Download White Paper: 6Cs to Drive Team Results

Over the past few years, as we have worked with many different leadership teams across a variety of industries and processes, we’ve observed repeatedly that when there are gaps in performance, most attention gets paid to processes and external forces, instead of focusing on the team and individuals.  If you want to conquer complexity, you must have a strong foundation. The difference between great teams and mediocre teams are: Clarity, Commitment, Connection, Consistency, Credibility, and Challenge.  Leaders and companies that implement these competencies as a system and make sure each one is understood at an individual level will undoubtedly see positive results.

Drive Clarity

An overwhelming number of studies confirm that many organizations and teams lack clarity around what is truly important.

  • Harvard Business Review cites that over 90% of employees do not fully understand company goals or what is expected of them
  • Bain and Company cites that only 1 in 7 employees can name their company’s most important goals

How can this be? Urgency keeps leaders from being able to effectively drive clarity.

  • Goals are too generic (the are not specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and time-bound – SMART)
  • High level goals are not contextualized or cascade to lower levels
  • Goals are not reinforced (one time communication is not enough)
  • Having too many goals can actually lead teams to lose focus on where and how to spend their time

Without clarity, the team cannot focus. Without focus, energy is wasted, resources are spread thin, and nothing gets better.

Begin driving clarity:

  • What is our mission – why we do what we do
  • What is our vision – where and who we want to be in the future
  • What are the top 1-3 goals; what must improve if all else remains constant
  • What is most important right now – where and how do we start

Narrow the scope of the team and increase the intensity, then drive clarity to an individual level. It is not enough to assume, “the team knows what to do.”

This requires a fundamental understanding of human nature.  Most people do not want to be the one to raise their hand to express an issue or concern. Perhaps someone doesn’t want to raise their hand because they don’t want to challenge someone else on the team and prove that person wrong.  Perhaps they don’t want to challenge an executive or direct report.  Silence or fake acknowledgement is the path of least resistance… do not accept it.  In high performing companies these behaviors are considered dishonest and lacking in integrity.  Embrace clarity and honesty!

In a game of basketball, if one of the five players does not fully grasp the play, it’s going to be a bust. It doesn’t matter that 80% of the group knows what to do. It’s the 20% that will break it and cost you the game.

Secure Commitment

Once there is clarity around organizational or team goals, a leader must secure personal commitment from every team member; not compliance or appeasement, but true commitment. It is one thing to know the mission, but another to truly believe, support, and have the capacity to sell it to others.  Each person must respond positively to these questions:

  • Am I personally committed to the vision/mission?
  • Do I believe these goals are the most important?
    • Or are there other goals I would rather pursue?
  • Do I agree with this course of action?
  • Can I sell the mission to somebody else?

Always remember, the truest measure of commitment is action, not words. Everyone must demonstrate their commitment to the team and the goals. Nobody can be allowed to make choices or decisions that will impede progress of the team and cause them to fail.

Create Connection

You have clarity and commitment, but what do you and the team do next? This is where many leaders fail. How is the team going to achieve the goals? You cannot assume that the team members know what to do.

  • Bain and Capital cited in a study that 87% of surveyed employees did not know what to do to achieve the goal; they did not understand how they could contribute or influence the goal in a positive way
  • Based on Gallup’s work with companies worldwide, only about half of employees strongly agree that they know what is expected of them at work

You as the leader must help facilitate the connection of individual actions and behaviors towards achieving the goal by helping set milestones, create effective metrics and a scorecard system to review these metrics, and provide feedback. Instead of placing focus on what goes wrong, you must identify the desired conditions for things to go right.

  • What are the leading actions and behaviors to drive success?
  • Is it clear how each team members’ individual actions or behavior contribute to success/failure?
  • Are you creating a culture of employee engagement – a primary component of creating connection?

Practice Consistency

The best teams operate with a high level of consistency. In a fast-paced and ever-changing environment, there needs to be a framework than can be counted on. Once you have defined the actions and behaviors needed to be successful, you must have the discipline to do them every day.

  • Are there management systems in place to facilitate habits and routines?
  • Amid urgent activity, are there foundational processes to keep focus on what is important (but not urgent)?
  • Are there processes/systems to promote routines and habits?
  • Do I make progress on things that matter?
  • What influence dynamic is there between urgency and importance?

We have seen many teams let urgent activities get in the way of them performing activities that they know are highly important. Short-sided urgency has had predictably, detrimental consequences. Example: Not doing preventative maintenance of critical equipment.  As Stephen Covey said, “You cannot substitute the important for the urgent.”

