Dec 5, 2013

People who say supply chain JIT won't work are right -- for the wrong reasons


My friend Greg Hutchins published this article in his newsletter, CERM (R) Risk Insights, this week. Take a look at his website to find out about his company's approach to enterprise risk management.

Back in the early 1980s, manufacturers in America woke up to the fact that Toyota and other Japanese companies were outperforming them on quality and efficiency.  They looked across the Pacific and copied the first thing they could see — rapid delivery of parts to the plant.  They called it Just-in-Time and mandated it from their suppliers.

JIT’S DIRTY LITTLE SECRET

OEMs got their JIT, but the dirty little secret was that suppliers had 40-foot trailers parked around the assembly plant filled with parts.  Cash, damage, shrinkage and obsolescence became the supplier’s problem as long as materials didn’t cross the OEM’s threshhold.  Suppliers produced to forecast, not actual demand.  They couldn’t respond fast enough to changes in their customers’ scheduled production.  To avoid ever stopping the OEM’s line, they produced and held large inventories, or ate the cost of premium freight when they couldn’t keep up with unexpected demand peaks or their own production system’s problems caused parts shortages.

Meanwhile, defects remained high, production flow through both OEM’s and suppliers’ plants remained sluggish, changeovers of large and complicated equipment continued to take up to a day or more, and actual production rarely matched forecast or even daily scheduled production.  (More instability was added because plant managers still got incentive bonuses for exceeding the plan.)  When not addressed, these factors made JIT fail more often than not.

WHAT'S NEEDED TO MAKE JIT SUCCESSFUL

Meanwhile, JIT spread to other industries.  Companies were told it was a business strategy and some still think that’s true.  By misunderstanding ideas like JIT and ‘zero inventory,’ companies do set themselves up for trouble.  If flow and efficiency levels in their plants are not mature enough, JIT is not going to make any difference.  And old supply chain management policies, like beating up suppliers on price to the point where they can’t survive, will leave a supply chain weak and unable to consistently fulfill delivery expectations.  With a lack of supply chain communication and partnership or single source procurement, companies are vulnerable to any interruption in the supplier’s ability to fulfill orders.

Under these conditions, JIT will never work.  Pursuing a single lean goal without understanding that it is part of a whole management system is like saying you can win a baseball game with a good catcher and eight other people who haven’t played since high school.  No matter how talented the catcher is, he’s won’t make up for poor hitting, pitching, or fielding.

WHY JIT WORKS IN TOYOTA

Why does JIT appear to work in companies like Toyota?  Their supplier relationships and logistics systems are finely tuned after years of collaboration.  The company and its suppliers work closely to match demand and supply.  They electronically share forecasts and production schedules, as well as information on inventory at all points in the production and distribution system.  They can do so because to them, the company and its supply chain is an extended lean enterprise able to optimize agile and flexible operations throughout.

SUPPLY RISK MANAGEMENT

The successful company also continuously monitors many risk factors for each supplier.  It has contingency plans for flood, fire, tornado, strike, and other possible unplanned situations.  Yes, the rare 100-year event can occur.  When a tsunami plus an earthquake cause a nuclear disaster and a company experiences a supply chain failure, is JIT at fault? Should it tie up unnecessary cash and space in just-in-case inventory because someday something really bad might happen?

So when people say JIT doesn’t work, they are absolutely right.  JIT was never meant to be a standalone business strategy.  Neither its evangelists or skeptics understand that JIT is  only a fragment of a mature lean supply chain and manufacturing management system. The system produces JIT as part of its successful performance.  A focus on JIT alone does not produce success.

Oct 24, 2013

Lean champions must understand the psychological principles of change


In this blog, we have been looking at the psychological principles of change, as observed by anthropologists of many introductions of technologies that were new to isolated cultures. Because anthropologists don't participate in the change, they can distill conclusions that are more unbiased. The psychology of each individual is important to a group's response to change. Culture is derived from individual minds, decisions by individuals about whether to adopt a change or not.

To continue from the previous discussions of principles 1, 2, 3, and 4, here are a few more ideas on how people are affected by technological change:

5. A significant change in someone’s life introduces some instability or disharmony, which produces emotional tension. Old behaviors are part of the person’s sense of self. New situations require new behaviors. If people feel they don’t have the right skills, for example, it threatens self-esteem and may cause worry about keeping their jobs. Even changing shifts or working in a reconfigured workcell will have a psychological effect that the change champion be aware of.

6. Frustration accompanies tension when old beliefs and concepts of personal worth are incompatible with new practices. Even minor frustrations can add up to more serious problems. If people start believing that they can’t accomplish what is expected of them, change efforts can be derailed. While some tension can help people learn and grow, they need resources and support in order to become more at ease with the new.

  • When women took on factory work during World War II, manufacturing supervisors had to adapt to working with them. After the men came back from the war, women were sent home to be housewives again. The psychology of most manufacturing leaders prevented them from seeing that these women employees were as valuable as men. (Wikimedia Commons image)
7. When frustration is persistent or intense, the physical and psychological health of some individuals may be impaired. The signs that someone may be struggling may take the form of anger, withdrawal, illness, or even sabotage. Distress affects a person’s ability to learn, and can make it appear that he or she is simply unable or unwilling to learn new methods and concepts. These potential consequences, at greater or lesser degrees, make it important to identify and resolve frustrating conditions, behave with respect, recognize individual differences, and provide encouragement and support.

When change champions take time to understand the workplace culture and the people who will experience the change before introducing disruption, they can adapt their message for that specific group of people. More importantly, they can adapt themselves. Mutual understanding leads to trust.

Sep 18, 2013

Seven psychological principles of change: Principle Four


We have looked at and tried to define culture and discuss some principles (Principles One and Two, Principle Three) for successfully introducing new technology -- which, to my mind, includes lean. Here is the fourth of seven principles for making change less painful:

4. No sweeping changes. Experts must be on guard against attempting to introduce a large-scale blueprint for changing the system as a whole, according to the conclusions of the anthropologists in the project. And because we know that all aspects of the system are interrelated, it seems logical to make detailed maps for sweeping change, like the one below, but that thinking contains several fallacies.

Wikimedia Commons image containing materials
from the United States Geological Survey

Will this sweeping change be achieved as planned?
Although in many cases we can predict a general range of reactions, we can't tell how any single individual will respond to our roadmap, especially when there is a history of failed plans. How many times have employees heard that the company would be going through a transformation, a reorganization to make it more competitive, or build quality into everything they do?

