Tag: Company

Reality Undercover

Undercover Boss logo
Image via Wikipedia

One of the few Reality TV programs I enjoy watching is Undercover Boss on CBS.  This program exemplifies all the reasons why it is so important for executive leadership and senior management to keep in touch with the front lines of the company.    As a lean practitioner I consider the culture of the company to be the defining difference between the success and failure of any improvement initiatives including lean, quality, or implementing new metrics to manage performance such as Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and Labour Efficiency.

Perhaps the greatest discovery that the CEO’s of these featured companies make is that it is the people behind the product that really define the company they work for.  While this may sound soft and far removed from what it really means to run a business, I contend that it is the very essence of what it means to make a company successful.  The latest Undercover Boss program featured Dennis R. Slagle, President and CEO of Mack Truck.  On one hand, the CEO’s learn some important and valuable lessons about the company and life in general.  On the other hand it is unfortunate that the these discoveries are based on the false premise of posing as a new employee competing for a position within the company.

An article featured on digtriad.com titled “Mack Trucks’ CEO Denny Slagle Featured on CBS’ Undercover Boss“, presents some behind the scenes details and insights from Slagle’s experience.  In Slagle’s words, “The show gave me a very deep understanding of what we do not only affects the employee and their families, but also affects their community.  Fortunately for many of us, we are able to routinely meet with our teams and employees – formally and informally.  The open door policy prevails in many companies today and many more CEO’s are beginning to appreciate that people are truly their greatest asset.

I have read and also recommend the book version of Undercover Boss by Stephen Lambert and Eli Holzman.  You can get your copy by clicking here:   Undercover Boss.  As of this writing, you can get a copy for only $2.41 plus Shipping & Handling.

In the spirit of this post – Happy Family Day Ontario!

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Vergence Analytics

Achieve Sustainability Through Integration

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It’s no secret that lean is much more than a set of tools and best practices designed to eliminate waste and reduce variance in our operations.  I contend that lean is defined by a culture that embraces the principles on which lean is founded.  An engaged lean culture is evidenced by the continuing development and integration of improved systems, methods, technologies, best practices, and better practices.  When the principles of lean are clearly understood, the strategy and creative solutions that are deployed become a signature trait of the company itself.

Unfortunately, to offset the effects of the recession, many lean initiatives have either diminished or disappeared as companies downsized and restructured to reduce costs.  People who once entered data, prepared reports, or updated charts could no longer be supported and their positions were eliminated.  Eventually, other initiatives also lost momentum as further staffing cuts were made.  In my opinion, companies that adopted this approach simply attempted to implement lean by surrounding existing systems with lean tools.

Some companies have simply returned to a “back to basics” strategy that embraces the most fundamental principles of lean.  Is it enough to be driven by a mission, a few metrics, and simple policy statements or slogans such as “Zero Downtime”, “Zero Defects”, and “Eliminate Waste?”  How do we measure our ability to safely produce a quality part at rate, delivered on time and in full, at the lowest possible cost?  Regardless of what we measure internally, our stakeholders are only concerned with two simple metrics – Profit and Return on Investment.  The cold hard fact is that banks and investors really don’t care what tools you use to get the job done.  From their perspective the best thing you can do is make them money!  I agree that we are in business to make money.

What does it mean to be lean?  I ask this question on the premise that, in many cases, sustainability appears to be dependent on the resources that are available to support lean versus those who are actually running the process itself.  As such, “sustainability” is becoming a much greater concern today than perhaps most of us are likely willing to admit.  I have always encouraged companies to implement systems where events, data, and key metrics are managed in real-time at the source such that the data, events, and metrics form an integral part of the whole process.

Processing data for weekly or monthly reports may be necessary, however, they are only meaningful if they are an extension of ongoing efforts at shop floor / process level itself.  To do otherwise is simply pretending to be lean.  It is imperative that data being recorded, the metrics being measured, and the corrective actions are meaningful, effective, and influence our actions and behaviors.

To illustrate the difference between Culture and Tools consider this final thought:  A carpenter is still a carpenter with or without hammer and nails.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Vergence Analytics

Twitter:  @Versalytics