Build Credibility

Teams that have consistent practices in place are far more likely to follow through. While accountability is a word in business that always seems to get a lot of attention, we believe it overshadows a word with far greater impact, credibility.

Accountability is all about who does what. Credibility is the quality of being trusted and believed in. Which more personal to you, being accountable or credible?

  • Does the team do what they say they are going to do?
  • Do individuals follow through?
  • Do they have the knowledge, skillsets, and experience necessary to be successful?

Personal and team credibility goes beyond following through. It also is about ensuring that the other team members will do their job and do it well.

Promote Challenge

The best teams must challenge the status quo. They are always looking to get better. They push the limits and each other by encouraging new ideas and perspectives. They actively seek opportunities to do things differently. These teams are honest, confront issues directly, and are not afraid to deliver bad news that can lead to identifying opportunities and generating sustainable solutions that improve team and organization’s performance.

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“We used Supply Velocity to rethink our sales process. By analyzing the entire process we found wasted time in our Sales, Admin and Operations departments. Streamlining this process created extra time for each Sales Rep, allowing them to spend more time with Customers and increase the value we add. Gross profit margins are up 40%!

We are now using Supply Velocity to help us rethink our entire Strategic Plan.”

Jeff Reitz, Vice President, Central States Bus
“Supply Velocity’s Lean Six Sigma System has given us new tools to help improve our sales performance. We have learned new ways to analyze our business which makes problem solving more accurate and has made us better leaders.”
Rachel Andreasson, Executive Vice President – Marketing, Wallis Companies

“Your process encourages this group to work together, better communicate and have fun doing it.”

George Edinger, President, C&R Mechanical

“Supply Velocity created visibility within our Assurance Services Group… visibility of performance, Client-service, employee satisfaction and processing time. Using the Supply Velocity System, Audit Report Cycle time is down over 50%. We are using his strategies to create greater Client loyalty.”

Fred Kostecki, Partner-In-Charge, Assurance Services, Rubin Brown

“I am thrilled to provide this testimonial for Supply Velocity and their outstanding work in implementing Lean Warehouses and processes at Crescent Parts & Equipment through the COVID pandemic. With their data-first focus and Mitch’s exceptional coaching and experience, they transformed our business into a more supply chain-oriented organization, enabling us to grow while prioritizing employee safety and creating a better work environment. Supply Velocity’s expertise in Lean methodologies and their comprehensive evaluation of our customers have been instrumental in optimizing our operations and increasing customer satisfaction. We highly recommend Supply Velocity to any company seeking to implement Lean processes and enhance their supply chain efficiency.”

Josh Cole, Director of Supply Chain, Crescent Parts & Equipment
“Many thanks to all three Supply Velocity presenters. I think you guys took a very difficult time for learning and capitalized on everyone’s time and training needs. I truly hope this helps your business as this was a considerable undertaking on the part of Supply Velocity. Outstanding!!”
Mark Holdinghausen, VP of Operations, DEMA Engineering
“Supply Velocity is driving instrumental change in our inventory management processes. This is critical for us to be competitive in a supply chain environment with numerous disruptions. They are making change happen, which can be challenging in a 182 year old organization.”
Jim Carroll, Executive Vice President Operations, Schaeffer Manufacturing
“In thirty years of hiring consultants, Supply Velocity, Inc. was the first to tell me what they were going to do, set a price they stuck to and substantially exceed my expectations. I have recommended them to friends and acquaintances. They were true partners in assisting with the turnaround of an acquisition we had been struggling with for two years.

Their math-based technology, solid down-to-earth facilitation skills, and positive, patient and enthusiastic attitude combined to make our implementation of Lean a very rewarding experience.

We increased our production by 50% in the first month of implementation and continue to see improvements. Improvements have not only been realized in productivity, but also in quality and morale. We have increased profitability by $2M on flat sales of $10M.

Based on Supply Velocity, Inc.’s integrity and our results, I will continue to refer them to others and utilize them in the future as we expand our company through acquisitions.”

Bill Gilbert, President, Fusion Coatings
“Closure Medical recently completed a major reorganization in order to enhance our ability to rapidly create innovative medical devices. We hired Supply Velocity to help us map out the process and service flows of the new organization that would maximize our product development process (PDP). In four weeks, Supply Velocity helped us envision a new PDP structure, develop measures and accountability for each step, and gain consensus within the organization. Supply Velocity’s focus on speed and accountability helped us complete a critical project in a timely fashion.”
Gabe Szabo, Vice President, Product Development, Closure Medical – A Division of Johnson & Johnson

“In a time of volatile supply chain disruption, Supply Velocity is helping us develop Demand and Supply Planning processes to proactively tackle these new challenges. They are genuine partners, working with our team, facilitating and teaching.”

