Felipe Villarreal
Alian Plastics
Expert Contributor

Work With a Simple Approach in a Complex Environment

By Felipe Villarreal | Mon, 06/21/2021 - 12:08

"The 3Ss of winning in business are Speed, Simplicity, and Self-confidence." Jack Welch.

I wanted to start my article with a quote from the great Jack Welch, where he reminds us that simplicity coupled with speed and self-confidence are the keys to winning in business.

COVID-19 changed our world and business environment and the last 18 months have tested our capacity for adaptation and resilience.

We have witnessed the deaths of millions of companies. The rest face unprecedented challenges.

How can you work with simplicity in such a complex environment?

Now in the middle of 2021, we have seen how the industry and the macroeconomic environment have been recovering at a speed that, at least in several industries, we did not expect. Customer demand has risen above expected levels and raw material prices have also increased. In our case, in plastic injection, resins have shown an impressive upward fluctuation, along with lead times. Before, if you were planning a resin purchase with a lead time of eight weeks, multiply that number by three and the lead time is now 24 weeks.

To these logistical issues and shortages of materials, we can add the political environment between our country, Mexico, and our main trading partner, the US, where the two countries share a long maritime and land border and security in the region is important for national security and the international trade of both nations. That is also without taking into account the uncertainty derived from internal policies in Mexico that have cast doubt on and distrust of investments.

As Leonardo da Vinci aptly put it, “simplicity is the utmost sophistication.”

As leaders in our organizations, thinking about so many external variables at the same time can lead us to blur our short- and long-term business strategies. You cannot control what you cannot control; you can only control what is within your reach.

What is in your control? Your processes and everything they cover within your organization.

It would be even better if these processes are supported with certifications in quality, safety and environmental systems. If you can keep them under control and disciplined, this will lead you to review how to make them clearer and understandable for everyone so that they are simple to follow.

Generating simplicity in your processes will also lead you to generate a better organizational culture and improve communication between different departments and team members. Things almost never look simple in business due to a lack of good communication. There are even studies that assert that more than 60 percent of problems in companies arise from poor communication. Simplifying your organization improves the flow of information, which is key to generating leading organizations.

Industrial security must be based on simple processes as well. They should be 100 percent understandable to those who will be operating in different operational areas in the company. There is no greater peace of mind for leaders than knowing that there are well-defined processes and controls to ensure to its maximum potential the physical integrity of each employee. You must take care of your employees and they will take care of your business.

With well-established, simple, and understandable processes, you generate trust among your employees, trust among shareholders and trust among your clients, who keep you in business. The trust you build with your customers leads to credibility and close, long-term and profitable relationships.

Step back and think about the technological field that has revolutionized the whole world in recent years. Being able to click on your smartphone and watch videos from any continent, find information in seconds, listen to music from the other side of the world that you could not hear before is just one, simple example. It is impressive how the revolution in this digital age simplified the search for information.

Human beings are already used to that simplicity; we are not inventing something new in business. We must just transfer that mentality of simplicity to our colleagues and collaborators and apply it in our established processes. Perhaps you have documents of sheets and more sheets. The challenge for you and your employees is to use your imagination to create procedures where those documents become so simple to follow that you know that they will be really followed. Is that possible? Yes! Although possibly not everything: it depends on the complexity of each industry.

In the plastic injection industry, true expertise is required in different areas to be able to deliver quality products in a timely manner. At ALIAN Plastics, not all processes can be completely simplified due to the industry, but within that complexity we always try to find a way to make it user-friendly and as simple as possible.

Human beings tend to complicate everything. We believe, we think, we suggest, more rarely, we verify the reality of situations. Working with honesty and integrity also creates simplicity in our work environment. Let's push these values and let our employees live it.

We live in a very complicated world. Health, economics, politics, logistical environments – everything is too complicated.

Let's not complicate our organizations anymore and let's do what is in our power and control to simplify, to make those procedures simple, easy and user-friendly for our employees. Let's make simplicity generate greater happiness among our employees, customers and shareholders.

Photo by:   Felipe Villarreal