Volume 8 Number 8 - August 10, 2010

If you know a company — customer, supplier, friend, or your own — that could benefit
from improved operations, from improved operations, let us know.
Your best interest is our best interest.

The Finish Strong® monthly e-newsletter is for business leaders who recognize Operations as a strategic function that creates competitive advantage, profitability and brand loyalty to the marketplace.

In the numerous high performing companies I have visited in recent years, one word keeps popping up: cadence. Systems to recognize problems, discuss and prioritize them, solve them, and keep everyone informed are most successful when they follow an established cadence. The same is true for communication with employees, highlighting market and supply chain conditions, and meeting with customers and suppliers.

Leader Standard Work (LSW) is the best known and proven method for creating a cadence to learn, improve, and inform, but not the only way. Whatever mechanism you use, it must provide an unquestioned and repeatable process that clearly communicates and addresses priorities and expectations.

If you have a monthly "all hands" meeting, never cancel it. If you have a daily walk through each department to listen, learn, and communicate, do not cancel or reschedule it. Organize outside visits and other meetings around the cadence you document and establish. Do not accept excuses for being unprepared. If someone is out of the building, s/he is responsible for arranging for her/his prepared replacement.

Without a predictable cadence, it is easy for employees to believe that whatever is hot this minute outweighs everything else. Without required preparation and attendance, it is easy to see that the cadenced activity isn't really important. A company that cannot maintain a cadence cannot be disciplined in any other area either. And success requires discipline. Develop a cadence to add fuel to your success.

It's easy to be too busy to look outside your operations, but that is deadly to competitive position. Getting better every day is important; learning from others adds speed to that process.

I'm personally uncomfortable at the social gathering in which attendees tend to hang with those they already know, especially when I don't know anyone there. I work on developing those networking skills, but more frequently turn to an environment I like better.

Manufacturing companies feel like home to me. It's easy to discover manufacturers doing great things. Newspapers, the internet, and social media all provide information about innovative and successful companies. Most businesses we drive by every day can teach us something and provide a non-threatening environment to meet and share with peers.

Participating in manufacturing-oriented associations like AME, or ones convenient to your daily commute is one way to meet peers. Reaching out to management of a company you've read about to schedule a visit is easy. If not a competitor, I find most welcome the opportunity. Customers and suppliers are also easy sites to visit.

If you are not meeting and visiting with professionals external to your company on a regular basis, you are missing a great opportunity to learn, to share, and to grow. Make it happen at least once in the next two months. Then use what you learn to enhance your competitive position. You don't have to know everything yourself to build an even greater company.


The Starting Pistol
Winston Churchill:
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."

The Tape
Rebecca Morgan:
"Managers have the first type of courage; Leaders have mastered the second kind as well."


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