Lynn Shelton

Adapted Planning

The Weekly Report – July 13, 2020
Haarstad says the best long-term strategy right now, might be a highly focused consideration of short-term prospects.

Like any good chess player, most manufacturers will tell you that careful planning is vastly superior to playing a whack-a-mole against the unpredictabilities of the COVID-era economy. We’re seeing this first-hand with the increasing popularity of our business events, even as they are staged within Zoom technology.

A case in point: Manufacturers this week flocked to a digital presentation by Steve Haarstad, one of our strategic planning experts, who outlined how they might adapt their company strategies to meet the current marketplace.

His advice might surprise you. Like any good business strategist, Steve continues to emphasize the importance of answering key underlying questions. Who are we and why do we exist? Where are we now? Where would we like to be in the future? And how will we get there? Steve has used these questions to guide scores of successful manufacturers to plot their way to profitable three-to-five-year plans. But as companies continue to navigate markets shrouded in uncertainties, Steve now suggests that their optimal long-term strategy might consist of a highly focused appraisal of their short-term potential.

That short-term emphasis, he says, should obsess over the “Why do we exist?” question to help reduce or eliminate distractions, much as blinders keep a racehorse focused on the track ahead. “Remembering a purpose is quite powerful,” he told the workshop attendees. “We’ll stay on track. We’ll stay in our lane, and keep doing what we’re good at doing. We won’t get distracted.”

Other advice includes:

  • Talking through “what if” scenarios to broaden their perspectives and bring better definition to potential problems.
  • Another guiding principle, Steve said, is to narrow focus and narrow priorities. If the current business plan contains 10 priorities, maybe it should be winnowed down to five. Five? Maybe it should be three, he said. “It helps us ignore a lot of the other distractions that might be going on around us.”
  • Reframe your situation. “Look at it from another angle,” he said. “Identify your worst and best case scenario in a given situation. This can be really powerful because now we’ve put boundaries around it.”
  • Use data to provide clarity to uncertain situations.

He introduced a concept called “prospective hindsight,” a mental exercise in which executives imagine a future event, and then figuratively look back on that event with hindsight—”because hindsight is 2020”—and determine how they can change their perspective now to manage the right outcomes.

To view our upcoming manufacturing workshops, click here.

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Events Calendar

July 14 – Driving Continuous Improvement in Uncertain Times
David Ahlquist, a skillful continuous improvement expert, will show you how leveraging CI, particularly during COVID-19, can help you respond, adapt and emerge a stronger business. Online via Zoom.

July 23 – Investing in Your People to Create Leaders at All Levels
Abbey Hellickson, a seasoned talent and leadership expert, will show you how solid leaders create environments that can adapt to change, foster innovation and solve problems. Online via Zoom  Learn more and register

July 30 – Are Your Leaders On Board?
Join talent and leadership expert Michele Neale as she shares how to guide teams successfully through change, improve company culture and maximize productivity. Online via Zoom  Learn more and register

August 6 – Are Your Leaders On Board?
Can’t make it July 30? Join us August 6 for Michele Neale’s presentation on how to guide teams successfully through change, improve company culture and maximize productivity. Online via Zoom  Learn more and register

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Industry News

3M says it’s on track with N95 production goals
Maplewood-based 3M ramped up production of its N95 masks in March as demand spiked and are now on track with their production targets. July 12, Star Tribune  Read more

Factory jobs catch bounce from PPE manufacturing
At the national scale, as in Minnesota, manufacturers have started bringing workers back online, and some are retooling to meeting coronavirus-related demand. July 9,  Read more

MPCA opposes EPA on wood furnace rules
The state of Minnesota has taken a stand against an EPA proposal that would allow the continued sale of inefficient wood furnaces, saying it punishes manufacturers that have invested in the strict emissions standards. July 8, Timberjay  Read more

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