Mike Figliuolo’s picture

By: Mike Figliuolo

Driving a strong business starts with the people who work for your business, and those people align with the business through the company culture. How are you shaping yours?

A high-performing culture is one where people drive performance because of the right behaviors. They’ve embedded these behaviors in their everyday life. People in high-performing cultures require less supervision. They’re empowered to achieve goals that are consistent with the organization’s direction.

As a leader, you need to understand how to build a high-performing culture and be responsible for making it happen. There are six components to building a high-performing culture.

Define the culture
What is a high performance? What are the desired behaviors? How will you know when you’ve achieved a high-performing culture?

Set direction
What’s the vision for the organization? What’s the organization’s purpose? You must be able to articulate this to the team.

Communicate the culture
What are the communication vehicles and techniques you’re going to use to reinforce culture every day?

Frances Brunelle’s picture

By: Frances Brunelle

Just as baby boomers on the manufacturing plant floor are getting ready to retire, so are the owners. More than 5,000 small manufacturing operations (with annual revenues between $2 and $20 million) will either close their doors or find new owners during the next five years.

Some of these owners are motivated to keep the business running for their seasoned and experienced employees. Others really want to “cash-out” after decades of hard work. What few of these founders/owners consider is what they can do during the next year to help their businesses be seen as attractive and worthwhile to prospective buyers.

sell your manufacturing business

Mark Rosenthal’s picture

By: Mark Rosenthal

I was sitting in on a conversation between a continuous improvement manager and the operations manager the other day.

The operations manager was asking for help developing good leader standard work.

The C.I. manager was responding that she had already developed it for the value stream manager and the supervisor.

The operations manager said he thought that, right now, they needed to focus on the team leads, the first line of leadership.

The C.I. manager reiterated that she had already prepared standard work for the value stream manager and the supervisor.

The operations manager reiterated that he wanted, right now, to focus on the team leads.

This went back and forth three or four times, and the operations manager moved on to something else.

The C.I. manager seemed frustrated and even a little angry.

My working hypothesis

The C.I. manager was frustrated because the work she had already done had not been implemented or acknowledged.

The operations manager was frustrated because his immediate need was not being acknowledged.

So they were each reiterating, again, what they had said before, with neither of them acknowledging what the other was trying to say.

Paul Laughlin’s picture

By: Paul Laughlin

What tools should data analysts have in their toolbox? It’s a broad question and one with diverging views. So, I am delighted to welcome back a guest blogger who doesn’t shy away from controversy.

Martin Squires is a very experienced znalytics leader, whom I’ve previously interviewed in our audio series. He has also posted before on why he disagrees with the use of business partners (a view I countered here).

I hope this post might be the start of a series of perspectives. But, for now, over to Martin to share his wisdom on what should be in your toolbox.

Steven Brand’s picture

By: Steven Brand

If you remember the woodworking, metalworking, and auto shop classes that used to be taught in high school, you already have an idea of what a makerspace is. Makerspaces, sometimes called Maker Labs, are defined as “a place in which people with shared interests can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment, and knowledge.” Of course, today, there is usually a lot more technology involved, as makerspaces put more focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) concepts.

Makerspaces can be found in classrooms, corporate facilities and manufacturing plants, and as standalone operations. Much like Manufacturing Day, makerspaces are inspiring the next generation of workers, fostering entrepreneurship, and giving employees at all levels the opportunity to innovate.

Davis Balestracci’s picture

By: Davis Balestracci

In 2006 I was at a presentation by a world leader in quality (WLQ) who has been singing W. Edwards Deming’s praises since the late 1980s and even does the famous red bead experiment as part of some of his plenaries.

He presented the following bar graph showing a comparison of the sum of rankings for 10 aspects of 21 counties in a small country’s healthcare system (considered on the cutting edge of quality). Lower sums are better: Minimum = 10, maximum = 210, average = 10 × 11 = 110.

He even mentioned something about “quartiles.”

