Collaborative Partners Speed Go-to-Market

May 4, 2015


I attended the grand opening of Jabil’s new Silicon Valley Blue Sky Center. As CEO Mark Mondello offered,

“The Jabil Blue Sky Center is a hands-on showcase of our broad range of world-class capabilities. We’re working with customers who have innovative new product ideas and our Blue Sky Center is where we turn dreams and ideas into reality.”

Jabil has evolved tremendously from the company I knew in the 1990’s that made printed circuit board and cable assemblies as a sub-contract manufacturer.

Today, Jabil is a $20 billion company with 180,000 employees working in 90 different locations in 24 countries across the globe.

Jabil understands that it is important to engage with large clients during the ideation phase of new product development. Customers validated the critical relationship they enjoy with Jabil. One of their large customers said they do business with Jabil due to the Jabil culture. Jabil is more than a vendor–they are a partner in their customer’s success.

How important is it to have partners? A recent study commissioned by Jabil uncovered that 50% of new product ideas are abandoned due to the inability of a company to execute a new product strategy. This isn’t a noise-level problem. A partner like Jabil can help entrepreneurs and large companies alike develop, ramp and scale.

What are the critical trends that are driving today’s markets?

  • Personalization
  • Customization
  • Differentiation
  • Risk of customer satisfaction is in execution

The Blue Sky Center will enable current and future customers to explore and realize innovation across the full life cycle of new products. Of course, a big part of Jabil’s future is supporting the Internet of Things or IoT. The Blue Sky Center will enable companies to prototype new products and capabilities.

Is your company leaving money on the table by thinking you can’t do it all? Perhaps you can do more for your customers and yourself. You may be one partner away from seizing competitive advantage you heretofore could not imagine.

Thought for the week:

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
What do you think? I welcome your comments!

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

© 2015 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive! 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.


FAA Review of 787 Is An Illusion

January 15, 2013

Ray LaHood, the head of the U.S. Government’s Department of Transportation, declared the the Boeing 787 is safe to fly. Yet, in the same press event, LaHood announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will conduct a complete safety review of the 787 to reassess the electrical systems and production process/quality control. This action is unprecedented.


The FAA doesn’t have the expertise to lead or devise a definitive plan to execute this effort. Given the complexity of the plane and the task, it could take several years before a FAA reassessment plan could be designed and implemented unless Boeing is really going to lead this effort. I suspect the FAA will participate in a safety review but will not lead the effort as has been advanced.

Doesn’t Boeing have the most to gain or lose from the current problems being reported? Boeing must have an extreme sense of urgency to understand and initiate corrective action for any and all of the problems that have surfaced that represent potential threats to the airworthiness of the aircraft.

One can only imagine the setback a catastrophic failure of a 787 would represent for Boeing and the airline industry which is counting on this product to increase efficiencies airlines face serving a global marketplace.

A Japan Airlines 787 had to abort a trip from Boston to Japan due to a fuel leak in a fuel nozzle.  CNN reports that the plane was later flown back to Japan for a more thorough examination. Personally, I would have flown it to Boeing in Seattle or South Carolina for that examination rather than half-way around the world. But, that’s just me.

A final thought: I’m not sure I want Ray LaHood to be a cheerleader for Boeing and the airworthiness of the Boeing 787.  The effort to certify a plane is extensive and exhaustive–I wrote about it in Fast Company. The FAA has already invested some 200,000 hours in the original certification process. But, the sample size for certification is limited.  It is certainly reasonable that supply chain complexities and design or producibility issues will surface as production is ramped up. Realistically, though, the burden is on Boeing.  The FAA can provide oversight, but, let’s not kid ourselves: the oversight is limited.

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting


U.S. Manufacturing Grows for 33 Consecutive Months

May 1, 2012

Here’s some good news on May 1, 2012:

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — American manufacturing activity picked up in April, according to a report that showed the sector grew for the 33rd month in a row.

The Institute of Supply Management’s monthly index rose to 54.8 in April, from a 53.4 reading in March. Any reading above 50 indicates growth in the sector.

“This month’s increase is yet another sign that the U.S. manufacturing sector has been one of the most reliable sources of growth in the U.S. economy since the Great Recession ended,” said Alistair Bentley, an economist with TD Bank.

Manufacturing growth has created 120,000 jobs in the first 3 months of 2012. This is welcome news!

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting,


Viability of Offshore Manufacturing

April 2, 2011

Issue raised on LinkedIn:

I am working on my Research Project as a part of MBA Curriculum. Title of my research project is “DOES OFFSHORE MANUFACTURING STILL MAKE CENTS?” The purpose of this project is to research and document the continued viability of off-shore manufacturing to primarily Asian countries and evaluate if time has come to return back to the United States or North America. I have come up with some questions for my project. I would appreciate if anyone can comment on some of my below questions:

1. What are the real costs components of off-shore manufacturing?

Costs that are often missed are the engineering and administrative costs associated with supporting sub-contract manufacturers. Traditional cost accounting distorts cost and potential savings as significant non-manufacturing costs aren’t included in cost accounting metrics. What a company should really concern itself with is total cost associated with getting a product into and sustaining it in the marketplace. Activity-based costing is a better approach for looking at total cost and the performance of a product or product line.

