Supply Chain Wednesday: Harmonized Key Performance Indicators



(1) Indicator: Something that gives you information on something else

The unemployment rate is a good indicator of demand for new cars

(2) Volume: Amount, level

As volume increases, we can take advantage of economies of scale

(3) To be in conflict with: When two things cause problems by existing together

The supplier’s order specifications are in conflict with our best practices. We need to adjust one or the other.



1. Which is least likely to be a KPI?

a. Sales Volume

b. Sales Leads

c. Sales Hires

2. What is a harmonized key performance indicator?

a. An indicator that works for all (or most) areas of a company

b. An indicator that increases profits

c. An indicator that is the same for the customer and for the company

3. How might a boss request more information?

a. I want everyone to mix up…

b. I want everyone to draw up…

c. I want everyone to move up…

7 ________________________



By Jeremy Schaar

Today on the blog you’ll learn about Harmonized Key Performance Indicators (KPI). You’ll learn about an example of how a company can create good indicators. Finally, you’ll learn some real life expressions that you can use on the job.


Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are metrics a company uses to check how well they are performing. Examples of metrics include volume and how well you stay on schedule. Many different metrics can help track and motivate a department. For example, if the metric is volume, the production team will certainly do their best to produce the correct volume. If the metric is defects, then teams will try to reduce the number of defects.

The difficult situation is when metrics are in conflict. Manufacturing might need to choose between volume and defects. That’s hard, but management can direct manufacturing to focus on one thing. The bigger problem is when the metric for one department is in conflict with the metric for another department. For example, sales might be trying to increase orders. At the same time, manufacturing might be trying to decrease defects. A company with this situation could easily have too many orders


Here’s a great link to a paper by Booz and Company. Scroll down to page seven and you’ll see a great example of a harmonized key performance indicator. Harmonized key performance indicators work well for all (or most) areas of a company. In the paper, they write about the cash conversion cycle. They write that this is “a single metric to focus everyone on the speed of moving things along the supply chain—a common theme that would impact the functional metrics of inventory, service levels, lead times, and quality.”

This should be the goal of key performance indicators. They should be metrics that work across departments. Ideally, they’ll be of use for your partners and clients as well.

On The Job

“ I want everyone to draw up a list of performance indicators that other departments could use.”

This sentence is a way to request people to think about harmonized key performance indicators. It’s something a boss would say to get more information.

“The problem is that our suppliers, our customers, and we all define the metrics differently. There’s no harmony among us.

The problem is that” is an easy way to start a sentence about a complaint. It clearly announces it. In this case the problem is about the harmony of metrics.

Got questions or comments? How about practicing some new vocabulary and posting your thoughts on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter?


Answers To Today’s Questions

C, A, B


You Can Do It All Yourself But You Dont Have To

Business Strategy Monday: Microsoft’s New Strategy



(1) Implication: Things that become true because of something else.

The implications for an improving economy are probably more jobs and higher profits.

(2) To make a case for something: To argue something is true.

We made our case for expanding into Japan, now we need to see if they’ll accept our proposal.

(3) Default device: The device people will use when they’re unsure or don’t get to make a choice

The default device for calling people is still the phone, but it might become the computer.



1. What is Microsoft’s new strategy?

a. To make the best hardware in the world

b. To make the best software in the world

c. To make the software and hardware for their devices really good

2. What does it mean to leverage a relationship?

a. To use an existing relationship to do something else

b. To expand the relationship you have with someone

c. To begin a new partnership

3. How might Microsoft leverage its corporate relationships?

a. To sell tablets to corporations

b. To make tablets more entertaining

c. To sell tablets to the public

7 ________________________



Cartoon by

By Jeremy Schaar

In the previous two lessons, you learned what Microsoft’s strategy was and how it has changed. Today, you’ll learn about the implications for Microsoft’s strategy.

To quickly review, Microsoft’s previous strategy was to only sell software. Everyone wanted the same software, so they could charge high prices and everyone would pay. They didn’t make hardware because all the hardware was basically the same. It was a commodity and not very profitable.

Things changed for two reasons. First, hardware isn’t a commodity anymore. For example, there are significant differences between an iPhone and a Galaxy Note. Second, Google now gives away Android for free.

