Volume 9 Number 4 - April 5, 2011

If you know a company — customer, supplier, friend, or your own — that could benefit
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.


Business involves managing risk, complexity and resources in a way that meets the needs of stakeholders. Continuous improvement has never been about "reduce your inventories and suppliers, close your eyes and pray."

Yet many journalists have declared the end of Lean Manufacturing due to the undeniable impact of the Japanese tragedy on the supply chain. Borrowing from Mark Twain, "the reports of Lean's death have been greatly exaggerated."

A great many risks can be foreseen, with timing being the big question. Earthquakes along fault lines are but one example. Other risks involve questions of statistical odds along with timing. Tornado and hurricane alleys are examples of those. Other risks involve critical unknowns, where prediction of behaviors is paramount. Reliance upon rare earth metals in China and the potential closing of the Suez Canal arising from Middle East unrest are examples of those.

The responsibility of business, operations, and supply chain management has to include evaluation and management of those risks.

But there are also daily risks, like variability among multiple suppliers, carrying inventory that may become slow moving or obsolete, trucks that may not arrive as scheduled, or changes in customer requirements.

As you work to continuously improve your business, risk management is an obvious component. Some risk is internal, some nearby, and some on the other side of the world. You cannot eliminate risk, but you can assess and plan for it.

But sometimes you may simply lose. My deepest sympathies to those personally impacted by the earthquakes, tsunamis, and radiation leaks.


Yes, the company that lost 9 employee lives in the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill last spring paid executives the safety component of their bonuses.

Quoting: "Notwithstanding the tragic loss of life in the Gulf of Mexico, we achieved an exemplary statistical safety record."

I applaud the company for including a safety component in the bonus calculation, and applaud it for achieving in 2010 its best safety year on record.

Their statement, and the payment, is still an indefensible absurdity.


The Starting Pistol
Ezra Pound:
“Genius ... is the capacity to see ten things where the ordinary man sees one."

The Tape
Rebecca Morgan:
"Require creativity before capital and at least two viable solutions; demand thinking and the ordinary man will begin to see two, then three...."


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