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Management Side
Displaying Articles 1 - 25 of 101
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Week of 28 September 2020: What are you worth?
Week of 28 September 2020: What are you worth?

Friend of mine recently told me a story. It went like this. Decades ago, when he was first hired by a major company in this industry, his boss sat him down and said, "We have your salary wrong." This was a startling revelation. The boss went on, "When we hire young folks like you, we slot you into the system based on lots of studies and identifying attributes. But it is all just a guess. For sure, what you are worth is not reflected in your salary right now, for we are just not that smart. In a few months, we'll have a better idea of what you are worth. We may be overpaying you or underpaying you now, but the truth will come out in time..."

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Week of 21 September 2020: A curious loss of competitive edge
Week of 21 September 2020: A curious loss of competitive edge

As we continue to talk about management issues this month, I want to bring up something that has been bothering me for a long time. It is simply this...in the human resources area I think well developed countries may be losing a competitive edge when it comes to thinking about the newer generations of employees, hourly and salaried, entering our mills these days. My thoughts are these...

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Week of 14 September 2020: When you are lost as a manager
Week of 14 September 2020: When you are lost as a manager

Especially when I was a younger manager, I would lose sight of the objectives at hand. After all, forces are tugging you in a million different directions at once, it is easily to become distracted. Print this column and carry it around in your pocket if you need to for a while.

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Week of 7 September 2020: So you want a new job
Week of 7 September 2020: So you want a new job

We will cover three topics this week.

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Week of 31 August 2020: The Big Lie
Week of 31 August 2020: The Big Lie

I returned to the convention and another case was just wrapping up. Missed it. Sorry. The Great Mother said, "Any more cases?" The clerk responded, "Gup is here and has something to say about project management." "Come on up, Gup!"

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Week of 24 August 2020: Fos takes a trip
Week of 24 August 2020: Fos takes a trip

Well, while the convention continues, I wanted to take some time to tell you a story I witnessed firsthand. This happened many lights, ago, so many I can't count them. What Mr. Jim doesn't know is that I have been following him around for a very long time, since he was a young man. One time, on a certain project, it was his job to escort Big Things called "contractors" across the sea to check out some equipment that was to be installed at his papermill. When I heard about this, I was certain I did not want to miss it. So, I slid in his briefcase, went home with him, and then along on the trip.

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Week of 17 August 2020: Dealing with Suppliers
Week of 17 August 2020: Dealing with Suppliers

Our convention had finally settled down and we were getting a number of interesting stories. The Great Mother, after a break, ask if anyone had a story to relate, perhaps not from the pulp and paper industry, but that would be a lesson learned. Old Soc raised his tail...

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Week of 10 August 2020: Where do we get these people?
Week of 10 August 2020: Where do we get these people?

Well, we finally got relocated to the new location. Much safer here than it was in that crazy city. The Great Mother called us to order. "Okay, rats, what do we have on the docket for today?"

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Week of 3 August 2020: Corruption Month
Week of 3 August 2020: Corruption Month

Since last year, the Great Mother has passed on to Rat Heaven and we have a new cadre in charge. The word came out early in the year that we will be convening in a big city on a big lake in the middle of the country. There is a lot of pulp and paper business there and so many rats live fairly close at hand.

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Week of 27 July 2020: Not an excuse
Week of 27 July 2020: Not an excuse

Environmental policies and other regulations are the cost of doing business in the modern civilized world. If you are going to operate a business in today's world, you must do it legally, it is part of the job. I have seen a number of excuses made over the years that do nothing to endear customers to businesses when such matters are used as excuses.

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Week of 20 July 2020: Keeping Focused
Week of 20 July 2020: Keeping Focused

I don't think there has ever been a time in my fifty years in industry that I have seen more potential hazards distracting us from our primary purpose in business which is, of course (all together), "spinning the invoice printer." We have been forced to step beyond the traditional corporate responsibilities (environment, regulations, equal opportunity employment and so forth).

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Week of 13 July 2020: Has the Covid-19 experience soiled the Environmental Movement?
Week of 13 July 2020: Has the Covid-19 experience soiled the Environmental Movement?

I have met no one who doesn't want clean soil, water and air for themselves, their families and succeeding generations. How could anyone be against such attributes? Yet there are portions of the environmental movement that hinge on the invisible. The whole discussion on the proper balance of carbon dioxide that is appropriate in the atmosphere, for instance, is a discussion best left to learned scientists and mathematicians. Carbon dioxide, in its gaseous form is invisible. Just like Covid-19. The effects of Covid-19 are visible and timely while Covid-19 is just as invisible as Carbon Dioxide.

