1. Resolve to pay more attention to technology and industry news and view it with an open mind. The pace of innovation proceeds at an ever accelerating pace regardless of recessions, tsunamis or fiscal cliffs. These technologies WILL make a difference in your markets, probably sooner than you expect.
2. Don’t neglect the basic “blocking and tackling” that keeps your team in the game: solid inventory management and records accuracy, a disciplined sales and operations planning process, quality – do it right the first time, a Lean continuous improvement attitude.
3. Take another look at all outsourced processes. The trade-offs underlying make/buy decisions are constantly changing. What made sense a year or two ago may not be true today. And look beyond the immediate situation to how things might change in a year or two – or beyond. A significant issue for companies reevaluating past offshoring decisions is that domestic capabilities no longer exist for some kinds of manufacturing. This is an offshoring risk that is seldom considered in the trade-off analysis.
4. Build your farm team. It’s no secret that U.S. manufacturers are facing a dearth of talent across a wide range of manufacturing disciplines. Set up an apprenticeship and/or internship program at your plant. Work with local trade schools and community colleges to build curriculum and community outreach (marketing) programs to generate interest in manufacturing as a career.
5. Invest in yourself by taking a class, attending a conference or enrolling in a seminar or webinar. Not only will you learn something or give you something to think about but it will provide a visible record of accomplishment that will demonstrate your new capabilities to your employer.