Boeing and Manufacturer of Southwest’s Florida One

April 27, 2010

This is a wonderful video depicting the manufacturing of a Boeing 737 for Southwest Airlines:

I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did!

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting


Dave Gardner’s “Thank God It’s Monday” 26APR10

April 26, 2010

“Thank God It’s Monday” is to help companies thrive!

This week’s focus: business execution

Kaizen, a Japanese word for “improvement” or “change for the better,” is an approach for eliminating waste and improving business execution.

Kaizen is not a program or a project with a beginning, middle and an end—it is a never-ending quest to implement changes that ensure a company, a department or a function continues to improve.

How is your department eliminating waste and improving each month, quarter and year to ensure you thrive?

Thought for the week:

“There are precious few Einsteins among us. Most brilliance arises from ordinary people working together in extraordinary ways.”
Roger Von Oech


Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

© 2010 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

Best practices for selling and producing customized, configurable products

April 25, 2010

The best practices for selling and producing customized, configurable products are:

  • producing a customized product on demand,
  • for a specific, named customer,
  • based on the order attributes specified by the customer (or their representative) within an online tool offered for that express purpose,
  • after receipt of an actual order, and,
  • a customized product is produced with the same efficiency as one would expect from a non-customized (or mass-produced) product.

Most manufacturers of customized products produce them under sub-optimal business processes. We often find that the sales, dealer and customer side of the business are not well aligned with the back office creating tremendous inefficiencies, errors, rework and order delays. We work with clients on the front end of the process and, when indicated, on the back office processes as well.

The inefficiencies come with a considerable cost.  Industry experts estimate a customizer’s inefficiencies nominally cost 1.5-3.5% of gross revenues year after year and sometimes much more.

Many customizers experience low single-digit profits that they are constantly challenged to attain or even maintain as the cost of variety increases which further erodes profits.  There is nothing worse than working your tail off to make almost no profit quarter after quarter, year after year.

To realize enterprise-wide efficiencies, I have long advocated that manufacturers offering configurable products look at this business challenge holistically. I apply a holistic approach with my clients.

If you are a customizer, isn’t it time you implemented a solution that improves efficiency and profits and delights your customers as well?

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

© 2010 Gardner & Associates Consulting

Take your company to the next level–free resources

April 19, 2010

If you’re past the honeymoon stage in your business, you know that taking shortcuts have a nasty way of blowing up in your face.  Eventually.

BUT there are always a few people who seem to effortlessly zero in on the key points in any meeting, negotiation, management crises or opportunity.  They get more done, faster – both alone and through others.

Warren Buffett is an extreme example.  In 1991, his multi-billion dollar investment in Salomon Brothers was at the edge of disaster.  The government was *this close* to effectively shutting them down.

Buffett had to choose a new CEO, making what he considered the most important hire of his life.  And he did.   In 15 minutes.  He met the guy for 15 minutes and decided to hire him.  And it was a fantastic choice.

Astounding, no?

Was it luck?  No.  Nor was it a kind of reckless shortcut in which he “hoped” it would work out.

Buffett has systematically trained his mind to see subtle things in every day situations that almost everyone else misses.  He can “see the unseen.”

Not in a mystical way.  In a practical way.

The good news is that you and I can learn these skills.  Maybe not to the level of  Warren Buffett, but certainly to the level that you know in your heart you were meant to achieve.

My friend and colleague Dov Gordon has put together a free online video course for entrepreneurs and small business owners that teaches you just that.  It’s only available for another week or so and I recommend you go get it now.

The course is called “The Simple Secrets of Gordian-Knot Management.”

You get it in four parts:

Chapter 1:  ”How to Strike at the Root, While Everyone Hacks at the Leaves.”   This is short, just 14 minutes.  But it will change the way you think.  (Available now. No registration required.  Click here to be taken to the web page.)

Chapter 2:   “How to Win Your Customers’ Hearts – by Reading Their Minds.”  (Available now at the same link.  Free registration required because he usually sells this for $149.  Naturally, Dov protects it behind digital walls.  But this week you can walk in without paying.)

Chapter 3:  ”Time Alchemy.”  If you’ve ever had only “some” success with time management, it’s because you’ve never yet seen the big picture this clearly!  (Available in a few days.)

Chapter 4:  ”The Critical 10% of Management Skills that Make You Look Brilliant 90% of the Time.”  The 90-10 rule applied to management skills.  It’s much simpler when you can confidently focus on just a few things that give you leverage.  Real leverage.  (Coming soon.)

I don’t often promote other people’s material.  However, I’ve seen Dov’s work.  I’ve known him for a long time and have always been impressed with his clear thinking and unique ability to teach it to others.

And it won’t cost you anything.

WHY is Dov giving this all away for free this week and next?  Because he wants to introduce himself.  He knows that some will want to continue with him in a paid program.  If you do eventually buy something, I will probably earn a commission for having made the introduction.  But you’ll thank me for telling you about his free training long before that happens.

