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Friday, May 14, 2010

A Look Back



These are the postings that I have made to this blog so far.
Some people say that to improve the workplace all we have to do is follow common sense.  I suggest that what is presently considered common sense can sometimes be the obstacle to making things better.
All results come from processes. If we want to improve results, we need to examine what in the process is leading to the current results.  Inspection as an approach to quality is sometimes the best we can do, but will be an unreliable way of preventing defects to reach the customer.
Organizations lie on a continuum between Fire-Fighting and World Class. Understanding the characteristics of each extreme can help the leaders of an organization understand what needs to change to move towards world class.
Lean Manufacturing involves eliminating batch processing as much as possible. Making batches often seems easier.  Why is it important to move toward one-piece-flow?  [thirteen more topics below the fold]
The ways in which we evaluate and compensate employees often has a different result that what is intended.  Edwards Deming has a lot to say about this.  This subject is worth re-thinking.
Takt Time is the beat at which we add value to or produce a product to be synchronized with the needs of the customer.  We explain the way takt time is calculated and consider some implications for using this tool.
No Right Way           
Three approaches to thinking about the way we work are:  There is no right way; the word is not the thing; and we make it all up.
We often make processes more complex than they need to be, including applying technology that can break down when very simple manual procedures would be adequate and less expensive.
An important role of management is to provide the support needed for production workers to get their jobs done.  There are many examples of workers who struggle to do the best they can when management fails to support them, sometimes in rather simple ways.
If organizations treated their people they way they treat their robots, they would get more productivity out of people.
Some resistance to change is a good thing and makes a lot of sense.  Some resistance is rooted in differences among people.  Understanding the sources can help us overcome resistance.
Work that is not balanced means that some people have to either wait or do things to keep looking and feeling busy.  This activity is wasteful and costly.  The alternative is to balance the work so that everyone is spending very close to the same amount of time to do a cycle of work.  When this happens we find that we free up workers who are no longer needed in the process.
There is not a “right way” to get started improving work to bring out the best in people. Two things that any leader can do are: go to the workplace and look at the activity there with new eyes, and move consecutive workstations closer together.
The justification for layoffs is usually that we cannot afford to keep so many people on the payroll.  Layoffs can be costly in a number of ways.
Bringing out the best in employees is affected by economic factors outside the workplace.  Overall, national unemployment does not affect all segments of society the same.  Working class people have much higher rates of unemployment that people in managerial positions.  These are factors to consider in bringing out the best in people at work.
The first of a series of television programs on bosses going “undercover” to see how their organizations function leads to some eye-opening experiences.  There is valid learning here, but it is not necessary to go among workers secretly.  Spending time at in the workplace and even participating in the value-adding work can provide just is much insight or more.

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