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

Brainstorming

Brainstorming and Cost Improvement

The brainstorming technique is attributed to Alex Faickney Osborne as explained in his 1953 book, Applied Imagination. The technique arose from frustration with the inability of employees to develop creative solutions for problems. Personal experience suggests this is a valuable tool when deployed appropriately and the guidelines are followed. If we populate the team with diverse backgrounds we can see ideas build on other ideas very rapidly.

To really find the areas for cost improvement we must let go of our mental impediments to uncovering these opportunities. It is very probable that there are plenty of cost improvement possibilities. However, in our daily work execution we may not find the time to free our minds to consider these possibilities. A brainstorming exercise can go far to fuel the imagination, to open a “space” to think laterally at what may be possible. We have successfully employed this technique to:

Reduce costs Generate intellectual property Reduce weight for … Continue reading

Reducing Cost – Homegrown Way.

To really find the areas for cost improvement we must let go of our mental impediments to uncovering these opportunities. It is very probable that there are plenty of cost improvement possibilities. However, in our daily work execution we may not find the time to free our minds to consider these possibilities. A brainstorming exercise can go far to fuel the imagination, to open a “space” to think laterally at what may be possible. We have successfully employed this technique to: Continue reading

My Department, Our Organization

LO / OD Application

by Shawn P. Quigley and Jon M Quigley

We will need to start this discussion with a question: “What have you ever done that did not teach you something?” It is by the nature of any activity especially those that require coordination and preplanning either learning or development occurs. Most commonly both will occur. This is either by plan or through pain. In our previous post: learning through mistakes, we eluded to this fact.

While there are many organizations that have people who specialize in Organization Development and the Learning Organization, these people are not always used to their fullest. These people are commonly used for post mortems on a project or specialty projects. While this does provide some benefits it is leaving the majority of what could be gained from these philosophies off the table.  To put it more clearly, our solutions will often be to lock the barn after the horse has left. … Continue reading

Introduction to FAST part 2

Below is an excerpt from our book Pries, K., & Quigley, J. (2013). Classical Techniques. In Reducing process costs with lean, six sigma, and value engineering techniques (pp. 135-138). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

This is the second part, part one is located here.

Miles also identified the concept of basic and secondary functions. Basic functions are the fundamental reason the customer is willing to buy the product or service. The basic function of an automobile is to transport the customer. The basic function of a shoe is to “protect foot.” Secondary functions are those functions for which the designer has the flexibility to find an effective solution. A secondary function supports the basic function. Miles discovered that secondary functions are often a huge component of the total cost of the product.

A simple plan for proceeding through the Miles approach is as follows:

1. Separate the functions (we can use a spreadsheet format to capture our preliminary ideas). … Continue reading

Introduction to FAST part 1

Below is an excerpt from our book Pries, K., & Quigley, J. (2013). Classical Techniques. In Reducing process costs with lean, six sigma, and value engineering techniques (pp. 133-135). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

 FAST Introduction

FAST is an acronym for functional analysis system technique. FAST allows us to reduce ambiguity in the definition of a functional product or a functional process (and probably fro some dysfunctional one also!).  Value of a product is interpreted differently by different customers.  Characteristics that are common to value are high level of performance, capability, emotional appeal, and style relative to its cost (see figure below).  Value is generally expressed in terms of maximizing the function of a product relative to its cost:

Value = (Performance + Capability) / Cost

Value = Function / Cost

Value is not minimizing cost. Though, for some cases, we can influence the value of a product by increasing its function (performance or capability) and cost as long … Continue reading

Think, Take the Best, and USE it!

In Project Management One size does not fit all.

Product development and project management can be very complex and complicated with variations and permutations that make a prescriptive approach impossible to produce successful results.  That goes for any brand or type of project management.  What is important is to have an arsenal of skills, tools and techniques and use what is needed based upon the situation.  Couple this with a bit of creative thinking to allow you to adapt and find other ways.  This is the technical or project management version of Situational Management or Situational Leadership. 

 

 

For any approach to be successful we should take a system’s view and approach.   We need to know our organization and the operating environment. We should know the objectives and what our organization is willing to do to meet this objective.  The areas of technical concern are also of interest. For example,  I once … Continue reading

Project Management tools are not everything, but…

Why do we use tools?

We use tools to make our lives better. It would not be very fun to hammer a nail into wood with our hand.   Imagine the situation if we continued communicate via pony express. Sometimes, when we are not aware a tool exists, we may try to fabricate something.  We make tools out of available spread sheet programs or documentation writing programs.  I have worked at a globally distributed company that had a multiplicity of tools, some custom built and some even more unique.  These tools were used by a variety of constituent companies and none of these tools worked together well and some team members did not have access to some tools or the contents.  It was clear that a single Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) tool would have gone far in managing the work better.  That is why I was, perhaps not as shocked as I should have been when I came upon this report … Continue reading

Saving the Business with Assorted Cost Improvement Methods

We see some company responses to economic downturn are to eliminate staff as if that were the only way to become a viable company once again. We wonder if these companies have some cost improvement methodology behind them that would give their management other options than summarily removal of personnel. Continue reading

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