So do this:

1.  Go register for the $149 training while it’s still free:

2.  Watch your email so you know when chapters 3 and 4 will be released.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

Paradox of Choice is ludicrous

April 19, 2010

It’s one thing when a person writes a book and gets it all wrong but it is yet another thing when entrepreneurs believe the nonsense Barry Schwartz is promulgating merely because he is a psychologist and a college professor.

I just posted the following comment on a different blog:

From your post, you offer this observation:

“People only want a limited amount of choice. And that’s not to say consumer behavior won’t change in the future, but consumers are fairly intolerant of the paradox of choice, which basically states that choice brings us happiness but too much choice makes decision-making miserable.”

This is nothing other than pure, unadulterated B.S. The professor who wrote about the “Paradox of Choice” writes about being overwhelmed after walking into a retail outlet to “just buy a pair of jeans” and was “overwhelmed” about all the choices he could chose from.  He said it was so disturbing that he had to write a book to understand his reaction. Customizers need to throw a flag on the concept of “paradox of choice.”  This book is complete nonsense.  Just because a professor writes a book doesn’t make it so.  Customize on–give your customers what they want.

Barry–get a grip!  Less is not more–it is simply less.

Also, here are some best practices to consider to help your customers converge on a solution that best meets their needs.  If you are considering constraining choice from your customers, stop!  It may be that you need a configurator to guide customers through the variety available to them.  My firm helps companies with that.

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

© 2010 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Dave Gardner’s “Thank God It’s Monday” 19APR10

April 19, 2010

“Thank God It’s Monday” is to help companies thrive!

This week’s focus: business execution

Look at everything through the eyes of the customer; understand all customer experiences determine whether customers come back for more.

Using social media to identify customer satisfaction issues is good, but, only if you relentlessly follow up to resolve customer issues. If there is no closed-loop corrective action process, then the lesson you learn is of no benefit to your company or your customers.

Companies that thrive pro-actively head off issues before they create friction with customers.

Thought for the week:

Visionary leaders have a clear sense of their destination and exactly what things they need to accomplish to get there. They know intimately their high-yield activities, those that result in the progress they need to make to get to where they want to go. Anything else is a waste of their precious time and they disregard it. They know that the real secret of personal effectiveness is concentration of purpose.” Robin Sharma, “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” page 175


Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

© 2010 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

Best practices for the a la carte customer

April 18, 2010

If your company offers configurable products or services, what are the best practices for connecting with your customers?  Your company would:

  • Modularize your offerings in such a way that customer requirements can be derived from standardized modules (or components or capabilities) allowing for acquisition “a la carte.” This, of course, requires that there has been a “rationalization” effort to identify those essential options or value components that customers will require.
  • Maintain a listing—usually within a configurator—of standardized modules as well as any rules for combining the modules into fully-configured customer orders.
  • Provide a means to seamlessly share the same understanding about customer options across the enterprise (with customers, distributors, sales, order administration, and customer service).
  • Extend the capability to create personalized orders and explore quotation alternatives with the customers, distributors and channel partners (extended enterprise) via tools offered and supported for that purpose. This allows customers to conduct a “what if” analysis looking at different capability and pricing options.  [Note: Three things a customer really cares about are (1) what are my options, (2) how much is this set of options going to cost, and, (3) for manufacturers of products, how long will it take to produce it? Truly effective systems need to address all of these issues.]
  • View the likelihood that any two orders would be identical as a coincidence and set up the business accordingly, e.g., complete modularity—no bundles.
  • For product manufacturers, produce orders only after receipt of an order—no stocking of any finished products.

How does the business behave differently?

  • For product and service providers:
    • Orders are driven directly to Order Administration or Customer Service
    • Development, Product Management and/or Marketing is involved only when a new module is needed.
    • Product management makes determinations about “saleable” option combinations.
    • No people-dependency for expert knowledge about allowable option combinations.
  • For product manufacturers:
    • Engineering is not involved in the creation of a bill of material to support individual order configurations.
    • Engineering defines “allowable” product configurations based on technical feasibility, not marketing or sales policy. This is important. You do not want to change the logic behind allowable or permissible configurations every time the marketing or sales philosophy changes. To do otherwise creates constant rework and churn.
    • Engineering designs the product with product modularity in mind.

The attributes above demonstrate why offering configurable products and services must be approached as an enterprise-wide business strategy, not merely a departmental hurdle.  Efficiencies must flow across the entire enterprise. The mission is providing unique products and services tailored to the customer’s needs with the same or greater efficiency than is presently realizable.

The modularization of the offerings must not occur in a silo separate from the rest of the organization or the impact will be sacrificing speed and efficiencies to meet each customer’s requirements.  And, the inefficiencies, of course, undermine profits.

Customers at the high-end of the marketplace want products that are highly-personalized, unique and offer superior value. For example, there is a product configurator for the Bentley GTC Speed, a very high-end automobile is an excellent example of how a company has approached giving customers a lot of choice in how they want their $250,000 automobile configured.

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

© 2010 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved