Process & Strategy Solutions

Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky by Cynthia Kalina-Kamin... @
Does this sound familiar?

In talking with a great sales coach who consistently gets results out of the sales teams he works with, he discussed  insights for significant top line revenue increase per sales person.   I saw a ticking time bomb.

When I mentioned it, he paid no attention.

If you’re willing to risk your business, you can ignore the ticking time bomb too.

If you want to diffuse that ticking time bomb, keep reading.

In the supply chains I help, whether manufacturing, distribution, or SaaS, one thing I can count on finding is finger pointing between sales and operations/supply chain. In truth, the blame is shared and can be fixed with a bit of work and commitment so that everyone is happy and the company does not explode.

First: stop overselling your capacity or capability to produce -  it’s setting the company up for failure.

Second: hold feet to the fire - when agreements on numbers are made – they aren’t optional.

Third: get your metrics working for you - and they need to be strategically aligned throughout the company

Commissions are based on selling stuff/services. If your metrics award selling more and more stuff and services without regard to the company’s ability to deliver, then a few things are going to happen: 1) every sales person will push to sell more stuff and services, 2) customers will get upset with terminally late delivery, possibly reduced quality due to expediting, and they’ll go to one of your many competitors, 3) supply chain/op’s will be blamed for not delivering and sales will be blamed for overselling (finger pointing and tension escalates), and 4) sales people will earn commissions on the excess stuff/services sold and will go out for more.

Now why would any company set itself up for failure like this?

It’s just a matter of time before the company's time bomb goes off.  

What to do?

Communicate, collaborate, and coordinate your sales and operational activity.

And why is it acceptable in firms that share sales and operational information to only sort of work the formal processes?

Partial integration creates a lot of busy work and doesn’t drive results. Stop doing this. Integrate fully, get real results.

Whether you call it communication, collaboration, coordination, sales and operations planning (S&OP), or anything else, it is essential to how your company survives and thrives. It deserves to be focused on and improved – especially in our fast paced, customer focused world.

So tell me, what are you doing about your ticking time bomb?

Key words and concepts: customers, sales, supply chain, supply chain management, alignment, processes, sales and operations planning, S&OP, communication, cooperation, collaboration, strategy, process, process improvement, planning

 Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky, President

Join me:

For SCOR-P on April 19-21 in Greensboro, NC where we'll diffuse your ticking capacity vs. demand time bombs.

And then for “Stop Wasting Time and Money: Get the Explosive Results You Need and Your Customers Want”, June 14 at the EFT 3PL Summit and Chief Supply Chain Officers’ Forum 2017 in Chicago, IL. Use code CKK500 for a $500 discount.

I can be reached at info@ProcessStrategySolutions.com or through LinkedIn at www.LinkedIn.com/CynthiaKalinaKaminsky
Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky by Cynthia Kalina-Kamin... @
Never make it difficult for customers to do business with your business!

I call this Cynthia’s 1st Rule of Business.

It’s amazing how many businesses refuse to follow it.

Case in point: last night there was an event by two non-profits that I paid to attend. I had plans to talk with several people I need to coordinate business with as well as to support the entities. Here’s where the problems began:

First: The address for the event was incorrect, so it took a while and much asking to find out what the correct address was and where the building was located.

Second: After driving 2 hours to the event, I spent an hour driving around looking for parking and the building. I never found parking, so I had to turn around and drive 2 hours back.

As seemingly insignificant as you may think these things were, they took 5 valuable hours way from my business work – and herein lies the main problem you may have with your customers (make sure you aren't making the same type of mistakes).

A little advanced planning would have secured parking areas (I’m ok with paying) and a little verification would have shown that the publicized address was incorrect (I wasn’t the only one looking for this place).

Instead, I wasted 5 very valuable hours that I need for my business.

5 hours I was happy to donate if  -  if   - the entities would have done their part.

They did not.

Your potential and existing customers think the same.

Don’t waste their time.

Don’t waste their good will.

Don’t waste your ability to do business with them.

Don’t skip the easy stuff and make those who are willing to pay you money become so irritated that they abandon your business.

Don’t assume that people have time to do the work you should have done.

Don’t assume people will forgive you.

About 69% of customers are looking to jump ship to your competitor. The world is oversupplied with product and services.

Customers will jump and will never look back.

Do the simple stuff.

Make customers happy to do business with you.

Earn your customer’s loyalty every day.

It’s not difficult.

It takes some time and effort.

Like Niké says: Just do it

Key words and concepts: customers, customer relationship, customer relationship management, business, business strategy, strategic execution

Dr. Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky is the President of Process & Strategy Solutions and consults with mid-sized and large product and service businesses eager to increase revenue through innovative supply chain design, improvement, and management.

I am teaching SCOR-P on April 19-21 in Greensboro, NC. The course turbo charges your ability to align your performance to your customers’ requirements.

