Recently I finished reading a book called “Solve for Happy” by Mo Gawdat, former tech executive, writer and advocate for helping 1 billion people find happiness. The premise of the book was intriguing – Mo was a highly paid executive for several well-known high tech companies, had a beautiful family, nice house, cars and other stuff, but was not happy. This by itself is not an unusual story. What was unique was that Mo, with his engineering and mathematics background, thought that maybe he could figure out a mathematical equation to solve for happiness, and started working on a theory and sharing it with friends and family. In the midst of this endeavor, Mo’s son dies and suddenly the equation he has been working on is put to the test.
The book is analytical, emotional, spiritual and at points, breath-takingly beautiful. Coming from a scientific and analytical background, I appreciated the approach. One simple message from the book that resonated was, “We are not our thoughts”. Oftentimes, believing we are what we think can lead us to feel bad about ourselves. Getting caught up in our thoughts can distract us from finding what truly makes us happy. If you have not read Mo’s book, I’d encourage you to check it out. I’m re-reading the book and absorbing even more the second time around.
Teri Danielson is the owner and co-founder of Northwest Food Solutions.
Want to work here? Seeking Quality Assurance Manager at growing Oregon food processor.
Laurel Foods, a growing, value-added, food processing company located in the foothills of the Chehalem Mountains of Oregon, is seeking a Quality Assurance Manager for it’s 28,000 sq. ft facility in the farming community of Laurel, Oregon, just south of Hillsboro.
A partnership between two family businesses, Laurel Foods has its roots in the Oregon hazelnut growing region of the lush North Willamette Valley.
The Quality Assurance Manager role will oversee the food safety and quality systems and serve as the SQF practitioner for the facility. Duties include:
Starts March 2021 Series of 5 workshops – each workshop is two half-day sessions
Online – Web based Instructors – Cheryl Collins, Teri Danielson
Workshops can be taken separately or for a Certificate in Food and Beverage Management
Taking a Different Approach
Growing People informs, engages, and prepares participants to tackle challenges and adapt to the constantly changing landscape we face today in manufacturing. The workshop series will help participants build sustainable programs within their companies while empowering them to continue growing these programs after our “class” has ended.
To this growth mindset, we are adding a virtual mentoring community and opportunities to participate in real life, solutioning projects to continue to build new skills through ongoing cohort activities. Our ultimate goal is to develop a stronger, more resilient workforce that can continue to tackle the challenges of everyday manufacturing against the backdrop of crises both large and small.
Workshop 1: Safe Workplace: Transforming Culture – 3/10 and 3/17
Workshop 2: Production Effectiveness – Daily Management – 3/31 and 4/7
Workshop 3: Making the Workplace Visual – 4/14 and 4/21
Workshop 4: Problem Solving – 4/28 and 5/5
Workshop 5: Getting Food Safety into Your Culture – 5/12 and 5/19
During the Covid crisis, many companies have experienced supply chain issues. This current recovery period is an opportunity assess the lessons learned. Here are four “do it yourself” assessments that will help you build a robust supply chain that gives you competitive advantage.
Identify Critical Supply Chain:
Many companies procure large numbers of products and services, but not all of these have the same criticality. It is important to assess and document your Critical Supply Chain. Critical Supply Chain consists of components or services needed to build and ship products. Most of the us think of the bill of materials when we imagine our Critical Supply Chain, but other services such as logistics and consumable products like gloves, etc. are also part of the Critical Supply Chain. During this crisis – Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) has become a Critical Supply Chain component. The rest of the supply chain is important but offers more leeway.
Take stock. What does your Critical Supply Chain look like?
Availability and Flexibility Assessment:
Once the Critical Supply Chain is identified, the next step is to assess its availability and flexibility. The first consideration is to understand which of these components or services are custom made – unique for the company, and which are commodity items.
