Imitation = Inspiration = Innovation

The hardest things about change is admitting you need it and where to start. But it doesn’t have to be THAT hard. You can cheat. You can see what others have done – what’s worked and what doesn’t – to blaze your own path.

For small and mid-sized manufacturers (SMMs) its especially difficult. I get that. You work in tight markets and have access to few resources. It’s tough for inspiration to find you – especially these days. And its even worse when an SMM imitates but doesn’t follow through – following a dance chart like this one will get you started, but it won’t make you Fred Astaire. You want to be Fred Astaire. And that takes commitment and building your own style.

Here are some resources that can take you over the hump, get you started and give you the inspiration to take your business to another level.

  • I’m a big fan of Evolving Excellence and its parent, Superfactory. EE – with its hard-hitting and knowledgeable takes on current trends in manufacturing – usually gets the most of my attention. But Superfactory contains an extraordinary collection of Lean and manufacturing management resources that will inspire you to drive innovation and improvement into your business. IF you take a minute and dig in:
  • 300 Virtual Factory Tours – This collection of YouTube videos takes you into virtually any type of manufacturing process and industry you can imagine. Transportation. Furniture. Aerospace. Clothing. Food. Musical Instruments. And each offer heap strong inspiration medicine for taking your business to a position of innovation and change.
  • 100’s of Lean Manufacturing Training Videos – IMO, the greatest “lie” perpetuated among SMMs about Lean Manufacturing – and marketing, for that matter – is that learning some terms and going through the motions will result in immediate results. FACT: Success in Lean only occurs when it’s tailored around your strengths, goals and strategies. This collection – presented by Superfactory and its partner Gemba Academy – closes the gaps between what you THINK Lean is and what it CAN do for you.

Why reinvent the wheel? There are hundreds of examples of excellence and profit here that you can embrace. They can set you on a journey of innovation that will make your business one that your customers can’t live without.

Check out these examples from Superfactory to get a flavor of what you’ll find:

AJ Sweatt
  1. AJ, this is a GREAT article! Thanks! but I want to nitpick a little (just a little 🙂 I don’t think it’s all that hard for inspiration to find a SMM biz owner (or manager) – they just have to WANT to give it access. There are so many excuses out there: “I work too many hours” “no time” “this is all bullsh*t – I’ve always done it ‘this’ way/whatever” and it’s that mindset, more than anything else that holds SMMs back. I believe that SMMs actually have an advantage over larger companies – we are more nimble (if we choose to be) and can usually set our own policy, etc. We are constantly competing with – and in many cases, winning – over larger or more hidebound companies because I refuse to accept ‘the norm’ – we make it happen for our customers. To be able to access skills like you mentioned is a necessity to KEEP us all nimble.

    So for those who say ‘no time/ I can’t/etc’ I say this: try taking just 30 minutes out of your day (for me it’s usually evening or early morning – I figure my business is worth a few minutes less sleep or TV time) and spend a few on the sites you’ve mentioned, as well as your competitors’ and suppliers’ sites. You really don’t have to reinvent the wheel – but you do have to know where the wheels are going!

  2. Anita, you may nitpick here all you want. Your perspective is appreciated, and it shows in your business. You and Bear do well because you “get it.” Anytime you want to share any of that, feel free. As for your advice (especially the 30 minutes), thanks. It’s good medicine. ;O)

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