Are Executives Getting Fake News Regarding Lean Implementation

 

If you been a Lean Practitioner for more than a decade I’m sure you can relate to the post today.

 

When listening to top executives give presentation regarding continuous improvement I’m always encouraged. They didn’t get where they’re at without great communication skills and charisma. After all these are true believers appears only the successfully of continuous improvement program reports get to their desks.

The Presentation

You know we’re thriving to be a world class customer focused organization that is agile and sensitive to the needs of all shareholders and employees. We shall remove waste and redundancy and put in place lean operating systems that drive proper linkage and flow throughout the organizing.

The Reaction

Typically everyone is energized and ready to kick waste in the butt. The buzz is starting everyone knows of some type waste and redundancy in their own jobs. Practically everyone begins to collect lists of turn backs and system failures.

The Implementation

Now it’s time to learn the lean tools. This is where things begin to get rocky. Most have expectations to begin problem solving at least the low hanging fruit. However there is a process for problem solving and you have not learned it yet. Someone might say “if the mortgage department personnel simply created a completion checklist like our Detroit division we could reduce errors tremendously.” The normal answer would be once you’ve been trained you’ll understand how to quantify, Pareto and present your issue for later review.  No brainer issues are sometimes lost in the discussion making harder to present the problem than to just solve it.

 Training

Now it’s time to learn the tools. During training you learn all the great slogans terms and theory of lean. On paper it all makes sense looks attainable and once again you get another tingling of hope that this just might work.

The Work Shops

Now it’s time to put that training to use and pick a issue to tackle.  Of course most issues have been selected in advance by management not organically derived because group may decide on a real problem that isn’t solvable but highlighting that would be of great importance to everyone. Sometimes understanding your limitations is the only ways overcome them. As a result problem that is clearly solvable at least on paper is chosen I understand both pros and cons of this.

The Report Out

After a week or two of problem solving and using all the tools of quality it’s time to report out to management. I have never seen one not a single one fail to present a success that is to be the template of all other problems regardless of the complexity.

The Results

The results always seemed mixed. While everyone understands and appreciates the tools and methodology, the workshop subject was just a microcosm of a much more complex system. Much low hanging fruit is lost due to the complexity of the tools and the truly complex problems are never really addressed. Basically it seems learning the tools were really the product not truly solving the problems they were meant to solve. When this happens the next problem solving tool is developed and rolled out  before the last tool was fully implemented. Creating what we all know is the flavor of the month quality system.

The Question

If after continuous training and so called successful culture change events that were all successful why aren’t all organizations meeting their targets. So I ask again “Does Accurate Lean Reporting Get to Top of Organizations?”

Tell us of your story in implementing lean principles there are plenty waiting to be heard.

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The Promise of ERP

By Guest Contributor

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software implementation is a business trend that show no signs of stopping, albeit growing at a slower pace than in the past.  For many growing businesses ERP seems like the ‘obvious’ solution to address many of the growth issues that their business is facing. And for some, it feels like not opting to deploy an ERP system is akin to conceding to the competition.

But is this really the case? Does ERP deliver the goods for most businesses, most of the time?

The answer of course depends on who you ask. Data about ERP implementation results is contradictory and depends largely on the definitions used to determine the final outcome. Some studies suggest an incredible 72% failure rate, while others indicate meaningful benefits to working with an ERP software consultancy.

For businesses considering a new ERP system it’s a good idea to tread carefully. When it goes right, ERP can be an irreplaceable driver of productivity. But when things go wrong, they go really wrong.

The Good News

In a best case scenario companies will benefit from using a software designed for their specific needs. Best practices are baked right into the system, which could improve some internal processes. And the company will likely save on IT costs and costs related to using multiple software services.

Furthermore, ERP enables a deep level of visibility into the current status across all aspects of the company. This makes it much easier to deploy resources more effectively and address issues before they become critical.

