Are You Thinking With Half a Brain?
by Pamela Ruebusch

We've all heard the expression "if you can't measure it, you can't manage it." Monitoring and measuring a company's metrics is a concept we've been conditioned to learn and deliver within our organizations. But do we ever stop to consider what we measure and why?

Many companies are being asked to do more with less in order to keep ahead of the competition. They constantly face the challenge of sustaining profitability - adjusting to the rapid rise in the Canadian dollar is just the latest hurdle. The principle of "survival of the fittest" applies and when faced with such "do or die" pressure, companies can often be too gripped by fear or too busy shifting with marketplace conditions to see the bigger picture. That's when decision making at the top can get clouded and driven strictly on the bottom line numbers and results.

In such instances we often see managers losing their focus and trying to please just the shareholders. But if that's all that interests management, sooner or later, everything else starts being devalued: employees, customers, corporate culture. And eventually that devaluation works its way to shareholders as well.

This can also happen in privately owned companies with owners and managers who are only interested in the bottom line and do not take their company to the next level.

There are two kinds of companies. Those that care about profit for themselves and those that care for profit for all. Profit for all means showing concern that the entire supply chain is profitable: the vendors, third-party logistics providers, transportation providers, employees and, of course, the shareholders. This is how economic growth flourishes.

Of course, we all want to pay a fair price as consumers, but when companies are forced to sell goods and services at a loss beyond the loss leader we all pay dearly. Why? Because we are then taking money out of the economy and have negative growth. Unfortunately, it's a model some companies are mired in and it will have long-term impacts on our future.

What kind of approach should you strive towards to gain true profitability on more than the bottom line? First, you need to pay attention to your most valuable assets, your employees and your customers. Keeping your eye on these two balls is always critical, but today more than ever. It should help determine what drives your business and who you want to deploy internally to provide services to your customers. Most companies make either little or the wrong effort in tracking customer and employee satisfaction because they do not see the long-term benefits and sometimes do not know how to measure the data. The trick is to turn data into useful information and manage from there. Balanced scorecarding today doesn't cut it. It is your people who must add the value to the information.

You can buy companies to grow your business, of course, yet always remember that increased growth happens by how you redeploy your talent, whether it's an acquisition or not. Today with so much outsourcing and collaboration going on between vendors and customers, it is even more critical that the values and beliefs of your entire network are in alignment. In combining your optimized talent pools with your business process improvement model, you will have your people engaged and in a continuous learning environment for the benefit of the overall corporate vision.

By focusing on your people and your customers with good fiscal planning and management, you are now thinking with a whole brain.

Reflect, collaborate and act in a conscious and focused manner thinking about the big picture while taking care of the details - it's a business model worth striving for. If you have the courage to think beyond the box in a "profit for all" mentality which includes employees, customers and society, you might just reach beyond your company's goals. I know this might ring true to a famous movie where Dorothy tells her story. Nonetheless, the last time I checked, I believe this is simply known as being a good corporate citizen.

Pamela Ruebusch is Senior Partner TSI Group (, one of Canada's leading recruitment, training and development firms in supply chain management. Pamela is well-known in Canadian logistics circles and plays an active role on many industry committees, associations and events. Contact Pamela by e-mail:

This article was originally featured in Canadian Transportation & Logistics
and is reprinted with permission.

Many more articles in Logistics & Supply Chain and Creative Leadership
in The CEO Refresher Archives


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