December, 2013

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MA Announcements

Manufacturer of the Year

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2014 Manufacturer of the Year Awards. Consider nominating a supplier, customer, or your own company. Learn more here.



Wage Survey

Look for your invitation to participate in the

2014 Wage and Compensation survey

Did not receive one but would like to participate?

Contact Vickie Parks at vickiep@mfrall.com



2014 Spring Scholarship

Applications are now being accepted for the Spring 2014 Scholarship, sponsored by Patterson Thuente

This Scholarship offers training assistance to companies and their key employees who are interested in additional leadership or continuous improvement skills.

Deadline for applying is March 27, 2014.



LinkedIn

Connect with over 1,700 peers online through the Manufacturers Alliance LinkedIn group. Learn More



Leaders Alliance

If you want to look beyond your four walls for best practices and leverage the experience of your peers as your own, consider joining a Leaders Alliance peer group.



New and Renewing Companies

Thank you to the following members who joined or renewed your membership in the past 30 days!

SAGE Electrochromics
The Bernard Group
Japs-Olson Company
Industrial Door Co
HRExpertiseBP
Red Cat Manufacturing
Steve Stucky
Douglas Schanzenbach
Terry Rawlings
Cenveo
Banner Engineering Corp
Bilfinger Water Tech
Loram Maintenance of Way
Le Sueur Incorporated
Denarius Human Resources
Dynamic Sealing Tech
Fey Industries
Class C Components
Central Package and Display
Froehling Anderson
Platinum Group
Caribou Coffee Co
Top Tool Company
Spectrum Staffing
Dane Technologies
VEECO
All Flex Flexible Circuits
Zalk Steel and Supply
Stylmark
Minco
Bose Corporation ESG
Turck Inc
UMC Inc
Brookdale Plastics
Metro Mold & Design
Advance Corporation
JunoPacific Inc
Lexington Brainerd
Dalsin Industries
Water Works Mfg
TEAM Industries
Thermo King Corp.
Robinson Rubber
Plymouth Industries
MGS Machine Corp
Code Welding & Mfg
Ecolab Inc
Intek Plastics
Amesbury Group
Hearthside Food Solutions
Uponor
Upsher-Smith Labs
Graco Inc
Viking Drill & Tool
Starkey Hearing Technologies
The Toro Company
Tjernlund Products



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Article Index

3 Reasons You Need a Growth Leader
Article by: Scott Propp

The global financial crisis of 2008 shifted the business world in a fundamental way. No longer is it sufficient to have a stream of products or a portfolio of solutions.  To be effective and vibrant in this new world you need a portfolio of business models.  Business model engineering is done by a new breed of professional that I call the growth leader.


Book Review- The Checklist Manifesto- How to Get Things Right
Article by: David Haynes

“Anyone who understands systems will know immediately that optimizing parts is not a good route to system excellence.” – Donald Berwick. Optimizing parts. I'd guess that we've all spent a lot of time doing that. What choice did we have?


More in Store for Members in 2014
Article by: Kirby Sneen

Most of our 350-plus manufacturing member companies have had a prosperous and productive year. Typically, members experience a slowdown in November and December. However, due to pent-up demand and a push to consume remaining budgets, many are experiencing a large amount of new orders in the fourth quarter.


Ask The Hiring Expert column; December 2013
Article by: Marni Hockenberg

Dear Marni:  One of my goals for 2014 is to increase my networking activity. I’m currently employed as a senior leader in a manufacturing company, but confidentially looking for a new job.  I want to meet other people in manufacturing to ‘see what’s out there’. This year I had a few networking meetings but I didn’t think they went well and didn’t lead to any job opportunities.


MN Economic Outlook
Article by: Dr. Ernest Goss

For 12 straight months, Minnesota’s Business Conditions Index has moved above growth neutral. The index from a monthly survey of supply managers in the state advanced to a solid 55.7 from 55.2 in October.


