Does Innovation Make You Uncomfortable?

From the blog Innovate on Purpose, the author argues that managers who are programmed to be process and control oriented do not embrace innovation due to it’s uncertain outcomes. Interesting analogies, including the comment that companies who focus on cutting 5% from their bottom line every year will cut themselves out of business in 15 years. Check out the article here.

KCMN Social Media Recap

Social Media- It’s no Longer Just About a Feel-Good Message
KCMN’s January meeting featured three speakers who shared their insights on both the social media landscape, as well as providing practical suggestions for how other manufacturers can utilize social media themselves.

Doug Richard, of RH & Associates discussed social business, which is the use of social networks, like Linked In and Facebook, combined with social media, which are content sites such as YouTube. He suggested that if you Google yourself and you don’t have a presence on the first page, you are missing the opportunity to connect to your customers. Today’s web presence mandate is that you are both discoverable, and credible instead of just maintaining a ‘feel good’ image on the web. Your company’s web presence is no longer the sole domain of IT or marketing but instead should be a cross functional representation of the company. This ensures broader content and increased likelihood that your social business strategy is consistent with your overall strategy.

Doug stressed that formation of a company wide communicated social business policy should always be the first step in your strategy. From there, Doug’s 7 steps to social business development are as follows:
1 Identify your team – cross functional and include management
2. Listen – observe what others in the industry are doing in the space, what is being said about you on other sites
3. Participate in your communities
4. Respond to situations in real life that impact your customers
5. React – response to both positive and negative mentions
6. Grow your network
7. Research – monitor your feeds, sites, and presence

Lisa Sizemore, of Hit Resultz, described her work with Torotel Products to launch their social business campaign. Following company-wide rollout of a social media policy, key members of their social business team came together. Key themes were transparency – that customers can see inside the company (with some limits due to military contracts) – and credibility. Two goals were established: recruit qualified employees and increase number of sales prospects. To accomplish the first goal, the company’s Facebook page features footage of company recognitions, and prospective employees can get a sense of the company values and goals. Due to the success of their social business strategy, Torotel has been able to eliminate the use of headhunters and locate a broader more qualified employment base. Some interviewees even remarked that Torotel’s online presence was a determining factor in their application. To accomplish the second goal using tools such as LinkedIn and Jigsaw, the sales team reports an increased quality of new leads and can find additional leads based on geographic location. Since the sales lead time can be several years, the current measurements are the increased number of new proposals and contacts. Monitoring the online awareness of Torotel has proven to be positive and widespread. While they are pleased with their results, due to the long sales cycle the impact on the business bottom line cannot be measured yet.

Chris Vering, Executive Vice President of Knit-Rite emphasized that the key to their success is the perspective that social business is not advertising, it is relationship building. The company has sent product samples to influential bloggers and site owners that target communities who can benefit from their products, and asked for reviews. The company engages users by creating Facebook pages around their product lines, then uses the page to build dialog with customers. Customers who have a favorable experience then become fans, and talk about their products with other prospective customers. Dialog ranges from giving customers a sense that they are ‘real people building real products here in the US’, to responding to questions or problems, to sharing new product lines or developments. The company has seen dramatic sales increases in their product lines due to the additional exposure. Knit-Rite’s online presence is also tied to the success of their retail partners. Some ecommerce retailers have shared data on increased sales as a result of tying in to Knit-Rite’s online social business presence.

Energy Savings for Manufacturers

KCMN February Meeting
Tuesday, February 8, 2011 7:30-9:00 AM
Hilton Garden Inn, 520 Minnesota Avenue, Kansas City, Kansas

State renewable energy standards, increasing regulation, and an uncertain political climate regarding energy policy are some of the factors that point to a trend of rising energy costs. However, there are ways to cut your energy costs and reduce the impact of rising rates on your bottom line. Join KCMN in welcoming Gary Hogsett, a nationally recognized energy engineer and speaker, to discuss strategies for cutting your energy bill.
Gary will review the top 10 energy savings opportunities in industrial plants. He will discuss energy efficiency as it relates to such industrial building systems as; Insulation, Lighting, Thermostats, Compressed Air, Demand Management, Heat Recovery opportunities, Steam systems (boilers), Motors, etc. He will also cover a few energy project financing opportunities such as rebates, and the USDA energy efficiency grant and loan programs.

About our Speaker
Gary Hogsett P.E., CEM, LC, LEED-AP, Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center
Gary is a nationally recognized energy engineer and speaker. Over a span of 30 years, Mr. Hogsett has held a wide range of energy management consulting positions. He previously served as the State Energy Engineer for the State of Kansas, as well as an Energy Analyst for the Oklahoma Energy Analysis and Diagnostic Center. He provided energy consulting for more than 1,400 facilities while employed by firms such as Johnson Controls, Tetra Tech, and Burns & McDonnell. He has recently been appointed by the Governor of Kansas to the Governor’s Wind Energy Task Force. Gary received both his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Industrial Engineering from Oklahoma State University. He has served as Region IV Vice President and is currently a member of the Certified Energy Manager certification board. He is active in the Kansas City chapter, and under his leadership as President, the Chapter was selected as AEE’s Chapter of the Year. He is an accomplished and passionate public speaker and trainer, and has won ten local and regional public speaking contests sponsored by Toastmasters.