We speak so often about “the economy,” as if it’s this latent beast lurking about that no one can influence or control. And that beast, according to many, unilaterally influences success and failure in myriad ways through all walks of life and industry.
Regardless of how you measure “the economy,” it doesn’t fundamentally “cause” ANYTHING; it merely exists in the background, sort of like the movie “Matrix.” It’s a backdrop for industry, a simple, somewhat undefined engine creating a lot of white noise. And sometimes, distractions.
Manufacturing — and I include process industries like chemical, refining, and some distribution — is the backbone of this country. If I’m exaggerating with that statement, it’s only by a small margin.
We can see clearly how Manufacturing really does matter – it’s a real source of strategic advantage for the United States.
In my mind, there are three reasons for this:
1. We build it here. I hate to sound trite, but it does matter when things are “made in the U.S.A.” Now, let’s not get carried away – that can’t be the foundation of manufacturing value in the U.S. (“buy American” is a crock statement, in my opinion; trite and defensive, it’s designed to shame rather than promote), but it certainly does have an impact, particularly today.
Again, the issue of performance review ratings rears its head…
I always find this topic fascinating; in reality (my opinion), there are only three performance results:
(a) Doesn’t meet expectations,
(b) Meets expectations, or
(c) Exceeds expectations.
All else (in my opinion) are provided for comfort and conflict mitigation, not accuracy. More rating choices enables poor performance management, in my mind.
So, there’s this question on LinkedIn, asking a plethora of “strategy consultants” a valuable, fairly straightforward question:
“Should we spend more time and effort on developing strategy or focusing on implementation?“
Now, never mind whether you believe we should focus more on strategy or implementation, per se. For the record, I believe that — pound-for-pound — we need more execution (implementation) today. But frankly, that’s a separate conversation, and we can have that later.
Succession Planning. The final frontier… to boldly go where damn few have gone before, no matter how frequently they talk about it.
A recent article in the Houston Business Journal references a survey about succession plans at mid-cap and large companies. Well over 50% do not have enough successors identified to weather one or more key departures, and only 37% claim to even have sufficient future management available (never mind ready)within the organization.
Are you kidding me?? It is the height of irresponsibility to suggest that senior leadership is focused on the future — on longer term, strategic ideals — when it cannot weather a small storm caused by the departure of just one or two key leaders.
So, a colleague of mine was preparing for a 2-day strategy session…
Never mind that I really dislike these two/three-day “events” disguised as strategic thinking and envisioning.
This colleague, like many consultants, was gearing up for the contest that was to come… the inevitable clash between monumental egos and the logic and foresight necessary to grow a business. My advice to her lament? I said:
“May the force be with you. My experience tells me that if we can connect logic & smarts with their executive-level egos, then success is nigh…“