A workplace culture can develop immunity to this kind of pitch. Why should they believe management one more time, after sinking days of work and worry into past initiatives that vanished into the mist, leaving little benefit and a lot of wreckage. Or worse, remembering losing friends or responsibilities in a past workplace "transformation" hurricane.

That's happened so often, it’s little wonder that our effort to bring lean into the workplace in a big way rekindles fear and anger. And in a company where change has never been attempted, the unknown feels scary to many people. A sweeping new training system, factory layout, or evaluation process, is not going to get a good reception, no matter how persuasive or glittering our arguments and powerpoint presentations are.

What else is wrong with a big plan, especially when it’s true that all our changes will eventually have to fit together into a whole? As Mike Rother and his Toyota Kata team is exploring, we can’t predict the future exactly. The journey we envision may actually require detours, backtracking, and rethinking. Although it will be shared with management and some colleagues, telling large groups people about the details of our roadmap will set us up for failures. When we take one step into uncertainty, we may see that the landscape is different from what we expected. The new perspective may require the next step to be in a different direction than imagined.

While the big change may appear threatening, employees usually have a lot of small everyday struggles with obstacles and conditions that make it hard to do their jobs well. If they participate and get support in solving one problem, it speaks louder than a promise to fix everything.
Image source: Toyota Kata website

This is why a small-scale pilot project is often a more successful foot in the door for achieving bigger change. The experts can say, “Let’s try this, and if it doesn’t work, try something else or go back to the old way,” and lower the anxiety level considerably. Seeing a small group in a work cell using lean ideas to reconfigure their processes and taking satisfaction in accomplishing the change themselves as much as possible, often causes a small delegation from others who ask to do the same thing.

The beauty of continuous improvement is that small changes are easier to accept, especially if the people within the system are involved in making them. And through the experimentation process, as small problems are solved, we will learn more about the best path to a transformation -- and we might be surprised where it goes.

Aug 1, 2013

Seven psychological principles of change: Principle three


A group of social anthropologists settled on a working definition of “culture” in 1953, in an exploration of success factors for introducing technical change in traditional cultures. Organizations like the UN started intruding with the intention of bettering the lives of people and bringing the benefits of modern civilization.

For example, “experts” wanted to get farmers to use tractors and different plowing patterns, when the local people believed that Mother Earth should be used gently and rituals should be performed before disturbing her. Public health experts wanted to immunize people against illnesses when the traditional people had no reason to believe that injecting an unknown substance into the body would be safe or effective. (See Atul Gawande’s recent article Slow Ideas in the New Yorker)

I see a parallel between creating cultural conflicts in faraway lands and our desire today to introduce lean management to an organization operating under traditional management methods. Both are based on beliefs. We talk a lot about bad corporate culture and change it for the better, but don’t often look at culture from the anthropological perspective.

An earlier post in Lean Reflections looked at two psychological principles of change. Let’s continue…

3. Change must be seen from the point of view of the individuals exposed to the change. How does the change look to the person it will directly -- or indirectly -- affect? The expert’s “better way” may represent a rejection of gods, a loss of magical defenses, a loss of face, or damage to some other aspect of a traditional culture. To understand complexities of a culture takes time for observation.

Rejection, loss, damage… no lean champion wants these results. In their enthusiasm and belief in their message, they can forget that the people on the receiving end of change can feel bad. Sometimes change leaders wonder why people don’t immediately agree with them. They complain that the people just don’t listen.

Are gods and magical defenses threatened in a lean transformation? How often to we trash Frederick Taylor and try to knock him off his pedestal? If we, in effect, elevate Ohno or Shingo to godhood, will that convert anyone to the lean belief system.

Magical defenses? What about a magical belief that large-scale automation is always good? That high stock prices mean management decisions will magically produce long-term profits. That building to inventory is a good use of slack time and a magical defense against order peaks and unanticipated stockouts. Such defenses can’t be given up easily. Challenge them gently.

Are people losing face when their organization is changing? For many managers and supervisors, their jobs may be a big part of their self-image. It can be perceived as a psychological attack to hearing that they have been wrong throughout their careers. They may need private coaching. Certainly, criticizing them or their methods in front of employees is a mistake. If given credit for their strengths and knowledge, their feeling of being respected is preserved.

Front-line workers are no different. Everyone has some pride in their work. If they feel undermined or embarrassed, they will resist.

The potential for damage to the organization’s traditional culture is obvious. Even if a large part of the culture seem dysfunctional, it is part of a belief system. As with any system, pulling one thread may cause more unraveling than expected. Avoiding damage takes a deep understanding of the system before change is introduced, and that takes time.

Jun 25, 2013

Seven psychological principles of change


Back in 1953, as we talked about in a past post, a group of anthropologists settled on a working definition of “culture.” They said changing a culture succeeds not so much because a group accepts it, but because each person in the group makes a decision to change for their own reasons. Implementing lean -- which I consider a technology -- in a company with a traditional command-and-control culture is like implementing Western agricultural technology in cultures still using old ways. If each individual must make a decision, if we can understand the psychological processes at work, do we have a better chance of influencing them to change their minds?

Seven psychological principles were identified by Margaret Mead’s team of anthropologists. Although they advised UN change agents to understand them, like much good advice, it has been often ignored in the 60 some years since. Even so, they deserve to be revisited.

Seven psychological principles of change: One and Two


1. The psychology of the experts themselves

Outsiders must realize that their own behavior, beliefs, and attitudes are not universal or the only right ones. They enter an organization where embedded -- and learned -- cultural traditions may seem obviously dysfunctional. Can't you just explain that to them? Someone who understands lean may not remember that their concept of a lean culture also came from learned behavior, beliefs, and mindsets. The attitudes they learned likely took some time to take hold in their own minds, and the group they are leading will need time too.

2. Beliefs and practices direct daily behavior and how individuals relate to other people.

The beliefs and attitudes of the people clinging to their old culture aren’t just ideas. They serve some psychological function or provide some benefit to each individual. The purpose served by old beliefs does not have to be practical or rational. A belief that maintains a comfort zone, predictability, and emotional safety is not going to be abandoned easily. Not letting go of an old mindset is not necessarily evidence of stubbornness, unwillingness to cooperate, or inability to learn.

