Volume 11 Number 12 - December 10, 2013


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


One of my East Coast readers has reached out a few times asking why I don't write much about Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP) in these newsletters. He correctly points out the value of that process in creating an aligned plan of how operations will meet expected sales.

Regardless of your specific industry or manufacturing processes, S&OP is an important process that entirely too many companies believe isn't worth the effort. It certainly adds less value in a business that has both constant volume and mix over time, but how many of those are there?

So what kinds of decisions does an effective S&OP process improve? All aspects of capacity, new product introductions, inventory, and product market expansions, to name just a few. Profitability and service levels will be enhanced, as will other performance metrics.

Why don't I write more about S&OP if it's so valuable? Simply because my focus here is much more on leadership behaviors and learnings from current events than it is on specific tools.

S&OP is an important arrow in the business process quiver of successful companies. I'm happy to remind all my readers of that fact.


After taking a break from INC Magazine and other columnist responsibilities for a few years, I have agreed to author a monthly essay on manufacturing operations for the 43 markets served by American City Business Journals. The inaugural article was published last week.

In an effort to learn and improve, I reviewed a sample of my articles published between 2002 and 2010. While much has changed in our manufacturing world, every topic from those pieces remains relevant.

Our objective hasn't really changed: safely provide the customer what he needs when he needs it at a price/cost that is fair to both.

Certainly the understanding of impact on future generations has grown, and with it, attention to resource use. Speed-to-market has always been important; just the expectation of how fast is fast has changed. While the phrase "our people are our most important resource" is no more common than before, more companies actually mean it now and try to behave according to espoused values.

Certainly we have new tools and technologies and competitive pressures, but the fundamentals of success haven't changed. As always, if you can't block and tackle there's no reason to call the flea-flicker.


The Starting Pistol
Publilius Syrus:
“Do not despise the bottom rungs in the ascent to greatness.”

The Tape
Rebecca Morgan:
"The lessons learned there fuel the ascent."

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.


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