Executive Blog

Karl Rickman
Most companies don’t understand the effort that it takes to become a Lean company. They all want to be world class but they all want somebody to do it for them, not with them. I constantly get “that doesn’t work for me” or “We don’t have deep pockets like Toyota”. They want to do the same things but expect different results. I’ve heard a million time, “Karl that doesn’t work for me, I tried that!” It amazes me how many of my foreign customers with limited budgets roll up their sleeves, works hard and just “Do It!” It has to start from the top, to get results it’s all about who participates and holds their management accountable. Important things to understand: 1) You have to grasp the situation. 2) You need a clearly communicated vision and targets. It is best for management to be part of setting these targets. 3)…
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Chuck Intrieri
Set high-performance expectation goals & pace of daily support of the new manner of work Engage & empower your people to solve problems Create an organizational structure with readily identified team leaders to allow continuous change to happen Form core teams with strong leader and team members along the path of workflow Breakdown barriers between artificial silos of control so improvements can occur horizontally Foster regular communication within and between workstations within your control as well as outside your department (customer-supplier relationships) Drive reduction in variability by standardizing the work activities, connections, and pathways Implement visual management, with posted daily metrics of value for each work unit reflecting opportunities for change or stability of process Stabilize processes through a continuous focus on waste reduction Move to continuous flow, innovate triggers to ‘pull’ work Identify opportunities for front loading and work simplification Continually push to reduce time waste daily Increase Throughput…
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Doug Sartain
It’s important to keep your drivers happy and your fleet happy as this infographic about the high cost of employing (and losing) a truck driver shows. Here’s how I help fleets perform and maintain loyalty: Make the driver part of the solution, and not part of the problem. I ask drivers for their input on what the company can do better. When they have an idea, I run with it as long as it does not negatively affect a customer, company policy, cost control, safety etc. I always say, “I will let a driver win a battle as long as the company wins the war”. So even if I do not agree with the idea, I will implement it as long as it is not detrimental. If the idea works, I let everyone know which driver thought of it. You can never take credit for an idea that is not…
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Hands of a formally dressed man chained together
The biggest challenge I encounter in achieving supply chain excellence is that many organizations believe they are powerless when it comes to working with their suppliers.  The typical beliefs I encounter are: “we aren’t big enough to have any leverage”, “we can’t control what our suppliers do”, and “implementing a Lean supply chain will increase our costs”.  Interestingly, most organizations feel the same way toward managing their customers as well.  It is this victim mentality that prevents many companies from achieving operational excellence. The root cause of these limiting beliefs usually comes down to two critical factors: 1) not fully understanding what a Lean supply chain actually is, and 2) not understanding how to “sell it”, in other words, how to demonstrate how it will help the supplier to be more competitive and then use that as part of the negotiating process. To overcome these limiting beliefs, I focus on…
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businessman writing Supply Chain and drawing some sketches
My perspective is that obstacles to supply chain operational excellence occur in business when there is a lack of alignment between people’s measure of success.  In most organizations communication is a fundamental area that almost always requires work and improvement. In those undergoing significant change this comes to light and is amplified, creating confusion and other feelings that often get in the way of the improvement process.  Ensuring that the entire value stream is aligned and that ownership is established with a minimum of silos is critical to success in achieving operational excellence, not just improvements. I like to refer to what we most often experience in this regard as “islands of success in a sea of waste”.  Unless there is alignment which is often associated with Hoshin Kanri or Strategy Deployment, there will be a lot of good work that can go to waste because of the communication and…
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7 Stages of Becoming a Disruptor
The word disruption is so overused in business it threatens to become jargon which is never a positive fate for a term as important as this one. The people overusing the word and jargonizing it are usually using it wrong. If you understand what it means precisely, takes the following six points seriously to heart and do what you do best — much more aggressively — you can transform your organization into a disruptor. The Actual Definition of Disruption Disruption: something that changes the game entirely. In business, it’s a product or service that has a staggering effect on events, activities, processes, and people in a marketplace. It’s what happened to the world when regular people could buy cars, radios, televisions, VHS players, cell phones — commodities that changed the way we live our lives, and that we had never had before. It’s what happened when we could go online…
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Supply chain workers
Achieving supply chain operational excellence is not an easy target, you need to combine a variety of different factors together; attitudes and competencies, robust processes, and the right technology are just the minimum requirements. The most difficult obstacles I come across are related to the partial achievement of these three aspects, the most common relating to people, their attitudes, and competencies. How to improve the competency of your staff? Measure their progress and motivate their behavior toward excellent performance. Many programs and tools exist: skill matrix, gap analysis, focused training programs for competence upgrade, and so on. The measurement of a higher set of competencies must then be correlated to the superior process performance in terms of output and throughput. A systemic approach helps to reach excellence, a set of proven tools and methods – with the right commitment of top management and superior consultancy performance – are the key…
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Bored and tired businesspeople
The Wharton School maintains there are three reasons to hold a meeting. Period. To: “Create a forum—an opportunity for individuals with different values, ideas, and experiences to share their perspectives.” Make decisions and set “direction for the organization or unit.” Build and/or make a team stronger through “developing collective capabilities.” Period. They further maintain (as do we), that meetings should never be held: For information exchange, or Soapboxing (telling rather than exchanging). Period. If you are holding meetings for the two purposes directly above. Stop it immediately. If you are holding meetings for any reasons other than the top three listed, you are: Wasting precious productive time, Wasting precious financial resources (check out this meeting cost calculator), Encouraging unproductive behavior, Forcing everyone to multitask (especially during the meetings), and Diminishing employee respect and loyalty. Inc.com published these alarming (U.S. only) statistics: There are 25 million meetings held each day, That’s…
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Young woman gossiping to her male colleague at the
The bad news is you can’t control all the communication that takes place in your organization. But, you have to try. In the article, Executives: Get Top Performance from Your Contractors and Remote Teams by Communicating Culture, I wrote about how important it is that your workers at home, in other countries, and even in other states are made a part of your company’s culture through communication. Conversely, if that communication doesn’t have ground rules and adherence to them, misrepresented or misinterpreted voice and digital communication can cause catastrophic breakdowns in relationships and processes. This is what you need to do — (and DMAIC the system regularly: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control, or you won’t keep control): All the news that is important to share with your peers and employees (both good and bad, internal and external) should be shared by you, not anyone else. Kick the email habit…
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Stressed businesswoman
For most executives, performing employee evaluations is a necessary evil — highly important but low on personal priority list. For employees they are usually stressful, filled with mixed messages (a bit of praise, a bit of criticism — neither of which are constructive input), and ultimately uninspiring, if not downright deflating. The most valuable use of an employee review is what’s typically missing: constructive input. What you want your employees to take away from every review is: performance improvement, job satisfaction, employee retention and refreshed motivation. Those characteristics are not born of the praise/criticize cycle, but of collaborative goal setting, problem-solving, and encouragement for innovation. Here’s how to break out of the “pointless review” cycle and into the “let’s work even better” cycle. A few weeks before the performance review, ask the employee to write down: The top three achievements he made that year that he found fulfilling and the…
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