Thermoforming Report

2023 in Review: Highlights & Insights

by Keith Brown, President & Owner, Siena Group.


It’s that time of year… or is this blog already behind? Like most, I’ve been contemplative about the past year and planned to post this Reflections article before 2023 ended. But the fourth quarter had different intentions – it was absolutely bonkers! We were focused on meeting the needs of our clients – leaving little time to reflect.

So, after a well-earned holiday vacation, we hit it hard on January 2, taking some time to review last year’s results, make some decisions on our 2024 goals, and think about what we want to accomplish in what is typically fairly chaotic in the recruiting world – an election year.

Looking Backward: Highlights

So, where do we start in our Reflections? First, it is about looking backward.   

  • What went well?   
  • Why did those things succeed?   
  • What didn’t go so well?   
  • And why did those failures occur?  

Nothing new about this approach! It is tried and true. 

So, what went well for Siena Group this year? One key huge positive was, in a word, marketing. 

I am a manufacturing guy through and through… and a Process Engineer at my core. Therefore, I look through that proverbial lens to assess results. The efforts of our Marketing and Operations Director paid dividends this year! Are they exactly quantifiable? Not directly. But the investment translated to a very consistent delivery of top-notch content – both in the form of our Thermoforming Reports, these monthly blog posts, and in the weekly Featured Talent series. 

Looking Ahead: Insights

Does anyone remember working through BHAGs?!?  I do! 

Back in the early days of my leadership journey with Kimberly-Clark, our plant was very typical – each team had a dozen or so goals we were working to achieve. Though we did well, it was a bit of a mess. That is when the concept of ‘less is more’ became relevant to us, and the idea of BHAGs was introduced. (It helped that our Plant Manager was well-read and came across the BHAG concept in Jim Collins’ book.)   

A “Bee Hag” stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal. Instead of many different goals developed by each of the individual operating teams at the plant, we, as a leadership team, developed a very short list of BHAGs. In doing so, the entire plant had common goals, and we went on to accomplish great things together! We were already a good organization, but our performance collectively improved when we streamlined our goals for the year… proverbially moving from ‘good to great’ (coincidentally the title of another great Jim Collins book).

Though I say this often, these concepts are not new. Even so, the application of these concepts still requires an investment of time and resources to accomplish! A great article that emphasizes this point is “Start 2024 off Strong With a One-Word Goal,” by Ashleigh Walters. The gist of her article takes the idea of the BHAG and boils it down to one word. Interesting approach and one that resonates with me! 

To take Ashleigh’s advice as I reflect on the last few years, just like she did in her organization (she was president of her organization for many years), I would describe our goals at Siena Group like this: 

  • 2021: Grow 
  • 2022: Get Help! 
  • 2023: Diversify 
  • 2024: Consistency 

The business of recruiting is inherently chaotic… and therefore inconsistent! How, then, is consistency the BHOWG?  (My own take on a ‘big hairy one-word goal’😏 .) Well, it boils down to managing those things that are in our control to the best of our ability. Lisa, our acclaimed Marketing and Operations Director as highlighted above, has developed a rigorous schedule to ensure a constant flow of information and content. This constancy is, well, consistent. And it has paid off!   

The fits and starts that we endured in 2023 can be smoothed out with an improved approach. We generated a tracking tool to clarify priorities – and now it must be utilized to ensure the proper focus is applied when and where it is needed. Planning ahead must be done – and adhered to the extent possible. Things will no doubt get off track, but with a plan in place, getting back on track should be easy.   

What’s crazy about these two simple things – leveraging a prioritization tool and planning – were two key concepts at the initial MRINetwork training when I made the career change into recruiting! After nearly 10 years and lots of learning, successes, and failures, their meaning and impact are much bigger than I ever remember!! 

Back to the Future

So, these great business concepts that I keep repeating in the various forms and publications are as much a reminder to you… and more so preaching to myself to actually use

  1. Purpose. Boil down your business and/or personal goals to no more than three. Simple and straightforward is power! 
  1. Prioritize. There is always a lot of noise and things pulling you in different directions. That’s ok, but make sure you know where you should focus and how to refocus when distracted. 
  1. Plan. I know, boring. But as I’ve said in the past, “manufacturing happens” and when it does, the entire team needs to know what to do next when the crisis is resolved. Your plan may only be a week out or it may be two full months. Either way and in whatever business you are in, without a plan, the likelihood that you will accomplish your goals in a timely manner is significantly reduced. 

So, what can you expect from Siena Group in 2024? 

From a marketing standpoint, we will PURPOSE to continue featuring an amazing person every week, we will generate our Thermoforming Report once a month, and I will write a new blog once a month. 

From a business perspective, we will PRIORITIZE to dramatically improve our ability to quickly fill roles with amazing thermoforming talent. 

Ultimately, we will PLAN to be extraordinarily consistent in how and what we do and, in turn, meet the needs of our clients and candidates in remarkable ways! 

At Siena Group, we are your Thermoforming Talent Partner! We’re here to help in any and every way possible! With more than 30 years of experience in manufacturing, hiring & recruiting talent, we bring a greater understanding of the companies we partner with and the candidates we pursue. Let’s Strengthen Your Search!

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