Thursday, January 31, 2008

Waste gives birth to more Waste

Yesterday, I reviewed a large stack of invoices flowing through our company. In the midst of the pile, two caught my eye.

One particular vendor had two invoices. This vendor sells us some common, widely-available, commodity-like items. Each of the invoices had, along with the regular purchases, a single no-charge listing. One was for a T-shirt for a very popular NFL football team (size XL). On the other was a nice 2008 calendar. This triggered a memory of seeing a sleeve of Maxfli golf balls listed from the same vendor before.

Which got me wondering.

Is this vendor seeking to differentiate itself in a business where all of its competition sells pretty much the same stuff? By itself, that’s commendable. But, by giving away freebies, is it subtly enticing our company to NOT compare prices and service with other competitors? Look, I know the golf balls and the T-shirts are not free. I know we are paying for it, indirectly. It adds no value to our company, though it probably adds value to the golfers or football fans who benefit from the give-aways. Does it also drive waste for us, by paying too much for basic goods our company needs?

The realization triggered a direct review on my part of this vendor. You may want to poke around and do the same.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Standard Work for Managers = Go to Gemba

As many times as I've heard it, as many times as I've said it to others, I still have to relearn the lesson. Over and over.

Get to the workplace. Look. Listen.

It seems the culture of our supposedly modern managerial world is so driven by meetings and emails and reports to read and papers to sign we squeeze out what is truly important and transforming.

It it me afresh this week as I attempted to build into my routine a regular walk-through of each of our production areas. I made it standard work for me, as a manager/leader.

Like most aspects of standard work, it was not hard to do. It seemed routine. Yet, when I did the standard work of walking, looking at certain workplaces, greeting people by name, listening to their observations, good things happened. Very good things happened.

Further, how bogus is it for me to expect our production team to follow standard work in their processes if I don't follow standard work in mine? Yeah, embarassingly bogus.

I remind myself. If you need reminding too, consider your self reminded.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Wasting Attention

Kelly Forrister, a coach with David Allen of “Getting Things Done” fame, wrote recently on How much do you value your attention? She argued for the supreme value time has for each of us and how foolish we are to waste it. Specifically, she asked why we would hit “reply all” to an email when only one person needed the response. The response to all the others represented waste of their attention to open, read and process yet one more email.

Thus, I can contribute waste by asking someone to give up their attention to see something I pass along not worthy of their attention. I create muda with the simple click of a mouse.

Think about not wasting attention today in your email interactions.

And I truly hope I did not waste your attention with this post!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Blogging Update, plus links

Even though this space has been quiet for a while, I’ve been blogging quite a bit here during the fall.

I’ll be adding more items in Learning About Lean over the next few weeks. Mostly short, pithy items I hope get you thinking without wasting your time. I've also cleaned up the layout here, hope you like it.

Here’s a summary of my recent blogs on the IIE site:

Cut the batch size

What does standard work look like?

Waste not...even welding slag

It is the size of the scoop that matters

Yeah, but... (bad words to use)

Kanban the coffee!

I’ll add links here as well to those articles as they come up.