Lean Article

Benjamin Kessler’s picture

By: Benjamin Kessler

The rise of the independent worker is arguably the biggest change to hit the global labor market in decades. Well more than 30 percent of the United States workforce reportedly lack “real jobs” working full-time for a conventional company, and that figure, some say, may top 40 percent by 2020. If these trends continue, nontraditional workers will almost certainly attain unprecedented levels of financial and political clout.

Yet the cultural narrative around independent employment remains, for the most part, decidedly disempowering, concentrating as it does upon contingent workers at the mercy of peer-to-peer platforms such as Uber and TaskRabbit. In this analysis, the so-called gig economy has pushed workers into capitalist freefall, with no safety net in sight.

Manfred Kets de Vries’s picture

By: Manfred Kets de Vries

According to the most recent report of the Economic Policy Institute, the average CEO-to-worker pay ratio in the United States has gone down from 286 to 1 (in 2015) to 271 to 1 (in 2016). This number may disappoint many top executives who were hoping to see it return to its peak of 383 to 1, achieved in 2000. But in spite of this “bad” news, it’s clear that CEOs will not receive a pauper’s wage.

Looking at these figures, it appears that nobody heeded the warnings of management sage Peter Drucker, who determined that the proper ratio between a chief executive’s pay and that of the average worker should be around 20 to 1 (as it was in 1965). Drucker believed that larger discrepancies would bring about morale problems within the workforce. As things stand now, many CEOs earn more in a single workday than the average worker makes in an entire year.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

In part one of this article, we explored how Woodland Trade Co. (WTC) leveraged high-accuracy portable CMMs to help land tight-tolerance aerospace contracts, and even earn Boeing’s Supplier of the Year award. Here in part two, WTC’s QA manager William Shanks reveals the advanced technology that helps WTC fulfill those highly sought-after contracts.

Challenges in delighting customers

WTC is a world-class tier one tooling supplier to OEMs such as Boeing, Blue Origin, Hexcel, and Triumph. Fulfilling contracts and delighting these customers is both lucrative and challenging. One of the challenges is that the tooling WTC manufactures usually requires 100-percent inspection.

“Because we’re a tooling shop, we’re not allowed to inspect our product according to a sample plan,” explains Shanks. “We have to do 100 percent inspection 100 percent of the time. Boeing requires us to do 100-percent inspection. That means everything we manufacture for them, we inspect. We don’t have the luxury of having a reduced inspection rate at all.”

Jason Furness’s picture

By: Jason Furness

In a previous article I wrote about the reasons why so many lean manufacturing, Six Sigma, and other improvement programs fail. In this article I’m going to expand on reason No. 1: the Academy Award Syndrome.

Academy Award Syndrome

The Academy Award Syndrome is where a program or project is launched to much fanfare, ceremony, and expense, but six months later all that remains is a bunch of faded posters on the wall, boxes of expensive and unused workbooks, and an even more cynical and jaded bunch of employees than we had before.

In our society we are generally becoming more cynical. We are certainly overwhelmed with the launches of new initiatives from our politicians, from companies that are trying to sell us new products, and the daily media cycle that supports these launches.

Within a company our new project or initiative that we are all enthusiastic about is probably not the first that has ever occurred. If previous initiatives have been launched and then abandoned, our employees can be very cynical, and this can cripple our program.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

Manufacturing activities have strong ties to economic prosperity. Deloitte’s 2016 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index states, “Nations and companies are striving to advance to the next technology frontier and raise their economic well-being.” It’s no surprise that the manufacturing sector is increasingly competitive. Many companies struggle; some go under. But some manufacturing companies find ways to thrive and grow. The Woodland Trade Co. (WTC) is one of the latter.

