CIOs embrace it, digitization is a slow-moving process. On the other hand, don’t see this as an opportunity to take a break. According to McKinsey, 49% of the leading companies are investing in digital more than their counterparts do, compared with only 5% of digital laggards. Perhaps it is an opportunity to leapfrog the competition? What Should We Consider and/or…
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How Effective Is Your Cross-Functional Collaboration?

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Cross-functional collaboration can make or break success. No matter how well a particular department or team performs, it is largely useless if done in isolation. Just like a car won’t go if you press the accelerator and the engine isn’t connected properly, a company won’t achieve results if the units and people aren’t connected properly. Here are a few questions to ponder: On a cross-functional project with two department teams, can one team/department be viewed as successful if the other one isn’t? Do your teams attempt to talk in the other team’s preferred style or in their own? Do the…
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Learning from the Pain: Gathering Lessons Learned after an ERP implementation

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Someone once said that ERP implementations, “are the corporate equivalent of a root canal.” That feels like a good analogy to me right now. No matter how well you plan and how well you execute that plan, there is always something that causes you pain, but we can reduce the pain by gathering lessons about what happened and applying them to the next implementation. Lots of people talk about gathering and applying lessons learned after a big event like a system implementation but very few do it in a way that is effective. I use a 3 step process to ensure that meaningful lessons are developed and applied.
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Carmel and Strategic Thinking

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Earlier this week, I went to Carmel, California for a strategy session. While there, I went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and saw the California beauty after a winter season of a lot of rain (see the picture below for one of the fabulous views). Do you take time out of your busy schedule to think about the future? It helps to get away (even if you just leave the office for the day) to empty your mind for strategic thinking. Have you been able to do that lately? One tip to implement this week: If you are a leader,…
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Trump’s Major Increase in Defense Spending and Related Impacts

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Trump has proposed a rather dramatic increase in defense spending. His proposed $20 billion boost in military spending isn’t pocket change and will have a dramatic ripple effect on manufacturers across-the-board. It doesn’t matter what gets approved in the end — the direction is clear. How will defense spending impact your business? Waiting for final approval before considering how to leverage this opportunity seems foolhardy! FYI I love the picture below as it reminds me of one of my all-time favorite shows, JAG. What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise? When military spending increases, defense-related manufacturing booms. It…
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Case Study in Accelerating High Performers

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Situation: Our client had a select few high performers in their organization amidst a sea of average performers and a few non-performers. As is typical, all the attention went to resurrecting the non-performers as problems followed them wherever they went. Angry customers. Lost profit. Etc. At the same time, the high performers were frustrated by the slowness of progress and concern for their future. Path Forward: The solution can be quite contrarian to what 80% of leaders follow. Forget about your non-performers. Stop spending time trying to resurrect poor performers. Give them tools to perform, hold them accountable and move them out…
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