15 06, 2017

Using Customer Focus to Simplify Operations

By |2018-06-05T10:15:19+00:00June 15th, 2017|Operating Partners|

Spend a few hours picking the brain of virtually any senior executive today and I can almost guarantee two of the topics that will come up: simplification and customer focus. What you are far less likely to hear, however, is the inherent synchronicity linking these two concepts.

To most executives, simplification is specific to an internal activity practiced by a project team. Conversely, customer focus is deemed an externally focused activity and usually the domain of marketing or sales. Why the missing link between these two all-important practices? From my experience, it’s usually a reflection of the little time senior executives spend with their customers and, by extension, the value they put on such efforts.

The point being, this is a significant area of value creation that most companies are ignoring.

Ask most customers or suppliers for their perception of your company, for their insights into how easy you are to engage or to do business with, and the insights you receive will invariably be more useful and actionable than any internal assessment or outside consulting […]

12 06, 2017

The Additive Manufacturing Revolution: Ready or Not

By |2018-06-05T10:14:12+00:00June 12th, 2017|Operating Partners|

My professional life began in earnest in the 1980s at the very same time that the Just-in-Time (JIT) revolution emanating out of Japan was really beginning to hit its stride. Borne out of the vaunted Toyota Production System, JIT rocked manufacturing industries large and small and gave rise to new modes of competition that remain as potent today as they were 30 years ago.

A cornerstone of JIT was ‘batch of one’ production, an innovation that resulted in low inventories, faster factory throughput, and for obvious reasons, stronger business results. Alliteratively speaking, JIT was a hit.

I offer this by way of explaining why I think we may be on the cusp of another major paradigm shift in the world of production, this time through a process known as Additive Manufacturing (AM).

Over the previous 5 years or so I watched as ‘the maker revolution’ sprang to life in garages and sheds and workshops around the world. I saw, too, how phenomena like ‘rapid prototyping’ were radically changing the design […]