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Week of 6 July 2020: Environmental/Regulations Month: the new rules today
Week of 6 July 2020: Environmental/Regulations Month: the new rules today

As we find ourselves mid-year 2020, our standard editorial topics for the month, Environmental/Regulations seem almost naïve. I have not heard anyone talk about the environment for months. There is plenty of talk about regulations, but they are not the kinds of regulations we normally talk about. The world of 2020 is something we have not seen before, and, on top of that, it is not a local thing--it is worldwide.

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Week of 29 June 2020: Purchasing and Graft
Week of 29 June 2020: Purchasing and Graft

The purchasing department should not only set the example for dealing with suppliers, the purchasing department should be the department that sets the policy for the entire mill. And, then, they should be the one that polices it, too. What is the right limit to be allowed for favors brought in by suppliers?

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Week of 22 June 2020: Providing true expediting service to your mill
Week of 22 June 2020: Providing true expediting service to your mill

Granted, it is a long time since I was internal to a mill as an employee and just maybe this probably has been fixed by now, but I doubt it. I am talking about expediting services. By the way, Amazon provides expediting updates for free on the tiniest of orders--it is part of their overall service. So, do not tell me, purchasing department, you cannot do this.

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Week of 15 June 2020: You are not fooling anybody
Week of 15 June 2020: You are not fooling anybody

Once in a while, a purchasing department decides to get clever and extend payment terms. You can pull this stunt about once with each supplier. For when they figure it out, your prices are going up. Your suppliers and their competitors do not have to collude to raise your prices, they all instinctively know that if you are doing this to everyone, all your suppliers are going to pay you back in kind.

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Week of 8 June 2020: Purchasing and Education
Week of 8 June 2020: Purchasing and Education

Last week we talked about the role of purchasing. I never once brought up negotiating a good price. I am not going to bring up negotiating a good price this week, either. This week, we will talk about educating the purchasing department. And we are not going to talk about contract writing as we talk about education.

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Week of 1 June 2020: What is the role of purchasing?
Week of 1 June 2020: What is the role of purchasing?

Purchasing experiences in my career are legion and become cuter and cuter as time goes by. I have the whole month of June (5 columns) to explain this statement, so I'll not bother doing so now, but faithful readers will see it unfold as we go along. What is the first and most important job of purchasing?

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Week of 25 May 2020: One more view on energy trends
Week of 25 May 2020: One more view on energy trends

Energy is saved by the milliliter, not the liter or dekaliter. In order to do this, you must have everyone looking for the opportunities.

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Week of 18 May 2020: More Energy Trend Problems
Week of 18 May 2020: More Energy Trend Problems

This month, I have been telling you, when it comes to energy trends, what you do not control you cannot predict. Thus, I have been admonishing you to know what you control, control it, and then miserly buy what other energy you may need. I thought I would give you a couple of examples, one new, one old, demonstrating energy matters you cannot predict.

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Week of 11 May 2020: What is predictable in energy trends?
Week of 11 May 2020: What is predictable in energy trends?

In a world where every storage tank, every ocean-going tanker, every cavern or old mine that can be modified for oil storage is full to overflowing, what can we say about energy trends? Add to this the popular public anathema to fossil fuels, and one can find themselves in a tight box with no way virtually no way out. In these times, energy trends become what you can control. What you can control means what you own. It was pretty clear in my Mennonite example last week how they control their energy costs. You, mill manager, have to do the same thing.

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Week of 4 May 2020: When energy is precious
Week of 4 May 2020: When energy is precious

In July of 2018, I received a letter from a gentleman who lives in a Mennonite community in southern Ohio. He had been reading my opinion column in a small southern Ohio town's newspaper for several years. He, and the leaders of the community, liked my viewpoints. They invited me to visit them. We corresponded a bit and I arranged to come see his family and the community in October of that year. I got off the bus (the method of travel he recommended) at another small southern Ohio town and he was there to meet me with a buggy. It took us a couple of hours to make the ten-mile trip from the bus stop to his farm. Our method of propulsion for this buggy journey was, I kid you not, "Rocket"--a small middle-aged black gelding, about thirteen hands high.

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Week of 27 April 2020: The Safety Gulf
Week of 27 April 2020: The Safety Gulf

Safety failures seem to fall into two categories.

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Week of 20 April 2020: Robots mean maintenance safety
Week of 20 April 2020: Robots mean maintenance safety

In the current pandemic, we are seeing grocery stores accelerate their adoption of robots to restock store shelves. Once done, this will never go back to the old ways. The world of maintenance in our pulp and paper mills (and downstream plants) can work the same way.

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Week of 13 April 2020: Lurking Dangers
Week of 13 April 2020: Lurking Dangers

If there is one thing the current COVID-19 crisis should teach us, if taken as an allegorical experience, is that dangers affecting safety are not always out in the open. I've told this story many times before, but perhaps you have not heard it...

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