Blog Archives

Blog Reader Survey: I want to hear about your needs from the blog

Recently, I have been participating in a series of conversations with a small group of other bloggers about how to improve the online lean learning community.

We thought it best to start with what you thought, so we’d like you to take a few minutes to answer a series of 10 questions to get us going.

As a thank you for your help, this link will take you to a zip file with some free content from Jeff Hajek, Chad Walters and myself.

Link to our survey

Shout Out to Fellow Bloggers

I wanted to give a shout out to some fellow bloggers today.  Normally, when I give a shout out it has to do with reading something by another blogger that influences me to go and change my work.

Not this time.  I have to give credit to some fellow bloggers that have the will to continually read articles and blogs that those in the lean world, like myself, find to be ridiculous.

Bill Waddell, Kevin Meyer, Mark Graban and others continue to read material by others that is so rooted in traditional mindsets that it can be appalling.  Yet they do this and provide perspective to the rest of us so we don’t have to waste our time reading it.

I say THANK YOU!

It is always good to read and learn about “the other side.”  It helps to combat the myths and misunderstandings of lean.

I have tried this and from time to time can read the other material but I struggle.  Knowing that mindset is still so rooted and these “experts” are continuing to think this way can drive me absolutely BONKERS!!!  And that is the medial term.

So to Bill, Kevin, Mark and others…Thank you for helping to keep me informed.  By doing so, you help to keep my sanity.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is Thanksgiving Day.  A great day to watch football, eat a large amount of food and enjoy the company of family and friends.

I want to say a special thank to all the readers of my blog.  I appreciate your comments and your time.  I know your time is valuable and knowing you take a few minutes each week to read what I have posted means a lot.  I hope to continue to add value and post topics and viewpoints that you enjoy reading.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Harvard Business Review Blog Talks U.S. Manufacturing

If you are a regular reader of Beyond Lean, you may know that I am a very big supporter of U.S. manufacturing.  I believe it is the foundation for economic prosperity for our country or any country for that matter.  Lean thinking and principles can help guide any business to success and overcome many economic and governmental situations.

Recently, the Harvard Business Review Blog has had posts talking about much of the same.  Here are a few of the posts.

The U.S. Needs to Make More Jobs More Creative

The authors break jobs into two categories.

But we were able to classify all jobs as either creativity-oriented or routine-oriented. And within the routine-oriented classification, there are three distinct types: routine-physical (e.g. an auto assembly plant worker); routine-service (e.g. an accounts payable clerk); and routine-resource (e.g. a coal miner).

The authors explain that creative-oriented jobs pay more and pose a great question.

…the real challenge for the U.S. economy is what to do with routine-oriented jobs in dispersed industries.

And their response to this:

There is no quick fix for this problem. But my view (and Richard’s) is that we have to rethink how we utilize workers in our advanced economy.

…But I believe that America can influence the slope of the line of increasing creativity-oriented jobs by leaning toward creativity; giving workers the encouragement and space to innovate; utilizing the most of their brain, not the least of it. That would be the grass-roots way out of America’s economic doldrums that everyone is looking for.

I interpret this as engaging everyone in the organization, even those doing what is considered a routine-oriented job, in innovating the business.  Innovating is also about how to change the process to be better.  Engage the minds and hearts of the employees not just the hands and feet.

Unglamorous Freelance Manufacturing Could Boost U.S. Competitiveness

The U.S. competitiveness debate too often devolves into a cry for more Apples and more Ciscos on American shores, when what the country really needs is more Hospiras.

More what?

Hospira is an advanced contract manufacturer.

The author talks about the importance of manufacturing for innovation.  Something I believe to be true and how we must open our mind to what the definition of innovation can mean.

In the U.S., “innovation” typically means just one thing to people: novel gadgets. Few policy makers realize that much of the innovation that has propelled China’s economy, for example, is of the incremental or process type. Many of us admire Apple for its originality but tend to forget the importance of its power-supply innovations, all of which were done in China by a Taiwanese company.

When it comes to process improvements, American companies are stagnating at best, and in many cases slipping backward. Policy makers need to appreciate the value of keeping incremental and process innovation in the United States.

I don’t agree that the U.S. needs policy makers to give tax breaks and help U.S. companies realize the importance of manufacturing to all types of innovation.  There are U.S. companies that have realized that on their own.  I’m sure even Apple has realized the importance of the innovations from their suppliers.  It is the companies that need to realize the benefits of this and make the effort to change their thinking around this.

It’s Time to Bring Manufacturing Back to the U.S.

A growing number of executives of U.S.-based companies are repatriating their manufacturing capabilities — moving some production operations back from overseas.

Many companies have been moving manufacturing back to the U.S.  In fact, enough have done it the movement has a name…reshoring or onshoring.

The post talks about governmental help to support this movement.  While, the governmental help would be nice it is not necessary.  There are plenty of companies that have made the move without help from the government.

Here are three bullet points the author says the governmental help recognizes:

  • Companies compete on cost and responsiveness, and this balance shifts dramatically when labor costs rise and the locus of demand shifts.

Labor cost has nothing to do with responsiveness.  Quick lead times and location has to do with this.  When total cost is looked at from end-to-end companies usually find that cheap labor really isn’t lowering their cost either.

