Manufacturing Success with Business Acumen | Paradigm Learning

Manufacturing Success with Business Acumen

Posted by Lauren Keen on May 31, 2018

Often times, in terms of learning and development, plant managers can be a neglected group. There are typically only a couple at each plant and those plants can be spread throughout the country and even the world, which presents both a geographic barrier as well as a coverage one. If we fly the assistant plant managers and plant managers to a corporate office for training, who’s left running the plant? 

Some organizations don’t let geography or physical absence get in the way of developing plant managers. For example, a manufacturing client of ours brings all plant managers together once per month in an all-hands meeting. This year, they’re keeping them an extra day every other month for a total of 6 “development days.” On some occasions, they’re flying in the plant controllers as well.

We received a call late last year as our soon-to-be client, the Organizational Development Manager, was planning the development days for 2018. He was looking for a partner to help develop the business acumen of the plant managers AND the operations understanding of their controllers. Getting the plant managers, assistant plant managers, and controllers together to operate a simulated business together would open the discussion and encourage best practice sharing.

The business acumen development day was in May 2018. These plant leaders:

  • Purchased and ran a manufacturing business for 3 simulated years
  • Learned and discussed financial terms and metrics
  • Filled out basic financial statements
  • Met with investors, explaining the story behind the numbers
  • Analyzed their business model and how it relates to the simulated one
  • Learned how to manage the controllable spend at the plants
  • Executed strategic changes to the business, including changing the payment terms, increasing the investment in R&D, decreasing inventory levels, and paying down debt
  • Calculated how seemingly small changes to revenue and costs impact the bottom line
  • Discussed the impact of “chance events” in their day to day life
  • Made decisions around pricing, litigation, debt, and product/service mix 
  • Synthesized the learning in a custom scenario designed for their roles

Without a doubt, this was one of the quickest and most competitive groups we’ve ever had run the Zodiak simulation. We successfully moved the needle on both fronts: business acumen knowledge for the plant managers and operations understanding for the controllers. Not to mention the just as important networking, discussions, team building, and best practice sharing that took place.

This client is now going to offer this program to others in the organization, including sales, engineering, and others. They know you can’t successfully build the business acumen of the organization if you skip over the plants.

See what it takes to implement Effective Business Acumen Training in our eGuide.

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