My antennae went up. A bar graph? With absolutely no context of variation for interpretation? Quartiles? And a literal interpretation of the rankings? 

Envision a meeting to discuss these rankings, possibly revise them, and then decide on how to take action. We’ve all been at these types of meetings. I’m reminded of a favorite saying of Deming: “Off to the Milky Way!”

Let’s consider the process-oriented and systems-thinking approach Deming used in his red bead experiment.

I wrote the WLQ for the raw data, and he graciously complied.

Anthony D. Burns’s picture

By: Anthony D. Burns

You’ve set aside Sunday afternoon to bake some cookies, but you discover you have run out of eggs. Your partner in marital bliss has gone out and taken the car. You call a couple of mates, and they tell you to try bananas, vegetable oil, or applesauce as egg substitutes. You decide to have some fun and mix it up on a few batches to see what’s best. Woohoo, you’re on the road to design of experiments (DOE).

Transpose the above to a business situation, and you have a food technologist in a research laboratory. He has plenty of eggs, but he wants to cut the cost of using them. He doesn’t have any mates to call, but he has thousands of options such as mangoes, guava, and mashed potatoes instead of the banana; olive oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, and many others. He needs some way of measuring things. DOE gives a structured way to do experiments with a great number of known variables, by adjusting the many known factors in groups, with the minimum number of trials. It gives some clever sums to tell him which is best, with what interactions.

Harish Jose’s picture

By: Harish Jose

Today I’m looking at design from a cybernetics viewpoint. My inspirations come from cybernetics and design theorists Ross Ashby, Stafford Beer, Klaus Krippendorff, Paul Pangaro, and Ranulph Glanville. I was curious about how the interface of a device conveys the message to the user on how to interact with it. For example, if you see a button, you are invited to press it. In a similar vein, if you see a dial, you know to twist it. By looking at the ideas of cybernetics, I feel that we can expand on this further.

Ross Ashby, one of the pioneers of cybernetics, defined “variety” as the number of possible elements (or states) of a system. A stoplight, for example, generally has three states—red, green, and yellow. Additional states are possible, such as blinking red, no light, or simultaneous combinations of two or three lights. Of all the possible states identified, the stoplight is constrained to have only three states. If the stoplight is not able to regulate traffic acting in tandem with similar stoplights, traffic gets congested and results in a standstill. Thus, we can say that the stoplight was lacking the requisite variety.

Anjalika Singh’s picture

By: Anjalika Singh

Management system implementation reminds me of the advice my gym instructor gave when I first enrolled at my local health club: “Losing weight doesn’t happen in one day and with crash diets,” he said. “You gotta work out, gotta sleep the right amount, have a little fun in life. Yes, food is the most important factor, but a combination of all those will give you a satisfactory result, and you’ll be a happier person. No shortcuts.” 

Similarly, with integrated management systems, organizations want to address multiple areas of concern, such as quality, environmental protection, safety, security, and happier stakeholders. When well implemented, integrated management systems enable improvement across various facets of the system.

Kevin Meyer’s picture

By: Kevin Meyer

I have been immersed in the lean world for more than a quarter century. From the start, when some folks from the Association for Manufacturing Excellence showed me how quick changeover could save my injection-molding operation (and probably my job) from imminent destruction, to now, when I can share my own knowledge and experience through a company focused on helping others on their lean journeys. It’s been challenging, fun, and rewarding.

I’ve been lucky to get to know many people along the way, including some who were responsible for bringing lean and the Toyota Production System (back?) to the United States, and many who have fought the battles to transform their organizations with a way of thinking that often flies in the face of traditional management practice. There were several others who have spent their career analyzing, thinking, and writing about lean. Conveyors, doers, experimenters, thinkers, and investigators—all have been critical to the movement.

As I approach retirement, whatever that may be, along with and even behind many of the folks I mentioned above, I’ve started to realize something: Old lean dudes (and dudettes) appear to take two completely divergent paths.

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