Spam first arrived in England during the second world war – a unique combination of pork shoulder and ham. For wartime families, it was a cheap and welcome alternative to corned beef. It’s still around today with over 8 billion cans sold in more than 40 countries. Monty Python were mightily impressed by this canned wonder-food and filmed a tribute to its greatness. Their sketch promoted the idea that Spam was everywhere and quite literally impossible to avoid. This eventually led to it being used as a description for unsolicited email. In my day job as an IT director, SPAM is an acronym that reminds me to step back now and again and see the bigger picture.

Sustain

Sustain the shortest possible lead time for your customers. Lead time is the delay between a customer making an order and the order being delivered. Early delivery leads to earlier value. Whilst this is important, it’s essential to work at a sustainable pace. You want to make sure that your team is not  burned out or demotivated.

Preserve

Preserve the quality of your product and the value you provide to your customers at all times. Do not sacrifice quality to deliver quicker – this inevitably leads to reduced value. Understand what value really means to your customers in terms of the service you are providing.

Achieve

Achieve the lowest cost that you can –  that is fair to both you and your customers. Reduced cost comes from working efficiently and delivering value that meets your customer’s expectations. All other things being equal, your customers will prefer lower costs. This should not compromise your longevity as a supplier.

Maintain

Do these things whilst maintaining your employees’ morale and safety. Also maintain a great working environment for everyone. After all, the happiest people do the best work.

Step back now and again. Think about what you are really trying to deliver – and how.