Gemba Walk

Go to the place where the work is performed, that is the Gemba walk.  This does not apply just to manufacturing, but also line managers and their respective departments as well as to project management. You want to know what is going on, what could be better, go unto the work space and watch and talk with the people doing the work.

Where the work is performed, depends upon the work.  For example, if you are the manager of a product testing department, the place where the work is performed is likely the lab,  Go where the Hardware In the Loop (HIL) rigs and see how things are going, go to the test rooms where the environmental (hot and cold) and other stimuli (vibration) are administered to the product.  Learn how this work is actually being done. Ask questions about how the work is going.  What sort of things are difficult and why? What can we do to make the … Continue reading

5S

If you have spent any time in the automotive industry you have probably spent time working within a system called the 5S. Continue reading

Patent

How do new ideas occur to us? What is the secret mixture that enables this spark that creates something new?  I have long wondered this, including when watching my son build things that I found interesting, and with no clear sign of what of the source of that idea that became reality.  I saw him build things with Lego blocks, and I watched him build things at an online game called Roblox.  In both instances it made me think, what is the source?

The same is true for my own life, especially my work life.  I have been part of groups that have produced 7 US patents and other intellectual property.  Each time was so different it is difficult to discern an underlying theme that made this creation possible or at least facilitated.  What can be said in each instance to varying degrees, is there was a perceived difficulty or problem, some desired end state that was presently … Continue reading

Mura (unevenness)

The unevenness or mura of the work wreak havoc on our work. Project demands fluctuate and working on multiple projects likewise creates or exacerbates the unevenness. In product development work can get heavy around gate reviews as the project must accomplish certain expectations and milestones are reviewed in the gate activities.  One functional department may not be at capacity, but anther may be running beyond capacity.  The arrival of the work from one department stacks up as input to the next department.  This then creates muda as we have waste in the form of over production.  All of this unevenness has impact on schedule and the people performing the work, and sometimes specialized equipment as the demand fluctuates wildly.

Material that our development team will use may also be subjected to this unevenness, think prototype parts, upon which we will test and learn about the product for the next iteration of the development loop.  When lead times are long, we may … Continue reading

Muda – Waste

For those familiar with the lean approach to the work or the Toyota Way, you my already know about the concept of Muda. Muda is one of the three categories associated with lean that impact performance and costs to the organization.  Muda is regarded to have seven waste types or areas or actions that cause waste.

Over Production

Just like it sounds, making more of something than the need for that something.  This does not just mean parts, but also extends to work product deliveries throughout the work pipeline. Think SIPOC (Supplier-Input-Process-Output-Customer), in this case any output from a process (P) delivered before the depending process (C) or work can start, leaving the work product just sitting there.  Another variant of this waste would be working on products that are not for the next work process, but some prioritized work that is further down or upstream.  When this is not coordinated well, we end up with rework, and if changes are required … Continue reading

Instead of No Estimates

Instead of  No Estimates

Instead of no estimates, we should consider adjusting our approach to estimates that eliminate the abuse, and still allows for the answers to the business questions, “does this project improve our bottom line” allowing the business to determine if the company really wants to undertake the project, and if so, do we have the talent and resources to undertake this project.  Answering these two questions initiates the next steps to actually create a project and being planning and doing the work.

Besides the techniques below, we can estimate from top down, estimation comes from managers and executives, or bottom up, that is those doing the work or closest to the work, provide the estimates. There are draw backs and benefits to each of these approaches.

Estimating Techniques

There are many techniques for estimating.  Experience suggests organizations may not use much more than the least helpful, expert judgement.

Analogous Parametric PERT Simulation (Monte Carlo Analysis) Expert Judgement Analogous

Instead … Continue reading

Team

 

I had a brief chat with Tom Cagley  of the famous SPaMcast the other night about teams. We periodically take time to talk about product development topics, and I frequently appear on SPaMCast podcasts.  Last night we talked about teams an whatever magic makes a collection of individuals move to the point of performing better than the sum of he constituent parts.

I have worked professionally for nearly 30 years, and a decade before that as a field worker, fast food worker, and what we self-referred to as a yard dog – the guy who moves trailers, puts hitches on vehicles, cleans up vehicles and much more.  In my 30 years professionally, I can recall being on 3 groups that were what could be referred to as a team.  In fact, the story of one of those teams can be found in the book by Peter Taylor in The Project Manager Who Smiled book.

If there were a … Continue reading

Safe Space

I have been in twitter and real discussions about safe spaces for the product development team to do their work.  I can understand this, nobody should get hurt at work, that is one of the reasons for OSHA, and internal work instructions and equipment.  However, we are not talking about the physical world in our modern discussion of safety in the work space.  There is nothing wrong with tension, or discomfort. Of course we are not talking about guns, cars and knives at work, but then again, most of those referring to safe space at work are really talking about words in the work place and not physical harm.  We are talking about the removal of even mental discomforts from the work space.  The problem is, this mental discomfort is frequently the source for progress.

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. … Continue reading

Project Control

“The Monitoring and Controlling Process Group consists of those processes required to track, review, and orchestrate the progress and performance of a project; identify any areas in which changes to the plan are required; and initiate the corresponding changes.” Continue reading

Top 27 Company Culture Ideas from the Pros

Fit Small Business posting on Top 27 Company Culture Ideas from the Pros.  Check out our contribution.

The manager must demonstrate what is the epitome of the expected culture. It helps to be egalitarian regarding power in the organization. Your job title should not dampen the discussion or the ideas from the team. I have had employees talk back to me, never name calling, but assertive and you have to be able to listen to those moments. It is not productive to have your employees suppress their emotional reaction to a crappy situation. Better still, go to that emotional spot with them, give them the space to quickly call the situation for what it is, and then quickly bring the discussion back to solving the problem.

 

Read the key points here:”

https://fitsmallbusiness.com/company-culture-ideas/

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