Finish Strong® Podcast Series The journey to excellence is not a simple one, nor does it follow a straight line. This podcast series addresses issues important to manufactures worldwide. Becky's insights include commentary on global, strategic, and tactical issues, as well as observations on current challenges and opportunities in manufacturing businesses. Feel free to suggest topics of interest to you; no doubt Becky will have something to say that will make you think.

Earning Loyalty The Easy Way

Loyalty must be very important to companies today. Hotels, airlines, rental cars all offer loyalty programs. So to do clothing and grocery stores. Even my hair styling shop has a loyalty program.

The first few such programs in any given industry probably made a difference for repeat business. But no longer.

I’ve never been convinced that bribery is the best route to gaining loyalty. There have to be better ways.

Do you know from each group whose loyalty is most important to you? Do you know for sure if you have it from them?

There is one trick that can attract and maintain loyalty. While everyone can do it, few do it well. That trick is to demonstrate honest caring and respect in every single interaction.

Is Your Leadership Adequate?

For many years the phrase fit for purpose referred to whether or not a consumer product could adequately perform the function or functions for which it was purchased. That is a minimum standard for the phrase.

To bring clarity to the purpose of your personal leadership may require answering this question: “what should be changed for the better as a result of my leadership?” Clearly this question presumes that leaders exist to create improved conditions, a case that should bring no argument.

Every leader has to lift her head to ask, “how would I know if my leadership is fit for purpose?” and then “what do I need to change to ensure that metric has real meaning?” Is it okay to be adequate? Leaders at every level should be asked to examine these questions. Adequate is not the goal, nor is it our potential. Self-reflection is valuable. As always, start now and Finish Strong®

What the 3rd Wave Means for You

What a few months ago we called crisis and swirling ambiguity we now call life. Spreading equipment apart, requiring facemasks inside, sanitizing every surface that hands touch – those are our reality; there is no reason to revert any of that back to prior standards. When Covid is under control, and it will be, we still have colds and other transferable health realities. If you haven’t already, it’s time to optimize production conditions within these parameters.

Your business is different than it was a year ago, and likely different than it will be next year. But whether we’re in the third wave, the fourth or some other place of ambiguity, we can and will figure out how to continue the work towards our missions and visions. That is why they are so important to manufacturers.

Your current strategy may only look to the next 6 months, but that is not a weakness. It is a strength. Evaluate it, execute it, and revise it when needed. You know:  Finish Strong®

We All Need a Lifeline

A few days ago, I received an email from the owner/CEO of a former client company, saying “I think I need to hire you.” The email described a significant mistake that his team had made with intensive ramifications, both financial and customer.

I called him. We discussed the situation, short term actions, questions to ask, ideas to consider, and how to approach his team on the topic. We then quickly envisioned what longer term success would look like and the key steps to get there.

In under 30 minutes he transitioned from frazzled and mad to calm and in command. He knew not only how to address the problem now, but how to prevent it in the future, and how to maximize what was learned from this.

Wouldn’t the comfort of knowing you have a reliable experienced lifeline available to you make each day just a bit less stressful?

Policy Policies in Manufacturing

Manufacturers have numerous policies in place. Attendance, customer returns, payment terms, and more. The vast majority are because of a lack of trust in employees to make good decisions. As a customer, have you ever heard the words “that’s our policy” and felt comfortable that your best interest was given the respect it deserves?

“That’s our policy” means you are a number, not a person. It means that regardless of the reasonableness or importance of your request, tough luck. Obviously, someone in the organization, if you go high enough, has the discretion to overrule the policy for a logical exception but only they are believed to have the brains and judgement to do so. Otherwise, discretion would be afforded the first person you talked with.

Manufacturing–Does the Degree Matter?

A recent LinkedIn post of mine attracted responses from a wide variety of degree’d professionals — biologists, film, ethics, psychology. I asked what from their college education was most valuable today. None currently work in their degree area of specialization, but all could easily give great examples of how what they learned in college applied widely to their lives and professions.

Most position descriptions list a relevant college degree as a requirement. Just exactly which college degree would NOT be relevant? The ability to think, learn, and apply wisely coupled with insatiable curiosity is more valuable than a specific degree.

The Discipline of Accountability in Manufacturing

Would you describe your business culture as accountable? Many CEOs I talk with want more accountability in their organizations and are not quite sure how to achieve that.

Here’s the trick: accountability, like ethics, cannot be situational.

Start with this:

· You cannot hold people accountable for performing miracles.

· Holding the right people accountable is more important than “rounding up the usual suspects.”

Process capability — repeatable, reliable and predictable — is a requirement.

Should Manufacturers Invest Now?

I saw today that two privately held manufacturers in the Greater Cleveland Ohio area are investing heavily in expanding their production footprint. I am excited for both of them because they are taking important steps in building a stronger future.

The two businesses that are expanding enough to make the headlines have no less uncertainty than those who hunker down.

Should you invest in your manufacturing business now? Consider these important questions before deciding either way.

Quit Searching for a Case For Change

There are two primary reasons why any business would change: Fear, or Opportunity. Today, how can any manufacturing business in North America not see a multitude of both threats and opportunities? Absolutely nothing is static.

The case for change surrounds us. It is not episodic. It is continuous and growing. It is not a management edict.