Lean champions from manufacturing

Speaking of psychology of the individual, lean practitioners often come from manufacturing and engineering backgrounds. Engineering is based on reason and logic. People who choose technical careers often do so because they feel good in an environment based on figuring out mechanisms and the science of things. They can have a hard time working with people who aren’t persuaded by facts and figures, or who don’t believe in the implicit goodness of values like productivity. When lean champions feel like people resist change out of ornery stubbornness or a refusal to listen or learn, it would help if they reflected on their motivations and beliefs and gave the same respect to those they are attempting to change. For it’s been said often that although people don’t want to be changed, they often do change when the time and conditions are right. A bit of patience would save a lot of frustration.

Parts Three through Seven will appear in upcoming posts.

More reading

What is culture and why is it so hard to change?

May 29, 2013


My guest today is Beau Keyte, consultant, trainer, and coach helping organizations in a range of industries to use lean tools and techniques, and to develop self-sufficient thinking that challenges work and management processes, improves organizational performance and alignment, and sustains culture change. Beau coauthored the Shingo-prize winning book The Complete Lean Enterprise and more recently, Perfecting Patient Journeys. His website is at Keyte Group.



I was having a conversation last week with my nephew. He has been trying to get a permanent teaching position in the Chicago school system for some time.  He’s completed the minimum amount of education to allow him to teach.  And, while he is successfully substituting at several schools, he is consistently running into barriers in getting permanent positions in these same schools. The ”entry bar” is constantly being raised.  My observation: he is always trying to catch up in order to succeed as opposed to getting ahead of the “entry bar” and not having to worry about it.  It’s like he is just one of the greyhounds in the race, and the rabbit (in this case, a permanent teaching position) is always out of reach.

Are you in the same position?  Do you see your organization as the greyhound or the rabbit?  It’s been my observation that the greyhounds have good people attempting to wade through broken processes to support their markets and missions.  As such, our significant investment in human resources is spent “doing the same dumb things we’ve always done” (as opined by a client of mine).  We have a limited amount of human capacity in our organizations: how are you engaging your organization in such a way as to free up 10%, 20%, 30% of your collective time to focus on becoming the rabbit?

We all have complex problems with many causes and barriers in our work and management processes.  It’s possible to borrow some deliberate thinking from our scientific community to change to the fast, adaptive behaviors that rabbits exhibit and our organizations need to have.  A chemist, for example, attempts to find a new chemical compound that has never existed before.  He/she doesn’t assume that the first experiment will be successful (in fact, most experiments fail to achieve the goal), but DOES assume that a properly designed experiment will have something to learn embedded in the result.  The chemist then builds the next experiment on the learning of the previous experiment.  This cycle of learning continues until the goal is achieved.  There is a subtle difference in the world of experimentation: an experiment that fails is useful if there is something to learn from it.  Failure leads to learning; learning leads to achievement.

What’s a good way for your organization to experiment and “learn your way” to grow into becoming an organization with better outcomes?  While it’s obvious to most that it’s possible to experiment on work processes, it’s also possible (and critical) to experiment on management processes: I had a recent conversation with a CEO who was frustrated with his organization’s reliance on “managing by committee.”  Our conversation quickly turned to what experiments he was willing to create to see if another management style has better outcomes.  He is now engaged in scientific thinking to achieve his purpose.

There’s a little bit of scientist in all of us.  What experiments are you willing to try to become the rabbit?



May 15, 2013

Should we centralize or decentralize our function?



Matt Wrye is my guest blogger for today. Matt has his own acclaimed blog, Beyond Lean, and I'm honored to share his insights on Lean Reflections. Matt takes up a perennial issue -- one that's not easily decided -- whether to get some process or service under one big umbrella, or get it closer to users by giving them their own resources to do it themselves. Here are Matt's thoughts...

Centralized vs. Decentralized

Should we centralize or decentralize our function?

Have you ever heard this question come up?  I bet so.  It is a very common question.  The discussion could be around any area of service like procurement, IT, HR or many other functions that I haven't mentioned.

I always seem to get the follow up question of "So what does lean say we should do?"
My simple answer is "Whatever makes the best sense for your company and your situation today."

Most hate hearing this, but it is the truth.  There is no lean perspective on this question. Both sides have good points and bad points to them.

Centralizing a function can help to reduce the number of people doing a the function. This can create fewer points of contact and less confusion in the organization as to who to contact.  A centralized team allows for tighter control on policies and procedures and their adherence to them.  The people in the centralized role will perform the function more often and that can help to really make the process efficient.

Decentralizing a function creates less handoffs in a process.  People in one area aren't asking for people in another area to do the work.  This can cause more errors and add lead time to a process.  People doing the function can be located closer to the customer and be able to understand the needs of the customer better.

As you can see, both options have some great benefits.

What you have to do is understand which one of these options best fits the need of what you will be doing.  If you want tight control over data entry then maybe a centralized group.  If you want everyone to be able to purchase what they need in a timely fashion then maybe decentralizing purchasing is the answer.

Lean doesn't tell you what to do.  If just gives you the lens to look at situation and evaluate what is best to do.

May 7, 2013

What is culture, and why is it so hard to change?


We talk about culture all the time. Somehow we decide that one company’s culture is bad, that lean can never succeed there, or that a bad culture in another company became a lean one.

I’ve always struggled to understand the basis for how the lean community defines culture. It seems to include a lot of opinion, anecdotal evidence, and judging.
 
In his writings about culture, Dr. Joseph Juran often cited a book that anthropologist
Margaret Mead edited in 1953. Mead was one of the founders of modern anthropology, and as did her colleagues, studied distinct and relatively isolated cultures in Africa, Pacific Islands, and the Americas. They observed in detail how technological changes affected cultures and the people within them.

From its post-World War II beginnings, the United Nations saw one of its missions as bettering the lives of people suffering because they lacked Western technologies that. Many cultures seemed to resist positive change, however. Efforts to introduce vaccines, plows made of iron rather than wood, pest control, or outboard motors often failed. People who sincerely wanted to help solve problems felt frustrated by having their improvements rejected. That led the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Federation for Mental Health to ask Margaret Mead to oversee a study of what caused technological change to succeed or fail. They were to find out what the psychological and sociological barriers to improvement were. How did technology affect the mental health of individuals? What would open people to the benefits of change?

As advocates of lean transformations, we are in the same situation. Lean is a technology, a science of how to do things. Company cultures seem to resist changing for the positive.

