June 2, 2020 at 10:00 AM

How Distributed Work Gets Done in Manufacturing (Part 3)

You know that manufacturing is a bear.  Things never go as planned.  Machines go down.  Orders get prioritized and (re)prioritized.  Things aren’t where they need to be.  Jobs cost too much and take too long.  The team doesn’t ship your products the right way or maybe even build your products to the exacting customer standard(s).  If your shop never experiences any of these, you can stop reading. 

Or can you? 

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May 21, 2020 at 10:00 AM

How Distributed Work Gets Done in Manufacturing (Part 2)

Last week, we talked about how manufacturing has been operating under a distributed work force model for as long as manufacturing has been around.  Work progresses from one step to another and relies on everyone being just where they need to be.  It is not often that one person completes all steps of production, so you begin to rely on separate areas of the plant or the work force to get the job done. 

We covered the first question every person in a manufacturing plant needs to know: what am I supposed to be doing right now?  We could go much deeper into that, exploring why the work is important or how to prioritize the day’s queue, but we are staying a bit broad on this.  Quite frankly, if you don’t have the information readily available to answer the questions about what each person is supposed to be doing, there is no likelihood that you can tell them why or in what order they should progress. 

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May 13, 2020 at 10:00 AM

How Distributed Work Gets Done in Manufacturing (Part 1)

There is so much talk now about the newness of a distributed workforce model; in reality, it's been in the news for a while.  There is a challenge there that many industries have not dealt with before.  Manufacturing is a bit different in this regard.  This industry was built for a distributed workforce in some ways.  In others, it’s equally as different. 

Production requires manufacturing teams to break up into sub-teams that all coordinate together to complete the work.  Unlike many other types of work, one team is deeply dependent on those that precede and follow it.  You simply can’t make something without the prior step being done.  And if you want to build it right, each step in the process also has to be done correctly.  The work is distributed across the model. 

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April 7, 2020 at 10:00 AM

What Questions Should You Ask?

We’ve been talking about the business model the last few weeks.  We’re determined to interject positive, forward momentum into both manufacturers and other businesses at this critical time.  We’re trying not to mention what’s going on in the outside world, which is difficult at times. 

In crisis comes opportunity.  That crisis could be personal or worldwide, so the models that we’re discussing are just great reminders of the building blocks of traditional business. 

Today, we promised to dive into the exploration of your own questions for customer prioritization.  How do you determine what you need to ask in order to see if your customers fit your model?

What? 

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April 6, 2020 at 10:00 AM

How Do You Prioritize Customers?

As we climb out of this economic fall, every company will be faced with tough decisions on how to support the customer base they have.  Plenty of businesses will be affected (both positively and negatively) and you will need to react to those realities, which may be different than the ones that you are facing today.

This is no different, however, from the regular cycles that your business, whatever business you’re in, takes normally.  It’s just to the extreme.  So the habits and workflows that you establish now can help you pull through and move forward.  And the habits you have that are sustaining you will also be critical.

How do you prioritize your time? 

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April 3, 2020 at 10:00 AM

How Do You Prioritize Your Customer Base? Further, Why Would You Need or Want To?

Let’s Look at Where You are Now Before We Assess Where You’re Going. 

We believe that all companies are not the same.  We built our own company with the kind of values and responses that we think we would want to have if we were our own customers.  In software, honestly, it’s not hard to be better than average or even superb.  Most software companies run on a ticket / help desk system that strands the average customer-caller in a loop of uncertainty with prompts and dead ends.  Reaching someone that can actually help you with your issue is rare.  For us, putting a live person on the end of every call, not a help desk, but someone who can actually help you helps us to raise our Net Promoter Score (NPS) – see yesterday’s blog for information on that – and beat all of our competitors for service. 

So, now we turn the tables. 

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April 2, 2020 at 10:00 AM

Let’s Look at Where You are Now Before We Assess Where You’re Going.

Let’s Look at Where You are Now Before We Assess Where You’re Going. 

We’ve been working through a high-level view of the industry that you are in (people you compete against) and the market that you serve (people you could sell to).  We’ve explained the distinct differences between the two and shown how people often cross wires on these, using the word market, usually, interchangeably to refer to both your competition and your prospect base. 

This is the macro-level view.  On the market side, we had you run through a PEST analysis, since the market is shifting dramatically due to current events right now.  And while the word PEST might seem negative, we want you to remember that there is always opportunity in crisis.  This might be the time to retool your business, rework your processes, double-down on specific initiatives that differentiate you and make you more valuable to possible customers. 

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April 1, 2020 at 10:00 AM

Have You Considered a PEST Analysis? You Should.

It’s rare to say “you should” to someone until you really know their circumstances.  Even then, I would suggest you should only do so when given permission.  It is stronger to share experiences that remind you of a time that you faced a similar situation and got through, no matter the result.  This Gestalt mindset provides just the right atmosphere for anyone to learn. 

For the purposes of today’s conversation, however, Gestalt doesn’t play a main concern.  That’s why we say that if you haven’t done a PEST analysis, you should. There are few times in history where this type of analysis might actually yield such dramatic results for so many. 

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March 31, 2020 at 10:00 AM

What Market Are You In?

Have you clearly identified the difference between your industry and your market?  So many of us use these words interchangeably and they are not the same. Your industry is the companies and products that you compete against.  It’s the segment of products that do what you do. 

A market, on the other hand, is your potential customer base.  It’s all the people who might buy what you make or sell. 

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March 30, 2020 at 10:00 AM

What Power Do Companies Like Yours Have?

We’re spending the next few weeks talking big picture.  Everyone is heads down, with good reason.  But there is opportunity in times of crisis for those who look up and out.  This is not a grab for market share but rather a time for reflection on what you do really well so you can come out of this time better, faster and stronger. 

Specifically, we’ve been speaking about some strategic questions to ask yourself about your industry – the people you compete against for that share of the market.  We’re looking, here, for a means of differentiation.  A way that your products and services can stand out in a defined market segment and attract new customers. 

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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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