As I write this, the effects of the Coronavirus are roiling the American economy in ways we have never experienced and taking us in directions no one can predict.

I heard a financial pundit on TV rely on the old adage, “The only certainty is that nothing is certain.”

I’m guessing that there are a lot of manufacturers who, like me, disagree with that statement.

For years, Minnesota manufacturers have grown adept at confronting and overcoming the wave of demographic and political challenges, sometimes even transforming them into opportunities. They’re identifying, recruiting and retaining a qualified and motivated workforce, even as the number of potential employees falls into sharp decline. They’re dealing with unpredictable volatility in international markets and worldwide supply chains. They’re using technological advances to bring unprecedented levels of efficiency to their operations, but not before understanding how that equipment can benefit every aspect of their companies.

In short, they know they have to plan their way to success. They’ve learned the importance of controlling factors that are within their control. They’re taking a holistic company-wide approach to managing their companies.

Manufacturers want to do more to figure out where the business is going and how best to get there. We attribute this self-awareness to one of the reasons for the explosive growth in attendance at our manufacturing workshops. A sharp increase in event registrations recently forced us to relocate an event to a larger venue all the way across town. And even that new facility was barely adequate.

Our consultants are contributing to this growing demand by showing manufacturers how to integrate HR policies, leadership development, lean practices, and ISO activities underneath one comprehensive strategic umbrella. Their presentation has become popular with any manufacturer who wants to learn the building blocks of business strategy or how to retool their business strategies to manage current challenges and take advantage of future growth opportunities.

Another trend we’re seeing is that manufacturers realize this kind of instruction brings value to more people than just company executives or top managers. Our workshops bring value to anyone who knows basic lean concepts or has experience implementing early steps in Value Stream Mapping, 5S, and Kaizen events.

The bottom line is that many manufacturers have expanded their strategic planning options to help prepare for any challenge that will come their way. And that preparation is an ongoing process.

Featured story in the Spring 2020 issue of Enterprise Minnesota magazine. 

Return to Spring 2020 magazine