Therefore, Microsoft is now trying to copy Apple and make the best software/hardware bundle. They hope people will buy their devices because their hardware and software are so good.

Will this work?

It will be hard. Apple and Samsung are already great. But here’s a case for how Microsoft succeeds.

First, note that most people use their tablets for entertainment–not for work. Apple and Samsung understand this, so their tablets are designed for games and web browsing more than productivity. They don’t really try to sell tablets to corporations. The Microsoft tablet is different. Microsoft emphasizes that you can multitask with it, you can use Microsoft Office, and it has a nice stand and keyboard.

Imagine that the Microsoft tablet therefore becomes the default device for businesses. In fact, Microsoft is still very profitable because of its corporate accounts. (Many people download illegal versions of Microsoft Windows, but corporations still pay.) Microsoft can leverage those existing relationships to sell their tablets. Then, when office workers are all using their tablets, they’ll be able to expand to the general public.

With the strategy decided, it becomes a question of B2B marketing. It will be fascinating to watch how well Microsoft succeeds.

Got questions or comments? How about practicing some new vocabulary and posting your thoughts on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter?


Answers To Today’s Questions

C, A, A


You Can Do It All Yourself But You Dont Have To

Writing Great Emails: Useful Phrases #3



(1) Contact: Someone you know

I have a contact at that firm. Let me see if she can help.

(2) Independent clause: This is a grammar term. It basically means a sentence.

“Wondering about books” is a dependent clause. “I wonder about books” is an independent clause.

(3) To commit yourself: To agree to do something

I committed myself to working here for at least five years. After that, I might go back to school.



1. Is “I’ll put you in touch with” casual or formal?

a. Casual

b. Formal

c. It can be used in both situations

2. Why does “It seems as if” let you change your mind

a. You’re talking about the evidence for something, not the thing itself

b. You’re making it seem like you’re not sure about the truth

c. You’re being very direct

3. Which sentence is a stronger belief?

a. He’ll get the contract.

b. It seems as if he’ll get the contract.


Writing Great Emails


En-velop_bleu By Jeremy Schaar

This week on the blog I’ll introduce two more useful phrases. You’ll learn what they mean and read a few examples of how you might use them.

1. I’ll put you in touch with

We use I’ll put you in touch with to introduce a contact. It’s polite and can be used in formal or casual situations. The contact might be someone who can help you or who will work with you. Here are two examples:

I’ll put you in touch with Julie in HR. She’ll help you with your orientation around here.

I’ll put you in touch with Mike at the law firm. The two of you should work together to complete this project.

I’ll put you in touch with is used when you are connecting two people. It can also be used to describe anyone being connected. Here are some examples:

She got me in touch with HR. They’ve been very helpful.

I need to get in touch with someone who knows the details better.

We’ve been in touch for a long time, but this is the first time we’re working closely together.

2. It seems as if…

It seems as if is a nice way to soften your sentence and take away personal responsibility. It lets you easily change your mind. It means “I think this is true because of the evidence.” It’s followed by an independent clause. For example:

It seems as if he doesn’t care.

It seems as if we’ll get the contract.

By itself, He doesn’t care, is very direct. You’re very sure. By adding “It seems as if” to the beginning, you’re leaving some doubt. You don’t want to be rude. You’re saying that the evidence shows that he doesn’t care. But he might.

Same for the second example. Something makes you think that you’ll get the contract. But your comment is on the evidence, not the contract.

It is therefore a nice way to give an opinion without committing yourself. If the evidence changes, you can easily change your mind and not look stupid.

Want more practice? Got questions? Comment on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter.


Answers To Today’s Questions

C, A, A


You Can Do It All Yourself But You Dont Have To

Supply Chain Wednesday: Visualization



(1) A bit: A little

I’m a bit hungry. Let’s eat a snack.

(2) Nerve: The self-confidence to do something

I don’t have the nerve to ask my boss for a raise. I wish I was more brave.

(3) Metric: A way to measure something

The primary metric is sales numbers, but customer satisfaction surveys are also important.



