industry needs to hear from a different perspective to challenge
their current thinking. Hadley Associates has consulted in
a wide variety of industries for seventeen years, including
assignments with manufacturers and service organizations.
When blended together, these experiences are worth sharing.
SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE
companies have one very simple commonality; they have a strong
conviction for the fundamentals. All know themselves very
well and are focused on excellence. Every high-performing
company Hadley Associates has ever interviewed or assisted
has these traits:
their strengths and limitations
a vision greater than where they are today
with customers and stakeholders
their people in the business direction
discussions and decisions on facts
a plan, use metrics and adjust as needed
these observations seem obvious, making it work is difficult.
This is true for the three-employee business or a multi-line
production facility. In reality, the hard cold fact is that
most owners/mangers say they do all of the above, but really
do not. They honestly "believe" they do, but there
is a "disconnect".
are in a position of leadership, ask your employees, customers
and suppliers about your company. Do they have the same perceptions
and vision as you? If they do, you are to be congratulated;
if they do not, welcome to the majority. While this feedback
may be frustrating, there is a remedy.
IS DRIVEN BY PROBLEMS
are pulled into difficult situations. Often you are asked
to "fix something that is broken" or is very troubled.
When you enter this situation, the consultant begins to probe,
asking basic questions and then drills down to get the details.
is used for several reasons. First, the consultant is seeking
to understand and develop an overview of the company, industry
segment and the issues. Second, the advisor is observing and
developing an impression of the management and personnel.
Finally, the consultant is thinking how to address the issues;
what are the alternatives? This process is universal.
the time, the reason a client calls is not the real problem.
The client may be focused on the end result and not the root-cause.
Other times, he is caught up in the problem itself and is
overwhelmed. In rare cases, he just has a "gut feel that
sometime is not right" and needs verification.
look the major reasons why clients call a consultant.
2. Base revenue stream faltering
3. Increasing competition pressure
4. A feeling of no clear direction
5. New manager wants a "fast-start" plan
factors in the your industry? More important, are you experiencing
them? Only you can answer those questions. Experience shows
businesses tend to be complacent and reluctant to question
their future or change. For example, a business owner may
"feel the pain", but the "fear of change"
is much stronger.
interesting that creating a "fast-start" plan is
the solution. Turnaround consultants do this all the time.
New managers bring the same new perspective. They both want
to make a difference quickly. They tend to throw away "conventional
wisdom" ("this how we do things here" thinking).
They are proactive and focused of success.
succeed, envious people wonder how they did it or say, "timing
was on their side". In reality, we know why. They saw
something the rest of us did not see. They changed the rules,
acted and adjusted as needed.
companies, including manufacturers or service providers, have
common symptoms, such as:
lost a key business
new products or services
not understand customers
their real costs
assets (i.e.: inventories, capacity)
the ability to set priorities
of the matter is that by identifying strategic issues (sources-of-pain),
you can make an immediate impact on your business. Longer
term, strategic choices will need to be made. Some may seem
daring, but depending on your vision, they may be worthy of
consulting perspective, senior business managers should periodically
challenge his or her current business model (business practices).
This should be done at least every three to five years. Start
with the critical functions, such as marketing, manufacturing
is to identify several "bold moves" that will make
a significant and positive difference. We are not seeking
subtle change; we are talking about a shift in fundamental
direction. As an individual business, you can define what
is a "bold move" for yourself. For discussion purposes,
the following will to help you get started.
a new channel-of-distribution
a product or service category
the way you sell and service customers
to your customers as a competitor
standard procedures and costs
"rapid response" work centers
"flexible" work teams
the work flow and layout
"backroom" process mapping
"activity based" cost accounting
the responsibility of key managers
outsourcing of non-strategic activities
a management retreat
moves" do not have to be unique, but it helps. They do
need to be dramatically different for your operations to make
terms, the current senior managers usually cannot accomplish
the "bold moves" by themselves within their organization.
It must be a human limitation, but existing personal relationships
have invisible barriers like preconceived notions, historic
baggage or limited thinking. It is suggested you use a facilitator
or consultant initially as a resource. In time, the new thinking
(paradigms) allows existing managers to carry on themselves.
Assessing the appropriate "bold moves" is an important
step. A "bold move" is a shift to another performance
level. It is distancing your business operations from "look
a likes". The transformation begins with the your vision
of the business and the opportunities you see developing.
Products, processes, technology, channels-of-of distribution
or a myriad other possibilities could drive this; it depends
selling book, "Who Moved My Cheese?" had the theme
that change is ongoing and rewarding if you embrace it; if
you do not, your world will wither away. The book forces you
to think about how do you want to live.
consulting perspective, every manager should lead by questioning
and listening, be receptive to new ideas, think "outside
the box", manage and encourage change, focus on the fundamentals
and measure what is the important.
Associates is a consulting firm focused on industrial market
research and facilitating strategic change. Drew Hill, principal
consultant, is a certified focus group leader and management