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3 Reasons You Need a Growth Leader

The global financial crisis of 2008 shifted the business world in a fundamental way. No longer is it sufficient to have a stream of products or a portfolio of solutions.  To be effective and vibrant in this new world you need a portfolio of business models.  Business model engineering is done by a new breed of professional that I call the growth leader.

It turns out that while some business model work is done top down – most of it originates from an enlightened middle of the organization.  Who are these new franchise players and what do they do?  Short answer – they help you find and stay in the Growth Zone. These leaders are able to draw on experience and personality to guide the organization in ways that most top executives can’t.  What is it that these individuals have that others lack?

They See the Big Picture

Growth leaders usually have broad experience in their careers and seek it out early.  They tend to be people who like to drop into a functional area, master it and them move on to the next function. This is driven by a passion to learn and a hunger to understand how all the puzzle pieces fit together.

In my own case, I was a mechanical engineer in a company known for its electrical engineering expertise.  I had a graduate degree in materials and fracture mechanics, allowing me to think differently.  When I became a business director I was able to hold the deep technical needs of our customers next to the shifting economic needs of moving from vertical integration to an OEM model.

Growth leaders are insatiable learners and ultimately this will lead these individuals to interact with either customers or partners or both.  Spending time in the parts of the organization where economic commerce takes place is very valuable, and is one of the key pieces of experience to look for when evaluating whether to support someone as a growth leader.

Their cumulative experience allows them to understand the enterprise from top to bottom.  With support from their organization, they can have an understanding of the company and in much the same way that an air traffic controller can see both the movements of individual planes and the larger ebb and flow of air traffic.  Having this support and experience allows them to communicate empathetically with other organizations and customers, which in turn allows them to tease out the finer points and requirements of customer needs. They will also have a good set of starting-point questions to drill deep and know when someone is giving them a line of well-crafted fiction.

They Ask Big Picture Questions and Communicate Visually

Growth leaders lead visually – they sketch Business Model Canvases.  They draw ecosystems on white boards.  Instead of working with the status quo, they ask “what’s possible?”, envision the possibilities and work from there.  They invite collaboration and give the organization a clear picture.  They build the bicycle as they ride it.

Using metaphor to bring simplicity to a complex discussion is the hallmark of a growth leader.

When you get a meeting and someone totally resets the expectations by asking a grounded ‘what’s possible’ question – you may have just found a growth leader.  The same curiosity that takes the growth leader on a horizontal path to gain experience comes hand in hand with a tendency to ask questions that are significant and challenging.
Good leadership will see these questions as useful, both to shape the understanding of the person that is asking them and to provide pathways for improvement that may have not been apparent.
Some leaders find people that ask these questions to be challenging to lead and see them as disruptive.  The better approach is to recognize that positive dissonance is the energy that leads to change. If the questions being raised are missing some insight or lead to other hard questions – make those apparent.

They Build Coalitions

One of the other attributes of a growth leader is that they are natural coalition builders. They are constantly refining their mental operating model of the enterprise. By sharing their observations, opinions and questions, they build a cumulative set of relationships that can quickly form into a change coalition.  A growth leader will know where the best talent in the organization is, what the points of resistance to a given change will be, and how those individuals might be able to be persuaded to not only participate in, but advocate for a given change.

An example – when the economic recovery act money was released, the organization I was part of needed to quickly produce a solution that was oriented to the smart grid market.  I was tasked to pull together researchers, product engineering, systems engineering, marketing, sales & distribution into a high functioning unit to deliver products and solutions.  This charter was assembled and sold to management, the team was assembled and delivered its recommendations something like 100 days.  Ultimately, we built an effective solution that proved to be useful and profitable.

What’s the value of all this?

Simply said, effective growth leaders are valuable because:

  • They give voice and form to changes the organization needs to make to experience growth.
  • They are master communicators, and can quickly and concisely nail the customer need and the organizational response.
  • They use tools like narrative, business model maps and financial analysis to communicate changes to others in the language that makes the most sense.
  • They manage up well, and know how to engage a group of senior stakeholders as sponsors and air cover.
  • They build diverse, effective teams, held together by common objectives and understandings.
  • They build financial models that lead to large new profit pools.

