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Just tell your customer no

AC company, a long time customer of DMI found itself in a parts shortage due to their customer putting pressure on them. Most of the orders for the AC company consisted of short runs of 5 through 25 parts as a standard order size. This parts shortage was causing AC to issue far more purchase orders than usual as well as changing the schedule daily. The changing of the schedule daily was putting DMI in an impossible position of trying to play catch up to the ever-changing production environment. Eventually, this was causing the schedule to be two weeks behind. Something needed to be done to rectify the situation. As the person in charge, I decided to just say no to the schedule changes and

Leadership credibility is the issue

A leader has nothing more than their credibility. If you are setting out to inspire your people, you had better mean it your people can tell when you are faking. Would you rather be seen as a fake leader who sometimes tries to lead and inspire or a credible leader who lives their convictions every day?

Keep it simple stupid

Projects, even for those who know better, tend to start simple then grow overly complicated. The key is to be able to recognize that project is beginning to get too complicated and scale it back to the original intent of the project.

Cost cutting directive a mistake?

A general cost-cutting directive from upper management without clear communication on the purpose and end game of the cost-cutting in many cases results in higher costs for the company. Without direction on the cost-cutting initiative, employees will be ruthlessly efficient at what gets cut without regard for the side effects of said cuts, especially if bonuses are handed out for the number and size of cuts. Predictably the outcome is a loss of valuable suppliers, lower quality parts, poor customer service, and ineffective staffing.

I am going to do it better than you

My goal when I do projects for companies who are farming out overload work is to #1 have a better quality product than their shop and #2 work smarter and out hustle their shop.

Shared destiny yes or no

Does your company have a sense of shared destiny from the top on down? So many of the nonmanagement people that I have talked to over the years do not feel that they have a shared company destiny with management. They can see by management lackluster attitudes towards providing production or services the best tools with which to do their jobs and that management is disengaged from the production or services side of the company. This is compounded by management constantly harping about wages, bonuses, costs, etc. while carving out a cushy work environment for themselves. The divide between management and nonmanagement seems to be growing even with a growing knowledge base of fixes to learn fr

The perfect example

The following is a perfect example of why you do not fire people for mistakes. You turn the mistake into a learning moment. “Recently, I was asked if I was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. No, I replied, I just spent $600,000 training him. Why would I want somebody to hire his experience?” – Thomas John Watson Sr., IBM

Line workers, staff somehow know

While management tends to think that are keeping secrets on the health of their company, lineworkers and staff have their communication channels to the company scuttlebutt. The moral of the story is for management to keep it honest and above board. In cases where management through diversion has been able to hide the health of the company and then announces a surprise layoff etc. they become the emperor who has no clothes underscoring the need to keep it honest and above board.

Whole Foods???????????

Whole Foods management has lost it's ever-loving mind. The reason for Whole Foods existence is to keep its shelves stocked with foodstuffs. The customer could care less how efficiently those food items reach the shelves, and they have an expectation that when they enter the store, the food item as advertised by Whole Foods is on the shelf. Management of the company has disregarded practically every common-sense management tool made available to them to reach this cost-cutting goal that, in the end, will most likely result in a reduction of customer loyalty. Management at every level should be forced into the stores to explain to customers why the shelves are empty.

Data, a double edge sword.

The use of data is a double-edged sword. Not enough data can lead to poor decision making, too much data can bring a company to a stand still, unable to make the decisions necessary to move forward. Just how much detail do you need to make a decision? Data being evaluated separately from the everyday functions of a company that it affects is useless. Many times data is cherry-picked to prove that the decisions made by management are the correct decisions. Using data to browbeat employees will forever destroy a companies ability to collect accurate data. Data should only be used as a learning tool.

We care about your success

Taken from my companies website. Our core principle for serving customers and a source of pride. -- "We consider ourselves an extension of your companies design, engineering, and production. We make a commitment to your successful development and manufacturing of products. It makes no difference if we are making OEM parts or are assisting an OEM manufacturer our commitment is to your success."

