Tag Archive: leadership

Hidden Opportunities for Process Improvement

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Take any business process. I have no doubt there will be hidden opportunities for process improvement. When is the last time you looked at your processes? You could follow a program such as lean manufacturing, the Toyota Production System, Total Quality Management and the like. Continuous process improvement builds in change as part of the corporate culture. Or, you can just take a fresh look at your processes. You’ll be surprised by what a review could uncover. A few methods to help uncover hidden opportunities include the following: 1. Ask the people performing the process – Outrageously simple? Possibly; however, in my…
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Want to Improve Your Business But Not Sure Where to Start?

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Volatility is here to stay! Even though we continue to drudge along in the lackluster recovery, excitement remains – earthquakes, nuclear disasters, global conflicts in Libya, oil prices skyrocketing again, etc. Thus, if there is anything business leaders know about the current economy, it is that dramatic change will continue – and they must find a way to succeed in this environment. Yet amidst all the chaos, it’s tough to find a clear path to success. I often hear from my clients and contacts, “I know I need to improve my business, department or personal career; however, I have no…
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Watching Metrics Trends

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One of the keys to success for any business is to watch metrics trends. In my experience, if a client watches key trends, they tend to be more successful than most. If they don’t, they struggle. Fortunately and unfortunately, it is as simple as that. One of the first questions I ask when I work with a manufacturing or distribution client relates to metrics. Which do they track? Why? What does the trend look like? I often find clients who track all sorts of metrics; however, I rarely find clients who not only track trends but watch the trends. It seems…
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Why Are Communications So Difficult?

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In my almost 25-year career in manufacturing and distribution, I’ve yet to see a company with “perfect” communications. I’ve seen a few stars (unfortunately the 20% of the 80/20 equation, if that!), MANY poor communicators and several “so-so” communicators throughout the years. On the other hand, I’ve seen the significant bottom line impact communications can have on business performance. Why are communications so difficult? My assessment is that communication begins and ends with leadership and often isn’t an area of focus. Let’s take a manager, director or even CEO of a mid-market manufacturing company. How many do you know who are exceptional communicators? What does…
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Synthesize for Results

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In my recent speech to a project management special interest group in Silicon Valley, a few participants raised some intriguing questions about how to ensure your project is on track.  As it’s a timeless topic yet vital to success, it seemed appropriate to discuss a few key strategies to tracking project progress. There’s no doubt that those companies who successfully execute projects will be in a dramatically superior position to their competitors.  In today’s new normal business environment, there is no margin for error; you must deliver project results on time, on budget and with exceptional customer service.  So, what…
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Speed is King: How Do We Leverage for Project Management?

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In today’s new normal business environment, customers want products and services delivered quicker. Investors want month-end numbers faster. Customers expect new products yesterday. Executives are expected to sift through an immense amount of information and make rapid decisions. Boil it down – speed is a differentiator. In my experience as an operations strategist and global business consultant and with hundreds of projects of all shapes and sizes behind me, I find that there can be hundreds or thousands of moving parts in any project or program. In these situations, it’s hard enough to keep track of all the pieces and…
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Would You Like to Add an Extra Hour Every Day?

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According to a sampling of business executives and managers, organization/ time management is emerging as one of the most critical issues in the workplace. As organizations struggle to achieve profit goals and remain competitive, employees tend to take on more roles, work longer hours, etc. Even though I’m known for organization (my grade school teacher told my Mom that she knew I’d be “organizing other people’s lives someday” – I wonder if my Mom knew how to take that comment about her 10 year old), it’s easy to get caught in this trap. Does it sound familiar that the last…
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The Skills Gap: Putting the Spark Back in Manufacturing

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As I discussed in my Skills Gap research report, there is a significant disconnect between what companies need and what they have.  It is worrisome for our future if we cannot find a way to close this gap.  Of course, I have suggestions stemming from retention to hiring to training & development which I discussed in my recent Skills Gap article. However, what do we do about the fact that manufacturing and distribution careers don’t seem to attract top talent? Certainly, if you ask a college student about exciting and high-paying careers, most will talk about what’s reported on the news as…
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Lean: Uncommon Common Sense

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I have always been a process consultant, typically focusing on those processes which are the most relevant to making rapid improvement with the specific manufacturer or distributor I am partnering with.  Yet, I find that processes alone are useless as they have to be married up with the “right” people, the “right” systems and aligned with the strategy.  However, people rarely come to me to find the “right” process improvement initiatives for company success; instead, they ask about “quick fixes” and sometimes Kaizen or lean events. My answer is always, “Why?”  If the requestor thinks a lean event will deliver…
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The Amazon Effect: Create a Customer Service Edge

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There has never been a better time to create a customer service edge! Gone are the days of picking up the phone with easy orders on the other end! Although we’ve emerged from the recession and are typically profitable, growth is still a challenge. As baby boomers retire, there is less consumption, and with less consumption, demand is stagnated. Not only is growth harder to come by but service expectations are elevated due to the Amazon effect. Mega-distributors like Amazon have had a significant effect – consumers certainly expect rapid delivery, Sunday deliveries etc. Even manufacturers and distributors are seeing…
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