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Lean in Food Processing 0

Jerry Rosenthal started on his process improvement journey where he entered the world of medical device and worked with such companies like Cardinal Health. Jerry RosenthalJerry’s expertise is primarily in regulated environments such as food, beverage and pharmaceutical production and packaging. Jerry has been successful at taking principles and tools from manufacturing and applying them to a commercial business practice, and he does that at Lean Six Sigma Expert.

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Can You Spend 50% of Your Time Thinking about a Problem? 0

I asked Mike Osterling, “Does it really happening where people are spending 50 percent of their time on defining a problem?”  Mike has worked full time for over 15 years applying the Lean concepts in manufacturing and office environments. He can be found at Osterling Consulting.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Lean and A3 Thinking

An excerpt from the podcast:

Mike Osterling:  I think people in organizations need to be convinced that it’s a good investment of time. Let me tell you a recent experience. We weren’t formally using the A3 form, but we were walking through these guys, these groups through A3 thinking. There was a team that we were taking through a development program was looking…They had a project that they voted to be on, this project team, and they opted in on it. The project team was looking at what this company called Asset Recovery.

So, when an employee leaves the organization, the problem that was perceived upfront was that they weren’t always getting laptops back or employee ID badges or cell phones or pagers or whatever these different assets might be. One of the senior managers was saying we need to improve that process, we’re losing stuff. As part of the program we were taking them through this thinking process of, let’s define the problem first.

When the team went in and started talking to the different parties engaged in mapping the process and collecting data, a very interesting thing that happened was everybody who was engaged in the process, and all of the data that was out there showed that they were at a 99 percent or better rate of asset recovery. It was a very, very rare occurrence when something wasn’t recovered, and the exposure was not significant from an information or nondisclosure…proprietary information, disclosure loss or something like that. And the dollar loss was very insignificant.

Historically?in fact, where this team was going initially, they were going to come up with a completely new process. After they did the current process math, they were ready to come up with a new process definition and have different checkpoints and things like that. Once they started getting the data and really talking to the people, they found out that there’s no problem! This was a really, really good experience, because before we would not have challenged anybody on what the problem was and they would have gone right to the solution.

So as part of the project report out 15 weeks after we started or 13 weeks after we started, these guys said, well, we learned a really good thing. There is no problem. On one level, it seems like it was a waste of time. But, these guys said the value of going out there and talking to the people that do the job and walking the process numerous times, numerous times, this isn’t go to Gemba and walk it once, this is go to Gemba and walk it 15 or 20 times, really understand what’s going on-was invaluable.

They said, “Whenever we’re going after a problem again, we’ve got to talk to the people. We’ve got to walk the process numerous times.” So those guys get it. They get that problem definition, root cause analysis, and measure the current state. They get that.

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Middle Managers: A Key in Any Transformation 0

Paul Yandell is President of  Value Stream Focus and has successful and varied manufacturing and operations experience in companies ranging from startups to multinationals. He led a Lean Transformation driven by middle management and I ask him the following question:

Related Podcast and Transcription: Speak to Middle Managers

Joe:  I think that’s what’s so important because I  always hear this top-down driven type culture and these mandates that we’re going to be a Lean company and it’s got to be the vision from leadership and it’s got to be this saying we’re going to become Lean and everything and I flat out don’t think that works. In certain circumstances, it might work, but…

Paul:  Of course, it does work but let’s agree that the middle management makes it work. So if the top management says, “This is how we’re going,” and he’s able to get the alignment within his company top to bottom. Then he’s got it. The real problem is alignment. If you say, you’re going to change, but you don’t change your structure…I mean, Lean is all about turning the triangle upside down. If you look at a triangle, a normal triangle with the apex at the top, this is in a people-centered organization, the classic organization where the boss tells everybody else what to do. If you are continuously, that’s how all your information flows, then what happens is it’s hard to drive change through that organization. You’re going to tell people what to do, but they may or may not buy into it. They’re kind of waiting for you to go away or for the wind to change.

Now, if you can through continuous improvement, through Lean techniques, if you can switch that, flop that triangle around so the apex is at the bottom, now what happens…you have a flat part of the triangle at the top, if you will. Now you have a situation where the supervisor in saying, “OK, I need you to make green ones, 200 of them, and then I need you to make a bunch of red ones, 200 of them.” Instead, now the conversation is, the supervisor is at the bottom of the triangle, and the center of the work is now the operator. Now the conversation is, “OK, operator, how can I help you do your work better? How can I help you improve your operations? How can I help you do a better job?”

