Operational Excellence

Alignment Process Mapping
Alignment diagrams by themselves do much more than present a linear flow of activities. Buried in the process are various levels of analysis and strategies. Indeed, Aligned process mapping defines the “engineered customer and company experience.” The company wants its customers to have a great experience to the point that they will recommend the company to friends and acquaintances. With the power of social media, complete strangers can gain important insights and referrals from others. This fact can be a double-edged sword because bad experiences are also prone to revelation to the general populace of potential customers. Benefit 1. Empathy Analyzing processes, what they are supposed to do requires an examination of the human reactions along the chain of events. At each touchpoint are human beings (although this is changing for the worse, in my opinion.) For example, technology is supposed to speed things up and improve communication processes. Enter…
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RFP Response From the Reviewer Perspective
Chaz Ross-Munro made some important observations in her article on things to avoid when responding to an RFP. Ms. Ross-Munro starts out by placing the RFP in the context of the review process. “Imagine reviewing 20 technical Request for Proposal (RFP) responses that are more than 50 pages each. You’ve now stepped into the shoes of the average selection committee member reviewing more than 1,000 pages of material from various firms.” The implication of this context is to make it easier for reviewers to easily review your offering and quickly assess why your response makes your case.  To help others shape their RFP response to the realities of the receiving end of the process, Ms. Ross-Munro offers up the following suggestions: 1. Avoid Unnecessarily long responses Don’t: give a wordy response or narrative that drags on. Be as succinct as possible. Keep in mind that you should try to meet the needs of the reviewers…
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Evaluating Indirect and Direct Factors for I.40 ROI
“Think of the tangential benefits from the Space Program” In July, the World celebrates the fantastic Journey that Apollo 11 performed in 1969 when the first men were sent to orbit the Moon. Just think of what has happened as a result of the single-minded goal of putting a man on the Moon. At that time, the total computing power needed for that effort was less than the computing power of a smartphone. The main computers that powered the Apollo 11 mission were the size of four refrigerators!  Most likely, the majority of us don’t remember the protests at the spending ($40 billion for the entire 12 years of the NASA Man-on-the-Moon project), but looking back, just look at the unforeseen benefits of the digital age. Technology has shown itself to have the capacity of producing exponential ROI …in hindsight. The Investment of Industry 4.0 When considering the important investment…
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Automotive Giant Back on Top with MetaExpert Help
Situation A multi-billion-dollar tier 1 company became involved with a customer regarding a safety issue in which the customer was accusing the supplier to be at fault, thus revoking all 3 supplier manufacturing site locations for Q1.  This put the tier one supplier on new business hold and at risk of losing additional business they had plus additional quoting of new business opportunities. The company reached out to MetaExpert Jack for his APQP Process understanding, Advanced Critical Chain / Critical Path Methods knowledge, 5S and Standard Work expertise.  Actions Jack guided the organization to meet the challenge and improved productivity and facilitation of quality training and awareness. A collaborative cross-functional team of production, purchasing, engineering, and management was formed and led through a decisive 1-year plan, which involved the customer. This allowed for all key milestones to be met such that Q1 customer endorsement letters and Q1 site certifications were…
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Excess Freight
Situation Our MetaExpert, Ron, had a client who was a $15 billion global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells, and distributes its product and related technology around the world. The client had a major issue with unexpected air freight costs into several of its offshore plants. They brought Ron on board to analyze the situation and recommend and implement solutions. He felt the air freight was symptomatic of the actual root cause and suggested utilizing a seven-step problem-solving process to get to the root cause.  Ron’s goals for this client were to: Get to Root Cause investigation and action.Implementation of Key Performance Indicators so that he could measure improvement.Improve forecast calculating and provide for the maintenance of systems.Improve inventory accuracy and material flow processes.Improve supplier communication and relationship management internally within the organization.Achieve budgeted expense control through process control. Actions To get to the root cause, Ron dove into the…
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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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“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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