We’re talking about how to stay one step ahead of your customers. How do you predict what they need and make sure you have it when they need it? In today’s global economy, there is too much competition to not look at this as a way to stay relevant. If they can’t buy it on Amazon, they can locate it overseas on any number of search sites that look like they’re located next door. And all of those companies are vying for your customers’ attention.

If you could anticipate what your customers needed and have it readily available in the right quantity just before they asked, you could be incredibly competitive in your industry.

But how can you do that?



Step 1 – Your People

 The first step is your people. People are your greatest asset. Also (usually) your greatest expense. People can be your greatest weakness as well. People make mistakes. They’re prone to fatigue and they get distracted easily. This does not make for the ideal conditions to be prescient in your customers’ demands.

I want to digress into culture here. In all the twin studies that have been done on nature versus nurture, they believe that twins raised apart are more similar than they are different. I want to disagree on this one. I have known a few twins in my life and one common attribute they had is that they were able to sense each other even when they weren’t together. I knew a set of male identical twins that actually lived halfway across the globe from each other and were famous for their stories about doing the identical thing at the same time (shaved heads, bought motorcycles) without knowing the other was doing it. Now these twins weren’t raised separately, but there was definitely a twin connection.

So perhaps the studies on twins aren’t as key as they think. I believe that environment is 100% responsible for how you group up and who you come out to be. While there’s a definite character to a child the minute they come into this world (ask any parent about those traits they just couldn’t change in their kids no matter how hard they tried), the way they are raised molds them.

 Culture matters.


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what's your culture?

If you want your people to anticipate your customers’ needs and deliver them as quickly as possible, you need to provide them with the right tools and I would argue that culture is the #1 tool you can provide.

Culture is not something you aspire to. It’s what you have. I’ve learned the hard way that culture is all about the choices that you make every day. It’s what you do when people are watching and when they’re not. It’s setting the fence that “thou shalt not go beyond” and recognizing those that have gone above and beyond in a manner that you want them to act. Culture is made in those little decisions and actions that you do and support every day.

So the first step in becoming ultimately responsible to your customer is to be ultimately responsible internally. You might start with a conversation around what’s important to you, what you stand for. I’m thinking here of the analogy of the 3 brick layers. On being asked what they were doing, one said he was laying bricks (duh), one that he was building a wall (also somewhat obvious) while the third said he was being a cathedral. What do you do? Are you making casters or are you making it easier for people to move things? Are you mixing ingredients or are you feeding the world?

These are aspirational. It can drive some people crazy. If you want the kind of culture that we’re talking about here – one that is certainly aspirational in its own right – then you need to think that way to start. Not sure what the first step is and think that your team might not sit down and talk all that “woo woo” stuff?


first, see it

Take a walk around your shop floor today. Notice what’s going right. What are people doing well? Do you see anyone problem-solving? Call them out. Tell them what they are doing that caught your attention and why it matters. They will remember it forever. Almost equally as importantly, you’ve also caught the attention of the subconscious brain of everyone within earshot. Whether they grumble about it in person or applaud you for noticing good work, they just ticked the box on how to get rewarded and every brain seeks reward.

 “Joe, great job on that. I noticed how you were so careful with that product while you were moving it over to the customer tray. That will make all the difference when we go to ship it to them so it has no marks or dirt.”

“Barb, it looked like you had your hands full there and patiently worked through each piece until it was all complete. It’s so helpful when our team is focused on quality above all else. Great work.”

Notice how the compliments are specific. I start with a praise phrase. Then, tell them specifically what they were doing. They know what they were doing. This is so that they know that you know it, too. Tell them specifically why it was meaningful and what you noticed. Finish with what it means to you, the company, or the customer. They will appreciate you being specific. A “nice job” as you pass is nothing greater than a “hello” or “see ya.” Take the time to talk to them about what you want them to be doing more of by noticing them doing it and commenting on it.


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Next, the Tools

People alone can’t do the work you’re asking them to do. They need tools. They need the right tools. We'll explore more on toolsets you can provide to them to make them more productive in the ways you want them to be later this year.

Interested in further engaging your team with your production and what that means in relation to efficiency and capacity? Ask us at info@cimx.com. Or better yet, schedule a demo or move even faster towards Complete Production Control with a Process Gap Analysis of your shop. You decide, and we look forward to meeting you.  



Contact CIMx Software to see how a Manufacturing Execution System can improve production control for you.


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