Custom products normally have longer lead times and are likely to be single sourced. It is good to have contractual agreements for upside volume in case of spike in demand (as seen by some food manufacturers), and downside flexibility to minimize financial exposure in case of sudden downturn. Many businesses are shifting from their overseas suppliers, where the lead times including transportation have been more than three months, to regional suppliers with shorter lead times.
Even in commodity products, many companies have no backup suppliers identified. This crisis has resulted in longer than normal lead times and lack of availability of certain items. It is important for all the critical commodity items to have alternate suppliers not only identified but validated. Validation may require small changes internally (machine setting etc.) to accommodate alternate supplier products as well as ensuring that quality is acceptable.
Take stock. Does your Critical Supply Chain ensure availability and flexibility?
Supplier Risk Assessment:
Periodic reviews of the suppliers delivering critical components is a key aspect of supply chain risk management. Supplier quality procedures and remediation processes are important to ensure that you get quality products every time. When exceptions occur, you need to know your suppler can take fast, corrective action. Supplier risk assessments includes understanding their ability to do rush orders, move production between different facilities, and their potential bottlenecks and remediation plans. These supplier assessments need not be complex. Most major suppliers already have these plans in place; you just need to understand and assess them.
Take stock. Do your suppliers meet your performance needs and risk management criteria?
With supply chain costs making up one of the biggest operating expenses at many companies, clear focus in this area is essential to maintain the competitiveness of your products. Some commodities and markets fluctuate often – such as freight, paper, and tech products. Other components and services are more stable but even there, the competitive landscape can shift between the major players. It is important that companies periodically assess market and supplier costs. Additionally, companies should evaluate their custom components and services to see if they are providing value – as invariably there are both hard and soft costs of these customizations.
Take stock. Do you understand where price shocks are most likely to impact your cost structure and what you are doing to mitigate them?
This crisis has shone light on many supply chain shortcomings. As you move to the recovery phase, these assessments will strengthen your company’s competitive edge.
Dileep Kulkarni is a former director of supply chain at Intel and currently consults with Expense Reduction Analysts. If you would like to add some external leadership to improving your supply chain Dileep and his ERA team are here to help you. He is committed to making regional middle market companies more competitive. Please do not hesitate to reach out to Dileep Kulkarni at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 503-781-9367.
As we enter week 8 of the “stay at home orders” in Oregon, I have been reflecting on what the future might hold for the food industry, and other industries and businesses in our state and country. After talking to people throughout manufacturing and other industries about how they are managing during this crisis, I am seeing many companies demonstrating exceptional leadership, engagement and focus.
This got me wondering, given the challenges that COVID-19 is presenting, why are some businesses performing so well, what is it businesses are doing well to address the changing environment and how do businesses keep these practices going as we move forward?
What I would like to suggest, based on my observations: The exceptional performance many companies are exhibiting is an example of how we are more effective when priorities are clear, businesses are focused and aligned around the work that needs to get done and there are minimal distractions.
When the stay at home orders were first issued, most of Northwest Food Solutions current projects were postponed. And rightfully so. Our food manufacturing clients were facing loss of their food service and restaurant volume and larger than normal growth of grocery volume, coupled with resource constraints and general difficulties associated with navigating COVID implications to the workforce. The food industry is considered “critical infrastructure” and companies have been heads down in triage mode.
As the crisis progressed, I started reaching out to clients to find out how it was going. I also began attending industry meetings and talking to others in the industry trying to see what companies might need and how Northwest Food Solutions could provide support.
One assumption I made was that companies would need help implementing COVID best practices, and we offered this help pro bono to our clients. But the clients I talked with had already done this relatively quickly and painlessly. In fact, during these conversations, clients related some great examples of the creative solutions they had come up with to ensure supply of raw materials, to social distance, to split shifts and protect employees, to find PPE, to share resources with other companies, to prioritize manufacture of products that were selling well in grocery and stop manufacturing products that had low volume. That concept of focus and prioritization struck me again and again as I listened to industry leaders sharing their strategies and the creative workarounds they implemented.
