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How Business Leaders Can Bring Stability and Hope In a Time Of Uncertainty

uncertainty

How Business Leaders Can Bring Stability and Hope In a Time Of Uncertainty

Many business leaders face extreme challenges during their career, but the coronavirus pandemic is uncharted waters for all.

Most offices and stores are closed across the U.S. to combat the spread of COVID-19. Companies still operating are mostly working remotely, and many are doing business differently to adjust to the new normal. As uncertainty continues to reign, how should leaders respond to new fiscal challenges and what guidelines should they follow?

“Companies around the world are reevaluating how they do business in order to overcome the challenge that we all face in this moment,” says Jadon Newman, CEO of Noble Capital (www.noblecapital.com), a private investment and private equity firm. “Times of crisis are when the best leaders step up, calm their workforce, believe in their capabilities, and go beyond the norm to influence changes that make a company stronger for the long haul.

“While the health and well-being of team members has to be leadership’s primary concern, it’s never been more important to find new and creative ways to meet revenue goals. Challenging times is when innovation is often born, and that starts with leaders who won’t be paralyzed by problems, but rather see them as opportunities to grow.”

Newman offers five tips to help business leaders navigate this unprecedented time:

Turn to your core values. A company’s core values act as a compass in stormy seas, Newman says, bringing some stability and helping maintain direction even while waves of uncertainty approach. “Your unchanging core values provide clarity amid the turbulence,” Newman says. “They serve as a framework to inform your decision-making process, especially during periods of uncertainty.”

Be strong and honest. “Leaders who are best prepared to get through a crisis have a good level of resiliency,” Newman says. “They have mental discipline, accept life’s insecurities and don’t panic when the storm hits. The next step is committing to transparency with employees. Share your thoughts, concerns, and encouragement, and reinforce the company values.”

Learn, invite new ideas, and adjust. A crisis causes leaders to re-evaluate processes and consider improvements tailored to a changing business climate. “It’s imperative to learn from the current crisis,” Newman says, “and from your data determine what your company can do differently in order to adjust. Embrace it as an exciting opportunity to innovate and be better. Solicit ideas from your most trusted people. Look at new services and products you could create. Everything from what you sell to how you deliver it might be on the table for change.”

Be extra resourceful. “One thing we learned during the last recession is how to be resourceful,” Newman says. “Now is the time to reorganize and refocus to achieve lean and efficient business operations. Develop a plan to reduce costs without interrupting critical business functions. Reach out to your network and external partners to leverage any resources you may have outside of the company. Empower all team members and leaders at your company to exercise a new level of responsibility.”

Increase, improve communication. “Communication with team members, clients and external partners is paramount,” Newman says. “And there’s no reason you can’t improve communication despite the current circumstances. Increase the use of the technology to stay in front of clients, including video conferencing, emails and even text messages when appropriate. Work with your business leadership to develop the appropriate communication plan for your business.”

“How a company overcomes major challenges determines what type of company they are,” Newman says. “As leaders step up and guide a company through, they develop deeper leadership capabilities that will last long beyond the current crisis. Likewise, their company will be stronger for it.”

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Jadon Newman is the founder and CEO of Noble Capital (www.noblecapital.com). With a 20-year career in real estate and finance, he specializes in private lending, private equity, investment real estate and strategic venture capital.

crisis

What Small Business Owners Can Do to Steer Their Way Through a Crisis

As the nation’s economy continues to struggle because of the impact of COVID-19, small business owners and their leadership skills are being put to the test.

They face the task of adapting to the crisis and helping their employees adapt as well. But just what steps can business leaders take to keep employee morale high, make sure the business stays afloat, and manage their own concerns about the future?

One of the most important things is to be transparent with employees about where the business stands, says Adam Witty, ForbesBooks co-author of Authority Marketing: Your Blueprint to Build Thought Leadership That Grows Business, Attracts Opportunity, and Makes Competition Irrelevant.

“Face the facts head-on and don’t try to sugarcoat it,” says Witty, the founder, and CEO of Advantage|ForbesBooks (www.advantagefamily.com). “Share with your team, in calm and rational terms, what impacts you expect the virus to have on your business and what the business is doing to try to mitigate those negative impacts.”

Witty suggests other steps business leaders need to take as they manage their way through the crisis:

Over-communicate. With remote work, communicating is more important now than ever. In an office, much of the communication happens naturally as people drop by each other’s offices or pass in the hallway. With everyone spread out, communication can easily fall by the wayside so it needs to be more intentional. Witty says it’s critical to use video communication like Zoom or Google Hangouts whenever possible to interact with employees. He also makes a point of sending at least three company-wide video messages a week. “In times of great uncertainty, communicate more not less,” he says. “In the absence of information, people tell themselves stories, and I can promise they are bad stories.”

Project calm. When a leader is anxious and fearful, everyone will pick up on that and they, too, will become anxious and fearful. “If your employees see that you are worried, they will begin to think it is all over,” Witty says. That doesn’t mean to fake it or to pretend the situation isn’t bad. “We can’t control the situation we find ourselves in,” he says. “But we can control how we react to the situation, and how we react will dictate our results.”

Consider introducing new products or services. Now is a good time to get innovative, Witty says, so brainstorm with your team about alternative ways to bring in revenue if your usual sources have been disrupted. For example, some restaurants that were strictly sit-down establishments pivoted to offer takeout and delivery. Witty’s own company created new publishing and marketing products aimed at potential clients who may be more cost-conscious during these tough economic times.

Finally, Witty says, have a plan.

“Hopefully, you already have a strategic plan for your business that you are executing week in and week out,” he says. “As we continue to move along through this crisis, that plan will need to be adjusted as COVID-19 makes some pieces of your plan obsolete.”

