Jun 24, 2008

Mississippi welcomes Toyota with education

This morning in the
Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, the editor wrote Mississippi is supporting Toyota's new plant there by investing in education and research:

Gov. Haley Barbour, University of Mississippi Chancellor Robert Khayat and Toyota officials on Monday unveiled designs for the chief higher education component of the state's investment in the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi project - a $22 million Center for Manufacturing Excellence at Ole Miss in Oxford.

It will link the School of Business and the School of Engineering...

The engineering school will offer a new bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering with an emphasis in manufacturing. The School of Business Administration and the School of Accountancy will offer a minor in engineering, with emphases on lean manufacturing and production. Mississippi's community colleges offer lean manufacturing training and programs as part of their work force curriculums.

The editor sees one big omen of success because a Toyota executive in residence is part of the plan.

The article goes on to attempt to describe the philosophy and benefits of lean, which we don't need to examine, because just getting the term, "lean manufacturing" in print in a positive context is a help.

Money is to come from other sources as well...

Private sources, it is notable, also have come forward with support. The Robert M. Hearin Foundation will give $750,000 for a manufacturing internship program to link the university, the center and state manufacturers. The Mississippi Power Foundation has pledged $500,000 toward the center.

The editor's final sentence shows that at least someone on Northeast Mississippi sees why the center is good for manufacturing in the area, and why manufacturing is good for Mississippi...

The center's development creates the potential to more strongly link a wide range of manufacturers in Northeast Mississippi and statewide with the forces and efficiencies dominating the worldwide market.

Appeared originally in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, 6/24/2008, section B , page 3

Jun 11, 2008

Metrics for Little League Baseball

Mike and I were talking to my brother-in-law Bob the other day, and got on the subject of our nephew, Bobby, age 11, and his Little League baseball team. Bob said that the team isn’t winning a lot of games, but the kids were having fun. He had asked Bobby what he liked best about playing baseball and he said, “Shaking hands with the kids on the other team after the game.”

Do you want a kid like this working at your company? Of course you do, if you want people to work in teams. Is Bobby just a really nice kid? Well, he is, but something must be going on with this team to make good sportsmanship more important than beating the other teams. So I asked about the team’s coach.

Turns out he’s helping all the kids develop confidence, mutual support and respect for people. He’s not all over the kids to play well or yelling at them about mistakes. He gets it that kids’ sports are about having fun.

There was one kid who, like a lot of us at age 11 or 12, was just not athletically talented. He couldn’t catch, he wasn’t all that good at throwing, and his batting wasn’t so good either. After a couple of games, he dropped out. A coach fixated on winning would have counted his lucky stars, because the game would be played by more competitive kids.

But this coach called the mom and encouraged the boy to come back, that it didn’t matter if he wasn’t the best player, that the team wanted him to play again. The boy rejoined the team. Bob said that at the games now, when this kid was up to bat, his teammates encouraged him and when he made a mistake, supported him anyway. This isn’t going to improve their won-loss record, but it will make them more team-oriented people.

In your shop or office, of course, you wouldn’t want to just accept a lot of mistakes but we’d hope you wouldn’t just blame the person. You can’t change the process much in baseball, but you can change it in your operation. You might see what help you could provide the person – there’s the story of the kid who just needed glasses so he could see the ball, for example. There might be a more appropriate job. When I was in junior high, I got to be on the field hockey and basketball teams by taking the manager job. I could keep score and bring oranges for the players at half-time, even though playing was out of the question. There might be extra training and practice. Maybe the kid never played the game before and will do much better next year.

So think about Little League today. What’s their key performance indicator? Yeah, the score is the first thing that comes to mind. But how about counting the smiles and sincerity on the faces of the kids when they shake hands with the kids on the winning team at the end of the game that they lost? Fun and learning is what the ultimate goal for kids’ sports should be. I think Bobby’s on a winning team, no matter how many runs they score.

Jun 8, 2008

Help re-format my blog

I just "upgraded" the format to my blog in blogger. Usually I can figure out what's going on in a Google product, but a few things here have me baffled:

How can I get rid of the underlining on post titles?

How can I use an RSS icon in the right-hand column to update you on new posts instead of Blogarithm? There's an atom subscribe option at the bottom of the page, but who'd see that?

Looks like it discards Site meter to make you use Google analytics. I suppose I can live with that.

Otherwise, I love some new Google things: Customizing my iGoogle home page, Google Doc online collaboration, Picasa, Notebook (much easier than bookmarks). Calendar is OK. The "Task" gadget I found was crummy.

Google encourages innovation by having a job where you just travel the world and do whatever you want so you can produce really new things. And it buys companies with interesting applications and brings them under the Google umbrella. When you're in beta, you know you're in beta. Some things don't work as well in Firefox as they do in Explorer. Known bugs are listed, and your opinion is asked about features. You feel part of a community of really smart people.

Try a new Google thing today, just to nudge some new ideas. Look at the top left of your iGoogle page and pick something. Go ahead and use iGoogle. One thing... they make you think you have to set up a gmail account first, but you don't.

Jun 7, 2008

Top 100 mistake-proofing devices

Here's my nomination for one of the best poka-yoke devices ever - the tethered gas cap. I heard a tapping as I drove up Inkster road today after filling my tank at the Mobil station (don't ask - at least I have a little Volvo). Aaah...must have forgotten to close the filler tube. Yes, and I didn't have to drive back to the station to get it. Without the cap being tethered, I wouldn't have even have heard the tapping. I'd just be slopping gasoline all over the place. Thank you, unrecognized engineer!
Copyright @ 2005-2014 by Karen Wilhelm