I am also holding the workshop “Stop Wasting Time and Money: Get the Explosive Results You Need and Your Customers Want”, June 14 at the EFT 3PL Summit and Chief Supply Chain Officers’ Forum 2017 in Chicago, IL.  

I can be reached at info@ProcessStrategySolutions.com or through LinkedIn at www.LinkedIn.com/CynthiaKalinaKaminsky
Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky by Cynthia Kalina-Kamin... @
With everything in flux in supply chain, it’s been interesting trying to figure out the focus of this blog.

My decision: do 1 thing at a time and whenever possible, introduce items that may not be regularly seen but are important to know about for your global supply chains.

Here’s one you should definitely know about.

China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR)

Wrapping through and around southern Asia, east Africa, and into southern Europe is China’s proposed “belt” and “road” combination.

The “belt” includes road, rail, pipeline and infrastructure projects stretching from central China through Central Asia and into Russia and various European destinations.  

The “road” is a network of ports (think sea) and infrastructure projects extending through South and Southeast Asia to East Africa and the Mediterranean Sea.

The OBOR is part of the enhanced financial policy coordination desired by China to stretch across the Asian continent. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Silk Road Fund (NSRF) are to play significant roles in enabling infrastructure projects to be carried out in the regions.

Other features are trade liberalization, people-to-people connectivity, and an Information Silk Road that is driven by market and industry needs. Multiple countries are involved.

As expected, there risks as well as infrastructure gains in this initiative.

What does this have to do with your supply chains?

Global supply chains need to move products agilely, responsively, and reliably. If new major infrastructure is built, what effect will it have on where you conduct business, or what new ports or networks you will need to use and interface with? Where will the clusters of industrial opportunity be? BTW: have you listened to Jack Ma of Alibaba on the One Belt, One Road lately? (You’ll have to find a YouTube video with translation if you don’t speak Chinese.)

While there are significant hurdles to be overcome to make the One Belt One Road (OBOR) a reality, the underlying global expansion is real and according to discussion at the World Economic Forum, this represents a change to the world’s financial and economic architecture. So again, what does this mean for your supply chains?

First, you need data.

If you don’t have the in house analysis power to dig into how trade may be changed in these regions, reach out to a college or university that has a department expertise in foreign policy or global trade or [type in the area you need to know about that connects into this initiative]. Google allows you to search for this type of research and the researchers involved. LinkedIn can also aid in your search for this expertise.

Second, you need analysis.

Don’t rush through this part. Uncover potential options on how the OBOR may play out. How will the different end results affect your supply chains given the research and data you’ve gathered? What options do you have based on most likely infrastructure build-out? What other geopolitical issues must be included in your analyses? What are the learning curves for new infrastructure as it comes online? How likely are major infrastructure projects to fail, or not achieve scale even if launched? How and where can you play in this new environment?

Third, conduct a risk analysis.

Having identified the affects, conduct the risk analysis on what impacts these items will have on your current supply chains. What is the risk to your current supply chain configuration? Do you need a backup plans for specific regions or supply chain segments? What are the risks to your current routes and supplier base? What are the financial implications?

Fourth, create an action plan and implement.

The great thing about outside opportunities and threats is that they force you to take a hard look at how you are conducting business. Where are the gaps between what you provide and what your customers expect now? How can you become more efficient while meeting customer demands now? How can you be more agile so that you can respond to the changes easily and calmly? Combine your answers to these questions with requirements from your above analysis. Your resulting action plan should make your business stronger overall and may just help get past some of the hurdles that others who plan less and change less can’t.

For whatever plan you have, use a phased in approach in your implementation plan. Implement pieces that are common over all potential realities. For example, as you monitor development and capabilities, phase in corresponding process improvements or technology enhancements that increase your service to your current customers in ways they recognize and desire as well as incrementally provide you with new capabilities needed for your future. A phased in, modular approach allows you to experience small wins as you ready for various options, makes change easier, and enables revenue results that will allow you to continue implementing change without just hoping for future payback.

In the end, even if the OBOR does not meet its ultimate goal, your business is a stronger competitor just for having analyzed it and having been proactive.

For more on this topic, click here. You can also find multiple videos from various countries and entities on YouTube when you search on OBOR.

Key words and concepts: supply chain, global trade, foreign policy, change management, risk analysis, infrastructure

Dr. Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky is the President of Process & Strategy Solutions and consults with mid-sized and large businesses eager to increase revenue through innovative supply chain design, improvement, and management. She works mainly with executives and senior management that manufacture, procure, and/or deliver high tech and complex products in the commercial and/or government spaces. On the service chain side, she works with SaaS companies.

She is teaching a SCOR-P course on April 19-21 in Greensboro, NC. The course is provides a kick start to transform your supply chains by aligning your customer requirements and business activity across all units, enabling your processes, and integrating agility, responsiveness, and reliability into your extended, global supply chains.  

