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Don’t Let Success Close Your Mind

Success is great.  We all strive for it.  We want our projects, teams (work or sports), children, and ourselves to achieve better results than anyone expected.  We want to be considered successful.

But there is a flip side to being successful.  When we are successful we can lose sight of what got us there.  We can think the process or the method that got us to the top or achieved the great results is what we should continue doing in order to stay at the top.

It was just the process that helped us succeed.  It was the continuous improvement we went through to discover the thinking and the process that helped us succeed.

How many times have you seen upper level managers fight against changing what they have done for so many years?  It has gotten them the success they have achieved.  Why should they change?  They should change because they are open to new ideas.  Even after success we must stay open minded to new ideas so we can continue to improve and gain more success.

After a kaizen event, evaluate the process of the event and look for new things to try to make the next event even more successful.  After the promotion at work, how do you continue to be noticed, positively, and find ways to be more successful as a manager?

Use GM as an example.  They did not change their ways that made them successful for so much of the 1900’s.  Then around 1990 things started to change and GM never was open to new ideas in managing their business.  Eventually, they were not #1 anymore and if it wasn’t for the government bail out they would have gone bankrupt.  Even after the bailout, GM has not changed their business practices and are struggling.

Ford can be seen as an example that wasn’t open to new ideas and almost needed the bailout too.  Instead, they became open minded and changed some of their business practices when they hired Alan Mulally.  Now, Ford is much more financially stable.

While we all want and strive for success, we must remember that a big part of what made us successful was being open minded to new ideas.  Once we are successful, we can’t forget that.  We should always stay open-minded and continue to improve.

Lean Manufacturing at Meggitt Polymer

I am slow on getting up to date on some blog posts I wanted to write.  One is on an article about Meggitt Polymer I found a couple of weeks ago.  I have not been there and have no affiliation with anyone there.

Meggitt is getting fantastic results from implementing lean out on the manufacturing floor.

…Meggitt was able to cut its excess inventory by 70 percent, freeing up 35 percent more floor space for additional manufacturing. He said it was able to reduce its production time 25 percent while increasing its volume 20 percent.

The article said they produce 11,000 different seals.  Considering the high number of finished products the results seem even greater.

Meggitt doesn’t see lean as just a way to cut costs, but as a way to grow their business.

At first glance, operational streamlining would seem to mean cutting the workforce — something the county, state and nation can ill-afford, with unemployment so rampant. However, it actually has just the opposite effect, advocates say.

They claim companies that learn to operate more efficiency are able to accelerate productivity, cut unit costs and increase market share. Before long, they need more workers to cope with growth.

Fackler said Meggitt is a good example. It has added about 30 employees in the last 90 days, he said.

In today’s economy more cases like Meggitt’s need to be spotlighted on a bigger stage.  They didn’t hire hundreds or thousands like GM or Ford may do when they re-open a facility, but they did grow and they did hire 30 people in 90 days.  That is significant for an area.  It will be the small companies, like Meggitt, that will play a significant part in turning the unemployment situation around.

Meggitt also got their employees involved in the decision making and improvement process.

Lean philosophy extends beyond managerial and engineering ideas, however. It requires input from those who do the actual work on the factory floor, as they often have the keenest feel for workplace inefficiencies.

At Meggitt, employees on the line worked side-by-side during the process, rearranging pieces of the manufacturing puzzle on a magnetic board.

This is great for the bigger moves and events.  I hope they have found a way to continue to do this on a day-to-day basis.  Have they created a process to maintain their engagement, so it isn’t a one time event?

Overall, it sounds like Meggitt is doing a good job of implementing and understanding some of the nuances of lean.  I would hope they are working at developing their thinking as leaders too, so they can sustain the growth they have experienced.