Jane Thrasher, Vice President of Supply Chain, Horizon Hobby
“C&R was struggling with labor productivity. The construction crews were often missing materials that they needed to do their work. This caused significant idle time. Supply Velocity, Inc. and C&R used value stream mapping and visual management tools to make dramatic improvements in operations. Most importantly, two years later C&R is sustaining and improving on the implementation. C&R’s return on investment was 11:1. C&R had a record year last year in both sales and profits and would not have been able to pull it off without the changes Supply Velocity, Inc. helped us make.”
Tom Kuthe, V.P. Construction Operations, C&R Mechanical
“Myerson engaged Supply Velocity, specifically Ray Davis to visit our plant in Trinidad to conduct a two day assessment of our production procedures and provide us feedback on areas for improvement and where applicable, areas for future analysis.

Put simply, we got everything we paid for and in addition to more in depth analysis, we got specific tasks that were immediately actionable. Our local management team found Ray to be engaging, highly credible and insightful based on his wide experience. In other words the cultural differences and lack of specific industry knowledge weren’t impediments to things we could implement immediately and on our own. In a nutshell it was money well spent and will pay itself back many times over.”

Lee Hartwell CPA, Plant Manager, Myerson Tooth
“We used Supply Velocity on our Warehouse optimization project. One of the key characteristics of Supply Velocity is that they listened to our requirements and provided a clear path for our Warehouse processes using lean tools and our future sales growth as objectives.”
Haris Tokalic, President, Grand Rock, Inc.
“In 2015 we began working with Dr. Mitch Millstein to optimize our inventory locations supporting e-commerce and in-store inventory needs. From this work we developed a new omni-channel warehousing and inventory plan that entirely redefined our approach to warehousing, inventory management, store distribution and fulfillment. As a result of the analyses by Dr. Millstein we have begun the move to an improved omni-channel design by reassigning MSAs to new warehouses, greater leveraging of in-store inventories to satisfy e-commerce demands, and exploring acquisitions of new warehousing space in strategic locations. We have already seen an improvement of $300,000 from both more efficient shipping strategies due to better inventory management.”
Rob Bowers, Vice President of Strategy, Total Hockey
“Isolating a problem, finding short, and long term solutions with measurable results is what was promised and results is what was delivered by Supply Velocity. Upon launch of the Lean Six Sigma Selling System, we knew more about our customers, our products, and were able to create a solid plan to increase sales of our most profitable products. Within months of implementation, our booked sales jumped 60% and our most valued customers were getting direct, active, and calculable attention.”
Mark A. Presker, General Manager, Architectural Millwork of St. Louis

“Supply Velocity gave us the tools to analyze our business and processes based on the facts and numbers versus our perceptions. Our common quote was “Let the numbers lead us”. The key for our organization was how quickly we moved from classroom to actual project initiation. We were able to jump in, start using the tools and see a difference right away.

The get-into-action approach was good for our culture.”

Ned Lane, President, CeeKay Supply
“Supply Velocity has helped Clean succeed in a number of ways. First, they provided the education that kicked off our Lean Process Improvement journey. They also facilitated a number of large supply chain and process improvement projects including: 1) building quality into our direct-labor productivity incentive program, 2) designing the layout of our garment warehouse, and 3) streamlining our route service process.

We have integrated the methods that Supply Velocity taught us into our management and strategic planning. In the process our quality measurement has improved 22% from 2013 to 2015, we have reduced required annual labor by 2200 hours from the garment facility layout project and we’ve seen 50% decrease in error rate. Obviously the numbers speak for themselves, but just as important, Supply Velocity has been fun to work and have become true partners. They have “taught us how to fish” so our internal teams are able to implement change on their own, with the skills we learned from Supply Velocity. This relationship has been invaluable.”