He suggests meeting weekly, if not more often, to keep updating the plan to reflect the new realities. Then communicate the plan and its latest adjustments to your team.

“When employees know the leaders have a plan,” Witty says, “it creates calm and confidence.”

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Adam Witty, co-author with Rusty Shelton of Authority Marketing: Your Blueprint to Build Thought Leadership That Grows Business, Attracts Opportunity, and Makes Competition Irrelevant, is the CEO of Advantage|ForbesBooks (www.advantagefamily.com). Witty started Advantage in 2005 in a spare bedroom of his home. The company helps busy professionals become the authority in their field through publishing and marketing. In 2016, Advantage launched a partnership with Forbes to create ForbesBooks, a business book publisher for top business leaders. Witty is the author of seven books, and is also a sought-after speaker, teacher and consultant on marketing and business growth techniques for entrepreneurs and authors. He has been featured in The Wall Street JournalInvestors Business Daily and USA Today, and has appeared on ABC and Fox.

corporate structure

How Consultants Can Help Companies Create a Sustainable Corporate Structure

At this point, you’re probably asking why corporate structure is so important. The answer is that a flexible structure is necessary to lead a global organization. This type of corporate structure is at the forefront of the knowledge base and has relative value in organizations throughout North America and the rest of the developed countries. When executives generate flexible corporate structures inspiring innovation and creativity, they will secure a foothold in an ever-changing hypercompetitive marketplace.

Corporate structure has been defined as a pattern by which organizations can divide their activities and tasks as well as control them to achieve higher degrees of coordination. [1] Corporate structure, therefore, refers to the bureaucratic division of labor accompanied by control and coordination between different tasks in order to develop communication within organizations. [2] [3]

Centralization and formalization are the most common structural aspects to examine corporate structure. [4] Thus, important milestones in corporate structure could include centralization and formalization, which inspire employees to take risk-related efforts and generate more innovative solutions. To examine centralization, executives should explore the degree of control and authority over decisions at hierarchical levels — that is, how much employees can undertake daily work operations without a supervisor and/or how much employees are encouraged to make their own decisions and/or how much employees need to refer to someone else when making decisions and/or how much employees need their superior’s approval before they do almost anything in their businesses.

Formalization, as another structural aspect, is operationally investigated through measuring the extent to which working relationships and decisions are assigned by formal language that represents official statements, policies, rules, and procedures — that is, how much rules and procedures are generally documented and/or how much relationships with our supervisors are on a formal or planned basis and/or how much employees can ignore the rules and reach informal agreements to handle some situations.

It is important for management consultants to understand that corporate structure can be reshaped by executives when they develop knowledge sharing and inspire employees to create new ideas for a better environment among business-units and departments. Two prominent scholars by the names of Sirkka Jarvenpaa and Sandy Staples maintain that the informal structure could facilitate new idea generation to build a more innovative climate within organizations. [5] Management consultants can particularly help executives to implement organizational changes that develop better collaboration among subordinates and managers.

Centralized versus decentralized decision making is also a topic that management consultants must deal with. Scholars found that more emphasis on formalized and mechanistic structures can negatively impact the executive’s ability to exert such changes. [6] On the contrary, a more decentralized and flexible structure may improve departmental and managerial interactions. The mechanical or centralization at the commanding level of leadership impairs the opportunity to develop relationships among managers, business units, and departments.

Management consultants should at least be aware that executives can reshape corporate structure to be more effective when the command center of organizations can disseminate information in a decentralized and organic way as opposed to the mechanical and centralized command center. Decentralized structures shift the power of decision-making to the lower levels and subsequently inspire organizational members to create new ideas and even implement them while centralized structures may negatively impact interdepartmental communications and inhibit knowledge exchange.

A recent empirical study conducted at Texas A&M University affirms that there is a negative impact of centralization on various knowledge management processes such as knowledge acquiring, creating, and sharing among both managers and departmental units. [7] On the contrary, a more decentralized and flexible structure may enable executives in improving departmental and managerial interactions that can lead to identifying best opportunities for investment that potentially leads to improve knowledge utilization processes for companies. Both management consultants and executives have acknowledged some form of relationship between corporate structure and the knowledge utilization process. Ergo, executives can positively contribute to knowledge management through building more decentralized structures within organizations.

The key take-away for management consultants is to facilitate knowledge management by developing a more flexible structure that is considered an essential source for developing relationships. Furthermore, scholars such as Brian Fugate, Theodore Stank and John Metzer have affirmed that knowledge management is a significant indicator of improving organizational performance. [8] Knowledge management can, in fact, improve organizational performance through increasing sales, customer satisfaction, learning opportunities, innovation and quality of products and services while still keeping the shareholder. With this view, executives to develop a flexible corporate structure that links knowledge management and firm performance together to serve the customer needs and become more profitable.

Therefore, if the corporate structure is not completely in favor of supporting knowledge management, executives cannot effectively manage organizational knowledge to improve performance and companies cannot be effective. Hence, the key kernel for management consultants is that corporate structure is a resource that enables organizations to solve problems and create value through improved performance and it is this point that will narrow the gaps of success and failure leading to more successful decision-making.

Moreover, flexible structures can directly impact leadership effectiveness. For example, leaders inspire followers to generate new solutions and a better environment. An empirical study by two prominent scholars by the names of Frank Walter and Heike Bruch in the University of St. Gallen provides evidence that a highly centralized structure has a negative impact on leadership practices, while decentralization positively contributes to executives in developing a more innovative climate. [9] These findings are enhanced by the crucial role of decentralized structures in facilitating the exchange of ideas and the implementation of more innovative solutions based on stipulating the power of decision-making at all levels of the organization.

