Best Practices


Now More Than Ever, Kill the Left-Suckers!

30/10/2018 12:54 | Share

Ten years ago, by far the best presentation at the 41st Annual Supply Chain & Logistics Canada Conference on Creating a Resilient Supply Chain was Jim Tompkins’ (CEO of Tompkins’ Associates) presentation on Bold Leadership for Organizational Acceleration. (He also gave the keynote, which was a great presentation as well, but this was one of the best presentations the doctor‘s ever been too in his years and years of sitting through supply chain and logistics presentations.)

Not only is Jim a great speaker, and if you haven’t heard him, I encourage you to attend his session the next time you’re at a conference where he is speaking, but he’s also really good at telling it like it is. Really, really good. And in this presentation, where he gave his top three tips to bold leadership success, he didn’t pull any punches. In reverse order, his tips were:

  • Don’t Do Anything Stupid,
  • Focus, and
  • Kill the Left-Suckers.

And I couldn’t agree more! What’s a left-sucker you ask? It’s someone who can’t do his job, and pulls his manager away from doing what the manager is supposed to be doing to help the individual who can’t do his job. Why is this so bad? Isn’t that what managers are for? Well, managers are there to help, to teach, and to guide — but they’re not there to do their subordinates’ jobs. When managers are consistently pulled away from their jobs, they don’t get their work done and then their directors have to step in to pick up the slack. When the directors get consistently pulled away from their jobs, they don’t get their work done and then the (rest of the) C-Suite (in a smaller organization, where left-suckers can suck the life out of a company before you know it) has to pick up the slack. When the C-Suite has to pick up the slack, they aren’t getting their work done, and then the CEO gets pulled into fire-fighting on a daily basis — and instead of the CEO leading the C-Suite in setting strategic direction, and the firm in building the business, she’s bogged down in tactical execution while the company starts burning down around her.

As Jim says, a CEO should have three hours a day to do nothing but focus on the strategic. She needs to think about what the company is doing, what they should be doing in the short and long term, and how they are going to get there over the required time period to either reach the top or maintain their place on the top. If she’s consistently being pulled in half-a-dozen directions, that’s not going to happen. So you need to make sure that it does — by identifying, and eliminating, the source of the problem — the left-suckers!

If you can train them — great! If you can find them another role that they can do — that’s good too. But if you can’t train them, or find a role that they can do without constant supervision and hand-holding, or you just can’t make them happy, then you have no choice … you have to terminate them. Or they’ll terminate your company. (You can slowly phase them out, but they have to go. And the phasing starts the minute you identify there is no converting them.)

Bravo, Jim. Bravo!

The 10 Worst Innovation Mistakes In A Recession (Update and Repost)

30/10/2018 12:54 | Share

Are we in a recession? No.

Could we be in one real soon? Yes.

Regardless of what “the experts” tell you, two things are true.

  1. Trade Wars are BAD for the economy.
  2. Economic Alliance Breakdown (like Brexit) is BAD for the economy.

Both of these events can spark recessions, and are very statistically likely to at least spark localized recessions in some industries in some geographies. And while it’s hard to say which geographies and industries and to what extent due to the proliferance of alternative facts on even the major media outlets (which is what happens when you let party oriented moguls conglomerate holdings and reduce journalist headcount), it’s still not hard to say the risks are rapidly increasing.

It’s also not hard to say that, based on past behaviour, most organizations are bound to do the wrong thing when it starts. So, to this end, SI is reposting this classic piece from 2008 to remind you of what not to do if things get tight (which is based on a great piece on the 10 Worst Innovation Mistakes in a Recession that appeared in Business Week in January, 2008.

Moreover, making these mistakes creates a self-fulfilling prophecy that spirals you towards hardship.

