Are You Seeing 2020?
Without good vision, moving forward—in life, in business, or anywhere—can be difficult. Here are some ideas for creating a plan for the upcoming year.
Without corrective lenses, my vision is terrible. I’ve worn glasses or contacts since I was nine years old. My poor eyesight is one of my many flaws, but most of us who face this difficulty are fortunate that a practical and effective solution is available to help us see clearly.
While I’m definitely nearsighted, I try hard to not be shortsighted—that imperfection can be more difficult to fix. I know the importance of looking ahead and planning for the future. This behavior should be habit, incorporated into our routine. But as we head into the new year, it doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves to take a step back for a broader view of where we’re headed, both personally and professionally.
One of the most important keys to success is vision. How is yours? Will you be “seeing 20/20” in 2020? Here are some suggestions for creating a clear picture of what lies before you in order to stay ahead of the game.
Know the competition. If you know what other people or companies offer in your area of expertise, you’ll know what you need to be able to do to top them. Study them closely, from levels of growth to new capabilities, products and/or services they offer. Then find ways to be better.
Know the customers and give them what they need. Much of this knowledge comes from regular communication. Keep in touch with the customers to express an interest in how they are doing and to provide guidance on how they can do better. The most successful companies often know what their customers need before they do.
Set challenging, but attainable, measurable goals. Determine what it is, specifically, that will make this year a successful one for you, your job and/or your company. Create a plan that spells out how you can achieve these goals.
Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion. — Jack Welch
Try new things. Don’t be afraid to venture out with some different ideas. This could include a range of possibilities, including more involvement with trade associations, implementation of continuous improvement techniques, or even serving new markets. Be careful not to bite off more than you can chew, though; new ideas should be incorporated with careful planning.
Stay focused. While trying new things can be good for growth, knowing your strengths and continuing to capitalize on them demonstrates a certain level of expertise to your customers. It’s important to keep your eye on the prize, whether that’s higher profits, better productivity, improved quality or whatever other targets you set.
Be organized and take notes. Keep track of what is working well, and make sure you can repeat it without fail. Take notice of processes and events that were not successful, and determine why they went wrong and how they can be improved (if at all).
Taking a big-picture look at the year ahead is a good way to create the right mindset for success. It’s good to create a plan that can be referred to over the course of the year to help gage its success. When things seem to be heading off course or problems arise, regroup and come back for a review of the overall plan. Perhaps it will require some adjustments along the way, but at least you will have a point of reference and records from which to learn and on which to base changes.
Interestingly, this issue features some editorial about vision of a different kind. Inspection and measuring equipment includes tools and devices that are used to verify that a part’s dimensions conform to the tolerances required by the part’s design. Our feature article, “In-Process Testing in Automated Electronics Production,” looks at an automated plant that is using force sensors to ensure that the 3,000 electrical fuses that the company produces each hour meet the strict standards of the automotive industry. Our Last Word guest column explains how the continuing advancement of manufacturing processes requires shops to be attentive to their inspection and measurement needs.
We might also consider the kind of vision needed for lights-out manufacturing operations. “Getting Ready for Lights-Out Manufacturing” explains why shops should consider lights-out machining and discusses what shops should consider before implementing unattended machining, from helpful technology to potential challenges.
Applying lean manufacturing concepts, the Flexible Production method can help put a stop to production wastes, specifically for those who use transfer machines or machining centers.
When times are tough, the frequency and forms of communication we use can make a big difference in the effectiveness of our communications.
With a small amount of practice, it is possible to understand the underlying motivation of a cleaning standard and to figure out the specific aspects of the specification that are applicable to the customer.