Furthermore, highly formalized structures are more bureaucratic, and this negatively contributes to the effectiveness of leadership in changing the existing situations and creating a better environment.

In conclusion, management consultants are aware that organizational performance can be enhanced when executives reshape corporate structure to develop a more flexible corporate structure that provides open access to knowledge and information. Thus, this article suggests that flexible structures constitute the foundation of a supportive workplace to disseminate knowledge and subsequently enhance overall organizational performance. I also presented some very beneficial managerial implications for management consultants and industry leaders and simply extended the current literature by showing how management consultants can help executives to enhance leadership effectiveness by reshaping corporate structure.

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Mostafa Sayyadi works with senior business leaders to effectively develop innovation in companies and helps companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100—succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders. He is a business book author and a long-time contributor to business publications and his work has been featured in top-flight business publications.  

References 

[1] Bowditch, J.L., & Buono, A.F. (2000). A primer on organizational behavior, New York: John Wiley & Sons.

[2] Scott, W.R. (2003). Organizations: Rational, nature, and open systems, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

[3] Pounder, D.G. (1998). Restructuring schools for collaboration: Promises and pitfalls. New York: SUNY University Press.

[4] Lee, H., & Choi B. (2003). Knowledge management enablers, processes, and organizational performance: an integrative view and empirical examination. Journal of Management Information Systems, 20(1), 179-228.

[5] Jarvenpaa, S. L. & Staples, D. S. (2000). The use of collaborative electronic media for information sharing: An exploratory study of determinants. Strategic Information Systems, 9(2), 129-154.

[6] Jung, D., Wu, A. and Chow, C.W. (2008), Towards understanding the direct and indirect effects of CEOs' transformational leadership on firm innovation. The Leadership Quarterly, 19(5), 582-594.

[7] Zheng, W., Yang, B. & Mclean, G. N. (2010). Linking organizational culture, structure, strategy, and organizational effectiveness: Mediating role of knowledge management. Journal of Business Research, 63(7), 763-771.

[8] Fugate, B.S., Stank, T.P., & Mentzer, J.T. (2009). Linking improved knowledge management to operational and organizational performance. Journal of Operations Management, 27(3), 247-264.

[9] Walter, F. and Bruch, H. (2010). Structural impacts on the occurrence and effectiveness of transformational leadership: An empirical study at the organizational level of analysis. The Leadership Quarterly, 21(5), 765-782.

 

automation

Automation Won’t Destroy Trade – It Might Even Boost It

Alarm bells are ringing

Many industry observers are sounding alarms about the looming impact of automation, robots and 3D printing, which they fear will destroy jobsdisrupt value chains and maybe even reduce the need for international trade. Developing countries are particularly concerned because trade has been an avenue to economic development and growth for them. But a recent report released by the World Bank shows that the data and evidence don’t support the hype. Instead, automation, robots and 3D printing might actually increase trade as trade costs continue to fall.

Some business analysts have warned that automation and robots could disrupt and shorten global supply chains. The thinking behind the concern is that, if a computer can design it and a 3D printer can make it, then we won’t need to source it from countries abroad that have more abundant low-cost labor than we do. Instead, companies will drastically shorten their value chains, which could reduce international trade.

The anxieties have gotten the attention of development economists and developing countries. Trade and economic growth go hand-in-hand, both in economic theory and in practice. Multiple studies have shown that firms in developing countries that participate in global value chains outperform their local peers that solely focus on domestic markets. If robots eliminate the need for global value chains, this important avenue for economic development could be threatened.

Anxiety over automation may be overblown

Scare tactics about economic change are attractive because they get our attention. About 15 years ago, we saw headlines about “white collar outsourcing” (once attorneys were added to the list of jobs that could be moved offshore, the panic even spread into boardrooms). Some lawmakers called for restrictions on offshoring, and some of those calls are still alive today. But the mass exodus of white collar jobs did not occur.

The World Bank is a multilateral development agency that makes grants and loans to support capital projects and economic growth in the poorest countries. Anything that reduces the need for trade and global value chains would hit those developing countries hard, putting the automation concerns squarely on the World Bank’s radar.

In its annual World Development Report, the latest released on October 8, the World Bank does not take a definitive stance on the overall effects of automation, and it does not make any bold predictions. But it does make one thing clear: The anxiety over automation hindering trade is not supported by the data and evidence. In fact, the authors show that sectors with the largest increases in automation have also been those with the largest increases in trade. Yep, that’s right: We’re experiencing the opposite phenomenon to what so many are worried about.

Automation actually helping to expand trade

Specifically, the report shows that the percentage change in imports of parts from developing countries from 1995 to 2015 is higher in industries that are more automated. Agriculture and textiles are among the least-automated industries and have the smallest change. Metal, rubber and plastics, and automotive sectors have the highest rates of automation and the largest increases in trade.

Automation in industrial countries has boosted imports from developing countries

Why? Because automation, like robotic assembly and 3D printing, leads to an expansion in output and demand for material inputs. Automation can also lead to the creation of new tasks. So while it brings labor market adjustment pains — like technology and progress always do — automation will not necessarily reduce trade or shorten global value chains.

Meanwhile, investments in digital technologies continue to lower the costs of coordinating across long distances. These lower trade costs are expected to promote trade and lead to a continued expansion of global value chains, particularly for developing countries.

The big picture

Here’s the big picture: Change is the one thing in the economy you can count on. Improvements in how we make things and advanced production technologies are likely to continue, and workers and firms that adapt and embrace these changes are likely to outperform those that do not. But a wide-sweeping elimination of trade and global value chains due to automation and robots? Don’t believe the hype.

