Browsing All posts tagged under »shingo prize«


April 18, 2014


For many years I worked for a manufacturer of pressure and temperature switches, a small company with a very big product selection. In our product catalog there were roughly three-dozen distinct product families with hundreds of standard products, each available with thousands of optional configurations. The average order quantity per line was two pieces. In […]

Upstream Swimmers

August 16, 2013


I was asked recently by a colleague if I make stuff up for my blog.  “Some of your stories seem too crazy,” he said. The answer is, no, I haven’t made anything up; I don’t need to.  There’s a world of rich material regarding management Lean faux pas.  I’ve only changed names and occasionally venues […]

Early Bloomers

February 26, 2013


This winter has presented folks in my clime with a perpetual blanket of snow that hides most of the welcome signs of an approaching spring.   There is one early bloomer, however, that blossoms each February, even as temperatures fall to the single digits as they did last week.  The small yellow and very fragrant flowers of […]

Death by Efficiency

February 11, 2013


I was reminded this week how problematical the conceptual blind spots in our management systems can be:  An otherwise insightful and passionate-to-improve organization that I was visiting was caught in a vicious production cycle that I’ll refer to ineloquently as “piling on.” That is, each department, struggling to be efficient, was overproducing to the max, […]

Lead With Humiliation

October 4, 2012


Very early in my Lean adventure as a new VP of Operations, when the idea of listening to workers was still a little strange, I returned from a week vacation to find that two of my peer managers had teamed up to convince the company president that I had “turned over the asylum to the […]

Overcoming TDD

September 21, 2011


Gross numbers reflecting American productivity can be misleading.  When American companies outsource production, the labor “expense” is replaced with the “asset” of inventories purchased elsewhere.  While this results in a gross statistical improvement to labor productivity, its overall impact on economic strength is insidious.  Consider, for example, these two graphics in particular for the period […]

How Big are Small Ideas?

September 16, 2011


In 1985, when I transferred to an operations role I inherited a production-only suggestion program.  I recall that we received sixteen ideas that year of which one was awarded $1,600 calculated as a percentage of one year’s savings.  The remaining ideas did not make the cut. So I asked employees for feedback.  To my surprise […]


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