Volume 11 Number 1 - January 8, 2013


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


Scared? Uncertain?

While the restless monsters in the closet this year differ from the collections that threatened us previously, the closet always holds challenges we must fight and overcome. Conventional wisdom can keep us safe from the battle in some cases, but in others accepted wisdom proves less wise over time. Every day the best companies and most successful people challenge conventional thinking, manage risk, and build on their strengths to face whatever emerges from the closet of threats.

"Real estate, banking and utilities are safe investments" was conventional wisdom for almost 70 years. Things change. People living paycheck-to-paycheck with high debt payments, relying on housing inflation and steady income to get them through, contributed mightily to our recent recession. Homes were repossessed, credit ratings ruined, builders and building supply companies crushed. Financial institutions that facilitated those risky debt levels convulsed, inflicting losses on their investors. Those bad decisions spread widely, with worldwide implications.

Is your business making investment decisions on which you cannot afford to be wrong? How strong is your company balance sheet?Are your key customers and suppliers financially solid? What do you do to attract and retain the best employees that make you a better thinker? Are you aware of the butterfly effect that can impact your markets?

How much of your revenue flows from government spending or tax laws? Whether government disbursements are cut per "fiscal cliff" threats or over time from financial reality, there will be reductions. The New Years Day stop-gap agreement provides little indication of what funding decisions will be made later this year.

What assumptions are you making that are integral to success? What if they are wrong? What are the strengths you and your company have that could foster progress regardless?

The monsters are real. Don't be scared. Be ready.


I'm always amazed by hallway and conference room opinionated arguments about things that are factual. What the procedure says is a fact, not an opinion. How the work gets done is a fact that can be learned by observing the work, not through passionate discussion in a different room.

Egos so often waste time battling opinions that are, perhaps, interesting, but usually irrelevant. If you want to solve a problem or make improvements, start by getting the facts, not opinions nor stories.

Why do so many "we solved that" problems reappear? Two common reasons: 1) definition of the problem wasn't based on facts; 2) solution is communicated, but not really implemented successfully. In either case, facts ignored.

Start with reality, not opinions. Make verified changes, not described ones. Put in place audit systems to continually verify. Don't assume or quit. Finish Strong®.


I am honored to have been selected by the Silver Crescent Foundation to be the lead judge for large company (> 500 employees) applications for the Silver Crescent Award For Manufacturing Excellence. This award recognizes exemplary companies that reflect world-class standards in manufacturing, employee programs and involvement, community programs, and environmental stewardship


The Starting Pistol
Dr. Karl Menninger:
"Set up as an ideal the facing of reality as honestly and as cheerfully as possible."

The Tape
Rebecca Morgan:
"You have to start where you are, not where you wish you were. Then, with a firm grasp of reality, you can move to where you wish you were."


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