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Simple Tips for New Year’s Manufacturing Resolutions that Make a Difference

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Each year, many of us in manufacturing make resolutions focused on improvement. Too often those resolutions fail to deliver. This year, make a resolution to fundamentally improve your business.

By Kristin McLane, President of CIMx Software

As one year ends, people begin crafting personal resolutions focused on improvement. We promise to exercise more, eat better, write more letters, read more, slow down, or lose weight. Businesses build strategic plans much the same way, perhaps using a SWOT analysis to start the process – before resolving to sell more, retain more customers, keep employees engaged, or grow the business.

There is a fundamental flaw to both of these approaches. It’s a flaw that many times leads to resolutions that fade away as Spring rolls around. Think of it as Kryptonite for your best intentions.

Many times, our resolutions don’t fundamentally change the trajectory of our current path. Albert Einstein quoted insanity as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” Yet, each year we collectively seem stricken by a New Year’s case of insanity. We examine the steps we have taken to reach our current status, and use it as the basis for the future plans. We make resolutions to, “do better,” “increase sales,” “improve quality,” or “reduce production time,” without making the fundamental change necessary to position ourselves for success. It’s as if the act of making the resolution has imbued us with the magical powers necessary to improve on the results of the previous year by doing nothing different.

Then, a few months later we all wonder why we couldn’t meet our goals for the New Year.

The secret to a successful resolution isn’t making a smaller resolution, it’s making a bigger one and having the courage to make the fundamental change necessary to make it happen. I had lunch this week with Mary Miller of Jancoa. Mary was instrumental in the founding of the Dream Manager program, linking people with what they want to do by asking them to stretch far beyond where they currently are to see where they want to be. These questions the program asks are independent of the individual’s current position or success in life. By helping employees to think big and by tapping into their passion and dreams, the Dream Manager program delivers tremendous success by helping people make fundamental improvements to help them reach their goal.

Many businesses would be scared to ask people their dreams. It’s a “touchy-feely” exercise, and business is more comfortable focusing on hard reality or problems, which is too bad, because employees are much more determined and successful when you tap into their passion to reach a goal. The Dream Manager program supports goals that “stretch” beyond the current situation to explore what is possible.

The reluctance to “stretch” is not only holding you back from your goals, it is also holding back shop floor improvement. With paperless manufacturing, electronic shop floor tools transform the way production works. They provide a new structure, a vector off the current path, and support targeted improvement. By introducing a simple tool, paperless manufacturing, you benefit from instant access to all orders on the shop floor – fundamentally increasing your efficiency, improving your accuracy and driving profitability. Complexity and customization isn’t necessary to reach the goals. You can use your current work instructions, and you control the pace of change through phased implementation. Time and again, we have seen paperless manufacturing as a catalyst for growth.

Your strategic plan may have increased sales or volume goals, but the growth may be already threatened by the current culture and external pressures. You may have built your goals on a SWOT or on input from the prior year’s results. A plan built on historic information will most likely deliver similar results. Dramatic growth requires external stimulus and a new approach. Paperless manufacturing provides the stimulus to inspire dramatic growth.

Make 2014 different. Enable catalytic change and fundamentally improve your manufacturing shop floor. As always, send us a message if you have a question. We’re happy to help.