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Current EAB member Don Smith advises mold manufacturers to focus on developing a strategic view of their moldmaking business.

A good strategy should help minimize firefighting and crisis management and then open up the energy to focus on a proactive methodology and your short-term and long-term goals. Creating the right strategy will allow you to craft a roadmap, a measurable plan to see where you are currently and where the business needs to go. By adopting a strategic outlook, the business will be able to keep its head above water and to look further down the road, especially with a “new normal” coming into focus. This process can improve decision-making and makes for more effective leadership.

A SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) is an excellent way to begin creating the strategic view, and ultimately, a new or improved business model. This is a textbook way to jump right in and start visualizing the business in the current state, and should be used as a living document to track your progress in bringing your business model to reality. One of the best ways to capture the information required for the SWOT analysis is to conduct surveys of both internal (employees) and external (customer) stakeholders.

Internal (Employees)

  • Do you see us as a low-cost or high-quality supplier?
  • What markets do we serve best?
  • Why do customers provide us with work over the competition?
  • What operational areas are inefficient and need immediate attention?
  • How do we assess the skills of our fellow employees?
  • What tolerances are we best at holding?
  • What areas of the business are critical to moving forward?

External (Customers)

  • What type of supplier do you consider us? 
  • Do you come to us primarily because of price or quality?
  • What is the most value-added process we supply your business?
  • What current or future products do you see us best suited to manufacture for your company?
  • What machine capabilities do you assume we have? Wish we had?

Gathering multiple viewpoints is extremely useful for discovering the current state of the business. One can gather tremendous amounts of critical data through a few simple surveys conducted with the right people and enough information to build a strategic view based upon reality and not assumptions.