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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.

Article Roundup

In the spirit of other blog sites, especially the Management Carnival, I thought I would share some links to a few blogs that found very interesting over the last month or so.  I hope you enjoy them.

A Tough Obituary to Write by Bill Waddell – This is a different perspective on the passing of Steve Jobs.  This is a point of view I had thought about writing but Bill beat me to the punch and I didn’t want to redo something he had written so well.

Building Your Personal Value Proposition by Bill Barnett – A great post about understanding yourself and what you are interested in.  Use that knowledge to know where you fit in a company and build your personal value.

Encourage Talent If You Want It To Grow by Steve Roesler – Steve hits on some great points to help grow talent through encouragement.  Even when you feel an employee is doing what they should be doing it is good to encourage them.

Building Manager Standard Work by Jamie Flinchbaugh – This blog will link to his full article at Industry Week.  Don’t but a process in place for something that already has a process like check email every day at lunch.

Planning On Not Knowing by David Kasprzak – We won’t always know what do to next but that shouldn’t stop us from planning.  Plan in spots to review and determine what to do next.

Manufacturing Skills Gap or Management Skills Gap by John Hunter – If the people don’t have the manufacturing skills they need is that their fault?  Or do we have a gap in our management skills?

Assembly Mag Thinks Whirlpool is Lean. Really. by Kevin Meyer – This is about Whirlpool and the fake lean.  It hit home because I grew up in Evansville and watch the decline of Whirpool.

My Continuous Improvement – Stand-up Desk

As I look for ways to improve, I am inspired by other lean thinkers and bloggers.  I see what they are trying and look to how that might work for me.  I try and experiment with things in order to make my job easier and to feel more in control and organized.

I decided to start a series that will be based on what I have tried in order to make my work better.  It may be small or large things and most likely it was an inspiration I got from someone else.  I hope that by passing along what I have learned that it may inspire others the way others have inspired me.

One idea that I have gotten from others like Jamie Flinchbaugh (here) and Kevin Meyer (here and here) is the stand-up desk.  I read about the benefits of a stand-up desk.  It is healthier.  It makes it easier to drive the ‘go and see’ behavior.  It makes you more accessible to your employees and so on.

When I was assigned to a manufacturing facility, I got myself a stand-up desk out in the middle of the production area I was working with.  It was great.  I could see what actually was happening at any time.  The employees liked having access to me without having to leave their production area.  People who came to see me to chat didn’t stay long because they didn’t like to stand, so I also became more productive.

Then I transitioned to our corporate office.  I am now working with more office environment processes.  After a couple of months of sitting in a chai I was going nuts.  I asked for a stand-up desk.  There was some crazy red-tape to get through but a couple of months ago I got it.  I have a nice sized cubicle, so I took a section and had it raised with the help of our ergonomic expert.

It isn’t pretty but it works very well.  I am able to get some of the antsy-ness out from spending so many years in manufacturing and walking on the floor.  I noticed more of my colleagues stopping by to ask questions.  More importantly, I got off my lazy can and now go seek out people to ask questions.  I don’t just pick up a phone and call people that are 50 feet away.  And finally, as you can see I can enjoy the nice view out the windows.  Even if it is the aluminum siding of another building.

I get some crazy looks and sometimes my cubicle neighbors can feel uncomfortable because they don’t know if they should be saying something to me.  I have even been used as a landmark.  “I sit in the cube next to the guy standing.  You can’t miss him.”  That might be because I am 6’2″.

I have enjoyed it and it shows that it can work in an office environment as well as a manufacturing environment.

Vertical Integration of the Supply Chain

Kevin Meyer over at Evolving Excellence had a post earlier this week about about how some companies getting involved in vertical integration of their supply chains.  This gets back to the basics that Henry Ford started in the earlier 20th Century.  Henry Ford was very interested in creating a vertically integrated supply chain that he controlled.  He owned the forestry area to the lumber mills to the assembly that used the wood.  He controlled the entire supply chain.  Because of this he was able to use the waste in the lumber mills to create new and different products which generated more revenue.  Henry Ford saw that he could get a better product to his customer faster when he controlled the supply chain.

While this may not mean companies are bringing manufacturing back to the U.S., it does have the same principles as bring the “on-shoring” movement.  It is about getting the supply chain closer to the customer and having better control over it so the company can reduce lead time, waste, and cost.   The more integrated the supply chain is, the more important it becomes to have it location regionally where transportation isn’t a large factor in lead time.

Imagine if the fresh produce (tomatoes, lettuce) you bought at your grocery store was grown in Asia and shipped by boat over to the U.S.  I know that is on the extreme end.  So where do you buy your fresh produce?  My wife and I don’t buy much, if any, from Walmart anymore.  Why?  Because, it doesn’t really seem that fresh.  Walmart has contracts with farmers all around the country and it takes a lot of time to get through their supply chain.  We buy our produce from the local/regional chain, because they have contracts with local/regional farmers so it gets through the supply chain and to the store shelf quicker.  An even better way is to buy directly from the farmer at the farmer’s market.  That is just about as fresh as it gets, because the farmer picks it and that week brings the produce to the market to sell.  Typically, it isn’t any older than a week.

I, for one, am glad to see some companies start to get more vertically integrated.

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