Work the process & work ON the process!


It’s been a wild ride over these past 20 months since we bought Bolthouse Farms back from Campbell’s.  The challenges of turning around a business in steep decline, executing a “carve-out” of a business that had been integrated into a bigger entity, rebuilding a team across all functions/levels … and then Covid hit! In the midst of these significant challenges, the business is growing, the team stronger than ever, and we have learned so much and become stronger through facing and overcoming challenges in our way.  A great lesson was shared last week in a “zoom call,” that I want to pass along today.


Late last week, we had our weekly S&OP (sales & operations planning) call and one of our excellent, long-term Bolthouse veterans John (no last names on the blog!) was on the call early when I signed in.  He and I had a couple of minutes to catch up and were talking about our fast growing beverage business and how hard it was to get the right flavors, in the right size, in the right level of inventory, to the right customer …etc!  We were talking about how hard it was to run a tight S&OP process in a high growth business and John shared a powerful insight….” You know Bill, we have to work the process and work ON the process at the same time!”


That simple phrase really hit home in this moment/situation, but is so true broadly.  Too often we don’t even do the first part very well; we often don’t even have a consistent business process and if we do have one we don’t execute it in a consistent, disciplined fashion.  Knowing this, the idea that we have to always “work ON the process,” identifying ways to improve WHAT we do and HOW we do it was the deep insight of John’s comment.  


Even though our business is booming, and so many good things are happening, we need to push ourselves to improve our processes broadly.  To often companies wait for things to go bad to start thinking about changes, the trick is to dive into this work when things are going well… that’s the perfect time to work and work ON your processes!


A few helpful tips:


Ø  Think about your business/enterprise/organization and identify the key operational processes that are required to get the work done, and insure you have a structured, disciplined process in place.

Ø  Once those core processes are set, don’t get bored with them!  Execute and lead those processes with intensity and efficiency and insure the broader organization knows that those process steps are key to the organization’s success.

Ø  Look for the processes and that need improvement and work ON those processes very publicly.  Identify and implement improvement steps and you will insure that your processes will continue to improve over time!