Best of all, integrated and automated workflows replace wasteful manual work moving data across systems. For example, if an order is received then every relevant person across multiple business divisions is immediately updated and knows exactly what is expected from them to complete the order. Continue reading

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Why Work for Work-Life Balance

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance as a CEO can seem a bit like an uphill battle. Okay, scratch that, it definitely is an uphill battle. If you don’t just own one, but several companies, you might have already thrown in the towel and devoted all your time for the foreseeable future to work. George Johnson was in that same boat and jumped ship to start a Cornwall HVAC Company. He was so successful that he expanded into several different cities across Ontario. His success can be partially attributed to his decision to cut back on work and gain back his work/life balance. Instead of being under constant pressure, he could cultivate good relationships with employees, which enabled him to step back and enjoy more of his non-work life. That affect snowballed; the happier he was, the happier his employees were, which also translated to good customer relations. George’s work-life balance led him to a more successful and to have a much happier, and healthier life.

What about you? George Johnson is a great example of how attaining a healthy work/life balance allows you to succeed more at work by working less. First, let’s look at a few indications you need to work on your work/life balance, then we will go over how you can start working towards this balance.

Signs you need a break
Sometimes it’s obvious you need a break. You have trouble sleeping, are constantly on your phone responding to business emails over dinner and are constantly tired. But sometimes the signs are a little subtler and only have affect years down the road. If you can tick of more than half these things listed below you may need to work on your work/life balance:

– You work longer than all your colleagues
– You are constantly thinking about work
– You find yourself missing social events in favor of work
– You get sick frequently
– Your relationships become tense instead of enjoyable
– You think your work achievements are the most important thing in your life

The first step to work/life balance
Building a work/life balance doesn’t happen overnight. In fact it’s practically impossible to suddenly restructure your life in one night. That’s why the first piece of advice is to start small. This means both that you should make small changes to your routine to work towards having a better balance and that you should be mindful of taking on too many large work projects. Like taking over several companies, unless you have a strong management team you really trust, adding to your workload is NOT the answer.

You’re not alone
In today’s world of competition and things, it can be easy to get caught up in the need for “more”, most of us do at some point. But more what is the question you should ask yourself. More stuff? Or more moments? Do you think anyone every looked back on their life and regretted not spending more time at work? Doubtful. But did they regret not taking that trip with their family? Not taking the time to enjoy more backyard bar-b-ques with friends? Not reading all they wanted to read or seeing all they wanted to see? That’s a pretty safe bet.

Don’t let it happen to you, stand back and take a look at your life. Is it balanced? Do you have more smiles and good times than work times? If not, you need to get to work fixing that and you never know what the pay-off will be…

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Personalized Business Approach, Still a Win!

With the world seemingly being taken over by large impersonal conglomerates, one swallowing up another, it’s nice to know that there are still down to earth companies and CEOs out there.   A great example is Michael Thorn.  No, you’ve never heard of him and he does not appear on CNN or Fox, but he’s a nice and very busy guy.

For 40+ years Micheal Thorn has been a hands on businessman.  Michael has always believed in the personal touch and his hands on approach to the many businesses he has invested in means he is constantly involved in daily operations.

In his 40-year career, Micheal has spent the majority, 25 years, working in operating manufacturing companies.  His experience in this sector is highly adaptable to other industries.  In 15 years he has locked in 20 acquisitions for several companies and handled all financial matters for the company transactions, while still maintaining in touch with the employees.  To him all his employees are more than just numbers, they are an integral part of each business and he treats them as such.  He believes that taking a personalized approach to his employees, allows them to take a personalized approach to their customers.

The success of his companies such as LockDSolid, which supplies school lockers and secure storage solution for schools and government agencies around the world, is just one of many high growth companies he has championed.  One of his defining characteristics is his ability to lead and help new businesses succeed.  He has been involved in 6 start-ups in various roles from investor and advisor, to manager or President.  In all cases he starts with learning the industry from the ground up and makes sure his team is right there with him learning.  Michael believes that continuous improvement, on both a personal and professional level, as well as working closely with his team, are the keys to success.

