Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Predictive or Responsive?

Do I try to predict what demand will be for my product?
Do I try to respond to demand which is evident?
Do I try to train my people for what I think they will need?
Do I try to help them be rapid learners of the skills required?
Do I try to guess what new products will sell well?
Do I make a lot of products and make more of what sells well?
Do I try to anticipate which direction the stock market will move?
Do I set up my portfolio to respond reasonably whatever the market does?
Responsiveness generally trumps predictiveness.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Dumpster Diving, Designed-in Waste

You can learn a lot from a trash can.  It is the one place everyone agrees is the placeholder for waste. 


This morning, I pulled a large sheet of purchased material from a trash can.  We had punched a number of smaller parts from it.  There was a perfect stencil remaining, the outline of all the punched parts.


And, man, was there a lot of material left.  A quick set of measurements confirmed what my eye suggested…by moving the cutting pattern around, we could have had almost 20% more parts from this same sheet of material.


We designed in waste to this automated cutting pattern.  We have no one to blame but ourselves.  We planned the waste and executed the design perfectly.


Is there anything more painful than seeing such intentional waste? 


You can learn a lot from a trash can.


Keep on learning.





Monday, January 09, 2012

Once again--why we go to gemba

As part of our ongoing learning experience in implementing standard management work, one of my colleagues and I walked through a production area this morning.  As planned, we stopped to speak with an area supervisor near her visual metric display.  She had two questions, which we were discussing....


My colleague noticed a nearby piece of equipment six inches off of its appointed place.  Now, not all six-inch displacements are critical but this one was and he knew why.  This displacement bore the risk of causing a significant quality problem.   He knew it and it allowed a discussion with the supervisor, at that point, at that time, about the criticality of the correct equipment placement, what to do about it and how to prevent it.  

There is no way any report, paper or electronic, would have ever shown this potential problem.  There is no way any conference room would allow the timely, clear discussion he had with the supervisor.  There is no way any management seminar could ever communicate to a supervisor the passion for getting this part of the process right. 

We had to go to the workplace.  

Keep learning.