This idea of focus and prioritization is a common theme in the consulting services we provide to companies. Usually at the start of a project, when a client has brought us in to help solve a specific problem, we often see that people and resources are stretched thin by too many projects and distractions. Leaders do not always know how to prioritize, so as a result, their teams are doing everything. No matter what “project” we work on with a team, we always are working with the team to prioritize the project within the larger scope of company work and help teams figure out how to get the project work done effectively. It is at the core of what we teach, even though it is almost never what we are hired to do.
So, what is different in the COVID world? Now, we are all being forced to prioritize. Some things we have seen change: The ten new product launches planned for this year…not happening. The twenty-five low volume skus that consume 70% of the teams resources to produce…shelved. Sales travel to customers…it’s temporarily not happening or happening via Zoom. Vendor and auditor visits…they have been reduced or eliminated. In the COVID world, companies are aligned around a few common goals and those goals are clear to everyone. 1) Protect the workforce and 2) meet the increased demand of the most needed product. So simple and so clear.
This idea of focusing on the few important things as a more productive approach is backed up by science. There are a multitude of papers that have been published on the how multi-tasking or working on too many things at once destroys capacity and creativity. According to Teresa Amabile, who wrote the Harvard Business Review paper “Creativity Under the Gun”, “It’s not so much the deadline that’s the problem; it’s the distractions that rob people of the time to make that creative breakthrough.”
Without all the distractions, companies can focus on work that adds the most value to the customer and develop creative ways to manage through the unique challenges they are facing. Companies are effectively moving mountains to keep their product in stock and their workforce safe.
To be fair, not every company is doing this successfully, but I am heartened to see so many food and beverage manufacturers performing admirably in this crisis using their own resources. We are going to return to a new normal soon, and it is likely that the way we do business will also be altered as the country opens back up.
Looking to the future, the rules have changed, and things are going to be different for all of us going forward. With that in mind, I would love to see companies commit time to sit down with their teams, recognize what has been accomplished, how it was achieved, and take a hard look at how narrowing focus and prioritizing has impacted the company operations. What are the learnings from this crisis that can be implemented into regular operations? Reflecting on the accomplishments, what made them possible and charting a new path with resulting actions will help all of us in the food and beverage industry continue to navigate and prosper as we move forward.
And of course, Northwest Food Solutions would love to help with this work. We are in this together and committed to continuing to support the organizational health of the food and beverage industry in the Northwest. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with feedback and questions.
Northwest Food Solutions is proud to be an Earth Day Oregon Business Partner. Earth Day Oregon is a statewide campaign to AMPLIFY the impact of Earth Day, by directing donations to the nonprofit organization’s in our community that work to create a more sustainable world. Northwest Food Solutions recognizes the good work that ECOTRUST – THE REDD does in Oregon and has made a donation to this nonprofit in honor of Earth Day.
Right now, your employees and customers’ safety is top priority for your food or farm business. Two stories in the news over the past week have brought home the importance of developing and implementing COVID-19 practices in the food industry workplace:
With the Food Industry being considered critical infrastructure in the country, most food manufacturing facilities have remained open to ensure the nations food supply chain can meet the demand. The FDA and CDC have both stated that there is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted via food due to the nature of the virus itself. The risk at this time, is to our food industry workers and their health and safety.
To protect employees and ensure a stable food supply chain, it is critical that food manufacturing companies take time to assess their COVID-19 practices including:
Developing a written COVID-19 best practices document
Training and implementing best practices in the workplace
Checking that the best practices are effective
Engaging the workforce in improving those practices
Adapting new practices into your workplace to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is a challenge. Northwest Food Solutions has posted resources for food companies looking for help and ideas in implementing best practices. If you have resources or ideas for best practices, please share them with us via email at email@example.com. We will share these in our next newsletter.