Suddenly, the conversation has changed, and it will never go back because the operator goes, “Oh, well you know, my back hurts every day. If you could raise this desk another two inches, this table, or if you could improve my chair, they’d give me a back to my chair, I’d be a lot better.”

Now the operator makes 15 percent more work and then their back doesn’t hurt and now, all their friends, they want you to pay attention to them too. Because, “You helped Mary, why don’t you come over and look at me? I need a better light over here. And you think I could get a new knife? This one has a bad blade, and it takes me forever to cut this item.”

You’d find out all this stuff that you never knew. If you just walk through the area and look at it, everyone looks busy, everyone looks like they know what they’re doing, and no one tells you what they need, because no one ever listened before, why should they listen now? You don’t want to be a complainer. That’s middle management right there.

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Has Your Branding Changed? 0

Laura Busche ‘s book is based on the Lean StartupTM  principles and is titled; Lean Branding (Lean (O’Reilly)). It is part Laura Buscheof the Lean Startup series of books by O’Reilly. I found her perception of marketing very aligned with mine and at the very start of the podcast asked her to differentiate her way of thinking versus the more traditional ways.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Branding Your Startup

Joe:   It’s very much different than what we’d say a Kotler book on marketing or the more traditional marketing branding books.

Laura:   I’ve read the Kotler books. They are actually…it’s how you start, so principles of marketing, marketing management, all these concepts. The real challenge for me was to bring these concepts to a level where anyone can use them to grow their startups. So it’s more of a tactical book, I’d like to think of it as a handbook. It has more than 100 tactics, it has case studies, examples, templates, checklists, all the kind of thing that you want to have when you’re just getting started and it’s definitely not the kind of book that’s here to introduce complicated theories, it’s rather here to show you how they can be applied. It’s also different from your traditional marketing book because I’m bringing in some insights from design; I’m bringing in some insights from psychology which is my background. I’m a business major and then I did some design management work and now I’m doing research in psychology, so it’s bringing together all of these disciplines and I like to think that that’s exactly what entrepreneurs need to use these tactics.

Joe:   Well I think you bring some interesting concepts there because so much of marketing today is influencing behaviors that’s let’s say in changing behavioral pattern to develop some sustainability, some use in the product anymore.

Laura:   Exactly. Marketing is so influenced by consumer psychology, it’s almost entirely an application of consumer behavior principles but there’s also some interesting things happening from the design end. Designers are starting to use more agile research methods, so rather than just doing all these old focused groups that nobody seems to like or use anymore, it’s becoming this environment where we can explore with ethnography, and we can do interviews, and we can discover consumers that way and it’s just so interesting and that’s one of the largest principles behind the book.

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Looking at Throughput thru Capacity Mapping 0

When you think of mapping in Lean, your first thoughts are steered towards the tool of Value Stream Mapping. When I picked up the book, Strategic Lean Mapping, I had similar thoughts, another book on Value Stream Mapping.  As I thumbed through the pages I found a very different approach. One that included Big Picture Map, Process Mapping, Capacity Mapping, Value-Stream Mapping, and closing with how to use this information for better problem solving and decision making.  I found Steven Borris use of mapping quite different. However, the tools within the maps were quite common for a Lean Practitioner.   Lean Strategic Mapping

Steve has worked with SMAS, a Scottish government agency tasked with improving the efficiencies of companies. He is a manufacturing advisor and continuous improvement expert and does this at Productivity Jigsaw. This is an excerpt from our podcast next week.

Joe Dager: We look at the individual processes and then I think you jumped into a Capacity Map which I really haven’t heard of before I read your book.

Steven Borris: Now the capacity map is my own. I was doing some work in a recycling plant, I had a colleague with me, we had a team of people that we were trying to train and what we did was we finally got the guys to do the process and there were 10 steps in the process. We put the process up on the wall, and we couldn’t see anything wrong with it. It was really weird. We knew the system wasn’t working efficiently, but we had no idea why. And basically what was happening was trucks were coming in with the materials. I can’t tell you what material is it, in case you can work out what the company was, but the materials were coming in and they were being loaded into a kind of pit and then the pit would take them to a conveyor belt and into a baler and they were only getting maybe eight bales, sometimes instead of maybe 30 that they could make.