He is not only devoted to his multiple business investments but to his family as well.  Describing himself as a family man, he has always taught his children the importance of listening and learning from those with more experience and knowledge.  He believes there is no shame in letting someone else show you how it’s done.  Happily this close personal approach has also lead them into working together in some of his businesses.

So, yes it’s true, you don’t have to be a cut throat giant to succeed in today’s business world!

 

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The Begin of the End of Performance Reviews Hooray

Finally after decades of use the performance review as we know it is being phased out. The world is finally catching up with W. Edwards Deming who called for the elimination of performance appraisals decades ago!  In regard to reviews Deming wrote ….

It leaves people bitter, crushed, bruised, battered, desolate, despondent, dejected, feeling inferior some even depressed, unfit for work for weeks after receipt of rating, unable to comprehend why they are inferior. It is unfair, as it ascribes to the people in a group differences that may be caused totally by the system that they work in.

According to Deming the system that people work in and the interaction with people may account for 90 or 95 percent of performance.

I was elated to read General Electric, Accenture, Microsoft and Adobe were all phasing out traditional performance reviews. Performance reviews have been one of the longest running joke an irritant in organizations for years. In many instances they are no longer performance reviews but rather performance contests.

Take stack rankings one of the most idiotic and anti-Deming type performance reviews. Contestants I mean employees are rated on a bell curve system. This means if Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg made up the entrepreneurial department only one could be rated high and one has to be rated low. This system along with being nonsensical is also unethical in my opinion.

While I’m delighted by the demise of performance reviews I’m sadden that it has taken so long. Kudos to those organizations trying to eliminate one of the biggest areas of waste that remains. That can only be the work of true LEAN SOLDIERS!

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Lost Art of Expediting – Flight Club

Fast job!

Expediter, in manufacturing that is job title that is all but extinct. If you’re too young to remember the Expediter was the person responsible to keep shit moving, I mean the one employed to ensure efficient movement of goods or supplies in a business.

This role was typically assigned to the production and inventory control department. You’re probably saying to yourself we have people that do that heck I do that but I’m not call an Expediter. The role was eliminated in the 80’s during the total quality management boon. No self-respecting lean, agile, world class, Toyota wannabe, Malcolm Baldridge award seeking company would ever need to employ an Expediter! That would simply be admitting your production system wasn’t robust enough to provide steady linkage and flow. So poof the job of Expediter was eliminated.

But of course we all know the job title gone but after three decades lean activities the job continues. Ask any procurement or material control employee how much time they spend expediting. If chasing delinquent orders wasn’t enough they’re now budgets, sales and inventory goals to consider (oftentimes conflicting). For these individuals work revolves around end of week, end of month, end of quarter and end of year.

I know every reader of this post is in an organization that is going to eliminate the need to expedite by implementing world class systems leveraging the latest technologies and attracting the most talented and motivated individuals to carry out the vision. However in the meantime for the small group of people that still performs this function under an assumed title here are the rules of “Expediter Club A.K.A Flight Club”!

Rules of Flight Club

  1. You do not talk about being in Flight Club; you’re a Supervisor, Purchasing Agent who happens to Expedite. Not a Expediter they no longer exist in world class organizations.
  2. You DO NOT talk about being a Flight Club; you’re a Supervisor, Purchasing Agent who happens to Expedite. Not a Expediter they no longer exist in world class organizations.
  3. If someone says stop or taps out don’t stress out just escalate issue to management. Never stress above your pay grade.
  4. Only ask for assistance or information twice before escalating issue to someone’s superior. Your job is to get things done not to nag.
  5. You can only have one allegiance and that’s to your company. Be fair, ethical and honest.
  6. No suits or ties Flight Club are for office soldiers only. Dockers are cool.
  7. Campaign shall continue until parts are delivered, goal has been met and customers both internal and external are satisfied.
  8. If this is your first job in supply management or procurement you MUST expedite. Don’t be fooled by the lofty job description and high level of required education much of your job will consist of pushing and pulling.

