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Smart Business Advice for 2013 Part 2

A recent magazine article appearing in Fast Company magazine ("Lessons For 2013." Fast Company Dec. 2012: 88+. Print.) gathers up bits of business advice from executives across many industries. I thought that much of the advice was too good not to pass it along to our readers.

Rewrite the rules, don’t just create more exceptions to them. – Jeffrey Hollender, Cofounder, Seventh Generation

In working with our clients, one of the things we frequently observe is that, when some action intended to improve productivity or profits produces unintended consequences, they are likely to create exceptions or countermeasures to offset the unintended effects of the original action, rather than rethinking from the beginning.

For example, if a firm has a long-standing (but, perhaps, unwritten) rule about always buying at the lowest price “in order to maximize profit,” if quality or delivery problems arise in the supply chain, executives and managers are more likely to create more rules dealing with “quality” or “delivery” than they are to thoroughly rethink whether buying at the lowest price actually produces maximized profits.

This kind of reactive management adds to complexity and dysfunction. It stems from not having a firm grasp on how the firm’s “system”—the entire customer-to-cash stream—really operates or what constraints actually keep the system from producing more profit.

Rethink expertise: It’s very easy to think that you are the expert on your own product. But in many ways, that’s a myth. The true experts are your customers. – Jamie Wong, CEO, Vayable

Besides, when looking at products (or services) from inside—from the producer’s perspective—we are far too focused on “the product” or “the service” itself. However, our customers’ perceptions of what we produce or do for them is very frequently far broader than our narrow focus.

Customers tend to consider the entire experience related to the product or service: What was the experience in finding the product? Buying the product? Using the product? How did the product make life better? What were the expectations in buying the product and how well were those expectations fulfilled? What were the intangibles (e.g., pride, safety, reliability, etc.) associated with the purchase of the product? How did these intangibles augment ownership of the product?

Assemble a dedicated team with a shared vision. Commitment to the vision trumps funding, technology, gold-plated degrees, and press. It remains our primary qualification. Everything else can be taught. – Marci Harris, CEO, Popvox

By the way, in my view, this applies almost as much to assembling your supply chain. Taking the time and investing the effort find key players in your supply chain who share a vision of success with you can make all the difference. It makes them—and your supply chain—more resilient and more agile than any supply chain held together only by contracts and purchase orders.

Here’s to making more money in 2013 than you did in 2012! We’re in it with you.

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