A growth leader has perseverance and confidence to see the process through, a keen eye towards execution. They are conversant with Project Management, but their scope is significantly larger than a traditional product line extension – as they usually need to open the hood and rewire the business model.

Sound too good to be true?  It’s not. Evolving organizations who consistently reinvent themselves instead of blowing up have known how important this function is for years.  Now that we are facing a new economic reality, its time to find, nurture and cultivate this role once again.

What are your experiences with being or working with a growth leader?  What attributes or capabilities do you see as most important?

Scott Propp- a former Fortune 100 executive- helps mid-market executives to identify tangible opportunities for growth and coach their key executives to become growth leaders. Publishes articles twice monthly at ScottPropp.com and is offering our readers a complementary copy of the e-book, "The Growth Zone: Finding Opportunities Hidden in Plain Sight". You may reach him directly at 952-955-4551 or email him at scott@scottpropp.com

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Book Review- The Checklist Manifesto- How to Get Things Right

“Anyone who understands systems will know immediately that optimizing parts is not a good route to system excellence.” – Donald Berwick. Optimizing parts. I'd guess that we've all spent a lot of time doing that. What choice did we have?

The sum of all of those parts is too complicated to understand in a relational way and, in any case, we couldn't possibly change the entire system at once. Right? Chunk everything up into smaller parts and standardize inputs and outputs. My chunk is doing well, it's not my fault that Engineering and Order Entry can't get their acts together. (Although their opinions are a little different.)

Dr. Gawande's book is full of fascinating stories. It is one of his great strengths as a writer. In 'The Checklist Manifesto' he takes us inside operating rooms, on to the flight decks of commercial jets, into the project management office of a team building skyscrapers, as well as into a fine restaurant kitchen, and inside a World Health Organization team trying to reduce avoidable deaths from surgery.

What he discovered was that pilots have checklists, project managers have checklists, restaurants have checklists.  Turns out, even David Lee Roth has a checklist. Gawande decided that operating rooms should have checklists. And here the story gets even more interesting.

In Gawande's view, increasing complexity and the attendant occupational specialization has created tremendous opportunity to improve our world but has unexpectedly (at least to some of us) created new avenues for failure. A 'checklist', on the face of it, seems an unlikely hero in this battle against failure in complex and adaptive systems. Even the checklist Dr. Gawande's created based on his own research didn't completely reassure him: '…did I think the checklist would make much of a difference in my cases? No. In my cases? Please." But it did.

The checklists described in 'The Checklist Manifesto' are only one part of a larger worldview. All are built on a foundation of deep skill and experience, and depend upon a philosophy of collaboration and teamwork. Not just as a catchphrase but as a way of behaving and thinking. The fascinating story of US Airways Flight 1549's crash-landing in the Hudson River, as related by Gawande, shows how attached we are to the mythology of the single hero saving the day. As much as Captain Sullenberger tried to explain that the outcome was the result of teamwork and adherence to a procedure (a checklist), all we heard was "Quiet Hero is Captain America" (from the New York Post).

Still, all checklists are not created equal. Boeing's Daniel Boorman explains that bad checklists are vague and imprecise. They're too long and hard to use. In his words, "They turn people's brains off rather than turn them on."

Good checklists are precise and easy to use even in difficult situations. They are created by people with deep knowledge of the process and seek to identify the steps even the more skilled professionals could miss. It turns are that those steps are mostly the ones everyone takes for granted because they're so simple and routine. The really complicated parts of a process rely on skill and experience. A surgeon doesn't need a checklist to remove a tumor, but the team needs a checklist to confirm there's enough blood in the blood bank to deal with an unexpected outcome.