Do we have the right definition of culture? The anthropologists’ used this working definition:

“Culture is an abstraction from the body of learned behavior which a group of people, who share the same tradition, transmit entire to their children, and, in part, to adult immigrants who become members of the society. This definition includes the system of technology accepted and used in that group.”

I think these are some of the lessons for us of that definition:

1. It is an abstraction. Abstractions are concepts, ideas, invisible, hard to put into words, and not always easy to recognize. To make change, it is necessary to first observe and try to understand the culture from the perspective of the people. To change ideas, it is necessary to know what the existing ideas are, and how they function to make the society work. In addition, labeling an abstraction “good” or “bad” and oversimplifying what happens in an organization doesn’t tell us what to do differently to introduce lean where we think it will do good.

2. Behavior is the source of a culture. Changing what people do every day and how they do it will change culture -- reasons for the importance of standard work and continuous process improvement in lean. But an individual can’t change the pattern of daily life when it supports a sense of personal and community well-being. If the new behavior would violate a taboo, however unreasonable the taboo may seem to an outsider, the old one must remain unchanged.

3. Behavior is learned. It can be unlearned. A new way of doing things can be taught, practiced, and adopted. If individuals see it benefits themselves, their families, and their communities, they may decide to change.

4. Culture is transmitted to individuals as a whole, a system. Changing a part of it can cause unexpected and unintended results, some of them unpleasant or even disastrous.

The reason for the UNESCO study is to assess the effect of change on the mental health of individuals in the group being changed. In introducing lean, could we be traumatizing some people, making them depressed or angry? We are pulling the rug out from under their feet. In our culture, people won’t tell us when we cause psychological harm. Or we won’t listen when their complaints or silence are clues to take more seriously. Perhaps they are not just being unreasonable.

Nobody comes into an organization with the purpose of causing pain and suffering. If we could change our own behavior and approach, would starting a lean transformation be more successful?

In upcoming posts, I’ll be looking at what principles, explanations, and recommendations emerged from the study.

If you want to read along, look in the used book websites for Margaret Mead (editor), Cultural Patterns and Technical Change, UNESCO, Holland, 1953. A 1956 paper by Dr. Juran based on the lessons from the book, “Improving the Relationship between Staff and Line: An Assist from the Anthropologists,” can be downloaded from the Juran Institute.  Registration may be required. A Juran paper published in 1957, Cultural Patterns and Quality Control, is also available.

Apr 19, 2013

Dan Gilmore speaks for the supply chain - let's do better on out-of-stocks

I don't often base one of my posts on someone else's article, but Dan Gilmore in Supply Chain Digest this week pretty much hit the nail on the head -- at least in describing the problem. Out-of-stocks are rampant and supply chains aren't executing well enough. Let me share some of Dan's analysis: 
A Unified Theory of Out-of-Stocks?
...it is obviously to me that the OOS problem is getting worse for many retailers of late. Anyone else go to certain stores and see as much as 75% of the pegs on a wall display empty these days? Amazing, really, here in the 21st century supply chain...
E-commerce has added a wrinkle to the retail OOS challenge, as now the issue isn't just products not being on the store shelf, but now potentially "not in stock" at the e-store as well. An OOS there likely has an even bigger impact in terms of lost sales than it does at brick and mortar retail.
s part of the research I did on OOS in the last few weeks, I found an article from 2010 in the International Review of Retail, Distribution, and Consumer Research from several European academics titled "Forty Years of Out-of-Stock Research - and the Shelves are Still Empty."That about says it all. The paper documents that despite study after study, and retail initiative after initiative, the needle has not really moved... 

Here's why this issue is so complex: it is an equation that involves forecasting, "long tail" management, retail in-store execution, uncertain and/or difficult to calculate financial impacts, different impacts depending on product category, different impacts on retailers versus manufacturers, the Bullwhip Effect, the Perfect Order, vendor variability, store inventory accuracy, overstocks, collaboration, etc...
...there is an equal and opposite reaction in terms of overstocks - too much inventory - either from the same issues that cause OOS or as a tactic to minimize the level of out-of-stocks...

Here's some data from a Gruen study Dan cited: When a customer's choice is out of stock, 9% do not purchase the item, 31% buy the item at another store, 15% delay purchase, 19% substitute [item from] same brand, 26% substitute another brand.

But my research and listening to some of these experts convinces me that we can better tie the store side issues with the supply chain issues, and move the OOS ball further down the field in a more integrated and mathematical way. More soon.
Why haven't we done a better job improving out-of-stocks? Is there an opportunity to do a better job of connecting all the dots? 

I submitted my comment about how lean manufacturing principles, properly understood, encompass supply chain speed and accuracy. The growing expertise and published information about lean supply chain answers Dan's questions. The lean literature explains why systems based on push systems and long range forecasts get stuck and why pull systems are customer responsive. And speed up cash flow.

Dan's editorial is here -- read it and add your perspective to the debate.

Mar 29, 2013

Tracing the evolution of strategy deployment


In his excellent Beyond Lean blog, Matt Wrye is hosting a Hoshin Kanri week and asked me to be one of the guest bloggers. Be sure to check out more posts from knowledge leaders. When Matt started up his blog, I immediately recognized it as top notch. He stands out as a blogger because he has a "real job" implementing lean in a large company. (Nothing against consultants, but the stakes are higher for guys like Matt.)

As I wrote in Part One of this two-part article, Tracing the evolution of strategy deployment: Japanese manufacturing leaders listen to Dr. Juranin the 1950s Dr. Joseph Juran began to develop a process for deploying a statistical quality control (SQC) policy that, I believe, was the foundation for hoshin kanri. Japanese companies began to apply the deployment method to more than just quality policy.

Part Two: Toyota takes the lead in deploying business strategy

When Toyota’s executives went to Dr. Juran’s classes, they couldn’t take pride in the quality of its post-war products. By 1961, although Toyota had implemented SQC, they had still failed to produce cars with acceptable overall quality. Toyota kept learning, now working toward total quality control (TQC) and by 1965, won their Deming Prize. They also passed Nissan as an industry leading company. Nissan had won its Deming Prize in 1960, and advanced into TQC but had treated it as a superficial cheerleading campaign. Toyota took TQC to heart and began transforming products, processes, and the organization.