  • Local talent and skills are essential to productivity and innovation. Long-term depletion of manufacturing skills will make it hard to reverse the trend.

I think this is right on.  It will be hard to reverse the trend but I think with more companies bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. this is helping to keep the skills from depleting.

  • Research and development incentives provided by the U.S. government must be tied to manufacturing operations. Otherwise, whatever is developed with taxpayer money could easily be moved to other regions associated with low-cost manufacturing.

I don’t agree with this.  This comes down to a company’s morals and beliefs.  If they want to move some innovation out of the country they will do it.  Their are companies innovating and manufacturing in the U.S.  It just may not be the high profile company like Apple.

It is great to see more and more discussion about the importance of manufacturing in the U.S.  That was not the case just a couple of years ago.  Especially on a high profile site like HBR.  The authors there are still spouting off too much about how the government needs to change regulations.  They need to start asking how all the companies that have already moved manufacturing back to the U.S. did it.  If they did, they might start writing more about Lean and end-to-end value stream thinking.

Welcome Joe Wilson to Beyond Lean

I have had Beyond Lean up and running for a year and a half now.  I have learned a lot over that time about blogging and running the site.  It has been a great experience.  As with anything else, Beyond Lean can not stay stagnant.  The blog must improve and continue to deliver value to the readers that visit as well as draw in new readers.

With this in mind, I have decided to add a new author and contributor to Beyond Lean.  Please welcome Joe Wilson to Beyond Lean.  He has been a guest blogger over the last year and now he will be a full time contributor.  Joe has written some great posts and brings a perspective that challenges my thinking and I hope he will do the same for you.  Below are a few of the posts from Joe this past year.

This can give you a taste of what Joe will bring to Beyond Lean.  You can click on the tag Joe Wilson below to see all of his guest posts.

Tomorrow will be Joe’s first post at Beyond Lean as a full time contributor.  I, for one, am looking forward to it.

Thanks to A Lean Journey

I wanted to say thanks to Tim McMahon, who runs A Lean Journey blog.

Tim has been a great supporter of Beyond Lean over the last year and has helped to expose us to new and different groups of people.  Yesterday, Tim reviewed Beyond Lean  for the 2011 Curious Cat Annual Management Blog Carnival.

I encourage you to take a look at Tim’s blog.  He is reviewing other great blog sites over the next few days.

Blog Carnival Annual Roundup 2011 – Lean Reflections

This is my final review for this years Blog Carnival Annual Roundup.  I have enjoyed reviewing blogs for John Hunter at Curious Cat Management blog.  The previous blogs I reviewed were:

Final review is the blog Lean ReflectionsKaren Wilhelm is the author of the blog.  Karen and I met last year during the Blog Carnival roundup.  It was her roundup post last year that encouraged me to try new blogs this year.  That led to me discovering Squawk Point and All Things Workplace.  Thanks, Karen!

Karen’s post are thought provoking.  Here Karen raises the question of understanding the brain more might help lead us to understand why people resist change and lean.

This post talks about Temple Grandin and her ability to use visual thinking to see the improvements that are needed in the process flow of the livestock industry.  It stresses the point that we need to pretend we are the product moving through a process.  Be the thing in order to better understand what is happening to the thing.

Karen’s blog is a great read.

Don’t forget to look for more reviews from other bloggers during the Blog Carnival Annual Roundup.

Blog Carnival Annual Roundup 2011 – All Things Workplace

This is my second review for the 2011 Annual Blog Carnival Roundup as part of the Curious Cat Management Blog.  So far I have reviewed:

Today’s focus is on All Things Workplace.  The blog is written by Steve Roesler.  Steve is a leadership coach and has worked with many organizations.

The blog isn’t necessarily about lean, but Steve talks about many things lean thinkers struggle with.  One of Steve’s most recent post talks about ways to be coachable.  He talks about the characteristics of someone who is coachable.  It is a great insight to understand the roadblocks you may have in coaching someone or shine a light on why you may not be receiving coaching very well.

Lean implementers are leaders of change.  We struggle with change management and the human factor involved in wanting to change to new way to do something.  Here Steve talks about how to prepare people for change.

A characteristic of a good lean leader is the ability to keep learning.  In this post, Steve suggests that smart people are people that keep learning that is why they can do so many things.

I encourage you to read Steve’s blog.  There are a lot of subjects related to lean and leadership there.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day.  A great day to watch football, eat a large amount of food and enjoy the company of family and friends.

I want to say a special thank to all the readers of my blog.  I appreciate your comments and your time.  I know your time is valuable and knowing you take a few minutes each week to read what I have posted means a lot.  I hope to continue to add value and post topics and viewpoints that you enjoy reading.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Lean Leadership Blog

Yesterday, I had the honor of being a guest blogger over at the Lean Leadership blog ran by Christian Paulsen.

The post talks about how a true supplier relationship is built on trust and integrity.  If you want a true partnership and collaboration with your suppliers you can’t be looking to ditch them at the first sight of saving a penny.  Working with the suppliers during bad times to help them get better is a great way to build the trust and shows integrity on your behalf.

Here is a link to the blog.

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