Category: Lean Enterprise

5S Plus 2

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Many folks are familiar with the lean principle of 5S where the bottom line is: “Everything has a place and everything is in its place.” These steps originated in Japan as part of the journey towards a visual workplace. Translated they are Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain. A quick explanation of these would be: 1. Get rid of what you don’t need and keep what you do 2. Now you know what you have so organize it 3. Clean and inspect it so it works when you need it 4. Evaluate and improve, stay consistent where it makes sense to 5. Keep it up because it works. 5S is a proven methodology of creating and maintaining an efficient and effective work space. Over the years, we have evolved, the world has changed and we follow a continuous improvement way of life. In regards to 5S, we’ve added two more…
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Do You Have Enough Female Leaders?

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I attended the compelling Renaissance Executive Forums All Member meeting last week in the Inland Empire, and it got me thinking about female leaders. One of the keynote speakers discussed this topic. Who would think it would take me attending an event to think about an obviously appropriate topic? I have been one of very few women leaders and consultants in manufacturing. For example, without my former CEO, I would not be here today as he told the Board of Directors that he didn’t care that his VP of Operations wasn’t a “grey-haired man with a Harvard MBA” because I was able…
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Why We Shouldn’t Shy Away from Risk

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I always look for trends as I find that the 80/20 of success comes from watching and proactively addressing trends. This week, it has been obvious that if we are NOT willing to take prudent risk, things are likely to go awry. For example, if your sales forecast has been formulated and reviewed to the best knowledge of your organization, and it translates into x number of manufacturing employees at current efficiency levels, taking the prudent risk of hiring people even if it adds to near-term cost for a slightly longer-term return on investment is well worth it. In another example,…
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Data Driven Leader

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One of the concepts that came out of APICS 2014 was the concept of a data driven leader. We are overloaded with data and messages on a daily basis yet the most successful leaders find ways to rapidly sift through the data to see trends, formulate ideas, and make decisions. To be successful in today’s environment, we must be FAST. Thus, being a data driven leader can be a key to success. For example, in my recent Amazon Effect research study about the impact Amazon and other mega-distributors are having on manufacturers and distributors, executives are saying that the importance…
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What Sort of People Culture Do You Need for Lean?

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It just so happens I’ve been working closely with a few lean gurus in the last 6 months, and I’ve been partnering with clients to implement lean processes, stemming from traditional operations to critical administrative functions such as order management and planning. None of these efforts will achieve anything if they aren’t backed by the “right” people culture. A few items to think about if you are going down this path: 1. Culture of innovation – Contrary to how most companies operate, a lean culture dictates that mistakes are good.  In essence, if you don’t try anything new, you won’t make a…
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Creating a Culture of Innovation

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There has never been a better time to cultivate an environment of innovation! We are in what has been referred to as the “new normal” business environment. Gone are the days of the last decade when we saw examples of 10 percent sales growth achieved solely by picking up the phone. Although we are in the recovery, we must be deliberate if we want to grow.  It will not happen by default.  Customers are demanding more for less at quicker speeds than ever before.  Speed wins business.  For most of my clients, if they can deliver 5% better (consistently of…
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How Do You Elevate Business Performance with Lean I.T.?

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We hear a lot about lean, Toyota Production System and the like; however, I rarely hear about Lean I.T. A friend and colleague, Vicki Jeter, is exceptional at designing and implementing lean for I.T. which boils down to providing value in the eyes of the customer, driving out non-value added work, and leveraging systems to achieve bottom line results. We’ve worked together on several projects, and I’ve adopted several of her strategies for success as IT is core to elevating business performance. A few keys include: Provide value – forget about the latest and greatest technical gadgets and software fads; instead,…
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Hidden Opportunities for Process Improvement

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Take any business process. I have no doubt there will be hidden opportunities for process improvement. When is the last time you looked at your processes? You could follow a program such as lean manufacturing, the Toyota Production System, Total Quality Management and the like. Continuous process improvement builds in change as part of the corporate culture. Or, you can just take a fresh look at your processes. You’ll be surprised by what a review could uncover. A few methods to help uncover hidden opportunities include the following: 1. Ask the people performing the process – Outrageously simple? Possibly; however, in my…
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E-Commerce is No Longer an Option

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Are you offering e-commerce options for your customers? If not, you’ll be left in the dust! It is no longer an option for companies if success is an objective. E-commerce eliminates time and distance as barriers – who can afford not to offer customers a way to get “what they want when they want it”? Better yet, it is often at better margins to boot! For example, according to Modern Distribution Management’s 2013 State of E-commerce in Distribution, the number of distributors whose e-commerce revenue comprises 5-10% of total revenue has grown by 50% since last year. Substantial! E-commerce has…
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Motivate Employees as One Critical Way to Retain Top Performers

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A motivated employee can move mountains. A disgruntled employee creates havoc. Which do you have? As results are critical to success, I thought it was worth pursuing how to motivate employees; however, as important as results are, retaining top talent in today’s marketplace will put you on top. 1. Let’s start with a “not” – money. Although the lack of fair compensation is a de-motivator, money itself is rarely a motivator. 2. Instead, explain each person’s value – how does each person contribute to the company vision, goals and priorities? Yes, it takes time to translate each person’s value but it will achieve immeasurable…
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