Managing, leading or both.

Leave the ego at the door. There is no room for growth as a manager if a person cannot learn from the people around them. If, as a manager, you only "hang out" with management, you have no idea what is going on in your company or department. "You cannot manage by sitting in an office. To be in tune with the daily workings of the company, you manage by walking around. "Now, this one is courtesy of the author Tom Peters." His book "In Search of Excellence" is as pertinent today as it was the first time I read it 30 years ago. A manager is not there to tell people what to do. A manager is there to give direction "be a leader" to their department. To provide the tools necessary for their people

Companies are not good customers

Leave the ego at the door. There is no room for growth as a manager if a person cannot learn from the people around them. If, as a manager, you only "hang out" with management, you have no idea what is going on in your company or department. If you think about it most if not all companies are working hard to meet sometimes unreasonable customer demands, the very same companies turn around and make unreasonable demands on their suppliers. Many, many problems in the supply chain are directly related to the company not communicating with the supplier what their needs and priorities are. The question arises why do companies continue to treat their suppliers as second class citizens. Suppliers

Best Practices or Better Practices

If you work for a company that uses the catchphrase "Best Practices" keep in mind, there is no such thing as a "Best Practice" only Better Practices. Using Best Practices leads to complacency, implementing Better Practices leads to improvement. If you believe in continuous improvement, Better Practices are rungs on a never-ending quality improvement ladder. Better Practices need a test period to determine their success. Better Practices are continually evaluated to determine if a Better Practice is waiting in the wings.

The business world is changing

As a company are you protecting your supply chain, or are you constantly at odds with your suppliers beating them up on schedule and price. If you are not treating your suppliers as valuable resources, you are taking a short-sighted view of business and helping to create your breakdowns in the supply chain. The American auto industry drove some very large suppliers out of business by continually beating their suppliers up on price, and when an economic downturn hit, the suppliers went bankrupt. The us versus them attitude is pervasive. It is critical in the supply chain that every company is profitable. Learn from Toyota they want their suppliers to succeed, and in turn, Toyota succeeds.

A lesson for all business

The business world is changing, and many small manufacturing and service companies are finding it hard to grow and even maintain. The demands of larger businesses on them as a supplier is increasing at the same time the larger companies are pushing costs down and demanding price decreases. In the over thirty years of its existence, DMI remade itself several times, leading to the diversity of its skill set. For many years DMI's diverse skill set was a considerable strength in solving customer's problems. The downturn at the end of 2008, found the company and it's customers struggling to make ends meet. It became apparent that like it had so many times in thirty years, the company needed to

Small business learning advantage

A small business environment gives an owner the benefit of having to look at projects on a department by department basis. Each step in the manufacturing process is looked at with the eye of how it affects subsequent steps. An example is an extra minute of time in one department can save ten minutes in the next. An example of this is wooden boxes manufactured by DMI for a customer. On the first run of boxes, the concentration was on the speed of cnc machining. The resulting boxes needed far too much sanding taking any chance of profit out of the equation. The solution was to trade a few extra minutes in the machining process for a machined box that needed minimal time in sanding. Work smar

Who gets the work done

Most managers would be stunned to find out it is the average employee working around problems created by their latest and greatest directive that keep companies moving forward. A result of managers sitting in their office and not getting out to learn from their people. A case in point is to watch the television show "Undercover Boss". In many cases the boss knows little about the operations and people of the company he or she is tasked with leading into the future.

Listen and learn

I would say my number one asset is developing the ability to listen to people, not at people. By listening to people and asking the most basic questions, you can quickly ascertain what challenges are being presented and how to guide the person or persons to find their own solution. This is of significant importance in meetings between different departments within an organization. The inability of departments to work together usually stems from listening at but not to each other's issues. A side benefit of listening to people and not at people is you are always learning new things.

MY BUSINESS MUSE

My reflections gathered through reading, listening, personal work experience and observation 

The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said.

Peter Drucker

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