Cynthia can be reached at info@ProcessStrategySolutions.com or through LinkedIn at www.LinkedIn.com/CynthiaKalinaKaminsky

Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky by Cynthia Kalina-Kamin... @
Svilen Milev freeimages.comLast post we looked at 4 steps to start your supply chain risk evaluation. This post we’ll examine how you can be the one your customers and people not yet your customers turn to in times of uncertainty.

Knowing your customer’s greatest risks and being prepared to handle them provides you with an opportunity to protect your own revenue stream. If you’re looking at entering a new market, you can use the approach below as well.

Let’s take a look at what needs to happen.

1) Change your point of view

You need to know unequivocally what your current and future customers will be experiencing and how it will affect their businesses. Not via assumption, but with solid data and direct customer discussion concerning what makes them nervous. You will need to also analyze risks that they don’t even know are coming their way.

The change in viewpoint is critical. I’ve worked with companies that skip the data collection and the work in obtaining the voice of the customer since they feel they already know the customer, the customer’s concerns, and the market. While this may be true in part, often what is missing is the nuance. And if you don’t get the nuance correct, you can’t be the solution provider.

2) Conduct a SWOT analysis on your  major customers or customer sets

Make sure this is data based and not just conjecture or opinion. You’ll be evaluating gaps later and determining if you have or need to develop products/services to support expected change to help customers manage risk. Good data is crucial since you’ll be spending scarce resources to develop new support systems that need to be aligned correctly.

3) List the concerns/risks, how they may affect your customers, and their probabilities of occurring

Identify and clearly state what the underlying risk is. The wording must be clearly understood by anyone who reads the risk plan. The risk listed may be different than the customer’s wording of the concern. Your job is to uncover the root cause of the problem so that you can be confident that your solution sets that will eliminate the concern/problem while mitigating the risk.

An easy tool to use is an Ishikawa diagram, also known as a fishbone diagram or a cause and effect diagram. While the six major “bones” are usually denoted by the 6 M’s (machine, manpower, milieu, measurement, method, and materials), change them to better aid your problem analysis. The “head” is the problem to be solved, which is usually the symptom that occurs and not the root cause. You need to get to the root cause.

For the “bones”, since the environment (political, physical, regulatory, etc.) and the economy are the major sources of uncertainty, I would expand these.  Let’s say that you are in an industry that may experience drawback of environmental regulations and that you currently manufacture your final product outside the U.S. The problem at the “head of the fish” may be loss of revenue. You now need to uncover everything that contributes to this, even if it runs counter to your opinion, belief, or hope. The future of your business relies on being able to supply product/services others will use to eliminate their pain. You need to uncover all the factors that may contribute to the problem statement listed at the “head” of the diagram. This is best done with a cross-functional team of experts.

To uncover the factors that may contribute to your customer’s problem/concern/risk, your major “bones” may be: Money, Environmental Regulation, Political Climate, Regulatory Environment, Manpower, and Processes (more or fewer “bones” can be used as your situation requires).

Depending on the contributing factors, you may find that more than one Ishikawa diagram is needed to understand which factors contribute how to the problem based on specific things happening or not happening.

For example, if environmental regulations are removed, the exact regulation in question would be listed on the environmental bone. The factors outlining where processes may no longer work, or only sort-of work, would be listed on the process bone, potential factors in skill set elements and potential training voids would be listed on the process bone, and the factors in public opinion from different stakeholder’s points of view about the client’s product/service with the environmental regulations removed would be listed on the money and political climate bones.

Reshoring of final assembly may be a major category with many factors listed on multiple bones.

If the environmental regulation changed but wasn’t removed, or didn’t change at all, the problem may still exist, but the factors contributing to it may change. Options like this may call for multiple Ishikawa diagrams based on removal of environmental regulations, no change in environmental regulations, and the most likely change in environmental regulations.

Use the 5 Why’s to go through the factors you feel are most significant and the largest risk to get to the underlying root cause.

Your understanding of the marketplace, industry, and customer set now comes into play as you evaluate the factors and their combinations. The analysis will allow you to compare what your customers will need given specific circumstances to what you have to offer.

Based on your available skill sets, or the skill sets in a nearby university, you may be able to take the factor set and have advanced testing run on them to uncover their importance. There are various statistical models and even the Design of Experiments may provide information that you can then use for insight. The results will lead to discussions and decisions on what you need to have ready or how you need to be ready for your customers under specific circumstances.

4) Perform gap analyses

From your customer analysis, what would relieve the customer’s pain?

Do you have an answer ready or do you need to develop or modify products and/or services?

What gaps exist in your infrastructure to handle the potential new realities your customers will live in?

What gaps are present in the way you market and sell based on the pain points that will surface under specific circumstances?

Is your supply chain capable of handling required changes efficiently and effectively?

Do you have early warning signals in place so that you can get your changes in position quickly?

How will the relationship between you and your customer change in the new reality and are you both prepared for those changes?

5) Prioritize and execute

Knowing isn’t enough. You have to act. If you don’t, someone else will.

Create a prioritized list of changes to make in your organization.  

