Tuesday, March 30, 2010


What’s Safe For Work?

Seth Godin wrote a little query about this.

I’m sure you get them, personal emails to your work address. It continually surprises me how many people still do not establish nor use their personal email for cutesy forwards. If you’re lucky, the sender will warn you not to open up in your workplace as the contents will be visually or audibly distasteful. This is typically abbreviated with, “NSFW”.

Seth counters with a marvelous idea to consider what is SFW. What is safe for your work?

What is great?

What are the good ideas to consider in the work place? I’m talking about the things to do when considering the great ideas and people you come across of course.

If I were to start a list, it might look like this:

  • Considering where your colleagues are coming from when they express an idea or opinion.

  • Honoring the devil’s advocate point of view so to improve upon your original idea.

  • Giving the benefit of the doubt to everyone.

  • Asking questions first before jumping to conclusions (before jumping down a colleague’s throat)

  • Realizing that the people you’ve grown to dislike for one reason or another (perhaps because they don’t get what is SFW!) do not simply ‘go away’.

  • Letting go of your colleague’s faults, accepting them as they are, utilizing and taking advantage of their strong suits.

  • Focusing on your strengths to better yourself and move the company forward.

What more would you add that is SFW?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

goals vs. goals

I teach a class on problem solving.

Actually, I teach a few classes on problem solving: 9-step which is reactive problem solving and the other is Advance Product Quality Planning which as you know is proactive and can eliminate the need for reactive problem solving if executed correctly.

The most common mistake I see in the classroom and in manufacturing, is confusing the result of a problem with it's cause. If one jumps to conclusions too quickly, you'll find yourself missing out on the simplest solutions, and often thinking in circles or missing the point all together.

This happens in companies when they start to improve their bottom line too. Perhaps a company starts with 'make more money' as their primary goal.

It's not a bad goal, even I have to admit!

We're all in business to make money, that's irrefutable.

We're in business foremost however to provide a product or service in a very particular way.

Let's just make a quick list of how your company can make more money:


1) spend less money
2) eliminate overtime
3) create higher margins
4) downsize the staff

and how about:

5) create the best possible customer experience
6) maximize product design for quality & purchasing power
7) enable employees to fit their duties into a 'normal' work day
8) evolve continuously with new products & services
9) launch, process, and manufacture products & services flawlessly

Which sounds like more fun?

Which sounds more successful long term to your end goal?

Which gets your whole staff involved, motivated, and proud of their work?

How many solutions have you already come up with to attain goals 5 - 9?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

are you ready?

Are you the only person in your group that wishes the company to make more money?

Is everyone thinking about the company, or just their job?

Like spokes in a wheel, each person is integral to how the company operates, how it makes money, how the customers feel, and how the company remains sustainable over time.

How many in your team come up with ideas on how to improve their position, their process, or the process outside of the group?

How many in your team share their ideas?

Does your company reward and encourage their initiative?

Initiative isn't just about showing up to work or completing reports without prompting as you likely know already. Process improvement does not come easily, nor does it come with just one person.

Lean improvement comes with the collaboration, initiation, and promotion of everyone on the team.

The individual is to be encouraged and embraced.

The team is to be embraced.

Lean implementation will then be embraced, nurtured, successful and productive.

Many companies do not know how to encourage initiative; it's not taught in schools.

How do you encourage initiative?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

where do I start?

What is the first step to making more money?

More product?

Better services?

Faster processes?

Less mistakes?

The question I get asked the most is, "Where do I start?"

Knowing your target is the most important. Understanding your goals and what is most important to your business is the first step.

As an example, consider the following goals:

1) Quality customer experience

2) Quick customer turnover

3) Quick customer turnover with quality experience

4) Exclusivity

Sure, you might want to choose option 3 all the time, though depending on the goals of your business, how you staff and how you operate will change with the goal you prioritize highest.

Consider your business and how you would meet each goal listed above.

Do you find that your solution is slightly different with each?

Becoming lean ultimately brings more income to your business along with the benefits of smoother operations, faster production, an autonomous staff, and happier people who touch your company.

Starting with clear goals is step one.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

damage control

One of the first steps in correcting a problem is reducing the damage the current situation is causing. This involves protecting the customer, protecting employees, seeking out all the affected product, and taking extra steps to ensure bad product is discovered while production continues.

What about public perception and communication?

If you've ever been involved with correcting an issue with a customer, and I'm pretty sure if you're reading this, you have, you well know that communication to your customer is vital.

Communication to those unaffected is vital as well.

Transparency is a huge relationship and trust builder.

Check out this report from Gerson Lehrman Group to hear what industry experts have to say about the recent Toyota product failures.

What are your customers and others saying about you?

as a side note - I think this is one of the best internet articles regarding the Toyota recall