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The original version of this article was published in The Hill.

ChristineMcDaniel

Christine McDaniel a former senior economist with the White House Council of Economic Advisers and deputy assistant Treasury secretary for economic policy, is a senior research fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

This article also appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.

maker

The Maker Movement can Flourish Thanks to Trade

The Maker Movement

Life is pretty cushy. We long ago stopped having to make everything we need: forging tools, handcrafting shoes from hides and weaving textiles for clothing. Manufacturers eventually specialized where they had comparative advantage and produced at scale. Specialization led to more trade in goods and services. Today, anything we need can be obtained at the push of a computer button from almost anywhere in the world.

While much attention is being paid to the potential for new technologies to displace manufacturing workers, there’s an interesting phenomenon afoot. Bits and bytes are bringing us back to our “maker” roots by making information and technologies more accessible to everyone. The smallest inventors and producers can integrate into globally distributed production chains and sell into global markets. Basically, trade is providing us the luxury of producing again at a small scale, and it’s the art of inventing nimbly and producing small that just might help us stay globally competitive.

Re-Making our Workforce

“Makerspaces,” TechShops and FabLabs are popping up in cities all over the country and they are playing an increasingly vital role in education, workforce development, entrepreneurship and even revolutionizing advanced manufacturing.

Memberships give hobbyists, tinkerers, students and entrepreneurs alike access to tools, machines and materials to gain experience with 3D printing, CAD/CAM, electronics, robotics, plastics and composites, fabrication, welding, coding and programming, woodworking and more. Students and young workers can be exposed to industrial careers in a relatively low-cost, low-risk environment, picking up skills in weeks — not months and years. They can create portfolios to demonstrate competency in the skills employers require.

By partnering with local colleges and employers, training in Makerspaces can culminate in recognized and portable credentials that prove mastery of a specific skill or set of equipment, enabling companies to develop talent pipelines with less direct investment. Meanwhile, students are not just gaining experience working with materials and machines. They are also putting math and measurement into practice, reading blueprints, and using design software — the knowledge skills associated with modern manufacturing and foundational competencies for a wide variety of jobs that lie in between traditional “blue collar” and executive levels.

TradeVistas- Maker movement graphic

Small Batch Production

“Making” can create new pathways to working at established manufacturing companies, but it is also spawning a resurgence of custom fabricators who are positioned for small-batch or on-demand manufacturing. The current trend of “niche consumerism” is responding to demand for tailored products in small lots, even by the big brands.

Makers can iterate quickly in response to consumer feedback or engage in rapid prototyping to optimize product design. Makers can offer these services to larger firms or they can leverage the resources of Makerspaces to keep costs down and retain control during product development, iteration and initial production of their own invention. The difficulty of communicating well with manufacturers or visiting facilities in China is a common refrain for small entrepreneurs.

Reverse Engineering

Makers and Makerspaces are attracting the attention of major corporations. GE and National Instruments were among the first to emulate Makerspaces to support open innovation on their corporate campuses. Ford Motor Company worked with a company called TechShop to build a world-class Makerspace for Detroit, becoming the facility’s anchor tenant. Affording their engineers the opportunity to cross-pollinate with other inventors and have a freer hand in direct and more rapid prototyping, Ford says that within one year, the company doubled the number of patents the company produced.

Large companies recognize that good ideas can come from anywhere, from hobbyists to amateur scientists and roboticists. Some Makerspaces cater more to small designers and inventors, but others are more like modern-day Edison workshops hosting sophisticated “experiments” employing biotechnology, nanotechnology and additive manufacturing. As such, they have become ecosystems of innovation where individuals, small businesses and large corporations can come together to incubate and accelerate ideas in a decentralized and agile network — emulating the same set of activities and interactions that were once only housed inside the corporation.

Manufacturing Renaissance?

Putting compact versions of industrial tools in the hands of millions more people means that inventors can get a “minimum viable product” out in the world faster and at much lower cost. Small and growing manufacturers can take smaller bets on the market with lower volume commitments or put a wider variety of products out for testing consumer preferences.

Specialty manufacturers that can re-tool quickly are filling an increasingly important role offering “manufacturing-as-a-service.” The Maker Movement encourages innovation through co-creation and crowdsourced designs, rapid prototyping and experimentation with new production processes. Maker facilities enable micro-factories that can service orders from anywhere in the world. Some notable inventions in Makerspaces have even transformed commerce itself. For example, millions of small businesses now use Square to take payments.

Join the Movement

Makers aren’t likely to replace mass production anytime soon, but they are an important source for training the next generation of inventors and manufacturing workers. Makerspaces are poised to drive real economic benefits for cities that embrace and support them. For example, the Brooklyn Navy Yard brings together makers, artisans, and manufacturers. The more than 10,000 people working within the complex generate some $390 million in economic output, supporting an estimated $2 billion in indirect earnings and an additional 15,500 jobs in 2011. According to the Pratt Center for Community Development, it’s a model producing similar results from across the country from Chicago to Minden, Nevada.

The famed Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has supported a TechShop in Pittsburgh and provides membership for thousands of veterans. With funding from the Department of Labor, the AFL-CIO and Carnegie Mellon University partnered with TechShop Pittsburgh to create apprenticeship programs for workers and to encourage startups to manufacture locally. As Brooking’s Mark Muro has written, the Maker Movement is “a deeply American source of decentralized creativity for rebuilding America’s thinning manufacturing ecosystems…hacking the new industrial revolution one town at a time.”

