APICS 2009 Convention: Day 2

The conference really started today, with a general session featuring guest star speaker Jason Jennings, business thought leader and best-selling author. And quite a showman, we might add.

At first, we learned a few new jokes and found out who the most effective (and by “effective,” we mean “adaptable”)  companies in the world are (among them: IKEA, Staples, Koch, and Smuckers). You’ll notice that not all of them are among the most financially successful companies worldwide.

Jennings talked about the five discoveries he has made through research of more than 74,000 organizations worldwide about leadership traits found in the fastest, most innovative, best-performing, greatest places to work:

  • Discovery 1: People need a cause that can provide purpose and passion, and creates momentum and makes for productive cultures or settings.

  • Discovery 2: Successful organizations let go of the old and embrace new ideas, and technologies, and are able to deal with change proactively.

  • Discovery 3: Everyone knows the company strategy. NO secrets.

  • Discovery 4:  Everyone thinks and acts like the owners of the organization, so the individuals within the organization understand what value they bring to the overall organization and community.

  • Discovery 5:  Leaders are not superstars—they are stewards, who share information, are accessible, and try to make things better for customers, suppliers, and everyone else involved in the organization.

As for the educational sessions, we had the opportunity to see another interesting case study today, about a company that (I’m quoting the speaker here) “usually missed the ship date.” After yesterday’s case study (see previous blog), involving a company that reduced shortages by 86 percent (which means they were really doing badly before APICS training), we are really worried for companies not using APICS’s training and learning services.

Another aspect that seems to be general to any company, no matter what industry or business they’re in, is that people or employees are the main problem, but also the answer to the major issues which make a company inefficient. We hear so many stories about failed software implementations, selections of the wrong tool for a specific job, lack of vision, etc., but in the end people are the most important.

And, as Jason Jennings stated this morning, it’s about everyone in the company. They all should know what the company they work for does, where the business they are involved in is heading to, and what is the strategy their management has decided to use to make them all more efficient and productive.  

We know this all sounds good on paper, and that the real problem is how to put it into practice. There are books written on this topic and I’ll talk more about it in upcoming blog posts, but what you can do for now is go to the APICS Web site and see how the association helps companies work better and more efficiently.
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