In my experience, the ability to anticipate is the mark of a great manager.

At the Epicor Insights 2013 Conference, some guy named Joe Montana helped me expand my idea about what “anticipation” means…

Ok. I admit that I do really know that Joe Montana was a professional football player. (U.S. Football)
Ok. I admit that I do really know that Joe Montana was a professional football player. (American Football)

Forgive me but I’m going to mention some professional football stuff here.

It’s a subject I know virtually nothing about.  (I’m from Cleveland, Ohio.) But I had the chance to listen to Joe Montana speak about perfection  and everyone around me was cheering and oohing and ahhhing so I took some photos and I took some good notes.

Joe Montana made the point that “How we prepare”-(how we show up)  has more to do with our success than our talent.

He convinced me to add ‘Preparation’ to ‘Anticipation’ as the sign of a great professional. That preparation and work ethic build trust.

Ok. You can stop rolling your eyes now. Pretty simple stuff. Pretty obvious. How come these famous guys always say these kinds of things?

Joe Montana’s  points for perfection

  • What can I do every day to make me better to make my team better? (I guess there really is an I in Team…)
  • Master the fundamentals. You can’t acheive perfection with out them.
  • Get the little details right. They will come back to help you.
  • Live your work ethic. Having a work ethic builds trust. there can be no success without trust.

I think that he has these right.

If we model a work ethic, we will not only build trust but lead by example.

Mastering our craft- all of it, not just the big ideas- of course that will make us better craftsmen.

His question “What can I do every day to make me better to make my team better?” is astonishingly close to the one I learned from a turnaround expert many years ago  “What can I do today to make my company the most money?”

I thought that these points from this winning football guy were certainly worth reflecting upon.

And ultimately worth sharing with you.

If we aren’t working on getting better every day?

If we don’t master the fundamentals?

If we don’t get the details right?

If we don’t live our work ethic?


The Catch.

“I get my data in Real Time.”

What does that sentence mean to you?

These days Real time doesn't mean "by end of shift."
These days “Real Time” doesn’t mean “by end of shift” or ” tomorrow morning.”

When I ran a small cold finished mill, (years ago) it meant that I knew which jobs were on which machines.

It meant that I could hear the crane bridging to the scale with bundles, and I knew at the end of the shift how much production I had.

The next morning  in the office the production would be checked against the mill orders that had been issued, and the production then entered into inventory.

That was real time.

So  that next morning my inside sales team would see that the finished material was now in the system, and start to put together a truckload to get it shipped if it was “hot.”

If traffic could get a truck scheduled, it would probably be arranged for the next  shift, when material would be loaded and shipped.

Real time meant, that without heroic  efforts,  production was at least 2 shifts to maybe 4 shifts and 2 calendar days minimum away from the customer.

On hot expedites, we could use a  “sneaker net” as the production cleared the scale to rush production in to traffic and maybe shave a day off this cycle.

What if there was a delay at the machine, a crane breakdown, or unplanned maintenance?

That’s why you didn’t call in the trucks before you had material, right?

At the recent Epicor Insights 2013 conference, I had several conversations with representatives from Epicor Mattec MES regarding real time process monitoring.

In their world real time means I (and everyone on my team that needs to know) knows what the status of every job on every machine is at that moment.

In other words, “Faster time to value.”

That means that they are not waiting for a shift or two to verify production availability and scheduling. They know status as they need it.

So the production can be applied immediately upon completion, and needed steps to get it shipped can be staged with minimal risk.

What is your definition of Real Time?

I thought that knowing it was in the pipeline and when I expected it to be done was Real Time.

Today, technology and smart systems can give you back those extra days of material limbo.

What does real time mean to you? How many hours away from out the door is your system on a normal basis? Worst case basis?

More importantly, what will your customers tell you is their idea of your “real time” capability?

(Epicor is a technical member of the Precision Machined Products Association, an active particpant on our IT committee, and an active supporter and participant of PMPA mamagement and technical conferences. I was invited to speak to their attendees on  “Understanding Social Media and Web Search for Manufacturers.”)