  1. Fire Talent
    Talent is the single most important variable in innovation. And innovation is the single largest lever you have to increase productivity and decrease costs.
  2. Cut Back on Technology
    The rise of social networking and consumer power means that companies have to be part of a larger conversation with their customers. This requires technology. Furthermore, the best way to insure you are getting the best price is to tackle the right categories, as identified by spend analysis, with strategic sourcing decision optimization to make sure you are making the award with the lowest total cost of ownership. It’s also important to make sure that all of your invoices are submitted in an electronic format that can be automatically matched against contracted rates to make sure you are being overcharged. This requires leading-edge technology.
  3. Reduce Risk
    Innovation requires taking chances and dealing with failure. Although it’s important to control risk, trying to eliminate it entirely will just end up eliminating any chance for innovation at your company.
  4. Stop New Product Development
    This hurts companies when growth returns and they have fewer offerings in the marketplace to attract consumers. And with today’s rapid pace of technological change, you could even lose customers in a recession to a competitor who keeps innovating while you stand still.
  5. Replace a Growth-Oriented CEO with a Cost-Cutting CEO
    Most recessions only last two or three quarters and, these days, are relatively shallow. Penny-pinching CEOs don’t have the skills to grow when growth returns. Plus, a penny-pinching CEO is the most likely individual to fire your top talent.
  6. Retreat from Globalization
    Emerging markets are sources of new revenue, business models, and talent. And, like it or not, emerging economies like India and China are soon going to have more buyers for your product than the countries you’re currently selling to.
  7. Replace Innovation as Key Strategy
    … With Systems Management and Cost-Cutting. Once focus shifts away from innovation, it can be very hard to get the focus shifted back.
  8. Change Performance Metrics
    Shifting employee evaluations away from rewarding riskier new projects toward sustaining safer, older goals. This leads to risk-averse behavior and stifles innovation.
  9. Re-inforce Hierarchy over Collaboration
    A return to command-and-control management. This alienates creative-class employees, young Gen Y and X-ers, and stops the evolution of the corporation. In today’s world, companies that don’t evolve die – and they do it quickly. The average life-span of a Fortune 500 company is shrinking every year.
  10. Retreat into Moated Castles
    Cutting back on outside consultancies is seen as a quick way to save money. Yet, one of the key ways of introducing change into business culture is to bring in outside innovation and design consultants.

Remember that winners always emerge out of recessions and they always win on the basis of something new. If you don’t always have something new in your pocket, you’re not going to win. And if it is a recession, and you don’t have something brand spanking new to pull out of your pocket when the recession is over, you could literally be toast. Furthermore, even a recession provides growth opportunities. People still spend money. They still need to eat, maintain their homes, and their life-styles. The difference is that they don’t spend as much money and look considerably harder for the best deal. This means that they’re much more likely to waver on brand loyalty if you can provide them a better product on a better price – and this means that you can still grow by taking market share away from your competition.

So don’t make the innovation mistakes. If it is a recession, then whether you come out of it a winner or a loser is up to you.

Furthermore, if it is a recession, and your company supplies sourcing and procurement technology and services, then this should be a major growth period for you! After all, how else is your average blind-in-one-eye company going to save money? This means that not only do you have to make sure that you don’t make any of the top 10 innovation mistakes, but that you invest for a growth period because, if you play your cards right, it will be.

SolutionMaps – A Badge of Honour for All!

14/09/2018 00:33 | Share

Spend Matters recently saluted the value leaders — SolutionMaps Best Performers — in the recent release of Q3 Solution Map. But as the Consulting Lead Analyst for the majority of SPT, the doctor wants to make one thing clear. SolutionMaps are a badge of honour for all those that participate.

Solution Maps are not your typical tragic quadrant or grave reports, chronicling arbitrary notions of “market leadership”, “vision”, or “revenue giants” of days gone past, with fuzzy definitions of fuzzier metrics highly dependent upon analyst interpretation of both vendor capabilities and customer feedback, and fuzzier definitions of inclusion criteria that can change from report to report.

They are highly objective technical analysis of very specific technical requirements with pre-defined scoring scales that allows analysts to objectively rank all vendors on the same scale crossed with raw, unfiltered, unbiased, customer feedback where raw scores are averaged by vendor — and then all these cross-products are mapped against each other using the center point on each of the two dimensions as the average.

And when you consider that the technical scores can be composed of anywhere from 100 to close to 1000 data points (depending upon whether a vendor is doing a single map or the entire set of S2P maps), you can see this is a monumental effort. The capabilities associated with every question must be clearly documented (and this can take a paragraph or two per question), exhaustively demoed, and the details maintained over time … because the analysts verify each and every claim of significance. Each and every claim. (In fact, some vendors claim responding to one of our RFIs can be more intensive than responding to an RFI from a fortune 500.)

And considering that three of the RFIs were written by the doctor, and a fourth co-written by the doctor and the maverick, you can rest assured that these questions are not broad high-level capability requests but detailed technical requests that must be answered with precision.

So, yes, all vendors who appear in a SolutionMap quadrant — be they solution leaders, customer leaders, or value leaders — have earned a badge of honor, and you should feel free to hail them all.

Load more

}