Volume 12 Number 3 - March 6, 2014


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


Many years ago the automotive industry started concentrating on designing safe vehicles. For most of them, that meant seat belts, air bags, and bumpers that absorbed energy from a straight-on crash.

But Toyota, which has long held the goal of a completely safe vehicle, didn't just focus on minimizing the damage from a collision. Its engineers asked "how can we prevent an accident from happening in the first place?"

Many of its competitors were stuck by the challenge of driver-caused crashes. How can a car company prevent drivers from making mistakes that lead to a wreck?

We now have cars with backup cameras, automatic parking, and automatic braking if approaching the object in front too quickly. By looking into the kinds of mistakes drivers make, and working towards eliminating those causes, we truly are moving towards the completely safe vehicle.

As you consider your products and your markets, what assumptions are you making that limit your innovation? If cars can be designed to overcome the mistakes of drivers, what can your product be designed to accomplish that no one thinks it can?

Think hard about what is blocking the creativity of your team. By breaking through those blinders, you can create value others can't even conceive.


A great number of people choose to never leave their comfort zone. For some, that means never leaving the state or their industry. For others, it means never leaving the country or their initial profession. And for others, it means never going to a place that has a different primary language or to a start-up business.

What a limiting way to live. Exposure to new places, ideas and people are what makes life interesting and our brains active.

More than one person told me I was nuts when I traveled to the UAE a few short years ago. Others challenged my most recent trip, which included Vietnam and other SE Asian countries, as one they would never consider. The culture is just too different there, some said.

A significant number look aghast when I tell them that moving from frozen food (Stouffers) to airplane parts (TRW) wasn't a difficult career move, as the two have much in common. Most businesses have a lot in common, if only we look.

I've never counted the number of countries I've visited, but I know I've learned from each of them. The way different peoples live, the various government approaches to immigrant companies and workers, and the fascinating types of commerce that I've witnessed have only made me more educated and more curious.

The world is a fascinating place and we can learn from every corner of it. Leave your comfort zone so that you can expand it. The risk is small, and the upside unlimited.


The Starting Pistol:
“If the road you travel has no obstacles - it leads nowhere”

The Tape
Rebecca Morgan:
"And who would want to take that trip?"

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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