There are a lot of things you can do. What should you do?

Create a strategic execution plan and put it into action.

With solid analysis, strategic discussion, and good planning, your business offerings will solve your customer’s pain and will also strengthen your competitive advantage whether the risk occurs or not.

Next time, we’ll look at risk in terms of uncertainty and our supply chains.

Key words and concepts: supply chain management, SCM, metrics, strategy, alignment, results, revenue, alignment, processes, performance, data, analysis, risk, risk analysis, risk mitigation, competitive advantage, uncertainty, customer value

Dr. Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky is the President of Process & Strategy Solutions and is a supply chain management consultant. She is teaching a SCOR-P course for the North Texas APICS chapter November 28-30 that provides a modular approach to understanding your customer requirements, risks, and integrating them into your extended, global supply chains.  

She consults with businesses eager to increase revenue through innovative supply chain design and management. She works mainly with executives, senior management, and supply chain professionals in the high tech industry and complex products industries that manufacture, procure, and/or deliver in commercial and/or government settings. On the service chain side, she works with tech based companies and can be reached at info@ProcessStrategySolutions.com or through LinkedIn at www.LinkedIn.com/CynthiaKalinaKaminsky

Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky by Cynthia Kalina-Kamin... @
The recent U.S. Presidential election, Brexit, unrest throughout the world; there is a lot to be uncertain about. While I don’t hold a crystal ball as to what will happen next, I can help you be more agile no matter what comes your way.

The key is be prepared as much as possible.

While we all know plans change, the mere fact that you’ve made a realistic evaluation of the possibilities, who you are as a company, and what you will and won’t change for which size/type/value of customer/supply chain and risk event will at least minimize any upcoming surprises.

So where to start?

We’ll evaluate this question in three parts:


A) Changes that may affect you and your company
B) Changes that may affect your  customers, and
C) Changes that may affect your supply chains

This post will deal with changes that may affect you and your company.

I’m going to use the U.S. presidential election results for my examples and what-ifs. If you are in another part of the world, substitute in your particular uncertainty; the methodology remains the same.

1) List potential changes, how they may affect you, and their probabilities of occurring

The first part of risk analysis is to identify and clearly state what the risk is. The wording must be clearly understood by anyone who reads the risk plan.

To get to this point, list the potential changes, threats, and opportunities that may come about with the new president and his administration.

Potential changes include:

Affordable Health Care law – statements have been made that this will be repealed

Free trade agreements – statements have been made that NAFTA and other agreements will be renegotiated or stopped from moving forward

Remove financial/banking regulation – statements have been made about eliminating the Dodd-Frank Act, would Sarbanes – Oxley also be under consideration

Remove environmental regulation – statements have been made to close down the EPA, eliminate various environmental protection laws, and cancel the Paris agreement

Increase taxes on imports

Increase taxes on companies that outsource – taken to mean critical tasks being performed outside the borders of the U.S.

Decrease the Department of Education – taken to mean less funding and a smaller footprint, more emphasis placed at local levels

Play a different role in the world – statements have been made about changing allied relationships, changing how the U.S. is involved globally, becoming more U.S.-centric

Make America Great Again – where will money be spent, how, to achieve what results

2) Start going down the list and determine what must be examined for each entry and the potential consequences of the associated risk. For example:

Risk: Increase in import taxes

Background:  

75% of our components are imported. This is done to keep COGS low since our products are sold in price sensitive markets.

Possibilities to be considered:

An increase in taxes could a) increase our prices to a point where we are no longer able to sell our product because our pricing is too high to be attractive, b) increase everyone’s prices and therefore keep the competitive playing field level, c) drive some competitors out of business since they do not have the financial reserves to absorb the increase until the market settles down – determine which ones, d) force us to move sales out of the U.S. since we would not be price competitive, and/or e) force us to revise our supply chains by evaluating 1) crossing U.S. borders only once, 2) moving entire supply chains onshore – this choice is dependent on finding existing U.S. suppliers in the needed cost range, 3) improving our process efficiencies, and 4) increasing automation.

3) With options in hand, develop projects to analyze the various options and to deliver data supported explanations.

Make sure to include how your internal processes will need to be adjusted, how long the infrastructure and process changes may take, and if there will be a change to the value you currently deliver.

4) Once the evaluations are complete, figure out what risk methodology you will employ if the risk becomes an issue (ie: it occurs instead of just being a possibility). For your company/supply chain, will you avoid the risk, transfer it somewhere else, minimize it in some way, or accept and deal with it when it happens? In each case, what exactly will the company do, how will your supply chains execute, and who is responsible for making sure these things happen?

With this knowledge, you can make decisions about which areas you want to begin changing now due to long lead times.

Make sure your changes bring improvement to your supply chains that will mitigate the risks you’ve identified before you have to worry about them. Even better, make sure your changes bring improvement to your supply chains no matter what environment you find yourself in.

