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Using Kaizen with Kanban

Kanban, translated to mean visual card or sign, is an extremely helpful too for manufacturing facilities that use pull systems or the Just-In-Time system. A kanban system utilizes visual communication…

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“Morale” of the Story

2 min read

Often times in continuous manufacturing improvement activities, only the machines and processes get the focus and the people are slapped back on the production line with little more than new instructions or even added responsibilities. When people are continuously dealing with alterations in what they are told to do and how to do it, it can become demeaning; you are changing the way they do their job that they have done everyday for possibly years. All of their skills and learned tricks for their job may have just been thrown out the door or replaced. An employee can feel replaceable or mistreated in this case, which lowers morale. It isn’t hard to believe that low morale leads to low productivity, lapses in concentration, and increased unplanned absences. All of these factors hurt your capacity, decrease safety, dampen improvement initiatives, and cause a void between management and labor. Therefore, high morale is important in any company for continued success and improvement.

Transparency and incorporation in the improvement process is key for maintaining higher morale. With transparency, at the very least, the employee gains exposure to the reasons why their responsibilities are changing. Accommodating the workers in this way can give them a sense of importance and (more…)

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Moneyball? How About Moneydesk?

4 min read

The movie, Moneyball, is one of my favorites. I haven’t gotten around to reading the book, yet. I have watched this movie multiple times and each time it invigorates my love for baseball statistics and makes me want to come up with my own player analyses. Some analyses have made such splashing success. The Oakland Athletics are continuously competitive each year for a fraction of the price that the richer teams are paying. In a way, “moneyball” methods are analogous to lean methods; in this case, getting more production out of the same amount of payroll. But that isn’t where I wanted to go with this post. I wanted to focus on the statistical aspects and their affect on free agency and relate them to the common workplace.

Yes, we do have methods to seek out the best prospects; its called screening and interviewing. But we ultimately base our decisions on self-representation. We base the screening process on a resume; a self-made advertisement that outlines only positives and probably embellishes on successes and responsibilities. Then in the interviewing process, we base that off how well the person comes across and presents themselves and decisions are based on potentially practiced answers that may or may not be true. When you look at the hiring process, it will probably screen out the incompetent, but it still is basically arbitrary and may not always lead the best candidate being hired. Something should be done to improve this process. (more…)

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Customer Satisfaction Guaranteed

3 min read

I recently discovered an article by Beau Groover that outlines his less-than-ideal experience in a government office process. He notes that at one point he was “almost three hours into this process and had accomplished absolutely nothing.” While Groover is clearly experienced in process improvement and has a trained eye for seeing that his experience wasn’t favorable, the general populous would also find this experience distasteful. It doesn’t take an expert to know that you are unhappily accomplishing nothing and wasting time. At the end of the article, he correctly concludes that the customer should be kept in mind when process development and improvement. It’s true, the customer is the most important part of business. The customer is the driving force behind why your business exists and the goal of your business should be to please the customer and improve ways of doing so.
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“No Problem” is a Problem

2 min read

Most people don’t like problems and will make an effort to avoid them. More importantly, if there is a problem, nobody really enjoys admitting it, especially if that person is directly responsible for it. Managers may feel this way about the processes that they supervise. Managers shouldn’t shun problems. Shunning problems leads problems to be hidden and remain unsolved. It is a false conception that they are better off if there aren’t any problems. In this case, the only problems that are solved are the ones that can’t be hidden, such as (more…)

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Building Lean Muscle

2 min read

While I was in school I remember hearing a story from a fellow student who had an internship with a company overseas. She helped them start to implement a variety of lean processes, but wasn’t able to stay long enough to see it through. A few months later, she checked in with the company to see how things went. They told her that everything went great and all of the time they were saving in their improved processes allowed them to save a bunch of money in wages. Well, that is just a way of saying that they (more…)

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The “Lean Pill” Side Effects

3 min read

I stumbled across an article called Lean and Sick by Praveen Gupta. Gupta points out his gripes with lean systems, “Lean has become more of displaying numbers, reorganizing the floor and such, but still most businesses shrink as there is little focus on customers and not much impact on growth.” He has a good point. Lean does in fact help display (more…)

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