In 1969, Bridgestone was striving to rotate the plan-do-check-act cycle, with all employees involved. They called its strategy “hoshin kanri.” One of the early writers on hoshin kanri, Yoshio Kondo saw its essence as the process of fully involving people through practices like catchball. He says:

Why do companies expend so much time and effort on “catchball”? It is because the discussion that takes place among the people taking part at the various different levels of the organization deepens their understanding of the policies and enables them to think about both the “necessity” and “possibility” aspects of the proposed targets. Through this process, companies hope to effect a qualitative change in top-down mandatory targets, turning them into bottom-up voluntary targets. I hardly need to repeat that this is an extremely effective way of motivating people to achieve their targets.

Both Juran and Kondo saw hoshin kanri’s purpose as deploying quality in manufacturing. Juran was more product and process oriented. Kondo emphasized the human side of hoshin kanri.

Behind the scenes, Toyota was enlarging the scope of policy deployment. In addition to quality, Toyota integrated customer satisfaction, productivity, cost, delivery, morale and other factors into strategy that they deployed in the manner described by Juran, They incorporated refinements from hoshin kanri. They approached all their business, corporate citizenship, and other goals through PDCA, scientific thinking, and a culture of learning.

Since Juran’s and Kondo’s writings were published, dozens -- if not hundreds -- of books, lectures, and workshops professing themselves to teach hoshin kanri have followed. In addition to the macro-level concepts, managers need to see the nuts and bolts level of applying it to a business. To choose one example, Tom Jackson’s approach is very practical, using examples and step-by-step guidance. Nested PDCA wheels, A3s, X diagrams, value stream maps, the role of six sigma, problem-solving -- all there. There’s no cookbook for hoshin kanri -- Tom Jackson would be the last to say there is -- but now we have explicit descriptions based on the experience of many Western companies.

I’ve talked about three stops along hoshin kanri’s evolutionary path. From Juran’s focus on product quality to Kondo’s emphasis on people, to having Jackson’s help in understanding and applying tools. By taking them together, while doing some extrapolating and thinking, you should be on your way toward understanding hoshin kanri.

References:

  • Joseph Juran, Quality Control and Inspection, Publication L51-94, Industrial College of the Armed Forces. 1951.
  • Joseph Juran, Juran on Leadership for Quality: An Executive Handbook, The Free Press, division of Macmillan. 1998.
  • Takahiro Fujimoto, The Evolution of a Manufacturing System at Toyota, Oxford University Press. 1999.
  • Yoshio Kondo, Hoshin kanri -- a participative way of quality management in Japan, TQM Magazine, American Society for Quality Control, 1998.
  • Thomas L. Jackson, Hoshin kanri for the lean enterprise: developing competitive capabilities and managing profit, Productivity Press. 2006.


Mar 22, 2013

In business improvement, the small stuff = BIG DEAL



My guest blogger today is Antonio Ferraro. He talks about the benefit of starting small to get big results...

If you’re like many others out there, you’re probably familiar with the phrases “Don’t sweat the small stuff” or “There are bigger rocks to climb.” While in some situations these concepts still ring true, when it comes to business and improvement they are quite the opposite. It tends to be the small things that lead the way to the biggest impact and offer the most valuable changes. If you think about it, it is pretty hard to accomplish big tasks when there are so many small details that need to be resolved.

Accomplishing the small stuff with lean
The concept of lean focuses on eliminating waste while also improving customer value. When implementing lean, many businesses look inward at their practices and processes and search for areas in need of improvement or streamlining. It is in this stage that the brainstorming starts -- how to make processes more efficient while also reducing waste. Many small objectives are put into place in order to save time, money, resources, etc. This is where accomplishing the small stuff will start to make a big difference. In the lean mindset, it really is about implementing minor changes and the minor changes eventually snowball into big changes with larger rewards.

Making a big impact with small changes
To really understand the potential benefits of making small and lean changes to a business practice, let’s discuss an example. The owner of an auto shop is tired of losing valuable employee work time and necessary tools for the job because of tools being routinely misplaced by mechanics. It is common for the mechanics to use a tool for a job and set it down, so others cannot find it when they need it. Mechanics have been complaining about losing up to twenty minutes of work time in search of just one basic tool.

In order to combat this situation, the owner investigates a lean concept known as 5S (a Japanese-derived concept which focuses on maintaining a neat and organized workspace). The shop owner thinks keeping tools in place could help solve the issue of lost production time. It will also help save money by not having to keep ordering duplicate tools.

One of the first 5S tactics employed within the shop is the use of a foam tool organizer, these are often customizable and able to help establish a clear landing location for tools so they are not misplaced. The owner shows employees how it works so they can see how it may make their work easier by keeping tools where they are needed. However, it is important to remember that even though the tactic of using a tool organizer was put into place, it doesn’t mean that it will be completely successful. A very important component of lean is striving for continuous improvement, so the owner and employees agree to try out the organizer, monitor changes in lost work time, and evaluate its success for both employees and the business.

The possibilities are endless
When you really stop and take the time to think about the small changes that you could make in your own life you will be able to take note of the larger payback that will come afterwards. For instance, something little such as flossing your teeth each day will help prevent tooth decay. Eating healthier may help prevent a heart condition. And in the industrial world using something simple such as a foam tool organizer will not only help save lost time looking for tools, but also save the cost of buying extra ones. The small stuff really does make a big deal, and when you start with the small stuff the possibilities are truly endless.

About the author
Antonio Ferraro says, “I believe for positive change to happen, we must actively seek out areas in need of improvement. I strive to provide helpful information about 5S, Six Sigma, Kaizen, and the Lean mindset to create safer and more efficient industrial work environments. An organized, safe, and well-planned workspace leads to increased productivity, quality products and happier employees.” Website: www.creativesafetysupply.com


Mar 12, 2013

Long-distance collaboration can spark innovation


My Manufacturing Trend Watch column -- Innovation thrives in digital workspaces -- on Manufacturing Pulse is out, with an answer to bans on telecommuting starting with Yahoo. I'm all in favor of face-to-face meetings. I don't think they always need to happen every day for innovation to grow. With Facebook moving us to daily chats with distant friends (and games), the manufacturing world is growing its own connections in the so-called Cloud.

As I wrote in the article, I keep getting stuck in the Local-Motors website browsing the open-source design projects uploaded by members, and the discussions that create little circles of advisors and collaborators. There's even an offshoot being developed by DARPA, GE, and other partners.

The new Domino's Pack project, winner of the challenge to create the ultimate delivery vehicle, is currently claiming my attention.




There are lots of ways companies can use the cloud. I commented on that a while ago in Choosing online collaboration tools for teams. Posted in 2010, it's bound to be out of date, but the idea is the same.


