Another Industry Week Article!

I used to send IW articles about lean.  But I’ve switched to covering corporate culture, change management, and employee engagement morale.  Thus the two  articles on culture and morale.  With more to come.

There are a couple of reasons for this…

First, I cover lean here and in my email so I don’t have many ideas left for IW.  I’d often go a year or two between submissions to IW about lean.

Second, lean is covered quite well by Larry Fast.  I’ve linked to a couple of his IW articles here.  He’s about the best I’ve read.  (Lonnie Wilson, Jamie Flinchbaugh,  and James Shook also come mind as better than average writers on the topic.)  So I figured I’d leave the IW lean turf to him.

So…check out my second Industry Week article in the past month!


Forget Lean…It’s About Process Stability and Flow

OK, I don’t actually want you to altogether forget about lean.  I do want you to get rid of the notion (if you ever had it) that lean is a tool bag of tricks and techniques for wringing a few bucks out of your manufacturing processes or for getting another percentage point of efficiency from your employees.  There are ways of achieving those ends if that’s what you want but lean ain’t it.  Rather, lean is all about creating a smooth, consistent, predictable flow of information and materials through your organization.  I found a couple of good articles that reinforce my thinking that I want you to check out.

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How to Implement Lean Manufacturing: Simplify and Solve – Value Stream Mapping and Team Problem Solving: Part 10

In the last post, we recommended posting charts at each work station to gather information about production and performance that would be used to identify and solve problems.  Remember, the purpose of these charts isn’t simply to gather data that will be used later by your resident black belt (though it certainly could be).  The purpose is to identify and address problems in real time, in other words, lean problem solving.  So we’re interested in gathering as little information as possible in as “user-friendly” a way as we can and still get good problem solving accomplished.

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How to Implement Lean Manufacturing: Simplify and Solve – Value Stream Mapping and Team Problem Solving: Part 9

Lean efforts will be successful to the degree to which we have operational excellence in the shop.  Inventories and costs will decrease to the extent that we can reduce downtime, scrap, delays, scheduling problems, die problems, and equipment problems.  There’s no value in a value stream mapping and no good in pushing a pull system unless we also address those problems that will keep them from being effective.  Supervisors and operators need to be actively involved in problem solving.

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Another YouTube Video of Mine to Check Out…”What is Lean?”

As I’ve mentioned, I’m getting started on putting more material on YouTube.  Here’s my latest…it’s an overview/description that answers (one hopes) the question, “What is Lean?”

I hope you’ll get a chance to check it out.  I think my own definition, while not brand new and “never-heard-of”, does take a bit of a different slant from that of many of descriptions.  And, as you might imagine, I like my description better.  So, go take a look!

Which is Better…Lean or Six Sigma?

I’ve learned recently that about any search term that includes “Six Sigma” does well.  Regular readers know that I haven’t talked much about Six Sigma over the many months I’ve been involved with this blog.  I’m not a Six Sigma “any-kind-of-belt” but I do know a bit about the statistical tools that Six Sigma advocates.  (Design of Experiments is a bit above my pay grade but I’m betting the number of actual Design of Experiments projects run in any given year by manufacturers is relatively low.)  All to say, it’s not because I don’t like Six Sigma that I don’t talk about it much.  It’s more that Six Sigma and Lean and their relationship are misunderstood by most managers  and I’ve focused on trying to clarify the “lean” part of it.

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Larry Fast, columnist at Industry Week, is One Smart Guy

I don’t know Larry and he doesn’t know me, so this is unsolicited and uncompensated applause for a smart guy who seems to know a lot about lean.  I say that because I always agree with what he writes.  And that’s saying something…I once wrote some guy an email lambasting him for his superficial lean article and he sent one back, calling me every thing but a child of God.  In Larry’s case, I feel almost as if I could just link to his posts rather than writing any of my own!

So…what has me singing Larry’s praises?  Well, all his articles are good and should be read but two in particular perked me up.

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