When I was looking at this, they had four different ways that the materials came in and when I was staring at the wall map, I saw something and this is really stupid it may sound but I used to do electronics when I was younger, I used to work as an engineer and I saw what we call an operational amplifier circuit and I actually saw it in my mind. I know perhaps, I used to call them 741’s because you feed a signal like from an amplifier, and you get an output; it’s that simple. It’s just a single chip amplifier. But basically what that does is there’s a maximum gain you can get out of it and that maximum gain would be the maximum throughput of the baler. Then I working out what was causing the inputs to disappear and suddenly I saw a capacity problem. Basically, what was happening was if you got in an 18-wheeler truck, you could get the machine running non-stop and get 20 to 30 bales an hour. But then suddenly these little white Ford transits would come in from a local shop or something and they would start to unload their stuff and you can only do four vans in an hour, so suddenly you were down to maybe six or eight bales an hour and everything would just halt.

Suddenly the capacity became an issue, and that’s when I started to look at this idea of the capacity map. It’s also like to the theory of constraints. Once I had a map, I started to use it for other companies. Basically there was a company that made doors and when we laid out the entire process, exactly just using the process map, it suddenly dawned to me that what I could do is I could look at every machine, find out what it should be able to make and what they were making. If you take the ratio of what they do make to what they should make, that should get the OEE of the machine, so that was the capacity. You could literally look at the flow of the product going through it and see when it was easy to feed out when there was going to be a bottleneck. That will tell you from the beginning you need two machines instead of one in parallel. It just worked beautifully and all I had to do was when I had the process map steps laid out with the yellow post-its, I just had to write what they were doing and what they should be doing in another post-it and stack it above. It was that simple, and suddenly the whole horizon opened up. We were able to make some huge gains in productivity and it was probably as easy as the original goal when Eliyahu Goldratt wrote it and basically it was probably analogous to the scout troop walking through the line and getting the slowest guy to walk first. It’s that kind of simple if you just look at it.

From that map, I also did a bar chart and again it’s so easy because it’s just a histogram and the smaller the height of the bar chart…Imagine like limbo dancers, the harder it is to get the stuff through it. So if you’ve got a big bar chart leading into your little one, you can’t get the machine to cope with it so you got to start controlling the flow so that you’re making sure that you’re not overlooking the bottlenecks. So that was one, as I said that I just made up by myself.

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The Importance of Selling in a Startup 0

The new way of thinking about innovation is not limited to a great product/service idea says Blake Masters, co-author of Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future.

Related Podcast and Transcription: A Path For Future Innovation

An excerpt from the podcast:

Joe: One of the things I really liked about your book is that, and I’m a sales and marketing guy so you’re going to see where this comes from really easily, but is you truly believe that product just does not sell itself or that that’s a dangerous, maybe a dangerous path to take even if you just created the best widget and you think sales and marketing has some value, correct?

Blake: Tremendous, tremendous value and, everyone knows the product is important, and I think in the wake of the .com crash, at the end of ’99, 2000. People in Silicon Valley really retreated to thinking about product, so ’99, smart non-engineers were doing business development and sales and there is a sense in which today smart non-engineers are sort of judged as they go into sales product or working on a product scheme is somehow more of the moment in Silicon Valley today. I think the product is definitely important. I mean it’s very hard to sell something that’s bad, but it is possible, and it’s certainly, a lot easier to sell something that’s good. What engineers try to do in Silicon Valley is, they fall victim to what we call the field of dreams conceit.

If we build it, this will sell itself. If we build it, the customers will come. That’s almost always false and what we suggest in the book is sales and marketing are underrated precisely because they’re so hard to see and the skill set that makes one good at these things is very opaque in contrast to engineering or product. You look at a product, you can see what it does. You can see how it integrates to your life. If you look at a computer program or that code, either works or it doesn’t. Things are very transparent on the surface. Sales is really quite hidden. A lot of the sales people running around in Silicon Valley don’t call themselves salesman anymore. So, we do have an allergy to sort of obvious sales pitches. No one wants to get sold and go to a used car lot and the dealer comes out to talk to you as a sort of an architect of shadiness.

It’s really important to remember sales is happening all the time. You can’t move your product to a wide audience without some sort of sales strategy. And, the best way to fail in business is probably to, focus all your time and energy on creating a great product without spending a corresponding amount of energy, focused on ‘how do we get it out to people’. Because, I think this is a huge correction in the wrong direction of the over-correction. Startups, especially, need to think really long and hard about their sales strategies because you can build a really good business with just sort of a decent product if you figured out how to sell it to people.

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Applying Reflection to the Lean Sales Process 0

I have always thought Hansei or Reflection was a key part of Lean thinking. I talk about it as part of introducing CAP-Do in the video below.

Slides of the above Presentation
 

 

If you have not purchased CAP- Do, it is available for download as a PDF.

P.S. Peter Senge calls this process Presencing and this short 60-minute audio, Working with Presence: A Leading with Emotional Intelligence Conversation with Peter Senge, should be in everyone’s library.