#Thankstrade

Makers are able to access the materials and tools they need because of trade. Take the 3D printer, for example. The global market for 3D printers, plastics and related services have exploded in recent years. And perhaps one could even be so bold as to say that it’s the expansion of global trade that affords us the opportunity to rediscover and reinvent the art of “making” itself, which could in turn profoundly impact what we make and what we trade.

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Andrea Durkin is the Editor-in-Chief of TradeVistas and Founder of Sparkplug, LLC. Ms. Durkin previously served as a U.S. Government trade negotiator and has proudly taught international trade policy and negotiations for the last fourteen years as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s Master of Science in Foreign Service program.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.

business

4 Tips For Steering Your Business Through Tough Times

Good times come with this certainty: They never last.

For businesses, that means formidable challenges (a weak economy, new competition, a sea change in the marketplace) are always just around the corner, and unprepared business leaders face the potential for disaster.

“You don’t have the luxury of resting on your laurels,” says Alyssa Rapp (www.alyssarapp.com), CEO of Surgical Solutions and author of Leadership & Life Hacks: Insights from a Mom, Wife, Entrepreneur & Executive.

“You have to keep battling, innovating, out-innovating, and outworking your competition.”

She knows something about that. From 2005 to 2015, Rapp served as the founder and CEO of Bottlenotes Inc., charting a course for the company through the turbulent years of the Great Recession. During her time at Bottlenotes, Rapp was named one of Inc. Magazine’s “30 Under 30” coolest entrepreneurs in the U.S. Starting in 2015, she served as the managing partner at AJR Ventures, which advised privately-held companies and private equity firms on their digital-marketing strategies.

Rapp offers four tips for helping business leaders meet the toughest of times with a resolute attitude:

Acknowledge fear, and move through it. Fear gets a bad rap, but it’s there for a reason: to protect you from something. “Just like standing on a balance beam is scary because your life or limbs are at risk, so, too, is making business decisions that carry huge risks,” says Rapp, a former competitive gymnast who knows something about balance beams. Your job is to acknowledge the fear – to take note of its presence – and then push through it. “Fear is a normal human response,” she says. “The trick is in not letting it dominate your psyche.”

Commit to finishing what you start. You have to commit before you even begin. “If you start anything knowing you probably won’t succeed, then you won’t,” Rapp says. “You’re setting yourself up for failure. You must show up with full commitment, having faith, true grit, and belief in yourself.”

Know that all great ideas start with ‘what if.’ Never be afraid to ask what if, over and over, until you find a solution, Rapp says. She points out that most of the best entrepreneurial innovation in the United States over the past 20 years has been born out of Silicon Valley, precisely because of the constant willingness to ask and re-ask this simple question. “Some people’s responses to challenges or obstacles are to stop asking questions,” Rapp says. “If you want to solve a problem, you have to open yourself up to the possibility that change is inevitable, and reframing the problem will present an otherwise undiscovered solution.”

Remember that you have to be present to win. You can’t win a race if you’re not competing. “So before you do anything else – before you commit to finishing what you start, before you acknowledge your fear and move through it – you have to show up,” Rapp says. “Remember that saying that 80 percent of success is showing up? There’s truth to that because showing up matters.”

It’s inevitable that, regardless of how well you think you’ve planned, life will throw you curveballs, Rapp says.

“They will come at you in every area, every industry, every walk of life,” she says. “I’ve faced them as a mom, wife, entrepreneur, executive, friend – you name it. But I don’t run from them. I’ve learned to apply my brother’s advice: ‘The only way out is through.’ The truth is, I love curveballs because each one comes with a question: What are you going to do about it?”

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Alyssa Rapp (www.alyssarapp.com), author of Leadership & Life Hacks: Insights from a Mom, Wife, Entrepreneur & Executive, has been CEO of Surgical Solutions since 2018. Previously, from 2015 to 2017, she advised startups and private equity-backed companies through AJR Ventures. Prior to that, Rapp ran an e-commerce business called Bottlenotes. She has been named one of Crain’s Chicago’s “Notable Women in Health Care.” Rapp also teaches at Stanford Business School and has recently been named Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago’s Booth Business School.

Global Trade Magazine Opens Nominations for the 7th Annual “Americas 50 Leading 3PLs”

Global Trade Magazine has officially kicked-off its seventh annual “America’s Top 50 Leading 3PLs” nominations process, with the 2019 list scheduled to go live in the September/October issue. This year will feature the most competitive movers and shakers transforming domestic and international logistics by raising the bar higher while exceeding client expectations and maintaining an exemplary company profile and reputation.

Companies leading initiatives in specific industries will have the opportunity to showcase their expertise among a variety of categories including E-commerce/Omni-Channel, Temperature-Controlled, Innovation, Hazmat, Retail, and much more. Following last year’s focus on “needs-based” categories, the 2019 feature will spotlight specialty industries with the highest demand.

“It’s a measure of the quickly growing/changing/evolving global marketplace that arguably the most critical industry serving it, Third Party Logistic Providers (3PLs), continues to grow, change and evolve at a dizzying pace,” explained former senior editor Steve Lowery in the issue’s introduction.

“That evolution has been chronicled over the years in this, our annual Top 3PL issue, as we have written about such things as an increasing emphasis and reliance on technology, the constant march toward transparency and, most recently, the increasing pace of acquisitions and consolidations.”

Global Trade Magazine will determine the final 50 nominations based on industry reputation, outstanding operational excellence, game-changing initiatives, disruptive technology, and unmatched levels of innovation. This list not only showcases leading players, but also serves as a comprehensive list for manufacturers seeking new partnerships and opportunities.

