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October to December 2005 Posts

  • Quality, SPC and Your Career - Success is not as easy as we might hope. Just discovering the ideas of Deming or Toyota or Ackoff is not enough. The great ideas don't, by themselves, convince managers to try a new way of managing. There is a great deal of education needed for most organizations to get to the point where they realize they could improve by applying "old" ideas such as: control charts, lean thinking, spc, not tampering... continued
  • USA Under-counting Engineering Graduates from the excellent report, Framing the Engineering Outsourcing Debate:
    Today, almost one-third of the globe’s science and engineering researchers are employed by the United States. Thirty-five percent of science and engineering articles are published within the U.S. and the U.S. accounts for 40% of the globe’s research and development (R&D) expenditure.
    more
  • Joel Management - Joel Spolsky writes the excellent Joel on Software blog and runs Fog Creek Software. Recently he has been writing about process improvement of the order fulfillment process for a movie on the experience of interns at Fog Creek Software, How to Ship Anything by Joel Spolsky. More
  • Poka-Yoke Assembly - Poka-Yoke (mistake-proofing) is one of my favorite ideas. I just love the idea of not only making something that works well but making something that is difficult to have work badly. I encourage you to follow Mike's advice: "Look at your processes and products. How can operator errors occur? Think how a simple poka-yoke can eliminate the error and make it mistake proof." continue
  • Excessive Executive Pay - Companies that provide huge benefits to those few at the expense of investors, the rest of the employees, customers, suppliers... will find the other stakeholders find it better to go elsewhere and interact with those companies that are more equitable. continued
  • Google: Ten Golden Rules - Google really is doing things differently. One way you see it is that some of those used to being the most powerful players complain that they don't get respect at Google, at Google the engineers rule. Um, maybe they shouldn't complain too loud, maybe the reason Google is doing better is they focus on the Gemba (where value is added to the customer). more
  • The Innovation Agenda - To me, the most realistic federal action, given the role of the federal government (k-12 education is primarily a state and local responsibility) is the scholarship proposal but lets see what actually happens. In July we posted about proposed Science and Engineering fellowships legislation (which also seems like a good idea). more.
  • Superior Customer Experiences - Managing organizations is a complex endeavor. Employee satisfaction is one factor in an interdependent system that a manager must consider. The challenge is managing the interactions. Most decisions will impact many different facets of the organization. How you weigh the competing desires for profit, pleasing customers, providing good jobs for employees, etc. is what management is about. continued
  • Management Improvement - I think in the current application of lean thinking many ignore some of the valuable ideas from Deming (which may well be related to, as Womack stated: "packaging efforts of competing consultants"). Toyota obviously put a high value on Deming's ideas and those that try to adopt lean without understanding his ideas, can improve, but I believe they will be less successful over the long term. continued
  • Innovation and Research and Development - I agree with the weakness of using research spending and patents to measure innovation. I do not believe they are worthless as measures, however. Are there better measures? Outcome measures? If so, what are they? continued
  • Toyota Manufacturing Powerhouse
    Unusual among automakers, "they don't hide a lot," Coventry said. "It's like going to the Super Bowl and having the opposite side throw their playbook on the table. It's as if they feel they can still beat you on the field."
    Toyota has greatly advanced management practice worldwide through their actions. more.
  • Government Lean Six Sigma - When looking at lean initiatives in government I think it is sensible to separate political from operational efforts. Ideally the political decisions should be informed by knowledgeable management experts. However, focusing on that is a recipe to frustration as political decisions will often remain mostly political (which have as factors how efficient and how effective a solution may be, but those are only factors and rarely the primary factor). continued
  • Curious Cat Science and Engineering move - the title of the blog gives you an idea of the topics we explore. Some additional insight into our aim:
  • Lean Information Technology - It is very easy for waste to be hidden in IT. I think it is more difficult to notice the inefficiencies in IT because much of the work is done in virtual space, not real space. I think that can make it more difficult to see the waste... If the code had a physical existence I think much of it would look like a rube Goldberg contraption. more
  • Manufacturing and the Economy - I think we often talk as though manufacturing in the United States is not feasible. Yes, things are changing, and have been for several decades. But the United States is still the largest manufacturer in the world.




    Country19902001% increase
    United States1,040,6001,422,99939
    Japan810,231865,8097
    China116,572407,513251
    Germany456,405385,923 -15
    World4,412,8375,404,37322
    continued
  • Management Training Program
    So I said to the Toyota executive, "You've only got two or three suppliers per category, and you never take bids. How do you know you aren't being ripped off?" So this guy, who was around 60, gives me an incredibly frosty look and says, "Because I know everything." Everything? "That's my job," he says.
    Reading "Because I know everything" brings to mind an arrogant blowhard to many in America (I think). Probably because most who would say that, are arrogant blowhards. But when someone has worked (a Toyota executive or a baker) for 40+ years in the same area those words can have quite a different meaning than a 31 year old MBA working in this third industry. Managing with constancy of purpose and long term thinking can make a big difference. more
  • Deming's Ideas at Markey's Audio Visual - Last week at the Deming Institute seminar: How to Create Unethical, Ineffective Organizations That Go Out of Business, Mark Miller, General Manager, Markey's Audio Visual spoke on Markey's experience adopting Deming's ideas. It was a great presentation. He did a great job of explaining what it was like to work at a company focused on applying Deming's management philosophy. I capture some of the points he talked about
  • Toyota Engineers a New Plant: the Living Kind - continued - What a great sentiment (see our previous post on the Purpose of an Organization). Many organizations talk a good game (like many countries have constitutions that look great on paper) but one of the many things that separates companies like Toyota is that they actually execute based on their expressed vision. more
  • Lean Manufacturing Webinar - I think this lean webinar is an example of the very early stages of what can be developed into a valuable tool used to improve the adoption of lean thinking and management improvement. My guess is 5 years from now several management improvement organizations will be using this technology very effectively in their business (and it will help them grow). I believe those that choose to provide significant content, for free, on their web sites will have a significant advantage in becoming one of those organizations. continued
  • Science and Engineering - The report makes four major recommendations:
    • Increase America's talent pool by vastly improving K-12 mathematics and science education.
    • Sustain and strengthen the nation's commitment to long-term basic research.
    • Develop, recruit, and retain top students, scientists, and engineers from both the United States and abroad.
      More
  • Lean Government - There have been many great efforts in the government, but still so much more needs to be done. Here are articles exploring what has been done: Continued
  • Performance Without Appraisal - The comments on the mini-microsoft blog shows performance appraisal continues to be an emotional topic. People on opposite sides of the debate are very passionate.
    I admit it took me longer to accept Dr. Deming's thoughts on performance appraisal than other ideas (and that is even with Peter Scholtes being a friend which gave me the opportunity to discuss the idea with him). So I understand it is not an easy concept to accept... more

  • The Dramatic Spread of Lean Thinking - I realize this big picture view might seem a bit overly dramatic to some. The value of Deming's ideas, lean thinking, management improvement... are not dependent on this big picture view. However, it is a significant part of why I care about management improvement. Yes management improvement should help us be more successful at work. But effective management can indeed "advance commerce, prosperity and peace."   More
   

John Hunter has over 15 years experience in Quality Management, Management Improvement, Customer Focused Continuous Improvement, Process Improvement and related areas. Since 1995, I have used the internet and internet technology to improve the results of management improvement efforts.

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