Thursday, 28 February 2013

Improvement comes from the recovery

Those that know me know that I am a persistent but slow runner. Over 25 years of training and competing over distances up to the Marathon has given me the excuse to read some training and coaching manuals. One of the principles behind training is that better performance is delivered by the repetition of "train and recover" cycles. Small cycles such as train hard one day, easy the next and larger cycles such as train hard in the winter cross country season then rest before spring track training.

Just training without recovery is dangerous because without rest and recovery you are prone to injury. Of course all rest and you descend into couch potato life!

Apply this to our working world:

Working hard as an individual or in a team to deliver a project, meet a major deadline or complete a significant change programme would all count as training. (You could argue that this is competing, but the analogy still works).

We test our skills, procedures, our equipment and ourselves; we test our suppliers. After that we need to reflect, allow ourselves to review what has worked and not worked in order to make changes for the next one. Without that review we may not recover or improve efficiently. If you manage a team, it can seem imperative to rush onto the next thing, but reflection needn’t be time consuming. You may have had experience of “Project Review” tasks being shelved… but don’t fall into the trap of it yourself!

Monday, 18 February 2013

Is anyone playing horsey with your Supply Chain?

With recent sorry stories in the UK and European media about adulterated beef containing Horsemeat, we return to the theme of people in the Supply Chain (see "People make Supply Chains" in this blog).

Do you trust your Suppliers?  If you don't then you have a problem, but first of all what do I expect from a trustworthy supplier? First on the list is that they send you what they have promised. I also expect honesty from them when they have problems affecting that supply. Does that mean they should tell me about every little twist and turn in their business or with their suppliers? No.

What you pay a supplier for is to manage those twists and turns, to solve their own problems. If you get involved then you might as well ask for a discount! However there is a fine line in solving your own problems and being up front with your customer when you have a serious supply issue.

In the last few weeks one if my clients has had to deal with one of their Suppliers that isn't delivering for them. I was involved, and my biggest problem was that I didn 't trust what they told us, the honesty had gone!

The Pharma industry has instituted Vendor Assurance, site audits and certificates to confirm supply identity. This is good and necessary, like self-inspections and keeping good fences with neighbours. But if you look in the eye of your supplier and don't trust them, that's the time to check for the Horse DNA!

Monday, 4 February 2013

The enabling No!

No is a powerful word to be used in the enabling of people and organisations.
No, don't start that Project, concentrate on this one.
No don't pursue three vendors, work on the best two.
No we won't... Etc

It takes a strong leader to say no and focus your people's resources on a smaller number of projects or tasks. The easier, lower risk option is to take 'em all on, covering all the bases. That puts the pressure on them, increasing the chances of problems and mistakes.

Do you know enough, understand the risks to take the brave decision to say no and bear that risk to enable your people to be successful?