The biggest challenge to checklists, it turns out, is their simplicity. People simply refuse to believe that something that simple can impact a complicated process. As you read about how the best checklists are created, however, you see that the apparent simplicity comes from great effort and experience. The power of checklist is limited however. Checklists can't make anyone follow them.

This book may surprise you with the range of stories it tells. You may even decide that checklists really do help in some situations. Not in your situation, of course.

––––––––––––––––
Atul Gawande is an Indian American surgeon and journalist. He serves as a general and endocrine surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts and associate director of their Center for Surgery and Public Health. He is also an associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and an associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School. He has written extensively on medicine and public health for The New Yorker and Slate and is the author of the books 'Complications', 'Better', and 'The Checklist Manifesto'.

David Haynes- Owner of Lean4All LLC providing consulting services in influencing change: aligning strategy, IT, process improvement, and organizational communication. David may be reached at david@lean4all.com

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More in Store for Members in 2014

Most of our 350-plus manufacturing member companies have had a prosperous and productive year. Typically, members experience a slowdown in November and December. However, due to pent-up demand and a push to consume remaining budgets, many are experiencing a large amount of new orders in the fourth quarter.

I anticipate the demand will continue well into 2014 and ensure an ever-expanding economy.

In response to member feedback, the Manufacturers Alliance will continue to expand the benefits in all of our major value streams:

•Company Membership
•Training & Education
•Leaders Alliance Peer Groups

Manufacturers Alliance will better meet the needs of members with multiple facilities and out-of-metro locations by continuing to offer Educational Webinars in addition to our twin cities-based monthly Seminars. Members are encouraged to gather their entire team across plants. Additionally, we have expanded our Manufacturing Compensation and Benefits Survey to include the Food & Beverage industry category as well as several new positions. If you haven’t already received an invitation to participate in 2014, please let us know.

Our Workshops and Certifications have also expanded. The enhanced Supervision Fundamentals Certificate series teaches individuals how to manage conflict, understand communication style differences, and coach daily performance.  Individuals may register for the entire series or an individual workshop for targeted training needs. Additionally, look for our “new” practical and experiential Workshops to include:

•Supply Chain Negotiation Strategies
•Safety Success the Lean Way
•3P to Design Process Excellence

All workshops include tools and templates available online to attendees, to help you apply what you have learned without having to recreate hard copy handouts.

Lastly, due to capacity, our exclusive Leaders Alliance Executive peer group will split into two groups in 2014! This expansion will provide even more leaders with the resources necessary to effect in-depth improvements and growth.

As always, the Manufacturers Alliance will continue to inspire our members to continuously grow, improve, and stay competitive through our unique peer-to-peer approach of sharing education and resources. If you have any questions or want to learn more, please call our office or visit us online.

Kirby Sneen is the Vice President of the Manufacturers Alliance - an association of over 400 manufacturers in the greater Twin City area. This industrial association specializes in sharing education and resources peer-to-peer. Kirby may be reached at (763) 557-8007, kirbys@mfrall.com, or www.linkedin.com/in/kirbysneen/

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Ask The Hiring Expert column; December 2013

Dear Marni:  One of my goals for 2014 is to increase my networking activity. I’m currently employed as a senior leader in a manufacturing company, but confidentially looking for a new job.  I want to meet other people in manufacturing to ‘see what’s out there’. This year I had a few networking meetings but I didn’t think they went well and didn’t lead to any job opportunities.

There were times where I sent emails to request a networking meeting, but didn’t get any response back. I’m starting to get discouraged but I know that networking is important for advancing my career. What advice do you have for me?

Marni says:
Your question about effective networking is very timely because we are in the holiday season now. Business networking etiquette reminds me of the Christmas tradition of hanging a stocking over the fireplace. According to this tradition, children who behaved nicely during the year are rewarded with candy but naughty children only get lumps of coal. Santa is the judge of who was naughty or nice.  Kids can’t see Santa but he can see them! They have to be on their best (but not perfect) behavior to score the candy!

