Volume 12 Number 5 - May 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


We business owners and executives care about profitability, as it pays the bills and makes the future possible. Nothing particularly strategic about that.

But just as not all markets are good markets, not all customers are good customers, and not all orders are good orders, not all profits are good profits. How can that be?

Choices, my friends; choices.

Chasing more orders for a product or service that must pass through the backlogged bottleneck only hurts cash flow and can damage your reputation with customers as orders gather dust in the queue.

Instead, refocus on selling alternatives that do NOT require the bottleneck resource. While standard cost accounting may trick you into believing you are reducing profits, the reality is that you're generating cash more quickly and in no way reducing the profitability of other orders.

Manage the bottleneck aggressively and strategically increase profits by selling non-bottleneck offerings, even when it appears they have lower margins.

Similarly, standard cost systems ignore complexity. The costs of complexity are not easily quantified, but rest assured that the more variables, the more opportunity for error and the more transactions required, the higher your real costs.  In industries where shelf life or style is a consideration, risk of distressed inventory is also increased.

Methodologies exist to reduce those risks and expenses, but does your go-to-market strategy understand the potential impact of increased complexity on the real bottom line?

Market and product priorities based on standard gross margins are biased by false math, leading to lower profits than if based on an understanding of bottlenecks and complexity.

Understand your business operations and execute strategic profitability.


Since March 8 the missing Malaysia Airlines plane with 239 people on board continues to flummox aviation experts around the world. Initial delays, misinformation and incorrect assumptions wasted valuable time, making the craft increasingly difficult to find.

Scientists named the potentially-livable earth-sized planet discovered last week Kepler-186f.  While greatly intrigued by the possibilities, scientists will not understand its potential to sustain life for decades. There is simply too much to learn.

Both are complex questions with currently unknown answers, despite the massive brainpower applied. Both investigations are slowed more by what we don't understand than sped by desperation.

Duct tape was crucial in saving the crew of the Apollo 13 mission when almost everything that could go wrong did.

A toothbrush saved the scientists aboard the International Space Station in 2012 when a malfunction created small metal shavings that would quickly shutdown all on-board systems if not removed.

Both were complex problems with simple solutions flowing from focused and creative resources. Clear, shared goals passionately held facilitated quick success.

Progress sometimes requires more information, and research is appropriate. Other scenarios demand creativity and fast and probable is more important than slow and certain.

Confusing the two can be fatal.


The Starting Pistol:
Benjamin Franklin:
"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn."

The Tape
Rebecca Morgan:
"Help yourself and those around you learn. 'Involve' is an active verb. Do it that way."

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.


Connect with me on Facebook Follow me on LinkedIn Follow me on Twitter
Copyright 2003-2014 Fulcrum ConsultingWorks, Inc. All rights reserved.
For reprint permission, just give Rebecca a call at 216-486-9570
or e-mail her at [email protected]