Lean Article

Multiple Authors
By: Maria Guadalupe, Bryan Ng

Soft skills, the behavioral and social traits that enable individuals to work harmoniously with one another, aren’t just nice to have. They’re essential for the growth of a nation.

In France, 60 percent of employers consider soft skills, such as the ability to organize, adapt, and work in teams, to be more important than technical competencies. However, France is far behind other developed economies when it comes to its stock of soft skills.

In our report for the Conseil d’Analyse Economique, an independent advisory group for the French prime minister, we estimated how much France could benefit by closing its soft skill gaps and enable the expansion of sectors that are projected to see total factor productivity growth in years to come.

Jeetu Patel’s picture

By: Jeetu Patel

In recent years, pretty much every assumption about how, where, and when we work has been upended. But I believe we’re still at just the beginning of a revolution in hybrid work.

Today, there’s a clear opportunity for organizations to step into the next wave of working, supported by even better technology and workplace cultures that nurture work/life balance and creative collaboration. Along the way, we can create new opportunities and expand inclusivity as we dissolve the traditional barriers of geography, language, and culture.

Yet there’s also a risk: Those organizations that fail to learn the lessons of the past two years and try to return to a 100-percent, office-based work strategy will fall short in productivity, talent retention, and so much more.

As I speak to our global customers, all are laser-focused on hybrid work as one of the most critical—and challenging—business transitions of our time.

Mark Rosenthal’s picture

By: Mark Rosenthal

Once again I’m going through old files. Looking back at my notes from 2005, I believe I was thinking about nailing these points to a church door somewhere in the company. That actually isn’t a bad analogy because I was advocating a pretty dramatic shift in the role of the kaizen workshop leaders.

This was written four years before I first encountered the book Toyota Kata (McGraw-Hill, 2009) and reflected on my experience as a lean director operating within a $2 billion slice of a global manufacturing company. What reading Toyota Kata did for me was to solidify what I wrote below and provide a structure for actually doing it.

Kaizen events

Kaizen events (or whatever we want to call the traditional weeklong activity) can be a useful tool when used in the context of an overall plan, but they are neither necessary nor sufficient to implement our operating system.

There are times when any specific tool is appropriate. There are no universal tools, kaizen tools included.

Adam Grant’s picture

By: Adam Grant

Even before the pandemic, burnout was labeled as an epidemic. It’s the persistent work-related stress that’s exhausting and impairing. In the U.S., more than half of employees feel burned out at least some of the time, and it can lead to what has recently been termed “quiet quitting”—reduced engagement that manifests in apathy and disconnection.

Evidence shows that burnout can result in mistakes on the job, fuel thoughts of quitting, and can be contagious in organizations. Burnout is also linked to depression, memory loss, sleep problems, weakened immune systems, and cardiovascular disease. Estimates suggest that it costs more than $100 billion in annual healthcare spending in the U.S. alone.

Laurie Flynn’s picture

By: Laurie Flynn

AStanford Medicine-led study has found that borrowing certain billing- and insurance-related procedures from other countries could lead to policies that drastically lower healthcare costs in the U.S.

The new study, published in the August edition of Health Affairs, compares costs of healthcare administrative processes in the U.S. with those of five other high-income countries. Here, administrative processes account for about 30 percent of healthcare costs—the highest in the world.

Topping the list of practices that drive excessive costs in the U.S. is a process called coding, which means assigning a numeric code for each service a patient receives. The code is used by insurers to determine reimbursement. Coding costs in the U.S run more than $172 per bill, compared with $50 per bill in Australia, the second highest in the study, and about $16 per bill in the Netherlands, says Kevin Schulman, M.D., a professor of medicine at Stanford’s Clinical Excellence Research Center (CERC).

Abdul Salam’s picture

By: Abdul Salam

Water is the most essential resource for life, for both humans and the crops we consume. Around the world, agriculture accounts for 70 percent of all freshwater use.

I study computers and information technology in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, and direct Purdue’s Environmental Networking Technology (ENT) Laboratory, where we tackle sustainability and environmental challenges with interdisciplinary research into the agricultural internet of things, or Ag-IoT.

