• 6 hours a day in meetings
• 200 emails to read and reply to
• 40 voice mails
• Performance reviews and manager/subordinate updates
• Budget preparation—both spend and give back
• New project justification
• Fire fighting (Trouble shooting)
• Impromptu drop-ins by boss
• Personal/personnel crises
• Education and training
• Travel expense reporting
• Demands from other functions, including Marketing, Product Development, Sales, Operations, Procurement, IT, Regulatory, and just about everyone and of course, packaging touches everything!
• And more....
So how can you even manage to keep your head above water, let alone make a difference for your company/organization or yourself? Here’s one useful tip: Learn from the past and keep an eye toward the future as you operate in the present
The work and all the unfinished projects are not going to go away. In fact, the demands on packaging are going to grow dramatically in the coming years. All you have to do is look at consumer, channel, sustainability, technology, and regulatory trends to see you need to be better prepared and you need to operate differently.
As Louis Pasteur once said “chance favors the prepared mind.” Unfortunately, we are just not as prepared as we used to be—how does anyone keep up with all that extra work (above) that must be done, along with project and program work, short term pressure and deadlines, and figuring out how to get ahead and get to that next promotion—that takes even more work and it takes time to think.
You need to start with a plan. Here are some steps you can use to get ready for a more productive and fun 2011:
• Start with the company strategy and extract out the packaging-related components.
• Take a hard look at your packaging strategy—does it align and should it be refreshed? Do you have sustainability goals, innovation and productivity objectives, packaging value goals, skills/knowledge enhancement, etc.
• Understand/benchmark best-in-class best practices—adapt for your company and organization.
• Prioritize and learn to say no.
• Recognize that you need to think more holistically, end-to-end and systems-wide than in the past.
• Do you have an Open Innovation program and outsourcing goals that will optimize internal and external resources? You really have to know how to get the most and best work done. There is more expertise outside of your four walls than inside!
• Remember the present when evaluating and working on programs and projects.
• What can you use that you have learned from the past—think where things went right and wrong.
• How will you operate differently in the present to get the work done—use open innovation and be sure to enhance your collaboration efforts. Be sure you have a good infrastructure to support the work objectives (spec systems, platforms, external experts, etc)
• Start using foresight and really looking to where the future is going for packaging. This is tough and strategic. Again, it’s a good place to take advantage of balancing fixed-cost internal resources and external variable-cost resources
• Always remember to prioritize your work, minimize firefights, and focus on business-building goals
Finally, have a fun and successful 2011! And remember, Open Innovation is a good thing. Look outside for help.