Mar 1, 2013

"Made in ..." campaign not realistic in global economy



I wrote a while ago (Manufacturing Trend Watch on Manufacturing Pulse) about too much focus on "Made in the USA" in products and supply chains. 

My friend Dan McDonnell is VP of Operational Excellence at a global manufacturer of large industrial equipment and similar products. Dan tells us how this company's supply chain strategy reflects the global nature of markets today. 

We are trying to practice a realistic and winning strategy to business growth.

First it recognizes that the biggest growth opportunities in the world over the next decade are not in mature markets but rather in emerging markets. To not try to participate in those markets is a huge opportunity miss. We are living in a global economy, the winners will be the organizations who are the best global traders and operators.

Second, it recognizes that the idea of time and speed is critical and so we have an in-region-for-region strategy. If we have a big market in the US, we prefer to make product in the US for that market and to build a local/regional supply chain around it. If we have a big market opportunity in China we prefer to manufacture in China with a local/regional supply chain around that base.

Third, it recognizes that there needs to be an optimal level of good “buy” or outsource decisions. We are not tending to total vertical integration but high levels of integration. Through this we are recognizing that there are non-core materials, components and assemblies we willingly want to reach out to a strong external supply chain to provide.

Fourth, we do not believe in a uni-dimensional supply chain strategy that is either all local or all low cost region based. Rather, we seek the right mix of local, regional, and global supply around our manufacturing hubs. We want predominately local and regional strategies while recognizing that, depending on commodity and supplier capability and reach, some items are better sourced globally from extremely competitive regions. For example, for some small, light, standard, items with very high labor content, even with the best technologies and processes in the region, there might be low cost regions of supply that are the best competitive choices even with the longer time component of supply and its inherent issues.

In the end common sense, business smarts, and not evangelism should rule the day always.

Dan, thanks for contributing to the debate with some real-world thinking.

Feb 18, 2013

State manufacturing development policies change direction


Every state -- every country, for that matter -- seems to have a plan to bring back manufacturing and manufacturing jobs. Only in the last couple of years have they realized that manufacturing jobs are some of the best, and they should have been nicer to manufacturing
Image courtesy of Gray
instead of writing it off. As I described in my column for ManufacturingPulse this week, there’s a new report on state policies from the National Governors Association (NGA) Policy Academy, Making our Future: What states are doing to encourage growth in manufacturing through innovation, entrepreneurship, and investment, that suggests a change in perception.

Only five years ago, states were trying to rescue and revive manufacturing. The objective was jobs, after years of layoffs and high unemployment. One of their strategies was to go after global companies to keep plants in their state or get new ones built. They got jobs. But not enough to make up for all the manufacturing jobs lost during the recession (and before). It’s a fact that manufacturing doesn’t need as many people as in the past. Government leaders were either not prepared for the fact, or had been using the “jobs” issue to sell something else.

Here's the big change

Today, as reality has set in, new state economic development plans are being built around manufacturing innovation and competitiveness. They are fostering the development of new technologies that change both processes and products. In most state plans, coalitions rule. Policies are designed to do a better job of linking research-intensive universities and manufacturers. They are also designed to bring government into the picture to facilitate connections between companies and research centers, as well as to create conditions necessary for success.

One factor is ensuring a well developed workforce from schools and retraining programs. Jobs are available, but they require more skills and knowledge than ever before.

Companies have long been asking for better access to capital. Now economic development plans are promoting public/private joint ventures and other means of increasing investment in their state’s companies.

Finally, small and medium-sized companies, including startups, will be invited to the table. Few are currently taking advantage of help available from their state government agencies. It’s time to do a better job of showing them how to get support and organize the resources that are now fragmented into many departments and divisions.

What to expect

How excited should we be about this report? Plans and reports like this come out every few years. Since governors like to take credit for them, newly elected governors don’t have a political interest in continuing the programs of their predecessors.

And do these programs get results? We don’t get much information about how effective the plans have been. If you put it into PDCA terms, we get the “P” for planning, and some of the “D” for actual things that get done. We don’t hear about the “C” for checking how things worked out, perhaps because analysis is never done? Reflecting on the outcomes is missing. And any informed adjusting -- the “A” of the plan -- falls away. There are some exceptions, link to 
 but reports (PDF) are very hard to find.

Despite my skepticism about government manufacturing policy, the NGA workshops and research are interesting. Business leaders, especially in manufacturing, should be reading this report -- and others like it -- and investigating what is going on where their facilities are located. Educators and university administrators should take note, and find out where they have opportunities to support manufacturing and revitalize their systems. Politicians and economic development agency administrators should be benchmarking other regional plans and asking whether their own programs could be improved.

The value of lean and continuous improvement to these organizations, especially in the execution part of their policies, does not seem to bubble to the top. When plans refer to new technologies, implementing this new system of management is not recognized as one of them. It’s frustrating for everyone in the lean community to know how much better things could be, how much more likely it would be that plans would bear fruit, simply with a PDCA approach, even without using any other part of lean. Not even the MEPs affect the planning. 

Are there any examples of lean principles penetrating economic development plans? How could we break through?

Jan 14, 2013

Does the recent management survey tell us about lean practices or not?


I've received some feedback on Lean works and now we have proof that I wrote about a report released by the U.S. Census bureau regarding a survey about management practices and their relationship to profitability, productivity, and so on.

One person felt the report and data were thin. That's something to consider. (Read the Census Bureau press release, with links to questions and the research report.) Do you agree?

Another pointed out that the report was not talking about lean except for one reference. True. I was the one who interpreted the results as being data about lean, so let's not blame the researchers for that.

My reason for using the word "lean" was that the questions are, in my view, similar indicators of questions we would use for sensing the use of lean practices in a company. I think that those related to KPIs are revealing, although those about bonuses and career advancement, not so much. What's a good name for the practices? Structured management?

In truth, 16 questions can't be said to cover every practice we'd call lean -- Shingo, Baldrige, and other lean assessment tools are many pages long. But imagine how many people would have completed the survey if it had been extensive.

These are the questions, and the multiple choice answers included in the survey. Each question is answered for 2005 and for 2010, allowing change to be measured.

1. What happened when a problem in a production process arose?
Answers: Fixed, no further action; Fixed, took action so it would not happen again; Fixed, took action so it would not happen again, and had continuous improvement process to anticipate problems like these; No action.

