Executive Blog

Organizational Behavior
I recently saw a TED talk where a well-known organizational behavior expert pushed my button. As a management consultant, his presentation made a lot of sense…not only for business but also for our complex, modern times. Yves Morieux rightly pointed out (in my opinion) that we are all drowning in complexity. His main contention is that we spend way too much time doing, undoing, redoing in isolation. Even with the marvelous new technologies, we seem to be less productive and much more unhappy with our jobs. Basically, our organizational behavior is broken. Morieux felt the reason why so many workers are becoming disengaged is their frustration with burdens of complexity and the lack of job satisfaction due mainly to the need for a new way of structuring how we do business.   Traditional management theory expounds that companies need structures that clearly define the departmentalization of processes with specific job…
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US department stores - Brick & Mortar Apocalypse
Some of the largest US department stores, like Macy’s and Sears, have each closed down hundreds of stores, and traditional retailers like Payless Shoes have filed for bankruptcy.  Some reporters are saying this is the end of traditional brick-and-mortar retail, but while stores are closing, the amount of total consumer spend is rising. But are we experiencing a brick-and-mortar apocalypse? The answer is definitive: No. As the chart demonstrates, while e-commerce is growing rapidly, Online sales still only represent less than 12% of the total retail sales. There will always be a need for physical retail; however, the future of what physical retail actually looks like is an evolution and morphing guided by how customers prefer to purchase. One of the reasons for the rise of e-commerce popularity is that brick-and-mortar has not seen a significant change in decades. Customers enter a store, Search for an item, Pay, and Leave.…
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Aligning OpEx with Sales
It’s an old cliché that speaks volumes when a company finds it has a lack of initiative alignment: “The Sales Department makes promises to customers that production cannot meet.” The salesperson lives to make a sale by meeting and exceeding a customer’s needs but setting a false expectation can really burn the brand and future sales. As the sales department is normally the most customer-facing and a less controllable process than most of the other parts of a company’s processes, we will discuss alignment from the point of view of the Sales department as the “point of the spear” in most revenue based initiatives. Getting In Line: Sales Alignment Lack of initiative alignment usually happens for a variety of reasons. Even though most of those reasons are obvious, companies still violate the proper process needed for goal alignment and developing productive collaboration between various departments integral to the success of…
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Future of Supply Chain
“By 2021, one in 10 warehouse workers in established economies will be replaced by autonomous mobile robots.” Gartner Report 2017 However….. While there is some shock value to the above statement, reality takes it down a few notches. The report goes on to say in less bold type that: “By 2021, three out of five factory-level AI initiatives in large global companies will stall due to inadequate skill sets.” So, as with most new technology hype, why would companies invest in what promises to be the future of Supply Chain? I can see it now: a team of highly paid Robotic technicians huddled around a frozen robot while other workers are called to unload and stock inventory shelves. Big hourly cost. So, how do we know when to actually adopt and invest new AI-related technology? Do we listen to the sales pitches of AI vendors as they point out the…
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Industry 4.0 Technology
In a recent survey, 76% of manufacturers said they would increase their investment and use of smart devices or embedded intelligent into the manufacturing processes within the next few years. In the same survey, 66% of the manufacturing CEOs expect to increase profitability through the use of new technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) within the next five years. According to these results, Industry 4.0 is being adopted far and wide. So, what do they know that you don’t? Advances in Technology are happening at a rapid pace, and it takes special attention to not only understand how new technology functions but also how it can actually help. Indeed, is it hype or help? From a CEO’s point of view, how new technology works is secondary to how adoption could impact the company and its bottom-line. What to consider before adopting Industry 4.0 Most investigations have shown there are…
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Lean Six Sigma for Companies
What is Lean Six Sigma? Six Sigma is a set of methods and tools for process improvement with the goal of improving efficiencies and profitability. Developed in 1986, Six Sigma has become a global phenomenon with companies around the world adopting the paradigm as the core of their business operations. The “Lean” methodology is similar to Six Sigma. It stresses achieving the greatest efficiency in all characteristics of operations. Six Sigma emphasizes more on eliminating errors within processes. The lean strategy focuses on identifying needless steps that consume effort and resources. Lean Six Sigma (LSS) has proven to be so successful that it is estimated that over 69% of the medium and large manufacturers in the world use it. I mean, who doesn’t want to be efficient and well organized? In fact, as businesses grow, the tendency is to become more inefficient and less organized. These two methodologies have spawned…
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Becoming a Lean Office
How a marketing Kaizen can help revitalize sales All companies depend on sales. But, as with all things dynamic, sales can run in cycles. In fact, while there may be certain macroeconomic issues that impact sales cycles, many slumps in sales change as a result of the inner workings of a company. In fact, what may have worked before may no longer be effective. Indeed, this was the case with a Health and Welfare Benefits vendor. Rather than just accept a “normal” cyclical downturn in sales, the CEO decided to take a closer look. After hearing some grumbling coming out of the sales department, he decided to investigate. He wasn’t sure what the problems were, and he had hoped his Sales Manager would have let him know in their regular meetings. The CEO decided to have an outside expert come in and perform a review of the company rather than…
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“In just 30 days, profits increased by $50,000.” Management articles are almost always about problems. But, this real-life event showcases how problems can be turned into opportunities. Owners and top-level management can sometimes be held captive by their limited experiences and training. However, there are many enlightened leaders who understand there is always something to learn. Indeed, learning from the mistakes of others is a wise strategy, but too often ego gets in the way. Until there is acceptance of a problem and a resolution to fix the problem can real learning take place. The following is a true story that demonstrates how education can quickly turn a problem into a long-term tool for success. The Business Problem A Chicago, Illinois-based steel fabricator, supplying a global market with wire product displays,  store fixtures, point-of-purchase (POP) displays, and custom wire frameworks, realized their profits were trending negatively. They had tried a…
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Decision-Making Process for Industry 4.0
“Decision-makers must learn to leave egos at the door” In the era of Industry 4.0, technology will play a greater part in optimizing solutions. But do decision-makers have the expertise needed to fully understand the rapidly evolving tech world? If leaders can’t stand up and say: “I don’t understand how that tech solution works” and have the humility to learn new things, then optimal decision making in the era of Industry 4.0 may be in jeopardy. Making a good decision is only validated by the results. However, in an age of constantly growing complexity and the push to be innovative and “out-of-the-box”, there may be too many unexpected variables that can bring about unexpected results. This logical fear plagues decision making. In fact, decision making has become more challenging due to the exponential growth and access to information. Validating information is becoming a serious issue in the Corporate C-suite. Misleading…
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What Is the Cost of Safety?

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What is the cost of Safety
What is the cost of Safety when it’s not the first priority Have you ever wondered if putting money into your organization’s safety policy was worth it? If so, you’re not alone. Many people think they can put safety off, until something happens, and then, they instantly regret their decision. One organization in particular made an investment in improving their safety and truly reaped the benefits. Their safety turnaround resulted in Zero Lost Time Incidents, One million safe hours…then, two million safe hours, An Iowa Safety Council Award, and A National Safety Council Award. Perhaps most importantly, the safety improvement even lead to a feature story on ABC prime time. (more…)
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