Monthly Archives: March 2008

Supply Chain Management represents the best opportunity to maintain your footing in a difficult economy. Buyers have particular responsibility related to high volume/high profit potential products. If any product is responsible for a significant percentage of the firm or division’s profitability, it is not enough to make sure the product or its components arrive on time and are of acceptable quality. It is also important to understand the manufacturing process related to that product, the market conditions affecting the components of that product, and the vendor’s ability to manage those manufacturing and market conditions.

Beyond those obvious high-focus products, where is the next best place for a buyer to focus their attention? On products where the labor cost is a high percentage of total cost. Why is this so important? Because your opportunities to work on productivity improvements with vendors are very high on these products. Continue reading

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The relationships we have at work are significant. Like our families of birth, we generally have little control over who the members of the family are. Our work relationships have the power to bring us joy or cause us anguish. They can lead to the greatest creative breakthroughs or significant physical and mental breakdowns. Or they may be nowhere near those highs or lows, just droning on in the background of our work life, not driving us crazy but not making our lives any richer either. The bottom line for business is that an organization filled with happy humans is more likely to be profitable than a similar business filled with the unhappy sort. In his book The Relationship Cure, Gottman says “A bid can be a question, a gesture, a look, a touch – any single expression that says “I want to feel connected to you.” A response to a bid is just that – a positive or negative answer to somebody’s request for emotional connection.” According to Gottman, there are three types of response to bids: turning toward responses, turning away responses, and turning against responses. One example from the book (pp 36-37) works as follows: Continue reading

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Though cost-based accounting methods can be credited with advancing organizational ability to dissect operating processes and analyze where change might be most beneficial, cost accounting also has a downside. The very process of apportioning costs applies component-based to thinking to system-wide problems. Does this mean that cost allocations are bad and should not be done? Definitely not! (though I have discovered that this topic has a strange knack for bringing out the argumentative extremist in far too many businessmen). The solution is to recognize that component-based thinking creates a certain type of bias, and that bias can be offset by approaching the same problem (or, ideally, set of problems) with system-based thinking. Here’s an example of an actual problem Continue reading

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Here’s why. Database analysis to study customers is a lot like looking at the animals in the zoo. Don’t get me wrong – you can learn a lot. But it’s an observation, not an experience. How the heck did we get to the point where the word intimacy, which means a close association or connection, of or relating to inner character or essential nature (according to Webster’s unabridged) – how did we start applying that word to a business concept that most people interpret to mean “figure out what your customers buy, when they buy it, how they buy it, and why they buy it – and use that information to sell them more of it” ? Continue reading

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Remember the book – and the saying – the medium is the message? Marshall McLuhan, author of the saying and of the 1964 book of the same name, theorized that every message is not only influenced, but defined, by the medium by which the message is delivered. McLuhan died in 1980, before any of these new digital marketing mediums were possible, let alone conceived of. Yet his work is as relevant today as it was back when he was worried about the ultimate social impact of the television. McLuhan argued that at the intelligent, rational levels of perception, human beings take a message and consider its content carefully. However, at the empirical – experiential – level of consciousness, the medium itself is the message. Continue reading

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Seven reasons why someone may hate your ideas. Continue reading

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No, I don’t believe innovation is unimportant. I do think the word is over-used, and I think people would rather attend expensive seminars in San Francisco to learn about it than actually engage in it. But I think it’s important. I also think it is woefully misunderstood. And I think the primary reason for our ongoing misunderstanding is our failure to recognize the importance of relevance. Continue reading

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Our discomfort with truth-telling leads us to say we like things we don’t actually like. Such as your girlfriend’s chicken tortilla soup, which tastes like soggy flour. But you can’t say that, so you eat it while cringing inwardly. When does she find out? When she’s been your wife for two years and suddenly you can no longer tolerate it and you blurt out that you absolutely hate that stuff. The risk that was avoided during the courtship was not the risk of hurting her feelings. Not really. It was the risk of mustering enough courage to say what you thought in a kind and loving manner. If receiving feedback is difficult, giving it is more so. Continue reading

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There are similarities. The smart companies across industries are evaluating means to reduce their costs, maintain brand, marketing and sales focus, and increase customer value. Savvy operators have switched from a quarterly/monthly financial evaluation strategy to a monthly/weekly financial evaluation strategy. Even the folks who don’t care much for reading are watching the financial and business news every day. Continue reading

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