Change for the Better

View From The Ridge: 47

March 11, 2016

Rod Daugherty

Vice President, Product Strategy

I am going to share a parallel from my personal life to help illustrate the idea of improvement. This is not one of those preachy articles about losing weight or lifestyle change. Today, I am sharing a story that I hope will be thought-provoking and helpful.

About a year ago, I came to the conclusion that I had to make some changes to my diet. I didn’t want to just “go on a diet.” I realized I actually needed to make some foundational changes to the way I thought about eating. I was starting to experience minor health issues that weren’t apparent to anyone other than my internist. The thing was, to other people, I seemed perfectly healthy and there was no apparent issue other than I could stand to lose a few pounds. I was not unhealthy, but I realized things were not going in the right direction.

Our business life is similar. We tend to be okay with the status quo. If we are being honest, few of us really like to contemplate change. For the most part, we are happy to go along doing the same routine each day without thinking about “why” we are doing it. We resist examining our work habits for the same reason we resist changing our personal lives. We are afraid of leaving behind what we think is comfortable.

The Motivation

In regard to my personal health situation, I wasn’t necessarily resistant to change. In fact for years, I truly thought I was doing the right things. I have always had an exercise routine.  I ate “healthy” foods. In fact, if I listed the things I quit eating because they were not right for me, you would be shocked – I know I was. Conventional wisdom says these are perfectly healthy foods. And for some people they probably are, just not for me. I thought I could “out-work” a little over-eating to still lose weight, and therefore I would be healthy. I was “checking the boxes” on the usual health checklist.

Thankfully, fate provided a gentle awakening and I knew I had to make some real changes. Once I realized I needed to change something, I was of course willing to take action. I recognized the consequences of not making a change and that was my motivation.

The same thing happens to us in our professional lives. We cruise along doing our daily work routine. We need to challenge ourselves to think about what we are doing and why we are doing it. How can we improve our processes? If you are an inventory planner, demand planner, replenishment buyer, you are presented with demand and inventory related exceptions that require your expert attention. When you are reviewing an exception, do you think about what caused the exception? Is there better planning that could be done on the front end to avoid this exception in the future? Can you better coordinate with sales, operations or others to gain foresight? Or do you summarily delete the exception and get on to the next task? As long as we are keeping things within acceptable parameters it is easy enough to get lulled into a state of complacency. This is exactly what happened to me from a health point of view. I could have seen the potential of problems coming, but I wasn’t paying attention.

The Mindset

Once I realized I had to make a change in eating lifestyle, I was fortunate to find a healthcare professional that credibly explained to me how our individual body chemistry requires certain types of nutrients. That sounds obvious, right?

All of us are bombarded in the popular media about diet fads. But I am like so many of you. I am an analyst, a planner and I admit, a skeptic. The important point that really made sense to me was that “healthy eating” is not the same for all people.

Armed with this new knowledge, I changed what I ate. I didn’t go on a diet in the conventional sense. I changed my lifestyle for good, and I’m not going back. I learned that I needed to eat certain foods and eliminate others. I changed my mindset about eating. But I also need to be pragmatic about it. I have found a better eating lifestyle that works, but I am not afraid to make adjustments as needed.

Since we are all involved with managing inventory investments, let’s relate this to improvement of the inventory investment.

Have the mindset of profitability and inventory efficiency

  1. Don’t just check the boxes on the daily task list.
  2. Think about how you can improve your planning process to achieve even better results.

It has to start with a desire to change. It is not a “program.” It is an evolution. My advice is to give this change thoughtful consideration in the course of your daily work. Don’t continue to blindly walk by a problem.

The Result

In my case, the real result is that I was able to get my health back to a good place. I am significantly healthier. The obvious physical result is that I lost 35 pounds since making this change. While that’s nice, it was not my motivation.

In our work environments, it is not that we need to make a seismic change. It is usually more of an evolutionary process of incremental changes that adds up to bigger improvement.

Live long and prosper.