2. As companies have moved their production off-shore, have they realized all the costs savings they expected? If not, why?

I submit this is a bit like the estimated mileage sticker on a new car–the savings is never quite as good as it appears to be after you’ve purchased.

3. Can United States become a manufacturing power house again?

The U.S. is a power house today in manufacturing! No need for doom and gloom. Not all manufacturing segments are moving off-shore. Those that have moved likely will not come back. There is greater growth potential for higher-end, personalized or customized products to begin to expand with the U.S.

4. How can companies keep their manufacturing operations at home and still compete with the competitors who absorb the overseas risks?

It depends on the segment as I’ve written above. Dell, for example, has moved a lot of manufacturing out of Round Rock, Texas, to other parts of the U.S. and the world. But, as I will write in a Fast Company article in a few weeks, Dell has not reduced its office footprint in Round Rock and actually continues to create more, higher-paying jobs for knowledge workers in Round Rock than it previously paid manufacturing employees. I recently interviewed the Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility, Trisa Thompson, about this and other issues. Dell has just announced that it is expanding in Silicon Valley, again with product development and knowledge workers. [Note: I am member of Dell’s Customer Advisory Panel, a position for which I receive no compensation.]

5. Do you think that government needs to provide some type of incentives to improve manufacturing competitiveness in North America and encourage companies to return manufacturing on-shore?

As we have seen with “green” industries, investors are loathe to invest in industries where the U.S. government offers incentives. The fear is that the market dries up when the incentives are pulled. So, we need to be careful about how the government participates. The U.S., state and local governments as well as foreign governments offer incentives to lure companies to create jobs in their area–this is routine and expected. This also allows companies to shelter profits outside the U.S. in many instances.

What do you think?

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

© 2011 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Dave Gardner’s “Thank God It’s Monday” 08NOV10

November 8, 2010

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

This week’s focus: configurable products and services

The reason most ordering environments for configurable products and services are so challenging is that they cannot easily accommodate “exceptions.”

Non-conformity to standard, e.g., “I want it just like this but…,” requires 10 people to put their heads together to figure out how to handle an exception that never should have been an exception in the first place.

Companies that provide configurable products and service must pre-define a relevant set of options and allow people to order within the parameters provided.

The more “a la carte” product and service providers can be, the happier their customers and employees will be ensuring the company thrives.

Thought for the week:

“Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.” -Unknown author


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.

Dave Gardner’s “Thank God It’s Monday” 16AUG10

August 16, 2010

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

This week’s focus: configurable products and services

A small business owner contacted me about needing a configurator system to handle his anticipated volume of business.  He wants to spend “as little as possible” to resolve his mission-critical challenge.

His business is about configuring, pricing and quoting configurable pump systems. His prospective dealers have told him that they might fail without an effective configurator tool.

The business owner has focused on the product design and product features, not the support system required to seamlessly drive the business from quote to cash.  In this instance, the support system is as important as the product itself.

Why are companies with configurable products reticent to invest in critical infrastructure so their businesses will scale?

A go-to-market strategy and budget must address critical infrastructure as well as the product or service. Businesses that thrive anticipate and address all challenges in their go-to-market strategies pro-actively.

Thought for the week:

“I’ve never made a secret of what gets me out of bed in the morning. It’s the challenge.  It’s the brand.” – Sir Richard Branson in Business Stripped Bare


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.

Ramping Up Your Factory during Economic Recovery

June 27, 2010

The June 20, 2010, Wall Street Journal offered a terrific insight into a rather daunting challenge facing business: “Factories Grapple with How Fast to Ramp Up.”

No one wants to commit dollars to inventory for which there may be no customer yet companies don’t want to get caught flat-footed and be unable to support their customers either.  While it may be difficult to increase inventory turns, you don’t want inventory turns to spin out of control.

Here is what many manufacturing companies are facing today:

  • After idling capacity, manufacturers are facing a significant challenge aligning supply with an unknown and unpredictable demand and, therefore, meeting customer commitments.
  • Companies have leaned and downsized to the point where they can’t respond in a heart-beat to unexpected demand without negatively impacting other customer relationships.
  • Tight supplies negatively impact end-product availability which shifts revenues to other producers or forces delay in revenue growth.
  • FedEx is seeing an increase in its overseas airfreight business to try to take time out of the supply chain.

This is quite a conundrum.  In light of these factors, what should manufacturers do?

  • Manufacturers need to align supply within what is considered by the marketplace to be a “competitive lead time.”  This metric is often not well-understood by the manufacturer or its customers.  The best practice is get alignment on and then do what you can to meet customer expectations.
  • Communicate closely with customers to align supply with demand.  There can’t be too much communication here.
  • Communicate closely with suppliers about your needs. There can’t be too much communication here.
  • Explore new sources of supply to back up your current suppliers.  Spread the wealth and spread your risk.
  • Look at the macroeconomics and consider if the actions you are taking or planning are prudent in light of other economic factors you are seeing.
  • Look for ways to change fixed cost into variable costs: outsource non-core functions.

Good luck!

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

© 2010 Dave Gardner