You’ve begun creating a competitive advantage that will allow you to meet whatever happens head on. Next time, we’ll look at risk in terms of our customers.

Key words and concepts: risk, supply chain risk, risk analysis, risk mitigation, competitive advantage, uncertainty, customer value

Dr. Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky is the President of Process & Strategy Solutions. She is teaching a SCOR-P course for the North Texas APICS chapter November 28-30 that provides a modular approach to understanding your customer requirements, risks, and integrating them into your extended, global supply chains.  

She consults with middle market businesses eager to increase revenue through innovative supply chain design and management. She works mainly with executives and senior management in high tech and complex products that manufacture, procure, and/or deliver in commercial and/or government settings. On the service chain side, she works with tech based companies and can be reached at info@ProcessStrategySolutions.com or through LinkedIn at
www.LinkedIn.com/CynthiaKalinaKaminsky

Image by Svilen Milev at FreeImages.com
Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky by Cynthia Kalina-Kamin... @
Take a look at this monstrous, global supply chain Alibaba has put together for the Double 11 sales day. The sheer size and complexity is both mindboggling and energizing as you think through the immensity and reach of this extended supply chain.

So how can your business enable similar, amazing, extended supply chains?

The key is methodical planning, testing and communication for superior performance by following these steps:

1. Determine the overall performance requirements.

Don’t assume all of the partners you want to connect (or already have connected with) into this extended supply chain understand the customer’s requirements. The same customer will expect different performance from different supply chains and different events supported by the same supply chains. You have to pinpoint and enunciate what is expected for this particular supply chain. If the event is unique, then determine the expected performance for this particular event.

Communicate this knowledge and the accompanying goals throughout the planning, testing, and execution stages. Filter potential partners based on their ability to meet the goals. Embed the goals in your supply chain contracts. Monitor performance throughout the planning, test, and execution stages. Adjust as required to maintain the level of customer service your customers require.

To further solidify performance expectations, create role and responsibility requirements documentation for each link of the supply chain.

2. Map the extended supply chain.

You need to know where your supply chain links exist and what each link brings to the value chain. You’ll also need to build in redundancy to counter supply chain risks such as port closures, weather events, transportation problems, etc.

If there are supply chain links that will not be activated unless there are specific risks or issues to overcome, those links need to be brought into the value chain following the requirements in step 1.

3. Test, test, and test again

Customers don’t care how complex your amazing supply chain is; they want what they want when they want it the way they want it. You have to meet that.

Communicate what testing will be done and when it will be performed when you are initially putting together your extended supply chain. This eliminates supply chain members who don’t have the time or the ability to participate in the testing.

With each test, communicate the gaps to the respective supply chain links. Coordinate with the partners on capability upgrades, changes, and completion dates. Set and communicate the date for the next extended supply chain test.

Know what is good enough. Perfection never happens, but good enough can blow your customer’s socks off if it is planned and tested correctly.

4. Market like crazy

Don’t let all your great work go to waste – engage your markets.

Let your customers, and all your potential customers, know what you can do for them. Think of your extended supply chain partners as part of your marketing team. Make sure the messaging is consistent across all of your links. Engage the customers where they are.

Now that you have a functioning, extended supply chain - use it again. Determine the gaps. Determine where growth can occur in the markets. Communicate the plan. Adjust the capabilities, capacities, performance, etc.

And as Nike says: Just Do It.

Key words and concepts: extended supply chain, performance, collaboration, partnerships, operations

Dr. Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky is the President of Process & Strategy Solutions. She is teaching a SCOR-P course for the North Texas APICS chapter November 28-30 that provides a modular approach to understanding your customer requirements and integrating them into your extended, global supply chains.  

She consults with middle market and larger businesses eager to increase revenue through innovative supply chain design and management. She works mainly with executives and senior management in high tech, complex products, and pharmaceutical companies that manufacture, procure, and/or deliver in commercial and/or government settings. On the service chain side, she works with tech based companies and can be reached at info@ProcessStrategySolutions.com or through LinkedIn at www.LinkedIn.com/CynthiaKalinaKaminsky
Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky by Cynthia Kalina-Kamin... @
SupplyChainBrain released an article on optimizing DC (distribution center) performance to handle the increase in small orders requiring rapid fill rates and the increasing and reoccurring peaks of demand for these small orders.

IndustryWeekDaily reported that U.S. manufacturing expanded in September (the ISM index shows manufacturing’s Sept. index to be 51.5 indicating growth). ISM’s new orders gauge jumped to 55.1. Increases in manufacturing are also being experienced in the Euro zone.

All of the above places more pressure on your supply chains. How do you begin to handle it effectively?

The full answer requires the integration of many things from the strategic, tactical, and operational areas. We will explore these items over several postings. For this post, we’ll look at the answer many reach for first: technology.