Thank you to all the food industry and other critical infrastructure workers who are continuing to do the heavy lifting to keep our nation functioning. Stay safe!
One thing is certain right now: we are all experiencing some sort of disruption, and with disruption comes problems. If you’re like most people right now, you are facing new and unprecedented challenges, and we’re here to help.
Problem solving is the core of our business; it’s what we do. We have decades of experience working with clients helping them understand root causes of business challenges as well as helping them discover innovative solutions. A problem solving mentality is needed now more than ever because “business as usual” no longer applies. It’s time to challenge the status quo and implement solutions that will help with your business continuity.
Here are some examples of questions we’ve received that we can help with remotely:
I need help thinking through a reasonable leadership response in this escalating situation. Can we talk this through?
My team are scared. How should I lead through this situation?
I’m afraid about client continuity and cash flow. What can I do?
What do I do if someone my team gets sick?
We aren’t set up to work remotely. What do I need to do to make this happen as efficiently as possible?
A lot of people are calling in sick and I’m struggling to meet demand, what options are available to me?
I’m trying to implement social distancing in the workplace but can’t figure it out, can you help?
My grocery business has tripled. What can I do to keep up with demand?
We’ve compiled a list of resources for your reference(here) and are updating that as we find more information.
In an effort to better meet your needs, we’ve also added a remote support service offering on our web page (here).
If you have a problem, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to help!
Contact Us for 2021 Dates! Online – Web based FSPCA Preventive Controls for Human Food Course – Blended Learning Option
Instructor – Teri Danielson
This course, developed by FSPCA, is the “standardized curriculum” recognized by FDA. Successfully completing this course is one way to meet the requirements for a “preventive controls qualified individual.”
The FSPCA Preventive Controls for Human Food Blended Course has two parts:
Part 1: Online Part 2: Instructor Led – Virtual
To successfully complete the course, you must completed both Part 1 and Part 2. A Certificate of Attendance will be provided after you have successfully completed both parts.
It’s your worst nightmare as a food producer – you get the call, whether it be from a consumer or a regulatory agency, and find out your company is in a situation where products need to be recalled. Are you prepared? How do you know? What can you do to ensure you are ready should an event arise that requires you to recall.
First, don’t panic. Preparation for a recall requires focus on four main areas:
We are going to focus on the first area – assessment.
This is an area companies sometimes forget to consider when creating a recall plan or running a mock recall. The assessment area includes the initial notification that triggers the recall team to get together, data gathering and the decision whether or not to recall. Questions to ask to help prepare include:
What are the ways we might learn about a recall? Do we have processes in place to ensure that information gets to the right people?
Have we trained our employees how to respond and gather information from customers and others when a food safety situation is reported?
Do we have a simple way to objectively look at the data and information to decide if we are in a recall situation?
So what should your company have in place to address these questions? A good starting place is to create a customer complaint record or log that walks through the common questions that should be asked when a customer calls in with a comment or complaint. You may want to create a similar record for notifications that come from other sources, too, like regulatory agencies, suppliers or a media notification.
Once you have created the record or log, sit down with the employees in your company who typically handle customer calls and walk through some examples of how to gather information using the log, and when to escalate a complaint to the next level. Having a process in place to quickly identify if a complaint requires further action, and knowing what information to gather from the customer will save time in the event of an actual recall, and help your team make a better decision.
Finally, using an evaluation template to lay out all the information you have gathered is a great way to help the recall team decide whether or not a recall is warranted. A good evaluation template lays out the information in a way that makes the decision apparent. We use a form with our clients, that includes sections to identify the category of issue, the type of hazard and the severity and likelihood of the hazard.
When we run mock recalls with our clients, we like to start with a mock customer complaint. That way, the team handling consumer calls gets practice as well as the recall team. And the assessment portion of the recall plan gets a good workout, too. Next time you run your regular scheduled mock recall, try testing your notification and assessment processes, and see what you find.