1. Why is it a good idea to visualize your ideas?

a. They’ll be easier to understand

b. It gives you nerve

c. Both A and B

2. How can the Sherpa application help you?

a. You can perform better at meetings with better data

b. You can find metrics

c. You can visualize various metrics

3. Which sentence might you say to your boss?

a. We can do that, but here’s the impact.

b. If you do that, it will have a bad impact.

c. Show me a chart that lets me see the impact.

7 ________________________



1000 words By Jeremy Schaar

Today on the blog you’ll learn what it means to visualize ideas. You’ll also get some help understanding a cool blog. Finally, you’ll learn some real life expressions that you can use on the job.


To visualize an idea just means to create a picture that presents an idea. I might say that Company A sells oranges and apples to Company B, which uses all the apples for itself and sells half the organges to consumers and half to Company C. Or, I could visualize this idea like this:

visualized fruit


Over at, Lora Cecere talks about the need to visualize ideas.

Her discussion is in the context of “chutzpah”. Chutzpah means nerve. And nerve means the self-confidence to say or do something.

She says that at S&OP meetings, the commercial team will sometimes makes a crazy request. They use visualization software (Llamasoft’s mobile Sherpa application), to show the impacts in pictures. Everyone at the meeting can quickly see an image that shows metrics such as financials, logistics, service, sustainability, and risk.

Sentence You Can Use On The Job

“We can do that, but here is the impact.”

This is a friendly sentence. You’re letting the other person make the decision and just giving them the information. It’s a good sentence to use with your boss or another decision maker.

“This is all a bit complicated. Let’s take a look at a visual representation of this data.”

This is a good sentence for a presentation. After you’ve explained something in words, you can show a picture to make your ideas clear.

“Please find a way to visualize this. We need it to be clearer.”

This sentence is a strong sentence from a boss. You can request that your team make the information cleared by using some image or graph.

Got questions or comments? How about practicing some new vocabulary and posting your thoughts on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter?


Answers To Today’s Questions

A, C, A


You Can Do It All Yourself But You Dont Have To

Global Marketing Tuesday: Chipotle And Persona



(1) Persona: The personality of your brand

Our brand’s persona gives people something to connect with. We want them to relate to our brand like they’re a person.

(2) Factory farm: A farm that is similar to a factory

I grew up on a farm, but it was nothing like today’s factory farms. We milked cows by hand and the cows were free to go wherever they wanted.

(3) Natural ingredients: Parts of food that aren’t changed with technology

Our carrots are all natural. They’re straight from the ground to the box to the store. We don’t use any chemicals at all.



1. Why does Chipotle use a movie like this?

a. To sell more burritos

b. To create a world that strengthen’s their brand’s persona

c. To create a bond with the customer

2. What persona does Guerlain have?

a. Expensive and difficult

b. Sexy and adventurous

c. Fun and healthy

3. What persona does Chipotle have?

a. Tasty and safe

b. Fast and efficient

c. Healthy and kind

7 ________________________



By Jeremy Schaar

“Anything you want to, do it. Want to change the world? There’s nothing to it…”

Two lessons ago, I presented the eight Ps of luxury marketing. Today, we’ll continue to look at how companies use those eight Ps. Not all of the companies in this series are luxury brands, but they all use elements of luxury branding. Today, we’ll look at Chipotle and Persona.

Chipotle is a Mexican fast food restaurant. They sell burritos and tacos and so on.

Persona is an idea used by lots of companies. Luxury brands often try to put their products in fantastic worlds filled with sex and adventure. Then, you buy that product because you like the sexy and adventurous persona. Compare this video from the Guerlain perfume house with the Chipotle’s video above.

Guerlain uses the video to set their perfume in a specific world and give their brand a specific persona. Chipotle does the same. They both give their brand a persona. In the case of Chipotle, they’re saying that the world is full of factory farms, but Chipotle is different. They use natural ingredients. They’re healthy and kind. Chipotle is a big business, but they want their brand to live in the world of local farmers and good food. It’s a wonderful world and persona for a food brand.

Got questions or comments? How about practicing some new vocabulary and posting your thoughts on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter?


Answers To Today’s Questions

B, B, C


You Can Do It All Yourself But You Dont Have To

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