Finding YOUR Competitive Advantage
Just in case you hadn’t heard, we’re in a global economy. That’s not really a shocking headline. The rise of global trade has made it more and more difficult to stay competitive and maintain business growth. In a world where companies can ship their labor demand overseas for one-tenth the cost of labor in the U.S., we have to find ways to make our manufacturing companies ten times more efficient in order to maintain a competitive advantage.
Today’s business must stay adaptable. These five principles will help a company flourish in uncertain times.
We have to be ready to change. Fortunately, it’s a part of what has helped humans survive to this point. We’re the masters of it. We can no longer believe that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. If the old dog doesn’t learn a few new tricks, the young pup WILL get the bone. Experience has its advantages, and learning new strategies or techniques gives us additional tools, providing that edge we need to outperform our rivals.
This isn’t a superficial quality. Today’s millennials are bringing a very different perspective to their careers. When we started out, the dream might have been to start and finish our working lives with one company. Employees working in today’s economy are comfortable changing jobs about every 4 years.
In addition to other companies, we’re also competing with the freelance economy and lower costs of entry to start businesses. If we are going to hire the best, most talented employees available, we have to offer attractive perks in addition to the regular paycheck.
Innovation isn’t just what we create. It can also be how we create it. If we are going to be ten times more efficient than an overseas labor force, it’s going to require looking at our processes to see where we are wasting effort. If it’s manufacturing, are the parts of the process that aren’t actually doing work? Are there places where we can improve safety and have less loss time?
The same is true about using the automation tools available to us. Today’s digital resources can find correlative events that we might not have considered. Are we looking at a big enough picture to see where these events occur?
From strategy to tactics to operations, all three levels must be working in alignment with each other. It’s one of the areas where we can improve our efficiency, and it’s more than just issuing a company policy and insisting everyone adheres to it. We have to create buy-in from the manufacturing floor up for the alignment to work. That can be one of the most challenging tasks.
We have to have processes in place that allow us to be instantly aware of changes. Changes to the market, supply or demand, changes to our resources, changes to our key personnel. Look at the chain of events and find the pivotal moments. What can we put in place that will set off alarms when those moments are in jeopardy.
Look for trigger moments that will indicate that other things are sure to follow. It goes along with being innovative and looking for correlations. Finding one event that often leads to another can give a company a head start on coming up with a solution.
Business growth in a global and unpredictable world demands more leadership than ever from the C-suite. Keeping some simple principles in mind will help keep business growth on track for continued success.