The Un-Comfort Zone With Robert Wilson’s picture

By: The Un-Comfort Zone With Robert Wilson

In a previous column (“Why Innovate? To Make Money, of Course!”), I wrote that in order to make money from innovation, you need to find a good problem to solve. I suggested that a good way to find such a problem is to look at some of your daily tasks and identify the ones you detest. I then suggested that if you hate doing it, then there are probably countless other people who hate it as well, which means that you have identified a problem that needs solving. And, your solution might become a million-dollar idea.

Harish Jose’s picture

By: Harish Jose

One of my favorite equations from Factory Physics, by Wallace Hopp and Mark Spearman (Waveland Press, third edition, 2011) is Kingman’s formula, usually represented as “VUT.”

The VUT equation is named after Sir John Kingman, a British mathematician:

The first factor represents variability and is a combination of variability factors representing arrival and service times (e.g., flow variability and process variability). The second factor represents utilization of the workstation or the assembly line. The third factor represents the average processing time in the workstation or the assembly line. The VUT equation shows that the average cycle time or wait time is proportional to the product of variability, utilization, and process time.

The most important lesson from VUT is: If a station increases utilization without making any other change, average work in process (WIP) and cycle time will increase in a highly nonlinear fashion.

Gwendolyn Galsworth’s picture

By: Gwendolyn Galsworth

More often than not, an effective implementation of operator-led visuality produces a 15- to 30-percent increase in productivity on the cell or departmental level, beginning with the implementation of the “visual where” (or, as our trainers like to call it, 5S on steroids). But that effectiveness and those impressive results require that management not take shortcuts.

One of the most fundamental errors managers make when “turning over” the visual reins to value-add associates is to commandeer for themselves the simple task of implementing the visual where (i.e., borders, addresses, ID labels). Such managers mean no harm; they reason that because the task is so simple and obvious, they can do it themselves, get it over with, and save operators for more interesting improvement tasks. The result? The first step of what should be a rich and productive journey with terrific bottom-line benefits quickly goes off the rails.

Bruce Hamilton’s picture

By: Bruce Hamilton

Reflecting on Douglas McGregor’s X and Y theories of human motivation, Shigeo Shingo took the position that each of us by nature has a dual tendency: sometimes lazy and self-interested, and other times motivated and generous. Which of these behaviors dominates is directly related to the environment in which we find ourselves—call it “culture.” 

My personal experience as a manager as well as an employee has surely confirmed Shingo’s opinion for me. Dropped into a manufacturing management role in 1986 with no manufacturing experience, I encountered a quintessential Type X culture. My predecessor, a man of considerable personal knowledge of the business, had ruled for decades with an iron fist, intolerant of opinions other than his own. I remember commenting to a friend when I first took over the manufacturing vice president job, “It seems like employees are children, and production employees are bad children.” Transferring from an IT role in a different building to this new world of distrust and muted dissatisfaction was indeed a culture shock for me.

Andy Sutton’s picture

By: Andy Sutton

I felt compelled to write my first-ever article following a conversation I was part of on LinkedIn recently. To cut a long story short, I commented on a post that was berating data science leaders who don’t have a data science background. I didn’t agree with the perspective that only data scientists can lead a data science team, and I faced a number of return comments suggesting I was wrong.

This got me thinking about the world of leadershipmanagement, and followership, and how this relates to my own career.

I’ve been fortunate to work for some amazing leaders in my roughly 20 years in data and analytics. On the surface these leaders haven’t had a huge amount in common. I’ve worked for marketers, sales directors, commercial managers, IT leaders, and strategists. It’s fairly obvious that a technical background in data and analysis isn’t a prerequisite for the leaders I’ve worked with. So what does it take?

Harry Hertz’s picture

By: Harry Hertz

What are the key attributes and behaviors for a role model, visionary leader? About six years ago, a task force of Baldrige-community senior executives under the leadership of Kathy Herald-Marlowe was charged with drafting a set of senior leader attributes and behaviors consistent with the Baldrige Core Values, to be used by the Baldrige Foundation as criteria for a leadership award.