The internet of things is a network of objects equipped with sensors so they can receive and transmit data via the internet. Examples include wearable fitness devices, smart home thermostats, and self-driving cars.

Gene Kaschak’s picture

By: Gene Kaschak

Many manufacturers that adopted lean principles by applying a “just-in-time” (JIT) mindset to inventory of materials and parts have been burned, sometimes badly, by cascading supply chain disruptions. Broken links in the supply chain have created havoc, especially for smaller manufacturers.

Some have scrambled to build “safety stock” of hard-to-find supplies. Others have sought out redundant sourcing. The reality is that everything is connected in your supply chain, and those connections can be fragile when they are’nt well supported.

No, lean supply chains aren’t dead. It’s quite the opposite. When your supply chain breaks down, lean systems for the rest of your value stream system will help you deal with the issue. Solutions revolve around agility and controls, not masking inefficiencies.

Busting the myth of lean supply: It’s not just about size of inventory

Being lean doesn’t mean having little inventory; that has always been a higher-risk strategy. “Lean supply” means having a defined value of what your inventory levels should be and what risk you are willing to take on. JIT is a lean methodology that includes developing standard inventory buffers in your value stream. It requires strong relationships with suppliers so you can work with them through shortages and price increases.

OpusWorks’s picture

By: OpusWorks

Over two days, engage in eight unique best practice sessions with 11 process improvement and thought leaders at S.O.A.R. 2022, OpusWorks’ annual virtual conference.

Designed to present highly actionable information and game-changing strategies from highly experienced and inspiring human beings, S.O.A.R. will enable you to better lead your organization-wide transformation by showing you how to:

Systematize processes
Operationalize excellence
Accelerate scaling
Resolve to innovate

Day One Agenda, Wednesday, September 28, 2022

10:00: Rapid Scaling with OpusWorks in 2022

Rob Stewart, OpusWorks CEO
Dan Rice, OpusWorks COO
Vickie Kamataris, Chief Content and Delivery, MBB,  OpusWorks Institute (OWI)

After Rob kicks off S.O.A.R. 22, Dan and Vickie will provide their perspectives about the OpusWorks solution set in the context of today’s challenges. They will also update attendees on what’s new from OpusWorks since S.O.A.R. 2021:

Harish Jose’s picture

By: Harish Jose

In today’s column, I’m looking at the Ohno Circle in light of German philosopher Martin Heidegger’s ideas. I’ll try to stay away from the neologisms used by Heidegger and will only scratch the surface of his deep insights.

One of the best explanations of the Ohno Circle comes from one of Taiichi Ohno’s students, Teruyuki Minoura, the past president and CEO of Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America. He had firsthand experience of it. Minoura noted: “Mr. Ohno often would draw a circle on the floor in the middle of a bottleneck area, and he would make us stand in that circle all day long and watch the process. He wanted us to watch and ask “Why?” over and over.

“You may have heard about the five ‘whys’ in TPS. Mr. Ohno felt that if we stood in that circle, watching and asking why, better ideas would come to us. He realized that new thoughts and new technologies don’t come out of the blue—they come from a true understanding of the process.

Del Williams’s picture

By: Del Williams

In industry, gas-fired boilers have been the standard for decades to produce steam and heat process water. However, not all boilers are created equal in terms of safety. By definition, combustion-fueled boilers can emit harmful vapors, leak gas, and even cause explosions and fires.

In a recent example, a natural gas boiler was cited as the cause of a massive explosion and fire at a food processing plant in eastern Oregon that injured six and caused severe damage to the facility’s main building. Given the risks, many processors are turning to a new generation of electric boilers to dramatically reduce these hazards.

“With gas-burning boilers, any gas leak can increase the risk of an explosion wherever there are fuel lines, fumes, flames, or storage tanks,” says Robert Presser, vice president of Acme Engineering Products. “So, gas units must be continually monitored or periodically inspected.” Presser notes that state and municipal safety guidelines vary depending on boiler type and the expected frequency of inspection.

Acme Engineering is a North American manufacturer of boilers for large industrial and commercial applications. The company is an ISO 9001:2015-certified manufacturer of environmental controls and systems with integrated mechanical, electrical, and electronic capabilities.

Syndicate content