“It is easy to say that one must move faster, deliver services quicker, be more innovative and have an organizational agility to flex with the world, but it takes something quite different to lead the cultural transformation that is required to make these goals a reality,” said Rich Bolte, CEO of BDP.

“Leadership will have to change as well. Leaders will be measured by their ability to innovate and create potential disruptions. The old paradigm of measuring only performance and execution has changed.”

Nominations are currently open and will be accepted through August 15 at 5 p.m. CST.

To see a complete list of recipients, please visit www.globaltrademag.com and view the current issue.         

How Innovation is Changing the Pace for Industry Players

Westerville, Ohio-based DHL Supply Chain, a leader in contract logistics in the Americas and a part of the Bonn, Germany-based Deutsche Post DHL Group, issued a report that found 65 percent of responding companies believe technology is having a significant impact on their supply chain.
That begs the question: Who are the other 35 percent? Because keeping up with technology is critical for just about any business these days, but most especially for those that rely on supply chains, which are tasked with moving everything from retail products and industrial equipment to perishable foods and critical medicines.

Essentially, we are at a point in the 3PL industry where companies must decide whether they are going to continue being the equivalent of hotels, taxis and encyclopedias or Airbnb, Uber and Google. The future is not now, we are already blazing in the fast lane.

DHL was already leveraging emerging technologies at 85 of its 430 North American facilities in November, when the 3PL announced it was making another $300 million technology investment to create the next generation supply chain. The goal now is to have emerging technologies deployed in 350 of DHL’s North American facilities and transportation control towers.
These technologies are going to vary by customer needs, based on the outcomes of research and pilot programs completed by DHL’s internal innovation teams and collaboration with dozens of external innovators. But it is already being played out in the acceleration of robotics, augmented reality, robotics process automation, IoT and DHL’s proprietary end-to-end visibility solution MySupplyChain.

“This investment is about a holistic view of emerging technologies that enables our customers to achieve their growth and profitability goals,” said DHL Supply Chain North America CEO Scott Sureddin in the announcement. “Our customers’ needs are not homogenous as each business and segment has unique challenges and levels of maturity. Therefore, it is important that our customers can benefit from our experiences and expertise with a variety of emerging technologies.”

This summer, DHL’s 24,000-square-foot Americas Innovation Center is scheduled to open just outside Chicago, where technologies and innovations the business is already implementing across the region will be exhibited. And the 3PL began 2019 by implementing innovative processes to improve the hiring and retention of warehouse workers across its network. That rapidly paid off in the form of 445 daily applications and nearly 32,000 fewer hours spent on administrative hiring tasks.

“Our customers rely on us to provide talent that consistently meets their needs; and to accomplish that, we apply the same level of operational excellence to talent acquisition and retention as we do in developing supply chain solutions for our customers,” says Tim Sprosty, senior vice president of Human Resources at DHL Supply Chain. “Using a combination of innovative thinking and disciplined execution to attract and retain the people our business depends on is resulting in significant benefits.”
Profound (and rapid) change is indeed a result of innovation. What follows are just some of the developments you should be paying attention to lest you get left behind with the supply chain equivalents of stale mints under your pillows, sticky cab seats and out-of-date World Books.

DB Schenker and IAM Robotics’ Warehouse of the Future

Last fall brought the announcement that DB Schenker Americas, which is headquartered in Miami, Florida, and serves this side of the globe for Essen, Germany-based logistics solutions and supply-chain management giant DB Schenker, and IAM Robotics of Sewickley, Pennsylvania, are pooling together their respective expertise to develop the “warehouse of the future.”

DB Schenker Americas is utilizing IAM’s mobile, piece-picking robotic technology because, as the companies’ reps will tell you, the modern-day supply chain does a lot more than move products from one place to the next. Automation is key to meeting customer demands for flexibility, visibility, and transparency.

MHI, the nation’s largest material handling, logistics and supply chain association, as well as the presenter of the ProMat and MODEX expos, reports that 34 percent of companies are looking to robotics and automation to improve overall supply chain efficiencies by handling previously manual tasks such as picking, sorting, inspecting, storing, handling and classifying products. Within five years, MHI expects robotics and automation adoption to rise to 53 percent.

“This expected rise in adoption suggests that firms recognize robotics and automation as integral tools to maintain and increase competitive advantage through NextGen supply chains,” the MHI report states. “As automation becomes smarter, safer, and more accurate, it is also becoming less expensive and easier to implement—helping to drive adoption.”
Which brings us to the DB Schenker-IAM Robotics smart warehouse. “This is a true collaboration in the sense that DB Schenker knows the logistics industry inside and out, and IAM Robotics has an incredible depth of technological knowledge and innovation,” says John Stikes, DB Schenker America’s director of Innovation and e-commerce. “By bringing these two powerful forces together, we can challenge one another and come up with solutions that literally take warehousing to the next level.”

A warehouse of the future or “smart factory” concept folds nicely into Industry 4.0, which is the current trend of using automation and data exchange (i.e., the Internet of Things, cloud computing, cognitive computing, etc.) in manufacturing technologies.

“In the warehouse, fully-automated applications will be the key to sustainability and competitiveness in the new marketplace,” Stikes says. “Through automation, companies can achieve compelling economic advantages while alleviating their labor issues, and then redeploy that labor to more thought-involved processes and gain enhanced flexibility in their operations.”

Schneider and Trucker Tools’ Load Track and Smart Capacity Software

Schneider generated $4.4 billion in revenues in 2017 and is routinely named among the best third-party logistics companies in the United States. But success can bring headaches, and the Green Bay, Wisconsin-based company’s brain trust was chomping aspirins over the need to support its growing network of carriers and freight brokerage operations, which just happen to be among the nation’s largest.

