Volume 10 Number 5 - May 8, 2012


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.

These brief articles, list of events, and amended quote will make you think.
Go ahead: test us


Several years ago I wrote an article about the tendency of business leaders to act as if "anything worth doing is worth doing to excess." Vertical integration swings to core competency. Conglomeration swings to industry focus. Manufacturing swings to the South. Manufacturing swings to China. Then back swings the pendulum.

Manufacturers are reshoring from China. Delta Airlines recently purchased a refinery in hopes to control fuel costs. Mergers and spinoffs are reported weekly.

Make money, now and in the future, is a fundamental business maxim, yet many business decisions seem to focus myopically on the "now" at the expense of the "future." Yes, I understand that success now is important to success in the future, but I'm not at all convinced that maximizing profits now is important to maximizing ongoing long-term profits.

Most manufacturers that moved operations to China understood that the volatility of that government required a 2-3 year payback to make the move "good." The labor savings by those who invested there 25 years ago are significant.

Was it worth it in the long term? The loss of skilled labor and manufacturing professionals in North America is staggering. The impact on communities, on the environment, and on the product itself through extensive counterfeit operations is neither understood nor insignificant.

Moving operations to China or to any other country is not wrong. Nor is vertical integration or core competency wrong. "Wrong" implies a moral judgement and that requires an understanding of objectives, mission and goals, as well as context.

As the pendulum again begins to reverse its swing, ask yourself what short and long term objectives shape your decision-making. You don't have to go along for the entire ride.


The first article addressed longer term decisions that have significant short and long term ramifications to customers, suppliers, employees, investors and communities. But what about the near term?

Your company must be alert, agile, adroit. It must be creative. It must be perceptive and responsive. It must be shrewd.

But in both long term and near, it must be strategic, thoughtful, and consistent with your mission, objectives, goals, and current context. Don't sacrifice the long term by grabbing onto the end of the pendulum each time it swings by. The part near the fulcrum can be a much better ride for long term success.



The Starting Pistol
Henry Ford:
“Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them.”

The Tape
Rebecca Morgan:
"Finding root cause may seem to take longer, but you only have to do it once."


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