Amazing technology exists that performs incredibly well in given situations. More amazing technology is coming out every day. Add to the quantity of new technology the seemingly infinite ways to combine the pieces for advantages that great technology implementation provides when a company harnesses the synergies between technologies, digital platforms, and networking ability (like cloud use), who wouldn't want new technology? All of this allows you to have better, faster, more accurate data on what you need where and when you need it. No doubt about it, supply chains are becoming quite exciting.

And quite daunting.

And quite a quagmire for potential tech spending disasters.

How to stop a disaster from happening?

1)   Know what problem you are trying to solve or what capabilities you really need to provide.

This means you need to know both 1) the real, underlying, root problem and can state it in words and phrases everyone understands, and 2) your company's business strategy so the solution aligns with it.

You also need to know exactly where the problem is located and what processes it affects. By integrating processes and metrics from operations up through tactical and into strategic areas, you’ll be able to rapidly diagnose where the problem resides as well as all the processes affected.

2)   Know the full requirements for the solution set.

Cross-functional teams are required to create a well-rounded understanding of the problem and the solution requirements. These teams need to include, or at least consult with, someone with current customer knowledge when anything that affects customer performance such as large system solutions are being discussed. Solutions can no longer be chosen just by the IT team. The best solution may not even be technical in nature. The problem may be inefficient processes, training deficiencies, communication delays, etc.

Any solution, technical or otherwise, must be vetted not only by those who will use the system, but also by those who interface with the system. If this does not happen, you’ll not only have discontented employees (and maybe customers), you’ll surface problems that should have been addressed in the solution identification or development stage. At this point, it is most likely that your solution will be immediately worked around and abandoned if possible.

3)   Understand how a technology solution will affect your financial performance. 

You need to know how the solution will affect your customers and meet their value requirements. By aligning your supply chain processes to customer values and requirements, you will be able to more accurately predict the outcome and return on the investment. Solution matching requires real data and real knowledge of the customer base and capability requirements.

Often, solutions are put in place based on obtaining performance we believe the customer will appreciate and pay for, yet our belief does not match reality. Once online, the misalignment of the solution causes the the return to fall short. In addition, our workforce becomes more cynical toward “shiny objects” and “flavor of the month” projects when in reality, neither was the basis for the solution implementation.

For example: If an improvement results in faster service, but the customer base cannot accept anything earlier than a given due date that is well within current capabilities, the solution will not solve a real customer problem for this particular supply chain and will not generate the return promised.

If we mismatch our solution set with our solution requirements, we not only invest inappropriately, but we often also hinder the performance of the very supply chain we were trying to improve.

There are great technologies out there your business can use effectively. It pays to take the time to understand which ones really will work best for each individual supply chain and your company’s desired performance.

Key words and concepts: performance, supply chain, change management, technology, problem solving

Dr. Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky is the President of Process & Strategy Solutions. She is teaching a SCOR-P course for the North Texas APICS chapter November 28-30 that provides answers to just these questions concerning alignment of technology, customer requirements, and business capability.

She consults with middle market and larger businesses eager to increase revenue through innovative supply chain design and management. She works mainly with executives and senior management in high tech, complex products, and pharmaceutical companies that manufacture, procure, and/or deliver in commercial and/or government settings. On the service chain side, she works with tech based companies and can be reached at info@ProcessStrategySolutions.com or through LinkedIn at www.LinkedIn.com/CynthiaKalinaKaminsky
Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky by Cynthia Kalina-Kamin... @
Originally published August 14, 2016

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at FreeDigitalPhotos.netJust how does a company create a successful ecosystem via modern digital platforms?

While there are technical answers and strategic planning answers to this question, this blog will deal with the basic must have’s in your strategic thinking. How you think strategically is critical since that same thinking becomes embedded in your offering, processes, and operational activity.

First, you need to know the golden rule of digital platforms and their ecosystems:

Ecosystems grow through increasing amounts of meaningful interactions.

Meaningful interactions are defined by the ecosystem – and you have to adjust. If you don’t adjust, someone else will create the ecosystem desired and everyone on your platform will migrate elsewhere.

How do you know when you are limiting the ecosystem’s growth?

First, the ecosystem doesn’t grow. Companies and people you want in your ecosystem have no patience with those who don’t play collaboratively so that everyone can win.

Second, some in your ecosystem will tell you the mistakes you are making. Make sure you listen because they are relating a bigger, deeper truth. Listen even though it is uncomfortable. Your platform and your product/service offerings will be better for it.

Usually, companies apply old ways of thinking to new tools and techniques. That is not a working strategy. Let’s look at some of the old ways of thinking so that you can adjust your strategic thinking to avoid shutting down your platform before it even gets going.

Old way of thinking #1:

I can and will control every aspect of what is allowed transaction-wise.

This is an old way of thinking and comes from a command and control mindset that is now leaving much of corporate America. This doesn’t mean everyone who retires thinks in old fashioned ways. However, there is a stereotype for a reason. More people than ever are college educated and want to use that education in innovative ways for you – without adapting to your point of view. More globalization allows interactions with more people from around the world and each brings unique insights you need. Social media and new technologies have allowed people to collaborate in more meaningful ways than ever before and they want to continue to collaborate without being told what tasks they are allowed to do (especially when they don’t work for you). And more than ever before, people want to put meaningful input into a system they believe in and, they want to see the input taken seriously and integrated.

