Progress that Yields a Return

clear expectations investment leadership leadership culture management measurable results profit profitability profitability killers results return return on investment supervision Feb 23, 2023
measurable results

I often share stories from my first few years in manufacturing, explaining how terrifying it was back then for an engineer to hover over my shoulder with his stopwatch. I didn’t understand that he was capturing the cycle time of the machine I was operating and not necessarily timing me. I guess I was a little scarred from being a skinny kid with such a terrible time in the 40 yard dash the one year I was on the junior varsity football team in high school. By the way, do you know what position a 115 lb kid who runs a 5.4 sec 40 is good for? NONE!

In doing what was more of a machine capability study, which provided data to create reliable hourly production standards that could be used for budgeting and a host of other things in the manufacturing process, the engineer had the opportunity to see immediate changes in performance under different working conditions. They then took all of their data and created productivity standards that provided operators like me with a clear expectation of what I needed to achieve on an hourly or daily basis. Having such a visible way for measuring my progress made life pretty simple for me! I quickly learned that all I really needed to do to meet those expectations was stay at my workstation and keep my machine running. If I wanted to be an overachiever, and I usually do, I just had to add a little bit of hustle into the mix…

When it comes to addressing the profitability killers that so many organizations miss entirely, changing our focus and achieving quantifiable results will still require setting clear expectations but the way we measure progress will be very different - especially when we’re intent on showing real return on investment. And let’s be extremely honest with ourselves here, it ain’t an investment unless it produces a return!

Once we’ve provided our leaders with practical tools they can use to address each of the profitability killers that we’ll soon start digging through one-by-one, and we’ve challenged them to identify the specific behaviors they’ll apply as they put those tools to use, we’ll need to look for ways to measure their progress in sustaining those behaviors (because changing our habits and routines is never as simple as wishing it into being) and we’ll need to determine which signs help us (and them) show whether or not the actions they’re taking are having the impact they had hoped for. Even then though, the results won’t likely show up on the bottom line by the end of the first day, and maybe not the first month or first quarter, but the results will show up when we’re taking the right action and we’re tracking the impact that action has.

I’ve never been great at keeping the things I’m excited about as secrets. How I asked Cindy to marry me is as good an example of that as any… With that being the case, and me being so excited to start digging into how we can eliminate each of the profitability killers that impact so many organizations, I’m going to let one gigantic cat out of the bag right now before we touch a single specific area! LEADERSHIP IS THE SOLUTION!!! If you’re serious about capturing lost profit though, you cannot confuse leadership with managing processes or dictating orders with the threat of consequences. It’s so much more than that, but as you’ll see in each area we work through moving forward, this juice is always worth the squeeze!