Define. Measure. Manage.

Lachesis Articles

From the field - one step at a time

Over the past few months, we have worked with two high-performing clients who were trying to improve their financial results. Despite the fact that these clients operate in completely different industries and serve completely different customers, there are similarities in the difficulties we faced while helping these companies...

From the field - Practice Aiming!

The other day, I was hitting golf balls with a friend of mine. This friend played professional golf for a few years; as in he earned his living by competing against the best golfers in the US. As I watched him hit about 10 perfectly struck golf balls down range I noticed that the only thing to which he was paying attention was his aim. He methodically placed his feet so that they were perfectly aligned with his target line. He took time to ensure that his shoulders were in unison with his feet. He then carefully placed his hands on the club and spent several seconds making sure that his club face was in line with his feet and shoulders...

From the field - We can't find the data!

A core service we provide our clients is building managerial dashboards that are aligned with strategy so that executives can gain more visibility into the impact their strategic decisions are having on the organization. As we head down this path of discussion with our clients, one of the first statements we hear is "I can’t get to the data so the dashboards won’t help me". The not so funny thing about this statement is the underlying assumption that it is clearly known what data is needed to drive the business forward. We rarely hear somebody say "Let’s first figure out what data we need and then we can build the dashboards." Having a sound strategy is of little value if the organization is not measuring the right things. Everybody in the organization must understand what he or she should be doing and why it is important to the overall competitive advantage. Crucial to this is measuring and communicating performance around the key activities.

Renaisance Age of the SMB is Here

I believe we’re entering a renaissance age for the agile small to medium business (SMB). You know, those great $5M -$200M companies that are the backbone of local communities. Regional banks, manufacturing companies, fabrication shops, OEMs, and even the craft brewer and distillers to name a few. Why am I so bullish on SMBs now? Advances in information technology have shattered the barrier to entry to tools and markets that were previously only available to fortune 500 companies. You no longer need a billion-dollar revenue stream to support the overhead advanced collaboration, productivity, and analytics tools required. Office 365 puts collaboration and productivity tools in offices of any size located anywhere. Advanced machine learning techniques that just 5 years ago cost upwards of $500k to put into production are now available for just a few dollars a month thanks to inexpensive Cloud Computing. Mobile devices connect everyone to the office without costly VPNs. Honestly the list just keeps going.

Observations from the field: operations and strategy – aren't they the same?

Quite often, we are invited to sit with our clients to discuss and review their strategy. The discussion almost always ends up with them asking us how we can help them be more operationally efficient so that they can reduce costs and be more competitive. The discussion that is all too often missing, or even avoided, is what can they do differently from their competitors so that they gain a SUSTAINABLE advantage in the eyes of their customers. I often wonder why companies shy away from this part of the discussion and the only conclusion to which I can come is that it is avoided because it is too abstract. Cutting costs and driving efficiency is usually something that can be seen or touched. Reduce man hours, drive down prices from suppliers, outsource non-key functions, upgrade to more efficient machinery. All of this can be calculated. All of this can be done. And with all of this there is a more or less a direct cause and effect relationship that can be seen. If I reduce headcount, my costs will go down, which will enable me to slightly lower my prices which will make me more attractive to my customers.