Can we apply this same concept toward business networking? When you think that no one is watching your behavior do you behave courteously toward others because it’s the right thing to do, or do you expect something in return? Is it a ‘tit for tat’ social arrangement where I do you a favor and you return it?  And if so, is that realistic?  As with some business etiquette, there isn’t a definitive answer. It depends on the personal expectations of the people who are networking together. A lot of it boils down to professional courtesy. One thing is certain – Santa isn’t watching your networking behavior but other people are. We can choose to be nice or naughty.  Candy or coal?

One never knows when a networking meeting might result in uncovering a new career opportunity or a chance to help someone achieve theirs. It may simply mean that you will meet an interesting person who you may never see or hear from again.  Your network IS your net worth and it works best when you act like Santa IS watching.   

Here are 6 networking tips to help you earn more candy than coal in your ‘networking stocking’:

  1. The ‘Reply’ button is an Outlook feature that is underused. When someone emails to request a networking meeting at least have the courtesy to respond.  Too many people are simply ignoring these requests. Politely decline if you are too busy or simply not interested.  A simple ‘Thanks but no thanks’ takes two seconds. This is doubly true if a third party has initiated the introduction and taken the time to make the referral.  Making time to meet is optimal, but not always realistic depending on your work schedule. No one is perfect and can respond 100% of the time, but try.

  2. Come prepared to your networking meeting with an agenda and a timeframe. Twenty to thirty minutes is respectful of the other person’s time. Remember that it’s a conversation and not a monologue. When you are an active listener and are genuinely interested in the other person it sets the tone for a productive and pleasant meeting.

  3. Effective networking is achieved when you come with the spirit of ‘giving’ and not ‘taking’.  Ask the other person how you can help them – giving feels so much better than receiving. Eventually your networking partner will want to know how they can help you.  Be prepared to tell them.

  4. If you are in job search and you meet with an employed person, acknowledge that their time has value and that they are being generous in giving it to you.  Let that person know when and where you land a job. If and when that person find themselves in job search and contacts you, return the favor and meet with them.

  5. Job seekers tend to seek out meetings with service professionals in industries such as Finance, Legal, Venture Capital, Executive Search, Benefits and Insurance. Generally these professionals are well networked and might provide golden referrals and/or valuable job search advice. When you land a job, that same professional might contact you to inquire if your new company has a need for their service. Have the courtesy to return the call even if your new company doesn’t have a current need. You never know when your company might be open to a new provider, and this is a nice way to ‘give back’ to the person who took the time to help you.

  6. Employed people need to network.  Job security these days is MIA. It’s best to develop and maintain your network when you don’t need it. If someone contacts you to request a meeting, go back and read tip #1.

On the whole, I’ve observed that business professionals in the Twin Cities are earning more candy than coal! Keep these tips in mind as you expand your net worth through your network in 2014. Happy Holidays!

Marni Hockenberg is Principal of Hockenberg Search, a Twin Cities search firm that specializes in managerial recruitment for Midwest manufacturing companies. Contact Marni at marni@hockenbergsearch.com; 952-500-9542; www.hockenbergsearch.com.

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MN Economic Outlook

For 12 straight months, Minnesota’s Business Conditions Index has moved above growth neutral. The index from a monthly survey of supply managers in the state advanced to a solid 55.7 from 55.2 in October.

Components of the index from the November survey were new orders at 64.9, production or sales at 55.6, delivery lead time at 56.8, inventories at 47.7, and employment at 53.7. “Stronger growth among durable goods manufacturers offset somewhat weaker conditions for nondurable goods producers, including food processors. Construction activity continues to expand although it remains well below pre-recession levels,” said Goss.

Dr. Ernest Goss of Creighton University, used the same methodology as The National Association of Purchasing Management to compile this information. An index number greater than 50 percent indicates an expansionary economy, and an index under 50 percent forecast a sluggish economy, for the next three to six months.

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