What’s a mighty 3PL to do? Look to another third party, which is what Schneider’s Transportation Management division did when it latched onto Trucker Tools. Specifically, Schneider adopted the Reston, Virginia-based company’s load tracking, carrier engagement, capacity visibility and predictive freight-matching software.

“We are growing our capabilities with Trucker Tools to deliver a better experience for carriers and easier access to the high-quality loads they expect from Schneider,” beams Erin Van Zeeland, Schneider’s senior vice president and general manager of Logistics Services.

As Schneider moves loads and interacts with thousands of carriers daily that include small trucking fleets and owner-operators in North America, the 3PL is incorporating Load Track and Smart Capacity, two of Trucker Tools’ principal, cloud-based software applications. “With Load Track, our carriers have an easy-to-use platform for delivering quality information on the progress and status of loads in transit as well as visibility to available loads,” says Van Zeeland. “This allows us to more efficiently connect the right loads with the right carriers while enhancing the visibility shippers want.”

Meanwhile, the Smart Capacity platform provides brokers with predictive freight-matching tools and real-time, trusted visibility into when and where trucks are available. Schneider is also leveraging Trucker Tools’ mobile driver app, which can be accessed by the expanding network of small carriers and micro-operators. Indeed, Van Zeeland concedes the app was “a big selling point” because of its popularity with small and micro-carriers, who appreciate having at their fingertips “a variety of useful driver-centric tools, information and resources.”

The mobile app, which has been downloaded by more than 500,000 truck drivers, allows the Load Track feature to use a smartphone’s GPS software to continually update and deliver precise location data, which is sent from the driver’s device to the broker over Trucker Tools’ confidential, secure network.

BNSF Logistics and Blume Global’s Digital Supply Chain Platform

BNSF Logistics, a multi-modal, 3PL services provider specializing in the movement of freight around the globe, obviously figures even bigger is even better. So to fuel a major worldwide expansion, the 3PL recently adopted Blume Global’s digital supply chain platform.

Pleasanton, California-based Blume Global, which was formerly known as REZ-1, is a high-growth company with a 24-year history of delivering innovation in the global supply chain ecosystem. Its digital supply chain solutions now help BNSF Logistics—a subsidiary of Burlington Northern Santa Fe, LLC, a Berkshire Hathaway company—optimize the intermodal transport services it offers to customers across the globe.

Specifically, Blume Global has tightly integrated BNSF Logistics’ distributed supply chain—collecting and analyzing data to optimize every touchpoint between the 3PL, its logistics providers and its customers. This data-driven approach includes powerful end-to-end global visibility for cargo and containers around the world, across every mode and provider, down to the last mile.

BNSF Logistics is also tapping into Blume’s vast global network of more than 4,200 motor carriers for its customers and using Blume Finance to streamline the entire freight audit and pay process across its network of suppliers.

“Blume Global is a critical digital supply chain platform that will allow us to deliver an exceptional logistics experience to our customers while driving aggressive global expansion goals,” says Dan Curtis, the BNSF Logistics president. “For our customers, Blume’s capabilities enhance our ability to manage our customers’ complex supply chains. This addition will help take us to the next level, arming us with critical real-time information and powerful, data-driven capabilities to measure and optimize our entire process while maximizing efficiency, as well as leveraging Blume’s comprehensive network of motor carriers.”

“BNSF Logistics has moved cargo across the country and around the world for years,” notes Blume Global’s CEO Pervinder Johar. “As they continue to extend their capabilities into new markets, geographies and modes, Blume Global is dedicated to helping BNSF Logistics deliver excellent, consistent logistics experiences for its customers. Blume’s capabilities will power BNSF Logistics’ data-driven approach to integrate, measure and ultimately optimize every interaction within its customers’ supply chains.”

Blume Global’s track record obviously stood out for BNSF Logistics (which does, after all, know a thing or three about tracks). Among Blume’s other happy clients are Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern Corp. Blume, which unveiled its name change from REZ-1 during last September’s IANA Intermodal Expo in Long Beach, announced in January that it is now being listed as a Representative Vendor in Gartner’s “Market Guide for Real-Time Visibility Providers.”

USPS and Tive Inc.’s Return-By-Mail Tracker

Tive Inc., a leading provider of in-transit supply chain tracking solutions, has partnered with the U.S. Postal Service on a return-by-mail tracker that enables seamless return logistics for shipments within the 50 states. The new capability significantly simplifies return logistics for manufacturers and shippers that rely on Tive’s tracker and software solution to maintain end-to-end visibility into their in-transit goods, boasts the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company.

“With our new return-by mail tracker, we have significantly accelerated tracker reuse and reduced the complexity of return logistics for our customers,” says Tive CEO and founder Krenar Komoni. “As Tive works with more and more companies to bring a new level of visibility to their supply chains, we are committed to making it as easy as possible for our customers to use our solution and integrate our trackers and software into their existing operations.”

Tive provides a sensor and software solution that allows supply chain managers to track and analyze the location and condition of their shipments in real time. The company’s proprietary low-power multi-sensor tracker uses cellular connectivity to provide real-time monitoring and analysis of the location, climate and integrity of shipments. Supply chain managers access this data and analysis through the Tive software platform, where they can set up custom alerts like ETA warnings, temperature deviations or geofences. They can also use the Tive API to pull data into external SCM, TMS or ERP systems and gather insights into their supply chain.

Tive’s newly developed return-by-mail tracker can be placed directly in any postal box in the U.S. without the need for any special labeling or packaging. This means that trackers can be placed with shipments going anywhere in the country, and the recipient can just collect the trackers and put them in any standard mailbox to get them back to Tive or the origin address. The tracker comes with a sturdy mailing sleeve that has been approved for use by the Postal Service.

