How Fast Should You Improve?

Today’s topic is “how fast should your company improve?”

While the bottom-line answer is the same for most all manufacturers, it is worth first looking at the question by size of company.

Small manufacturers face a challenge just getting orders in and out and all too often don’t focus on making significant improvements. That last part is why so many of them struggle to grow or to catch their breath. It’s the well-known conundrum of we’re too busy to figure out how to do it better.

Mid-sized manufacturers, those generally between $100MM and $1B, have systems and processes in place to facilitate order processing, as well as non-value-adding functions like accounting, scheduling, and engineering change management. In this range the challenge is often complacency from a healthy balance sheet and confusing meaningful progress with starting each inning on 3rd base.

Those over $1B in sales have the resources to improve quickly, but often insist that it’s much harder to turn a large ship than it is a small one.

So while the reasoning is different, most manufacturers have excuses for why they improve at the rate they do and not faster. No company is too big, or too small, to fail.

Amazon made Sears irrelevant. Uber made taxis a dying breed. Smart phones made pagers and landlines things of the past. Craft beers made Budweiser and Miller-Coors cry. The internet killed newspapers and the stupid business model they had relied upon.

Here’s what each of you needs to do:

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