Those leadership attributes and behaviors have been used subsequently as part of the learning discussions for the Baldrige Executive Fellows. Recently, I had the opportunity to update those attributes and behaviors based on revisions to the Baldrige Excellence Framework during the last several revision cycles. The revised attributes and behaviors are listed below for your consideration with your leadership team.

Taryn Davis’s picture

By: Taryn Davis

You may have a distant memory of Hernán Cortés, that Spanish conquistador, from your eighth-grade world history class. If you don’t, he was known for conquering the Aztec tribes that controlled what is now Mexico. He’s also famous for a somewhat lesser-known story of rallying his men to burn their ships so that they couldn’t turn back around and leave before they had accomplished their goal.

This historical anecdote can provide needed inspiration for those in a variety of disciplines, but my favorite application is to leadership of improvement efforts.

If you are a professional working in the capacity of leading any kind of improvement effort, you know that getting buy-in from the people responsible for maintaining the improvement is at least half the battle. If you don’t get that, you may as well call the whole thing a wash. However, this requires a shift in culture so that the desire to sustain the change is built into the very framework of the business.

Most businesses don’t have the luxury of a continuous improvement mindset being built into the foundation right at the outset. And as we all know, while you may not pay attention to the foundation of your house until you notice a crack, it may be the single most important aspect of any structure.

Donald J. Wheeler’s picture

By: Donald J. Wheeler

The oldest myth about process behavior charts is the myth that they require “normally distributed data.” If you have ever heard this idea, or if you have ever taught this to others, then you need to read this article.

While this myth dates back to 1935, and while Walter Shewhart exposed this idea as a myth in 1938, it continually reappears in various forms even today. For example, a white paper put out by a software company recently called the process behavior chart a “normality control chart.” And a blurb for a workshop advertised the Western Electric zone tests as “depending upon a normal distribution.”

As I consider how these myths are perpetuated I do not detect any malicious intent, just unconscious confusion. Nevertheless, those that continue to spread these myths fall into three groups. One group spreads these myths because of their special interests, another group spreads these myths because of their unexamined assumptions, and the third group spreads these myths because they were taught that the myths are true.

Bruce Hamilton’s picture

By: Bruce Hamilton

A daisy rising from my brick walkway reminded me this morning, that even in the worst environment, there is a chance for growth. But this kind of individual heroism does not portend success for lean transformation. As an organization with the slogan “Everybody Everyday,” GBMP places high value on total employee involvement as an essential piece of continuous improvement.

I have a long-standing practice of asking managers, “What percent of your employees come to work every day, excited about a potential solution to a problem or an idea for improvement?”

After 20 years in lean consulting, the answers I receive to that question have not changed much. Here are a few:
• “We had a good run for a few months when maybe a third of our workforce was engaged, but we’re probably at about 5 percent now.”
• “The only serious work on improvement or problem solving comes from our dedicated kaizen team.”
• One company owner, call him John Smith, actually told me during a sales call, “Our employees are morons, so that wouldn’t work here,” a comment sufficiently offensive that I politely excused myself from the meeting: “If that’s how you feel, Mr. Smith, then you’re right, lean is not an option for you.”

Steve Moore’s picture

By: Steve Moore

Pickleball is arguably the fastest-growing sport in the United States, especially among baby-boomer retirees. This game is similar to tennis, but is played on a smaller court (44 ft × 20 ft) with a solid paddle and a perforated polymer ball much like a wiffle ball.

Pickleball’s popularity may be due in part because it is a very sociable sport (men and women can play equally well), and it is much easier on the body than tennis. Many high schools as well as colleges and universities have included pickleball in their physical education programs.

Pickleball was invented by a family on Bainbridge Island, Washington, in 1965 and has gradually spread across the United States and around the world. The sport now has more than two million players worldwide, including the USA Pickleball Association, the first professional pickleball league.

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