Headquartered in Tacoma, Washington, WTC has been manufacturing high-quality tooling for more than 30 years. WTC exemplifies what a world-class tooling supplier looks like. To its credit, WTC is an ISO 9001-registered, D6-51991 DPD/MBD-approved supplier that has earned the Boeing Supplier of the Year Award and 10 consecutive Boeing Gold Excellence awards. WTC enjoys an industrywide reputation for on-time deliveries of top-quality tools.

So, how do they do it? How do they make that happen on such a consistent basis?

Multiple Authors
By: Michael Armstrong, Kenneth Klassen

Patients often wait weeks or months for medical appointments. Canada’s Fraser Institute recently reported that Canadians typically wait 10 weeks to see specialists. Long wait times are one reason Canada ranks behind other developed countries in healthcare quality.

In the United States, waits are shorter but also increasing. Merritt Hawkins reported an average wait of 24 days in its 2017 sample, up 30 percent from 2014.

When they finally arrive at physicians’ offices, patients in both countries often face further delays. They may spend substantial periods in the waiting room, despite having specific appointment times—it’s something we love to complain about.

Jun Nakamuro’s picture

By: Jun Nakamuro

The sad truth is that the word “engagement” is not very engaging. It’s one of those fluffy, ambiguous terms that have become all too familiar around the business world, like “empowerment” and “respect.” What does engagement really mean, and how do you, as a leader, engage your workforce? The concept of engagement seems so simple when you hear it, but why is it so hard to achieve?

Engagement, like other buzzwords, is a matter of human interaction. Human interaction is complicated, so people often inadvertently make anything related to it complicated. People make engagement complicated by turning it into surveys and pointless performance reviews, but surveys are the opposite of engagement. They force people into a predetermined frame of thought. Surveys don’t listen or inspire action. Engagement doesn’t have to be complicated if we don’t make it complicated. The following is how I have come to define engagement, based on my coaching experience and exploration of the scientific process behind it.

Steven Brand’s picture

By: Steven Brand

The global aerospace and defense (A&D) industry grew by 2.4 percent and generated about $674 billion in 2016, according to a Deloitte 2017 study. California alone was responsible for generating $62 billion a year in revenue in 2014, according to a 2014 California Aerospace Industry Economic Impact Study. The supply chain is a critical component of aerospace and defense manufacturing. In the face of challenging competition, industry manufacturers are aggressively looking for ways to improve processes, lower costs, and achieve long-term operational performance through supply chain optimization.

Markus Grau’s picture

By: Markus Grau

Industry 4.0, cyber-physical systems, or the internet of things (IoT): the paradigm shift in the production economy is cheerfully progressing under various names. What they all refer to is the digitalization and networking of production processes and environments. The idea is by no means new. The difference is that there are now technologies that offer a level of precision, speed, and flexibility to a previously unknown degree.

In large companies within the automotive industry, for example, these processes are already offering enormous efficiency and diversity. These companies will set the pace for numerous supplier industries, and thus take “Industry 4.0” to small and medium-sized businesses. It is precisely here that the attractive potential for value generation needs to be made visible, and concerns and fears assuaged. One important aspect is that although we may always refer to an “industrial revolution,” Industry 4.0 is far more about an industrial “evolution” that demands tailor-made solutions. Production measuring technology and sensor technology are key tools on this path.

Jim Benson’s picture

By: Jim Benson

People are always asking us for help with ways to prioritize. Almost everyone believes prioritization to be an action in and of itself. They ask, “What mechanisms do you use to prioritize?” However, we find most often that prioritization issues, like trust issues, are a symptom of deeper problems.

This video discusses what some of those root causes are and how we at Modus Cooperandi approach them.

Many people ask: How do I take all of these options that are available to me and pick the one to work on right now?

Prioritization is rarely a problem on its own. It’s usually a symptom of other problems. Prioritization is a symptom of big batches; it’s a symptom of siloing; it’s a symptom of not understanding what your capacity is.

It’s not about what you want, it’s about what they can handle

If you don’t understand the capacity of your team, then you can’t possibly prioritize work for them, because you don’t know how much work they can handle.

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