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Posts Tagged ‘operational performance’

In Pursuit of “Relentless Progression”…

June 11th, 2012 Comments off

     One of the more interesting aspects of working in a senior Finance role is the opportunity to delve into all operational areas of the company since it’s the sum of the parts that ultimately contribute to achieving revenue and income goals.  In my continued pursuit of improving financial and operational performance, I’m constantly reading and talking with my peers. One of my recent “reads” (code for cd books for my commute…) was the full unabridged version of the Steve Jobs biography.  One word…Fantastic. While the book certainly brought to light the extreme abrasiveness of Jobs, it also highlighted his extremely detailed and disciplined approach to business. There is no way that this biography can be legitimately summarized in a single blog entry, which is why I’ll likely be back to visit this book in future postings.

     It’s easy enough to focus on some of the more obvious elements that drove Jobs in his daily regiment such as the relentless focus on continual product innovation and the pursuit of simplification. Ultimately, these two traits resulted in the development of advanced, superior, and elegant products. However, it’s the elements of personnel and departmental management that struck the most significant chord with me.

     While my own teams are no stranger to accountability, Jobs took this word to an entirely new level. Jobs was beyond militant in his assertion of responsibility and accountability….in fact, relentless. Jobs set the goals, defined the teams, and drove the teams like a mule train. If you were on Jobs’ team and were not delivering on his extreme expectations then you were likely out. Jobs was clear about the end goal and the date that goal was to be delivered. Ambiguity was not a word in his vocabulary or execution.

     It’s known that one of my favorite phrases at the office is Relentless Progression (RP). After finishing Job’s biography, I feel as though he was operating at RP x 10. Jobs drove his extreme version of Relentless Progression by employing only the highest level of talent. Jobs was not an individual who hired B-talent. Apple was not built on anything less than hiring A-talent….at least as long as Steve Jobs was in control. In fact, the discipline displayed by Jobs extended beyond Apple to every other project he worked on, employees he hired, as well as the vendors he chose to collaborate with.

     The question here is what choices are you making daily in your operational execution? Are you making the right hires that will ultimately deliver your expected revenue and income levels? Are you making the right vendor selections that will deliver on your product, quality, and delivery needs? It’s that pursuit of Relentless Progress that keeps me motivated…

Thanks for reading…

Jeffrey Ishmael

Projects: Sales & Operations Planning

August 12th, 2008 Comments off

During a career we can look back & recall projects that shaped our experience level and positioned us better to take on new challenges presented in our career. Some of those projects also involve pulling together such a large group of folks that it simply eclipses any “projects” you might have encountered during your B-school stint. For myself, one of these projects was the Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP) implementation that was started during our integration with APC. This was a project that was kicked off with a North American meeting that pulled together approximately 40 key individuals throughout NAM and was introduced by the company President. There were also other global kick-off meetings that happened in the other regions. This was a major corporate effort.

As the company moved farther into the implementation process, it became clear that there were going to be some major challenges to effectively integrate our two entities and leverage our operational resources. However, in the short-term, there were a number of issues to address. At a consolidated level, there were a number of potential concerns in this $6.5b merger. Primarily:
1. The potential for declining customer service levels.
2. Inaccurate sales forecasts.
3. Declining product margins.
4. Rising inventory levels.
5. Misaligned performance metrics.

Any one of the potential areas of risk listed above had the ability to materially effect our results and compound an already difficult integration process. As we kicked off the meeting, this was a process that many were not familiar with and there were only a few that had gone through a similar situation with previous employers. The meeting was focused on covering some key areas such as:
1. Why were we implementing S&OP? What are some the signs that would signal such an effort?
2. Conduct and overview of S&OP and the efforts we should anticipate would be necessary.
3. We needed to review the common terminology that would be utilized globally in this effort.
4. We need to review the necessary roles & responsibilities for this effort and individuals assigned.
5. What was the anticipated timeline?

It’s pretty apparent from just this topline synopsis that this is not a multi-week project. This was a project that was anticipated to take the better part of a year to complete and fully implement. This was a project that was going to involve just about every functional area in the organization and had an equally opportunistic ability to improve our financial results and improve our working capital performance. I do plan on covering the elements of this implementation in more detail in further postings. If you have participated in an S&OP implementation I’d love to hear from you…

Thanks for reading . . . .