No, you don’t have to accept everything, but you do need to be open. If your company dictates tight and narrow ways platform transactions can occur and doesn’t open up for creative application brought by your extended partners, then you’ve limited growth for everyone. Remember, ecosystems are partnerships. All partners need to see and experience growth. Partners provide you with new data and information that you can use for your business. Partners also need to see the growth enhancement for their business as well.  If you don’t allow this, then the digital platform is just an electronic, transactional procurement entity or a forum for discussion but little profit. Either way, it has a limited future.

Old way of thinking #2:

I can and will control every aspect of what is allowed product/service offering-wise.

Hey, they want to use my platform and are basing their growth off my tools, so I have the right to dictate narrowly how I am going to allow people  to interface with my products/servicesThat was tried before by Apple – didn’t work too well. Apple adapted and look at its success.

Not too long ago and even still today, lawyers create contracts stating all innovation during the time of the contract, whether applicable to the project/service work or not, is owned by the hiring company. This type of thinking stifles innovation, stifles the ability for others to help you grow by integrating your product/service into their offering, and ends up pushing people to look for more collaborative work spaces with greater future potential.

What if Uber had told the people who drive for it that it was absolutely against the rules for drivers to put a sign up in their windshields stating that the driver will take Pokemon Go players to their next destination? Crushing the real time innovation would have also crushed revenue growth for both drivers and Uber. People are smart, creative, and innovative. If it is not illegal, against cultural norms in the area, and doesn’t negatively affect safety or your product/service, let the growth and innovation happen and learn from it. Integrate and support the creativity and innovation.

Old way of thinking #3:

I can and will compete with my ecosystem.

This is a great reason for your ecosystem to abandon you, or never sign on in the first place.

You must support and enable your ecosystem. You must continue to build new capabilities for your ecosystem. The minute you begin competing against it; you lose.

Your job is to provide a platform that enables interactions. You can’t chase shiny objects that appear in your ecosystem because they look good and you think you can do the same thing. What happens when you chase those shiny objects? You lose credibility as the system supporter and enabler. Cynicism moves front and center. Trust is lost. You’ll see this on your revenue statement because chasing shiny objects means you’ve lost focus – and it takes focus to grow revenue. You might get a short term revenue bump, but it always comes at the cost of longer term and bigger revenue losses. Why? Because first, you probably don’t have the expertise to really take advantage of the opportunity. Second, and even more important, the people who pay to play on your platform, whether by bringing in revenue up front through access fees or later as a percentage of what is sold, will not tolerate a platform that competes with them.

This requires a new set of questions for upper management. The questions change from “How can we compete in this new shiny space?” to “How can we enable our ecosystem collaborators to compete more effectively/in new ways in the marketplace so that they continue to generate increasing revenue for us?” The first question is a win-lose scenario. The second is a win-win scenario. You want the win-win.

Platforms require new management thinking styles. Make sure yours supports and enhances your budding ecosystem. Only then will the cost of technology and tool development pay off.

What are you doing to enable and support your ecosystem?

Key words and concepts: digital platforms, collaboration, strategic thinking, growth, ecosystem

Dr. Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky is the President of Process & Strategy Solutions.  She is presenting "The Power of Supply Chain Segmentation" on Sunday, September 25 at 2:30 pm at the APICS International Conference in Washington DC.

She is also SCOR master (teaching in Dallas Oct. 24 - 26, 2016) and consults with middle market and larger businesses eager to increase revenue through innovative supply chain design and management. She works mainly with companies in high tech, complex products, and pharmaceuticals that manufacture, procure, and/or deliver in commercial and/or government settings. On the service side, she works with technology based service companies.

She can be reached at info@ProcessStrategySolutions.com or through LinkedIn at www.LinkedIn.com/CynthiaKalinaKaminsky
Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky by Cynthia Kalina-Kamin... @
Who would have thought an online search engine company would become a car company?

But when you think about it, it makes sense.

Google searches the web and provide you with options on how to get to the information you are looking for. A car is a physical search engine that provides you with options on how to get to the places you want to go. Google is merging physical search ability with virtual search ability.

A definite competitor in the automobile space, but coffee?

Definitely. The warning: you and your company need to review disruptions in other market spaces. You need to figure out how those disruptions/disruptors may impact your product and service offerings, customer base, etc. All it takes is a bit of creative thinking combined with logic based if-then analysis.

Here’s how it works:

If Google is successful in creating safe, autonomous vehicles, then people, including the driver, can have conversations in their autonomous car without worrying about driving. In some current car examples, the driver can even turn the driver’s seat around to join the conversation.

If the driver can join a group conversation, then that means you can hold meetings in a car as you are driven to a specific location.

