March 27, 2020 at 10:00 AM

What Else Can Do What You Do?

Notice that we didn’t ask who else can do what you do.  The question here is what else can do it.  The difference of a few letters means the world.  When you are asking who else can do what you do, you are talking about your competitors and we traditionally think about companies that are set up like we are.  If you are a hospital, you would look to other hospitals.  If you were an auto-manufacturer, you would look to other car builders. 

That all changed this week.  Kaas Tailored, a furniture manufacturer in Seattle, Mukilto, spent a few days (days!) figuring out how to rework its processes from wood building to sewing masks for the Seattle area Providence St, Joseph hospitals.  Suddenly, the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) manufacturers have a new competitor.  Now, I don’t think that Jeff Kaas and his family are moving wholesale to surgical equipment, but he is iconic in how he pursued this.

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March 26, 2020 at 10:00 AM

Where's the Power in Your Buying Model?

We’ve been talking about business strategy this week.  While everyone else is dealing with crisis, some of us need to be dealing with strategy.  We need to “rise from the ashes” when all is said and done, stronger and faster than before.   Where there is crisis, there is opportunity. 

I watched a webinar the other day around leadership in crisis.  Warren Rustand led a dialogue around how to lead and adapt through these dramatic times of change.  It boiled down to 3 things for him. 

Clarity of Vision.  Have a strong vision for what you want or need to do and stay the course.

Certainty of Intent.  Push forward in a meaningful direction on that vision every day.  Make it your priority.

Live by Your Values.  Know what your core values are and work towards and within them every day.

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March 25, 2020 at 10:00 AM

You Have the Tools and the Questions. Now You Need a Plan.

Over the last several days, we’ve talked about questions around productivity and growth when production is down.  We’ve also talked about tools that you can put together to increase the communication of your team.  It’s critical for you to spend building your productivity and efficiency.  While the business may be “sleeping” the general is awake, planning the coming war.

What is your plan for the time that you are spending out of the office? 

How are you going to move your business forward when you are not there?  It’s very possible.  You can learn new skills.  You can work on your current list of to dos.  But there are ways to move yourself forward during this time.  Retrench and take a different path. 

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March 24, 2020 at 10:00 AM

Next, You Need a Tool

Yesterday, we talked about a few questions that you might ask while you’re gone from the office or struggling through the current crisis.  These questions actually work during any downturn (in time, money or economic situation).  We considered what your current role was in your business around product, cashflow, people and messaging.  This really follows the 4 key pillars of business in strategy, culture, cash and execution. 

During a time like this, you need a tool to connect you to your team.  Whether that is to keep the conversation going or to start one up, it helps to have a tool.

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March 23, 2020 at 10:00 AM

Action Plans Start Here with a Question

Strategic plans aside, we’re “sheltering-in-place.”  How is your business going to function without you there?  How will you get restarted?  How will you build back? 

I have so many questions that are going mostly unanswered by the news.  We are so entrenched in the today that no one seems to be looking out.  Looking down has never been the answer for success.  Great leaders never spent their time in the here-and-now. 

We at CIMx want to be the voice of hope and help for those people that are also unsure.  We want to give you some things to think about and do while you’re work from home or even just struggling with others being gone.  For any of you who are going into sheltering in the next 24 hours or few days, we want to provide the right reading for you to be working on moving ahead. 

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January 15, 2020 at 10:00 AM

What We Learn From Failures

I almost hate to start the year off with failure, but it’s so critical that we’re going to talk about it for a few weeks.  It’s the number one thing we hear from prospects in almost all industries, from the largest manufacturers in the world to the smallest shops.

Companies regularly tell us their last software vendor didn’t deliver what was promised or even a working product at all.  The ideas of “take the money and run” or “if we didn't deliver it for you, we could build it for you” in this space, unfortunately, is not uncommon.  We know.  We’ve rescued multiple companies mid-implementation and we can all learn a lot from their lessons.

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December 31, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Thinking differently in 2020

I’m going back 20 years for this one.  In 1999, sitting on the cusp of the millennium, we were all focused on the rollover of the year from the –99 to –00.  Would it cause the damage that many were predicting?  (It didn’t.)  Would planes “fall out of the sky?”  (They didn’t, but I remember distinctly that the major US airline presidents rode throughout the day and night to prove that the turn of midnight wouldn’t do anything horrible.) 

1999 was a great year for many in the tech sector.  Those who didn’t plan well, however, had a different experience.  Many of us saw the bubble coming; businesses put tons of cash into their IT budgets for 1999 to avoid any issues at the turning of the year.  This wouldn’t continue.  Tech businesses that ramped up for that volume but didn’t plan for the backside of that investment in the 2000 budget year struggled and many saw the “dot com” bust. 

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December 27, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Gratitude

Over the last year, I have established a daily morning routine that includes gratitude.  I wake early, sit at the kitchen counter with the first coffee of the day (it won’t be the last), read a short passage (I change the book each year) and then write for a few moments of gratitude. 

It can be easy to think of a few things (I choose 3 each day) that I am grateful for.  What’s more meaningful for me, and more difficult, is knowing why they are meaningful.  Being able to see the journey behind the gratitude.  What was possible because of that event?  What was I able to accomplish that I otherwise might not have been?  What was it that made my life more meaningful, joyful or full?

