Volume 12 Issue 1 | January 2011 | www.leanceo.com


The Superfactory Newsletter is published monthly to over 50,000 subscribers.

Past issues

Superfactory is operated by Factory Strategies Group, which provides training products and lean transformation strategy consulting to small and medium-sized companies.

Inside Superfactory

About - Articles
Blog - Books
Events Calendar


Lean Manufacturing
Lean Overview - 3P - 5S - Jidoka - Kaizen - Value Streams - Visual Factory - Pull - JIT - Kanban - Quick Changeover - Cellular Manufacturing - Standard Work - Theory of Constraints - TPM - TWI

Lean Enterprise
Lean Manufacturing - Lean Office - Lean Accounting - Lean Design - Lean Project Management - Lean Sales & Marketing - Lean Supply Chains - Hoshin Planning

Lean Leadership
Gemba Walk, Servant Leadership, Leader Standard Work, Lean Culture, Lean Organizational Structure, Accountability and Visual Controls, Hoshin Planning

Lean Industries
Lean Manufacturing - Lean Office - Leah HR, Lean Financial Services, Lean Healthcare, Lean Education, Lean Construction, Lean Retail, Lean Hospitality

SPC - Root Cause Analysis - Six Sigma - FMEA - ISO 9001 - Mistake Proofing

Balanced Scorecard - Design for Lean - Cost Accounting - Capital Budgeting - Competitive Intelligence - Knowledge Management - Job Design - Outsourcing Strategy - Supply Chain Strategy - Strategic Management - Project Management

Accident Investigation - Biosafety - Chemical Spills - Hazard Communication - and 35 more

Factory Toolbox

Over 500 forms, procedure templates, and tools for download.

Lean Toolkit - Procedures Toolkit - Quality Toolkit - Tools and Forms Toolkit - Engineering Toolkit - Materials Toolkit - Safety Toolkit - HR Toolkit - Six Sigma Toolkit - Finance Tookit


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AME 2010

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From the Editor

Welcome to the Superfactory Newsletter and welcome to a new year! You will be seeing several changes to Superfactory and the Newsletter in the first half of this year! More on that next month.

Last month we released our first major product in nearly two years, the Lean Enterprise Strategy Kit.

In true lean fashion the Kit first develops core principles and vision before diving into long-term strategy, three-year breakthrough objectives, and annual improvement plans. This is followed by the critical alignment and execution phase using concepts such as accountability boards, daily meetings, and gemba walks. Finally we emphasize continuous improvement of the plan itself through a focus on results and hansei reflection.

Learn more about the Lean Enterprise Strategy Kit here.

Our partner, Gemba Academy, also just released a new thirteen module video training course called The Kaizen Way. This in-depth course, part of The Complete Lean Package, includes a real-life kaizen event at a company that increased profits by 25% in the face of falling sales. Learn more here.

Gemba Academy now offers over 130 HD-quality online video training modules on a wide variety of lean topics.

- Kevin Meyer

Manufacturing Excellence News

Stories of interest to the lean community.

In the Evolving Excellence Blog

Join over 5,000 readers who get their daily dose of blunt manufacturing and business reality by subscribing to the Evolving Excellence blog!

or Subscribe to Evolving Excellence by Email

Those of you with iPhones and who regularly read a variety of lean blogs including Evolving Excellence will want to check out Lean Daily, a new, and free, lean blog aggregator app. More information.

Recent posts in the Evolving Excellence blog include:

Visit the Evolving Excellence blog...

Featured Discussions

The Superfactory LinkedIn Group has over 5,000 members networking and discussing various aspects of lean manufacturing. Hot discussion topics this month include:

  • Indicators for a non-continuous process
  • What is the one thing you can do to keep employees motivated?
  • Is manufacturing coming back to the U.S.?
  • Three minutes to lean accounting.

Join the Superfactory LinkedIn Group to network with and learn from a group of lean leaders!

Upcoming Events

01/10/2011Lean Systems Certification - Week 1 - Lexington, KY - U-Kentucky
01/12/2011Certified Lean Master - Fort Collins, CO - Transformance Advisors
01/14/2011Lean Certification Review & Exam - Brooklyn Park, MN - AME
01/17/2011Lean Certification Program - Cincinnati, OH - Definity Partners
01/21/2011Getting Started with Lean Healthcare - Webinar - AME
01/24/2011Lean Manufacturing Certificate - Ann Arbor, MI - U-Michigan
01/24/2011Lean Experience - Novi, MI - Lean Learning Center
01/26/20115S & Visual Controls in a Small Company - City of Industry, CA - AME
01/26/2011Lean & Continuous Improvement Certificate Program - Lawrence, MA - GBMP
01/27/2011Lean Tools for the Office - Morris Plains, NJ - NJ MEP
02/01/2011Key Concepts of Lean - San Francisco, CA - LEI
02/01/2011Lean Problem Solving - Santa Maria, CA - LEI
02/01/2011Made to Order Lean - San Francisco, CA - LEI
02/01/2011Management Standard Work - San Francisco, CA - LEI
02/01/2011Standardized Work: The Foundation of Kaizen - San Francisco, CA - LEI
02/01/2011Value Stream Mapping for the Office - San Francisco, CA - LEI
02/02/2011Integrating Visual Management and Standard Work - San Francisco, CA - LEI
02/02/2011Lean Product Development - San Francisco, CA - LEI
02/02/2011Lean & Continuous Improvement Certificate Program - Dalton, MA - GBMP
02/03/2011Kaizen - San Francisco, CA - LEI
02/03/2011Lean IT - San Francisco, CA - LEI
02/03/2011Optimizing Flow in Office - San Francisco, CA - LEI
02/09/2011Out of Another Crisis - Minneapolis, MN - AME
02/09/2011Managing Value Stream Improvement - Cambridge, MA - LEI
02/10/2011Principles of Lean Manufacturing - Morris Plains, NJ - NJ MEP
02/10/2011Lean: Principles 1st, Culture 2nd, Tools 3rd - Minneapolis, MN - AME
02/14/2011Lean Systems Certification - Week 2 - Lexington, KY - U-Kentucky
02/16/2011Certified Lean Master - Fort Collins, CO - Transformance Advisors
02/21/2011Lean Healthcare - Ann Arbor, MI - U-Michigan
02/23/2011Getting the Right Things Done - Cambridge, MA - LEI
02/24/2011Lean Policy Deployment - Peabody, MA - GBMP
02/28/2011Lean Product Development - San Antonio, TX - AME