For meetings, often a few things are present: tables, chairs, internet, and coffee.

If the car is made with table segments that can be pulled up (like airplane trays that collapse into the arm rest), and since the car already has seats, and internet is a given in an autonomous vehicle, then all we need is coffee.

Since the car has electricity, we just need a coffee maker that can quickly brew small amounts of coffee (say a cup at a time) using the car’s hook-ups.

So fine, you say, some coffee may be made in a car.

But if you are Starbucks, you need to evaluate your customers: who uses your space and why. Many small businesses, and business people in general, use Starbucks locations as their remote offices. They have tables, chairs, internet, and coffee.

If those people can now meet in a mobile communication center, their days are made more productive. But this keeps customers away from Starbucks (although it increases the value of the Via product).

So what would have to change in corporate strategy for Starbucks once Google begins competing with them? How will this impact their current business model?

Now that you’ve thought through the impact on another company, what impact might Google, Amazon, or any other disruptor or disruptive technology have on your company?

Ask the questions. Get the answers. You need to be ready.

Key words: disruption, business model, innovation

Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky is the President of Process & Strategy Solutions. She is a SCOR master and consults with midsized and larger businesses eager to increase revenue through innovative supply chain design and management.  She can be reached at info@ProcessStrategySolutions.com or through LinkedIn at www.LinkedIn.com/CynthiaKalinaKaminsky
Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky by Cynthia Kalina-Kamin... @
I've attended a lot of presentations and webinars that talk about what Millennials value, how they want to be treated, and what they want to achieve. What I’ve come away is that, with a couple of exceptions, they are no different than any other generation’s 20-35 year olds. We all wanted to change the world, we all wish we had mentors, we all had career aspirations.

So what is different?

In a bit, you’ll get to tell me specifically where there is disconnect between Millennial performance and your corporate needs, but below is my insight that’s contrary to what I usually read and hear about Millennials.

They want to see rapid ROI on their investments of time and money. If they don’t get it where they are currently at, they don’t have to have one-on-one sessions at the water cooler to state their dissatisfaction, they announce their displeasure on SM for instant broadcast. By reading what their opinions are, and separating the wheat from the chaff – just like had to be done with water cooler talk - you can get great insight into your company from a different point of view – probably one many of your customer’s share. Look for the systemic problems underlying what is being said.

If a company is not furthering their careers and networks in a way that benefits them, they leave more quickly than we used to. This doesn’t mean they want to be VP’s next Friday. It does mean they need to see progress.

Why should they stay around in a job that doesn’t make ends meet and doesn’t provide them with a viable, meaningful career path? Millennials are often saddled with very huge debts and often very small wages. Other generations were told be glad you have a job. Parents taught Millennials that they add value and should be treated as such. Remember, they still have those huge debts to pay. By the way, job hopping the “in” way for their parents to advance their careers not so long ago?
So what does this have to do with Supply Chain?

What executive doesn’t value rapid ROI? These guys calculate it in terms of meaningful value. Meaningful value includes money but isn’t driven by it. ROI is second nature to them; they talk and evaluate things using the terminology and methodology. How many other generations had to be taught these lessons later in their careers?

They understand their value. Is it the full value of a highly experienced industry veteran? No, but they want to develop into that. Is it a bit over inflated at times? Yes, but so was ours. We often see today's college graduates in entry level, brainless jobs. Can they save the world staying in these positions? No, so they move to advance their careers and add meaningful value.  What executive doesn’t want people who have spent time moving throughout the business/industry viewing evaluating corporate cultures based on the value they bring to consumers and employees?

By the way, use your Millennials as an early warning. If you can’t seem to keep them employed, you need to take a look your company culture because Millennials can be the warning that more of your employees are thinking about leaving – they just have more to hold them back.

Does this mean Millennials are perfect? No. In some instances they are beginners looking for a chance to excel, contribute, and have a supporting culture to do it in. In other instances they are in early management positions looking for mentoring so they can excel, contribute, and be part of a supporting culture.

How far are the Millennials in your supply chain from where you need them to be in your company?

I’m asking for your insights. Tell me specifically what disconnects exist, what part of supply chain, processes, concepts, methodologies, interpersonal interactions, and even corporate politics they don’t know, understand, have experience in, aren’t able to manage effectively, etc.  I want to help, but I need your insight on this 1 question survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RM3NCF8

If you are or know supply chain Millennials, have them share their insights on this subject at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RSJML9N

Don’t want to type in a survey text response? Please share by commenting on this post.

Key words and concepts: Millennials, supply chain, ROI, value, culture, survey, Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky, Process & Strategy Solutions

Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky is the President of Process & Strategy Solutions. She teaches and consults for businesses eager to capture competitive value through innovative supply chain management.  She can be reached at info@ProcessStrategySolutions.com or through LinkedIn at www.LinkedIn.com/CynthiaKalinaKaminsky

Photo: FreeStockPhotos.name
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