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December 10, 2019 at 2:00 PM

Decision-Making Model Part 2

In the first piece on the Decision Making Model, we focused on data acquisition.  Data is critical in manufacturing.  In today’s world, things move faster and cost more money than previously.  There is no time or money to spare for mistakes, overruns, underruns or lost time in production.  Data acquisition is one of the keys to performance here.  Data is the new oil in your processes.

Now, we need to talk about information.  Once you’ve got the data you need, you’re going to be hungry for information.  What does the data mean?  What can you do with it?  How can you use it most effectively (and here, we mean both from an investment of time and money)?  Spreadsheet data is not very useful – it’s just numbers.  Data with its context provides information and useful feedback.

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December 3, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Is The Cloud Safe?

SAAS – Software as a Service – is now just known as “the Cloud.”  Clouds, by their very nature, are ephemeral.  They move across the sky, ever-changing.  Is the name supposed to sound magical?  It is not. Magical, that is.

The cloud is where all your information resides.  All those passwords that you save, the “remember me” buttons that you push?  Those have to be kept somewhere, right?  While part of that resides on your computer, it’s all available to anyone who has access (or can gain it).  Week after week, we hear about data breaches.  Thieves sneaking in to get your personal information.  Whether you protect it or not, the information is there.  Your information.  Once you put it “in the cloud” it is available to anyone with access to it. 

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November 27, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Thankful

At CIMx, we are very thankful to work with so many terrific companies and customers.  We speak to manufacturers every day that are making manufacturing work in the U.S. - profitably, efficiently and with great people and resources.  

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November 19, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Trust

Trust.  It’s a firm belief in someone or something.  The definition even goes so far as to say it’s acceptance without evidence or investigation.  We take a lot of things on trust every day, even if you don’t realize it. 

Did you sit at a traffic light this morning on your way to work?  Did you drive on the proper side of the road, whether that’s left or right for you?  You trusted that everyone else on the road was going to follow the same rules of the road that you were and you just went with it.

I would venture to say that you could not say the same about your software vendors.  Do you trust them?

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September 24, 2019 at 10:03 AM

Decision-Making Model Part 1

We’ve talked before about decision methodology.  In brief, the theory we follow for manufacturers is that to stay competitive, you must always make your decisions based on the information currently present.  Collecting more information could be helpful, but spend too much time here, and you have analysis paralysis

The basic tenet of the model is this: review the current landscape of the situation and make a decision based on prior experience and present details.  This is a delicate balance.  Rely too much on experience and you may be blind to what’s currently sitting in front of you.  Ignore the past and you may repeat something you’ve tried that doesn’t work.

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August 27, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Weather You Need Production Control (And We Did Spell That Correctly)

Update 09/03/19: today, as we post this blog, Hurricane Dorian is sitting over the Bahamas.  Little is yet known about how much damage has been done at this time.  Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected. 

 

Whether you believe in global warming or not (we do try to make these blogs historically relevant without being political statements), it’s difficult to watch or read the news without seeing stories about smaller icebergs, deforestation and shifting weather patterns.  We’re not going to talk here about what’s causing those.  We’re more concerned with the idea that things are always changing, even those things that you rely on for stability. 

What do you do when the things that you count on being constant shift?  

Weather is one of those constants in our lives.  Depending on where you live, you expect the patterns of the seasons, water and temperature, to be consistent from year to year.  Everything you buy and do depends on it.  At work and at home, you rely on the weather to be relatively even from day to day, week to week, season to season, year to year.  It would be safe to say that you probably never have created a plan for what to do when the weather shifts dramatically from its current pattern.  It’s something you count on.

What do you count on in your business?  What items are there that you assume will be the same from period to period?  Do you always assume that your sales will be stable or rise?  Do you figure

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August 20, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Curiosity in Manufacturing

As people, we are inherently curious.  Even as we age, that yearning for something new causes us to travel, meet new people, maybe even wander a bit.  Curiosity is a part of human nature.  We all read studies (and see the evidence) of how curious children are when they are born.  We also see the results of traditional educational models in curiosity.  Driving children to conform to a single norm of sitting in straight-line desks and file in lines works for teachers in that in helps to control the chaos of the classroom, but if you were like me and many other entrepreneurs, conforming naturally bucked the curiosity you felt about issues that weren’t on the schedule for the teacher today. 

In a recent Harvard Business Review article on Why Curiosity Matters, Francesco Gina explores curiosity and its results on business specifically.  While most breakthroughs come from curiosity, she cites all the ways that business kill it in their workers.  Critical to this center of thinking is the notion that “it will increase risk and inefficiency.” 

Ms. Gina lays out the benefits of curiosity in work.  Confirmation bias is first on the list.  We’ve talked about this before.  Expecting what you’ll see and seeing it, whether it’s there or not.  This shows up in manufacturing all the time.  We hear it called “tribal knowledge.”  Many companies tell us that their workforce just “knows what to do.”   That only works if you never want to change how they do it. 

In training your workers to “just know,” you are eliminating the possibility of anything new.  My mind immediately goes back to the days of early automation.  Whether that conjures a picture of Lucy trying to wrap chocolates on an assembly line in “I Love Lucy” or assembly workers at the early days of Ford, this is not the way work is done today.  In the era of click and swipe, no one wants to do a job the same way all the time. 

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