Monday, May 18, 2020

The Beauty of Making Things

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

Poesis is the Greek work for 'making things'.

Not coincidently, it's also the word for poetry.

A good piece of writing is like a fine piece of cabinetry, an elegant circuit board, or a beautiful engine.

Steve Jobs famously insisted that everything should be beautiful in the IPod, IPad, IPhone -- even if the customer couldn't see it.

A great carpenter feels the same way about the back of a cabinet.

This insight informed my life and the arts I've committed to:
  • The art of management, and
  • The art of writing

But do North American high school students appreciate the beauty of making things?


Have they been given proper guidance? Or do they stumble, by default, into barren general arts programs?

I understand, for example, that there are almost a million unfilled skilled trades positions in America.

Good jobs in fields like mechanical, construction and information technology.

A chance to make something beautiful, to learn & practice a great art.

My sense is our kids don't have a full picture of what's possible.

Can I appeal to our friends and colleagues in the Continuous Improvement community to help?

Please spread the message every chance you get.

Making things is COOL.

Pascal




In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

What is Breakthrough?, Part 2
What Does Breakthrough Mean? - Part 1
Suggestion boxes vs Quick & Easy Kaizen
What is Intellectual Capital?, Part 2


Monday, May 4, 2020

What is Breakthrough?, Part 2

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

Breakthrough comes in different flavors.

Those of us who've grown up in manufacturing tend to think in terms of Operational Excellence - whose objective is Efficiency.

We seek to enhance flow in our major value streams by reducing waste (muda).

Our breakthrough activities typically focus on Manpower, Machinery, Methods and Materials.


Taiichi Ohno, our Godfather & founder of the Toyota Production System (TPS), famously declared:

"All we are trying to do is reduce the time between the customer ordering the product and our getting paid."

The system Ohno developed is justly famous, revered & imitated.

But is that all there is to Breakthrough?

Efficiency is a splendid capability, and often sufficient in itself. But is that all there is?

Don't wish to be misunderstood. TPS, in my view, is one of the past half century's grandest achievements.

But in his travels, your business nomad has learned that there's always another mountain range.

Apple, for example, has repeatedly shown that Effectiveness - doing the right things - can trump Efficiency.

The IPhone, IPod and IPad are not terribly well made. (How many drops before your IPad stops working?)

Do the corresponding value streams flow?

But the Design is so elegant, it doesn't matter.

In this case, getting the right things done, trumps doing things right.

In summary, the topography of business is complex & dynamic. There's always another mountain range.

Lean thinkers need to reflect on what we don't know, which far exceeds what we do know.

In upcoming blogs I'll dig into other kinds of breakthrough.

Best,

Pascal




In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

What Does Breakthrough Mean? - Part 1
Suggestion boxes vs Quick & Easy Kaizen
What is Intellectual Capital?, Part 2
What is Intellectual Capital & Why Should You Care?


Monday, April 20, 2020

What Does Breakthrough Mean? - Part 1

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

Not understanding Breakthrough - common failure mode in Strategy Deployment.

Too often, our Strategy A3 papers are full of work that's routine or entails continuous incremental improvement.

Our A3 becomes crowded with non-critical stuff & we lose sight of the critical few.

Strategy Deployment is about breakthrough - the few things you will emphasize to take your business to another level.

So how do we come to better understand breakthrough?

Here's a useful technique.

As yourself, "What are five problems, whose solution will transform our business?"

The question is a fractal, and applies at every level of the organization.

The higher the level, the more "play" in defining the "boundary conditions" & "design space".


Sometimes the answer is obvious.

For example, if you're launching a new model in an auto plant, breakthrough might entail:

  • Reducing ergonomic burden by 50%
  • Improving productivity by 30% (through Waste reduction)

If you're in agriculture, breakthrough might mean:

  • Reducing employee absenteeism & turnover by 40%
  • Increasing Yield by 30%

But other times, breakthrough is not obvious. We can become stuck in our mental models, unable to see what's all too visible to 'fresh eyes'.

Or as we rise in organization, we can lose touch with the front line, where Value is created.

Other things can hinder us as well.

For now, let's remember the above question - and it's corollary: "Why not?"

As in, "Why not zero injuries, infections, defects, waste...?"

Best,

Pascal




In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

Suggestion boxes vs Quick & Easy Kaizen
What is Intellectual Capital?, Part 2
What is Intellectual Capital & Why Should You Care?
Value Stream Maps