Meanwhile, Tive is pursuing a similar service with international postal services that would enable companies to take advantage of global return logistics at limited additional cost.

Movin’On Summit Spotlights GM’s “Zero, Zero, Zero” Vision

General Motors continues efforts in fulfilling its vision of a world where crashes, congestion, and emissions are no longer a part of the daily commute, from passengers to businesses. As a proud Michelin partner, General Motors pushes the limits when addressing transportation concerns that other companies have accepted as a norm.

Following the highly anticipated reveal of the Michelin Uptis Prototype at this year’s Movin’On Summit, GM’s Senior Vice President of Global Purchasing & Supply Chain, Steve Kiefer, shared a glimpse of what’s to come for transportation and how automation is transforming the way consumers approach the daily commute.

“At General Motors we have a vision of a world with zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion,” Kiefer said. “It’s really a vision not just of GM, but a vision for our industry and our world and sustainable planet. I’m extremely proud of the position that General Motors has taken with the “Zero, Zero, Zero” vision. I’d like to comment on just a few of the elements of it.”



GM’s Senior Vice President of Global Purchasing & Supply Chain, Steve Kiefer, shared a glimpse of what’s to come for transportation.

Through GM’s “Zero, Zero, Zero” vision, transportation is transformed from every aspect including safety and reliability, to sustainable innovation and affordability. By tackling the biggest issues in transportation, GM creates solutions for major issues impacting the economy and overall safety for all drivers.

Zero Crashes

“First of all: zero crashes. We have been working with our partner – Cruise Automation, and have developed four different generations of autonomous vehicles that are committed to autonomous, person-free driving. As most of you may know, 94 percent of the crashes in the world are due to driver error. We believe autonomous vehicles will eliminate crashes in the future.”

And it doesn’t stop there. Keifer announced General Motors will soon boast an entire fleet of electric vehicles ranging from passenger cars, SUVs, and full-size pickup trucks. This vision has already taken shape in the form of the battery-only Bolt EV offering competitive pricing and outlasting ranges of other EVs.

Zero Emissions

“The second thing is zero emissions, and first let me talk about the beautiful Bolt EV. This is really the first of General Motors’ vehicles that really achieve an affordable, long-range vehicle. This vehicle has a range of 238 miles, an incredible amount of cargo space, and a 0-60 time in six and a half seconds. We often say it’s not just the “great electric vehicle” because it’s a great vehicle. This is part of our commitment to an all-electric future.”

Time is of the essence and GM tackles the issue head-on by adding it to their vision for the future. Time is something that simply cannot be bought back, so GM wants to provide a way to re-purpose the hours wasted due to congestion.

Zero Congestion

“Last thing I will comment on is zero congestion. Our goal is really to give our customers their time back. An interesting survey that revealed U.S. drivers sit idly in traffic an average of one full week per year during their commute. That’s 168 hours of precious time and a cost of over $3 billion a year when you break it down. Part of our solution will be to provide hassle-free access to transportation through mobility choices such as Lyft and Uber,” he concluded.

To read more about what General Motors and Michelin are doing to support sustainable transportation, please visit: GM.com

Michelin Unveils Mobility Breakthrough at Movin’On Summit

Day one of this year’s Movin’On Summit kicked-off bright and early Tuesday in beautiful Montréal offering a vast array of networking brain dates, working sessions, and press conferences revealing upcoming innovations and transportation game-changers. Among the most exciting press conferences would be the early afternoon session hosted by Michelin’s very own Executive Vice President of Research & Development, Eric Vinesse, Chief Executive Officer for Michelin Group, Florent Menegaux, and Steve Kiefer, Senior Vice President, Global Purchasing & Supply Chain General Motors.

The Michelin UPTIS – an airless wheel assembly, was introduced during the highly anticipated press conference revealing a new kind of innovation to impact passenger models sector as early as 2024, following a joint research agreement between Michelin and General Motors validating the prototype.

“Today, I’m especially pleased to introduce our latest breakthrough in mobility, supporting the first of the four pillars, a prototype – Michelin Uptis,” Vinesse said as he unveiled the airless, puncture-proof tire. “Together with our partner General Motors we have the ambition to make this prototype available for users and owners of passenger vehicles as early as 2024.”

“It brings less stress and more peace of mind knowing there’s no longer the risk of finding yourself stranded on the side of the road because of a flat tire. It brings greater efficiency and productivity for fleet and commercial vehicles that will no longer have to plan for maintenance operations to check and adjust… or to fix a flat tire,” he added.

The Uptis Prototype directly supports Michelin’s goal of holding true to its four-pillar vision in creating airless, connected, 3D printable, and completely sustainable innovative solutions. Currently, more than 200 million tires are discarded or replaced due to air pressure issues, road hazards, and damages. Uptis not only changes the way transportation is approached, but directly impacts the environment by eliminating wasted materials.

“General Motors is excited about the possibilities that Uptis presents, and we are thrilled to collaborate with Michelin on this breakthrough technology,” said Steve Kiefer, senior vice president, global purchasing & supply chain, General Motors. “Uptis is an ideal fit for propelling the automotive industry into the future and a great example of how our customers benefit when we collaborate and innovate with our supplier partners.”

“The Uptis Prototype demonstrates Michelin’s capacity for innovation — in both the mastery of these high-tech materials, and also the development approach in close collaboration with GM, which validates our Vision concept as a roadmap for innovation,” added Vinesse. “Uptis represents progress toward Michelin’s vision for tomorrow’s mobility, and also embodies our commitment to a better, sustainable mobility for all.”

Source: Michelin