2. How many key performance indicators (KPIs) were monitored? 
Answers: 1-2, 3-9, 10 or more, no key performance indicators.

3. How frequently were KPIs reviewed by managers?
Answers: (Mark all that apply) Yearly, Quarterly, Monthly, Weekly, Hourly or more frequently, Never.

4. How frequently were KPIs reviewed by non-managers? 
Answers: (Mark all that apply) Yearly, Quarterly, Monthly, Weekly, Hourly or more frequently, Never.

5. Where were production display boards showing output and other KPIs?
Answers: All display boards located in one place, display boards located in multiple places, No display boards.

6. What were the time frames of production targets? Examples of production targets include production, quality, efficiency, waste, on-time delivery.
Answers: Main focus on short-term (less than one year), Main focus was on long-term (more than one year), Combination of short-term and long-term, No production targets.

7. How easy or difficult was it to achieve these targets?
Answers: Possible to achieve without much effort, Possible to achieve with some effort, Possible to achieve with normal amount of effort, Possible to achieve with more than normal amount of effort, Only possible to achieve with extraordinary effort.

8. Who was aware of targets? 
Answers: Only senior managers; Most managers and some productions workers, Most managers and most production workers, All managers and most production workers.

9. What were non-managers’ performance bonuses based on? (check all that apply) 
Answers: Their own performance as measured by KPI targets, Their team or shift performance, The plant’s performance, The company's performance, No performance bonuses.

10. When targets were met, what percent of non-managers received performance bonuses? 
Answers: 0%, 1-33%, 34-66%, 67-99%, 100%, Targets not met.

11. What were managers’ bonuses based on? (check all that apply) 
Answers: Their own performance as measured by KPI targets, Their team or shift performance, The plant’s performance, The company's performance, No performance bonuses.

12. When targets were met, what percent of managers received performance bonuses?
Answers: 0%, 1-33%, 34-66%, 67-99%, 100%, Targets not met.

13. What was the primary way non-managers were promoted? (check all that apply) 
Answers: Solely on performance and ability, Partly on performance and ability and partly on other factors, Mainly on other factors than performance and ability, Non-managers are usually not promoted.

14. What was the primary way managers were promoted? 
Answers: Solely on performance and ability, Partly on performance and ability and partly on other factors, Mainly on other factors than performance and ability, Managers are usually not promoted.

15. When was an under-performing non-manager reassigned or dismissed?
Answers: Within 6 months of identifying non-performance; After 6 months of identifying non-performance; Rarely or never.

16. When was an under-performing manager reassigned or dismissed?
Answers: Within 6 months of identifying non-performance; After 6 months of identifying non-performance; Rarely or never.

These questions were followed by others asking about the organization: where company headquarters were located, where certain decisions are made (HQ or plant) hiring and pay increases, where new product introductions take place, product pricing, advertising. Level of purchasing authority at the plant, how many employees report to the plant manager, who prioritized production workers tasks, availability and use of data for decision making, how managers learn about management practices.

Then there were some about background characteristics: seniority and years of employment of person completing the survey, number of managers and employees at the establishment, % of managers and non-managers with bachelors degree, % of employees belonging to a union.


Is some data better than no data?
My overstatement about proof that lean works aside (I did get a lot of hits on the page), I think the survey gives us something to work with when discussing the benefits of lean -- or whatever you want to call it.

Jan 9, 2013

Lean works - and now we have proof

Corrections/clarifications made 1/13/2013

The Management and Organizational Practices Survey (MOPS) results, just released January 4, 2013, from the U.S. Census Bureau, finally gives us some reliable data about the correlation between lean management principles and profits, productivity, and growth. (Obviously, to say we have "proof" is misleading, because we all know that correlation [the word I used in the body of the article] is not the same as causation. Forgive me for writing a more exciting headline.)

Responses from 30,000 large-company plants* to a 16-question survey about their manufacturing management practices were analyzed by researchers from the Census Bureau, Stanford, and MIT. The questions, related to what the (Census Bureau) researchers are calling “structured management practices,” fit into current lean thinking. Researchers say they are based on continuous monitoring, evaluation, and improvement practices, and were selected from current lean manufacturing principles. I think that the questions were useful in assessing the state of a company in using continuous improvement and lean, perhaps not exactly as we would write them, but close enough to make the data gathered meaningful.

With the data collected, researchers came up with a management score for the plants' intensity of use of the practices investigated. These management scores were compared to data on company performance.

Did the companies with stronger scores make more money?

That’s what people really want to know - are lean companies more profitable? The answer is yes, a lot more. Companies with the highest scores on using management practices associated with lean were much more profitable, as this graph shows.

The Y axis on this graph is unfortunately labeled "Profit" -- the source data is a ratio meant as a measure of "Profitability." To normalize for size of company and other factors, profitability is defined as Operating profit / sales, specifically value added minus wages and salaries / total value of shipments. The data all refers to individual plants, not the company as a whole.**




There’s a lot more to the report and the study that I’ll talk about in the next few days. I just wanted to share the news that we can finally begin to base our ideas about the value of lean on some hard data, objectively collected, analyzed with the highest level of statistical rigor. 

Read the Census Bureau press release, with links to questions and research report.

This is not a Census Bureau survey and has not been through the usual Census Bureau review process. It is the findings and opinions of the research team. The Census Bureau is simply making it available because it expands on their data. The report details indicate that a high level of statistical rigor was applied by the research team.

* The sample used for the survey was limited to large companies. Because of some estimating processes used in the ASM data for small and medium sized businesses, they were omitted from the survey. That's a disappointment since so many of our practitioners are from such companies. I have not yet found the criteria for calling a business small or medium. 

**Definitions of "value added" and "shipments" as used by the Census Bureau
  • Value added - This measure of manufacturing activity is derived by subtracting the cost of materials, supplies, containers, fuel, purchased electricity, and contract work from the value of shipments (products manufactured plus receipts for services rendered). The result of this calculation is adjusted by the addition of value added by merchandising operations (i.e., the difference between the sales value and the cost of merchandise sold without further manufacture, processing, or assembly) plus the net change in finished goods and work-in-process between the beginning- and end-of-year inventories. For those industries where value of production is collected instead of value of shipments, value added is adjusted only for the change in work-in-process inventories between the beginning and end of year. For those industries where value of work done is collected, the value added does not include an adjustment for the change in finished goods or work-in-process inventories. “Value added” avoids the duplication in the figure for value of shipments that results from the use of products of some establishments as materials by others. Value added is considered to be the best value measure available for comparing the relative economic importance of manufacturing among industries and geographic areas.
  • Value of product shipments - Includes the total value of all products produced and shipped by all producers, not just those with values of $100,000 or more. However, for selected products, this can represent value of receipts, value of production, or value of work done. Industries that are published on these unique basis are separately.