View the full events calendar...

Featured Book

Simple Excellence
By Adam Zak and William Waddell

Detailing the role of senior management in achieving a successful transformation to organizational excellence, Simple Excellence: Organizing and Aligning the Management Team in a Lean Transformation charts a course of simplification through the complexity often associated with managing performance improvement initiatives. It spells out the roles of key individuals on the management team—including those from sales and marketing, human resources, purchasing/supply chain, information technology, finance, and engineering.

Maintaining a focus on the big picture, this book explains what value streams are and how to use them to structure your business so that all stakeholders are aligned with what matters most. It reduces constraint management to its most practical terms and lays out a sound approach to accounting that enables everyone to spend money where it adds value and stop spending where it doesn’t.

More Information | Previous featured books

Featured Article

The Priority of Principles
By Bill Waddell

Ford has something of a scandal unfolding in Germany.  Nothing particularly exotic - purchasing people on the take, apparently. 

"Around 100 German police officers on Monday raided about 30 locations linked to US automaker Ford in the Cologne area: Ford plants, an unidentified company in Leverkusen and employees' private homes. The state prosecutor's office said it had for months been working on the investigation involving Ford staff and others suspected of corruption, breach of trust and fraud."

The senior folks at Ford are in no way involved.  "Prosecuters said Ford had from the start cooperated closely with the authorities and was keen to clear up the allegations quickly."

Bill Ford, Alan Mulally and the senior leadership at Ford seem to be very principled guys who would in no way condone unethical - let alone illegal - behavior.  I am sure they are 'cooperating closely' and will take whatever firm action is needed to 'clear things up quickly'.  The question, however, is how a pocket of people who obviously did not share their principles were permitted to work at Ford and hatch such a scheme.  In fact, it is not unusual for most companies to have such pockets of influential people who do not share leadership's values, and do not agree with the cultural principles.

The folks who thumb their nose at senior leadership's values don't normally engage in criminal activities like the Ford people in Germany apparently did, but they often weaken and undermine leadership's lean strategy.  I'm not sure where I first saw this chart, but it is a very appropriate way to view the staff of a company embarking on a cultural transformation.

Everyone in the company can be assessed on the basis of two criteria:  To what degree do they share the company's cultural values - respect for people, the importance of teamwork and inclusion, commitment to all of the stakeholders, the supremacy of customers, etc...? And how technically competent are they in their jobs.

Read the entire article | Previous featured articles

Featured Evolving Excellence Blog Post

Let's Put This Myth in its Own Coffin Already
by Dan Markovitz

In this month's edition of the  Atlantic Monthly, there's a short piece on how Batesville Casket is using lean to remain competitive. It's a well-written article providing a nice snapshot of the challenges the company faces (Chinese imports, increases in cremation) and how lean is helping it compete.

But then there's the obligatory opposing view of why lean is bad for workers:

How such a lean refitting affects workers on the factory floor receives far less attention. Batesville’s management has guaranteed that no employees will lose their jobs because of a “kaizen event,” an activity in which workers are encouraged, through various exercises, to demonstrate how they themselves could be made superfluous. But Mike Parker, a labor writer who has described lean production as “management by stress,” told me the Toyota Way fixates on efficiency and productivity at the expense of workers. “There’s no place to consider whether some very narrowly defined, de-skilled job offers any satisfaction.”

Now, let me say first that I've never worked on an assembly line a day in my life (unless you count doing dishes at home). It can't be a day at the beach -- but of course, that's why it's called "work." However, I'm not sure that there are any jobs, anywhere, that are stress-free. Whether you're running your own small-town soda fountain or leading the global marketing team at Boeing, there's going to be stress. Pressure to improve performance is ubiquitous. If you or your company doesn't feel that pressure, you've either got a cushy monopoly or you're going out of business and you just haven't realized it yet. 

More importantly, though, Mike Parker's contention that lean leads to a "narrowly defined, de-skilled job" without any satisfaction is wildly off the mark. As near as I can tell -- and again, I've not worked in a factory -- by providing workers the opportunity to make the work itself better ((even expecting it), employers are also giving people the chance to use all of their experience and their creativity -- in short, their minds. That's hardly a "de-skilled" job. Yes, there's repetitive scut work, but there's also a very rich component of intellectual challenge. And most significantly, that intellectual contibution is welcomed and rewarded by management.

I'm not sure what Mike Parker think a better system might be. Hanging around the plant, working at your own pace, not allowing line workers the opportunity to contribute to the design of their own work? That sure turned out well for GM's Fremont plant before NUUMI, right?

Read the rest and comment...

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