The Sharpening Stone – Focus on your Core

I enjoy running, and for a number of years I thought the best way to improve was simply to run more frequently, but what I learned from others is that I was missing out on something that could actually help my running.  By Focusing on my Core, I would be less likely to experience injuries, improve my efficiency, and be a better and faster runner.

In today’s environment, we have mounting challenges in our organizations that include labor shortages, rising costs and supply chain issues, as well as competitive pressures.   Leading through this is not for the faint of heart, and certainly adds more complexity as you work on the strategic priorities for your organization.

When you evaluate your strategic priorities, you should include an evaluation of your Core Competencies.  The goal here is to maintain Focus on your Core, which are those capabilities that distinguish you from your competitors. It is a Strength in your SWOT analysis, and not easily replicated by other organizations.  And with that defined, your priority would be to invest in people, process, and tools to build upon and leverage that Strength. 

As for those areas that are non-core functions, you should consider outsourcing to external, or third-party, providers. Third-Party Providers leverage technology, as well as well-established processes, to stay competitive in the marketplace.

I’ve led various outsourcing initiatives over the years, and when successful, they can lead to significant improvements.  You can find reliable third-party providers for logistics and supply chain, account receivables and payables, utilities, HR, and IT.

Here are some examples of strengthening Core Competencies and outsourcing initiatives for non-core activities:

  • I worked with our client to process map and eliminate waste in their core Work Order process. Their team reduced the process from 13 steps and 6 people down to 5 steps and 3 people, reducing their processing time considerably.
  • A local business with 35 employees outsourced their HR function. It would be cost-prohibitive for the business to hire an HR generalist, and they gain a partner that has specialists in the areas of compliance, comp and benefits, and recruiting at a fraction of the cost.
  • I’ve helped clients implement compensation programs, a non-core function, such as salary benchmarking and incentive programs, to improve retention and drive higher performance.

While there are challenges to address, organizations would be wise to evaluate their strategic priorities, focus and strengthen their core competencies, and look to alternative approaches for their non-core functions.

About the Author: Steve Erb

Steve is a graduate of Purdue University where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics / Statistics, and Villanova University, where he received his MBA. Steve’s career has included senior leadership positions with two Fortune500 companies in Procurement, Logistics, Supply Chain, and Operations. Steve also built out the Organizational Development/HR department for a software technology firm and was a key part of seven (7) acquisitions over a 2-year period; as well as developing a successful compensation strategy and structure.

Steve’s expertise lies in developing operations strategies that eliminate redundancies; streamline processes/systems; and deliver productivity, quality, and efficiency gains. Steve has a proven reputation for caring for employees and teams, resulting in an overriding “Servant Leadership” mentality that transforms company cultures and creates a sense of employee engagement and accountability. Steve is also known for his change management expertise and ability to gain credibility to align performance drivers, customer expectations, and initiate continuous improvement across multi-site operations.

The Sharpening Stone

The Sharpening Stone is a series of short videos from True Edge designed to sharpen leaders and their organizations.

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