Jan 6, 2013

Management Blog Carnival 2012 - Square Peg Musings


Square Peg Musings by Scott Rutherford is new to me and I’m happy to discover and review it as part of the 2012 Management Blog Carnival. Scott has the right experience, writing ability, and things to write about to make a top-notch continuous improvement blog. He comes from the ASQ quality arena, which gives his reports a slightly different spin from the lean blogs. In fact, he is an ASQ Influential Voice and includes a disclaimer: “While I receive a variety of quality resources as honorarium from ASQ in exchange for this commitment, the thoughts and opinions expressed on this blog are my own.” That seems to be true. Scott writes in his own voice from his own perspective with his own conclusions. To me, that’s what makes a blog interesting.

A few recent posts I’ll highlight:

What if I can’t get a raise? is a compelling subject for a lot of people. Scott starts by saying why that’s not so compelling for him as a government employee who really likes what he’s doing now. From his days of chasing the paycheck as a quality manager, he does have some advice to impart: be a leader, provide value, and draw attention to others. Providing value, in Scott’s view is going to the gemba, enforcing standards, and communicating expectations. A few more other things he says leaders do:

  • Being cognizant of organizational performance and how you and your team fit into the big picture. 
  • Mentoring your team appreciate new opportunities and challenge rules. 
  • Asking your team, “how do you think we should solve this problem?”
  • Success follows you, it is not you. 
  • Focusing the spotlight on the team successful. 

His conclusion is, “In my opinion, skip the raise and help your team be successful.”


In another post, in his turn as host of the Management Blog Carnival he takes a look at
Nicole Radziwill’s blog, Quality and Innovation. One of Nicole’s unique ideas Scott mentions is questioning the validity of Deming’s 14 points. (In contrast to Michel Baudin’s recent blog posts based on the 14 points.)


A third, Celebrating World Quality Month - Wrap-up of the DQG Conference  is one of my favorite kinds of posts, a report on a professional conference, in this case the Dubai Quality Group. On the personal side, he tells why he enjoyed himself: hospitality, great speakers, great audience, and questions. It’s actually difficult to write a good post about a conference. Writing about who spoke about what -- the central purpose of the event -- can easily turn into a list of names and topics without much information. I think Scott did a good job of saying enough about what the speakers said, then telling us why it was important. It made me interested in finding out more about the speakers, whose names are new to me. Most speakers were from outside Dubai, but Scott says the 160 people attending were from the Arabian region. We know too little about continuous improvement there -- from business news I have seen from Dubai, Qatar, and other middle eastern countries, I can tell you there is robust activity there.


While I liked Scott’s blog a lot, it was very hard to read its tiny white type on its black background. (Granted, the web being what it is, font size can be rendered smaller or larger than intended.) The dark background is cluttered with a reading room scene that seems unrelated to the topic. Readable black type on a white background may be boring, but that’s the point. The writing is more important than the decoration. Blogger has lots of simple themes to choose from and  converting to one of them might be a good idea.

I know I will keep up with Scott’s blog because of its originality and interesting insights. Good job overall.

Jan 4, 2013

Management Blog Carnival 2012 - Michel Baudin's Blog


It's another year for the Management Blog Carnival, the brainchild of John Hunter, aka Curious Cat. It's bloggers blogging about other bloggers, and the guide to all of them is on the Curious Cat blog website. This year, the first blog I'm taking a look at is Michel Baudin's Blog.


Michel Baudin’s Blog, titled simply Michel Baudin’s Blog, is one of those combinations of good writing, deep experience, and wide-ranging knowledge. In general, his posts reveal him to be thoughtful, well-read, and erudite, while he avoids being obscure or academic. The blog is easy to read and navigate. It is visually attractive, with a simple layout and enough images to keep it interesting.

As for content, some posts are links to current articles and news related to lean. Michel usually adds his insight -- valuable but short.  The value of having an expert select articles is that it helps the rest of us by sifting the wheat from the chaff.

The best reason to follow Michel’s blog is to read his longer essays. Lately he has been picking out each of Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s 14 points for inspiration, reminding us what Dr. Deming said, then how his experience or stories from other books illustrate what the point means. After reading one of these blog posts, you not only know what Deming said -- whether you had been familiar with his work or not -- but you have spent some time thinking about how it relates to your own job.

An example is

Deming’s Point 10 of 14 – Eliminate slogans and exhortations
"Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force."
What usually happens when banners appear in the workplace and word comes down, translated to some version of “work harder” or “stop making mistakes”? Michel relates stories from Ben Hamper’s automotive experience in the 1980s. Slogans are meant to communicate to workers and the public some emphasis on improvement, but they usually fail.  Michel shows some more effective ways used by Toyota, Porsche, VW, and Honda to get the message across.

In an earlier post, Comparative advantage, free trade, and productivity, Michel dissects the meaning of the terminology invented by the 18th century economists, David Ricardo and Adam Smith. Not surprisingly, people are a bit vague on the original meanings of these economic and business terms we throw around, and blank on the context in which the terminology began. You have to like business and manufacturing history to read the whole story, and I wish people did so more often.

Mitigating “Mura,” or unevenness is an article that should not be missed. It takes a long time for lean learners to get past a focus on Muda and start to learn what Mura and Muri are all about. Michel starts by saying:

Mura then really is the conjunction of overburdening some resources while others wait, or of alternating over time between overburdening and underutilizing the same resources.

Then he offers an in-depth exploration of:

    Mura in space, Mura in time, and Mura in space and time
    Degrees of severity: Deterministic, random, and uncertain environments
    What is special about Manufacturing?
    Internal versus external causes of unevenness
    Most useful skills in dealing with Mura

I can’t possibly summarize the article. I’ll just say it’s one you might want to print and hand out, then use for discussion.

Overall, Michel Baudin’s blog is a really good place to learn things missing from your years of education. You’ll get a picture of lean theory and how it plays out in the real world, as well as a dollop of economic and business theory. Highly recommended.

The next blog review in my series will be Square Peg Musings.

Copyright @ 2005-2014 by Karen Wilhelm