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Step 4: Stubborn Business Owner Gets Out of His Own Way

Stubborn Business Owner Gets Out of His Own Way

Road to 2030-Step 4 of the Glass Factory Approach:

Utilizing data to grow the bottom line



You think you know what is best for your business, and you are probably right. But there is an unease associated with “I think”... it’s called ambiguity. In manufacturing, ambiguity can be the difference between 10X year-over-year growth, and folding.


We can’t deny this is a different era of business ownership, ushered in by the forthcoming workforce shortages and the competition of major players. A business would be smart to tap into all the tools available to make them successful, but often our hesitancy of the unknown gets in our way. To put it more bluntly, we, as business owners, get in our own way of growth. Do you want to be a part of the 3,700 Wisconsin manufacturers that won’t exist in 2030?1 Then change is in order.


One of the major issues holding us back from growth is our inability to communicate the productivity of each work cell in the facility. This is because our measuring methods are inexact and outdated. By comparison, if you were running a marathon, our current tracking would equate to measuring mile time with a sundial. The reality is manufacturing facilities need to maximize machine utilization, or fold to those who are. As our aging demographics across Wisconsin head into retirement this decade, our state will face a deficit of 1,000,000 bodies. In order to thrive through this, we have to adapt and utilize new ways to monitor productivity and empower teams to lean on these methods, which will expose areas of inefficiency and drive continuous improvement.…. otherwise known as, the Glass Factory.

Glass Factory (Noun)–Transparent manufacturing when viewed through the eyes of the customers, employees, and supplier, therefore enabling increased efficiencies.

This article marks the fourth in a five-part series which will be published in the Independent Business Association of Wisconsin’s newsletter providing insight into


The Glass Factory, an innovative approach to help small- and medium-size companies navigate the forthcoming workforce challenges.


Step three walked through the importance of education within your company. By explaining and teaching the necessary changes that will happen over the next 10 years, you will empower your employees to stick with you, grow their skill sets within your company, and work alongside you to grow the company itself.


Once everyone inside the company has the same vision to embrace what is needed to help the company succeed, you can implement the next phase of identifying your inefficiencies. Remembering back in Step One we talked about measuring productivity of your equipment. Step two is running a pilot program to demonstrate how monitoring your equipment can identify where you need to focus in on inefficiencies. Step 4–Abolish Ambiguity leverages your recently empowered and informed team (Step 3) to scale the results of Step 2 throughout your facility. They will take the knowledge you’ve given them, and outfit other critical pieces of equipment throughout your facility, to track real-time productivity. Continuous data collection will further expose gaps in system inefficiencies and show you where you can integrate equipment and functionality to automate what you need, and to upskill your employees.


During Step 4 of Glass Factory approach, within 6 to 12 months, all of your equipment will have an established baseline for average production rates. These rates will be communicated on a visual dashboard for you and your team so you can see in real-time how your whole facility is operating, and address problems more quickly. This will serve as the playbook for running daily production, uncovering inefficiencies, and driving continuous improvement. The data itself does not drive change, but it provides the ability to see what’s actually happening and focus your resources on improving the root cause of your profit loss, or inability to grow.


No repetitive process should yield any speculation on if/how it performed. We will simply know.


In Conclusion–Getting Out of Your Way

Right now you think you know how to run your business. By implementing Steps 1-4 of the Glass Factory approach, you will know with certainty how to grow your business, improve profits, and maximize efficiency. That is a substantial shift in confidence you need to make important decisions about the future of your company. The difference is the data you will collect and the team you will upskill.

It is important that we get out of our own way as business owners, to implement the changes necessary to prosper. Glass Factory is showing us how to do just that.


Next Month- Step 5 of the Glass Factory- Adding Windows

Shifting into this proactive mindset will prepare your company for The fifth step in the building of the Glass Factory–Development of Customer and Supplier Portals. With 1-2 years of actionable data points, the Glass Factory will have enough information to build out the final stage of transparency. Customers will be able to log into your company and see exactly where their order is at. Suppliers will have the ability to do the same thing.


1The Pendio Group- Tedx MKE- Todd McLees- Now- Innovation Outpost

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