So there you have it Lean Soldier the rules of Flight Club!

You have comment or article please share we would love to hear from you.

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GOOD PEOPLE IN BAD SYSTEMS

Edwards Deming

Edwards Deming

One memorable quote of W. Edwards Deming was “A bad system will beat a good person every time”. This is relevant because most organizations focused primarily on developing people not processes. The stars of these organizations are those who know how to work outside the system to get things done. If this is how your managers moved through the ranks there is little incentive for them to improve the process.

 

Think of politics today I believe we can all agree the government is no longer as functional as it was in the past. Government can no longer do even small things without a high level of drama and partisanship. In November of 2015 Congress has an approval rating of 11% but in 2014 95% of house members were reelected. How does this happen” Read Deming’s quote again but slower.

I’m afraid the same thing is happening in business as government. The PROCESS no longer yields results. How much time do you spend daily feeding information to a chart hungry organization? I ‘m a chart wonk myself but that is only one part of the process. The ultimate goal is not the chart but the actions taken after it’s generated. When the tools of improvement become the focus rather than the results of those tools than you’ve lost focus. We spend far too many hours generating data rather than solving problems. Too much time sharpening our axes but never swinging them! Teaching continuous improvement in an organization to all shouldn’t be your main focus RESULTS of that teaching should. It would be better to have the talented tenth of the organization learning and leading then mandating 100% participation then calling that success.

Organizations also spend an exorbitant amount of time on employee reviews. Deming saw employee reviews as a total waste of time for improving performance. I totally agree.

Deming wrote..

The fact is that the system that people work in and the interaction with people may account for 90 or 95 percent of performance”.

So basically whatever plan, goal or objective you and your manager agree upon it’s the process that will dictate success.

As Lean Soldier (Practitioner) our job is to lead the call in the elimination of waste wherever it’s found. Do you feel your activities are yielding results or just part of a larger dog and pony show? Regardless keep moving toward real change improving THE PROCESS that’s where exponential growth can be found.

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WITHOUT INVENTORY FLOW AND FIFO DON’T MIX

The purpose of lean manufacturing is simply to eliminate waste and increase value for customers and shareholders. The theory is to have optimum linkage and flow throughout your value stream. The rate of your production should match the rate of the demand. Sounds easy enough unfortunately there are always two assumptions made that typically derail the project from the start.

  1. The Customer demand will be level or will allowed to be leveled.
  2. Shared resources can be managed easily.

I’ve found these two assumptions the most common reasons lean implementation fails. Continue reading

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CORPORATE OR ORGANIC CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT

If you work in a medium or large organization I’ll bet there is a continuous improvement activity, in progress, planned or just completing. With so much emphasis on continuous improvement its mind boggling that 80% of implementations fail according to the Center of Excellence in Operations. That doesn’t surprise me while I’ve witnessed pockets of excellence yet to experience anywhere near the full potential of Continuous Improvement or Lean Transformation programs.
The reason for failure are numerous and typically obvious to most within an organization. Failures are result age old issues nothing new to see here.
• Focus on short term financial goals.
• Lack of Leadership.
• Silos competing and wrestling with conflicting goals.
• Targeting the wrong metrics
• Ineffective Communication

Continue reading

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What Every Supply Chain Graduate Should Know

Congratulation you just received your degree in supply chain management. You have chosen a rewarding, challenging and oftentimes frustrating profession. The business schools do an excellent job teaching the theory of supply chain management but it never comes close to simulating the real world experience. Without fail every graduate I’ve trained or mentored was more than mildly surprised at both the simplicity and complexity of the profession. Here are some of the comments of new supply chain professionals.

  • The position is nothing like how it was portrayed in college.
  • Did I really need a degree for this?
  • Business processes are not as robust as portrayed in college textbooks.
  • Does the organization recognize all the waste and inefficiencies?

If you’re a seasoned professional I’m sure that sounds familiar.
Continue reading

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