Strategic Planning for Manufacturers
Posted by Michael S. on October 20, 2016 in Manufacturer Focus

During my three decades across many manufacturing industries and a wide variety of management positions, I have seen some really great strategic plans and initiatives succeed—but I have also seen some fail.


Merriam-Webster defines strategy as “a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal usually over a long period of time.” So how do these carefully made plans fail?


Let’s start with the why. Oftentimes, it isn’t that they were poorly planned strategic plans, but rather how the plans were rolled out or communicated to employees.


Depending on the size of your organization, you probably spend considerable time, resources, and efforts to come up with your strategies. You collect some of your top staff and may even invite some external subject matter experts (SMEs) or consultants. You might have your HR department put on a training session on how to play well as a team, and you will definitely have a brainstorming session at the end.


You do all of these things to make sure you will walk out of the meetings with a great strategic plan that will catapult your business to the top. Then, when it comes time to enact the plan, your employees don’t understand the plan, leaving you asking yourself, “Why?”


The answer to that question is simple. The most important part of a strategy is making sure everyone knows the strategy. If only the football coach knew the game plan and never told the players, the team would never succeed.


You sat in meetings, had experts and top staff looking at what needed to be done, identified obstacles as well as how much money to spend on what and when. You wrote it all up and handed it to your department managers. They passed it to supervisors and the supervisors communicated it to employees. And then, the employees failed to implement this fantastic strategic plan.


I believe it is not that they didn’t want to implement or make the plan work. It may be that by the time the plan hit the floor, it was totally diluted. The reasons for the strategies may have been lost or unclear.


So what can you do to ensure this doesn’t happen to you (again)?


Remember playing Capture the Flag as a child? You and your team stuck your heads together before the game started and planned a strategy. Everyone knew what to do and why.


Here at Acuity we do something very similar. We bring in SMEs, consultants, and business leaders to present to the executive team, managers, and other key players. We videotape all the presentations and discussions and set up schedules for all employees to see this information. Yes, all 1,200 employees—from mail room clerks to department managers.


This simple exercise allows everyone a chance to see the strategy and the tactics the company plans to take over the upcoming years. Getting the planning session out to all takes time and communication, but the payoff is worth the investment. Now, when you rollout your strategic plan, everyone within the company knows why you are doing what you are, making the implementation a whole lot easier. 

Michael S. is our Manufacturing guru
I have over 30 years experience in a broad range of manufacturing areas. Starting with an apprenticeship in Germany I’ve worked my way through a variety of positions within the manufacturing field. I got my start as a Tool and Die maker. I next became a supervisor of a class A tool room, then manager of a machining department. I was exposed to lean manufacturing in the mid 90s and adapted the lean philosophy. Loving and teaching the lean approach, I moved on to become a Continuous Improvement manager which led to a job as a manufacturing manager. I joined Acuity in 2015 as their manufacturing expert. I hope to evolve how manufacturers deal with and think about insurance companies, as well as be a resource to my fellow employees – enabling them to better understand the unique needs of manufacturers.

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