Jeff Lazaroff, Senior Vice President, Clean Uniform
“Supply Velocity has provided the technical expertise and political capital to move our project forward. They have just the right amount of push and the right amount of support. Supply Velocity has helped us make real changes to improve efficiencies in logistics without jeopardizing our performance. We’re happy and our customers are happy.”
David Walters, President, Hy-C
“We are using Supply Velocity’s Lean Six Sigma methods to analyze a variety of processes including rationalizing SKUs (stock-keeping-units). By using math to evaluate SKUs we took some of the emotion out of our decisions. We expect significant increases in sales and productivity from reducing poor performing SKUs.”
Mark Kelso, Director of Process Improvement, Save-A-Lot
“For several years we have worked with Supply Velocity to support us with their expertise on Lean Operations and Supply Chain Management. Supply Velocity has helped us implement Lean, improve our inventory systems, and educate our people. They are professionals who are always available to help us as needed.”
Lorenza Pasetti, CEO, Volpi Foods
“Mitch Millstein and his team helped guide our shop fabrication division in the re-layout of our custom pipe and steel fabrication facility when we moved into a new building. It is not only the results but how he helped. We were involved in every step. I personally did time studies and was able to see the non-value added steps required to manufacture in our old layout. When we created our new layout, everyone was involved, from the executive team to our direct labor force. With Mitch’s help we increased our throughput by a 3x multiple, while providing more competitive prices to our clients as a result of the efficiency improvements.

This has enabled us to not only make more money but also to expand our commercial reach and serve more, and larger customers. I would recommend Supply Velocity to any company that wants to make improvement in supply chain and operations.”

Geoff Gross, President, Gross Mechanical
“Anheuser-Busch Precision Printing had been implementing Lean Operations on our own for the past two years. We needed to move faster and partnered with Supply Velocity, Inc. Through Supply Velocity, Inc.’s mathematical workflow balancing and visual management tools, dramatic improvements were achieved. The entire converting operation was rearranged based on Lean principles. The result is a 20.6% productivity improvement, enabling us to operate with 23 fewer people in production.”
Rich Lavosky, General Manager, Anheuser-Busch Precision Printing
“We engaged with Supply Velocity to help us embed process improvement at all levels of the business. Our team learned from Mitch to let the data drive decisions, to use Lean tools to help us see our processes critically and objectively, and to create a control plan to manage all of the tasks that were the outcome of the data study.

The project turned out to be very significant to the company and most importantly, our customers. We reduced our customer wait times by 40%, and cut in half the labor cost to fulfill customer orders.

Some results are not able to be measured. However, as a result of this project, we have started to build a Lean mindset and culture, which is part of our strategic mission to save our customers money. Supply Velocity has been a valued partner in this mission.”

Dionne Dumitru, COO, Weekends Only
“The role of the Erie Insurance Marketing Department has been evolving over the past several years – from a support role to a more critical role of driving growth in our organization. Because of our increased workload and desire to prioritize the most critical projects, we hired Supply Velocity to teach us the skills of Lean Six Sigma.

Participants included the Promotions, Market Research and Agency Licensing sections of the Marketing Department.

We learned valuable tools to help us to prioritize based on the voice of the customer.

I firmly believe these skills made a difference in how we work every day. We are moving new projects forward, eliminating or changing ineffective processes, and we are a much stronger department. We continue to use the tools to help us with our highly-complex and time-consuming projects. Supply Velocity helped us to accomplish our goals.”

Karen Rugare, Director of Marketing, Erie Insurance
“In the spring of 2003, the St. Louis Area Chapter of the American Red Cross engaged Supply Velocity, Inc. to perform a study and make recommendations to streamline office processes, maximize cash flow in purchasing and warehousing and restructure and enhance our maintenance department. Supply Velocity, Inc.’s process was methodical, flexible, staff-oriented, inclusive and, above all, trackable.

In the last six months, our Chapter has realized expense savings of over $380,000 annually, and significant improvement in intra-company service levels has been attained. Supply Velocity, Inc. will return to the Chapter periodically throughout the next 18 months to audit our newly implemented processes. We have been pleased with our results and Supply Velocity, Inc.’s professionalism.”

Joe White, CEO, American Red Cross – Saint Louis Chapter
“Our experience with Supply Velocity was one of the best values we have ever had from a consulting project. Cyril Narishkin brought a structured lean methodology, invaluable experience and engaging facilitation skills to help us streamline a very complex and disjointed sales order process. Just as importantly, our team now has the knowledge and process competencies to address other business improvement opportunities going forward.”
Mike Howard, CEO, Aspeq
“We are pleased that Essex selected Supply Velocity, Inc. as our Lean Implementation Partner. At one facility, we have saved over $350,000 in work-in-process inventory, reduced throughput time from 2 weeks to minutes and increased inventory turns 3 to 8 times per year. All these results are in just 6 months. Our return of investment is very high.”
Terry Etter, Vice President of Operations , Essex Medical Systems