Thursday, December 1, 2016

What is Lean Six Sigma?


(I’ve been asked to provide a down and dirty explanation of what Lean Six Sigma is; so hope this helps.  If you have any suggestions, feel free to let me know, thanks!)

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Logical Thing To Do

When I was in college, I took a philosophy class, a requirement that was boring. 

One topic of discussion was “logic”.

The professor stood up in front of the class and said, “A cat has four legs and a tail. A dog has four legs and a tail, therefore a cat is a dog.”

Afterwards, he said nothing else.  

Silence. Crickets.  Chirp.  Chirp.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Boots on the Ground

Courtesy of chicagonow.com
“Boots on the ground” was a phrase I used in the oil fields borrowed from the military exercise, when soldiers, with heavy packs and guns loaded, marched in combat cadence.   One of my jobs was to maximize value to the customer by reducing waste, cycle time and defects. As Lean Six Sigma and the concept of Continuous Improvement were relatively new at the workplace; along came with it, a distinct vocabulary and hard to grasp concept.  To reach common ground, I had to modify terminology and substitute metaphors so that I can work with management and rank-and-file.  Without common ground, it was next to impossible to have a conversation.  The phrase “boots on the ground” was synonymous to “value added.”

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Fat Wallet

Courtesy of cetmacargo.com
A very close friend carried a wallet that contained his life's history. Not only did it hold his driver's license, Social Security, bank and credit cards, pictures of his family, birth certificate, past payroll stubs, receipts, business cards, phone numbers written on errant pieces of paper, a rubber band, and a razor blade. Least to say, his wallet was a fat ball that could not fit in the back of his pants pocket and carried it in his hands, like a small weapon, an extension of his mind, body and spirit.

I would never expect him to part with it.  There's way too much history in it.

So, companies attempting to introduce change to people with set ways, it's difficult to find methods to convince those like my old friend to abandon his old wallet for a new, different albeit lean and efficient system.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Lean Sigma and Transportation

The following is from Alan Kandel, writer and retired engineer who now focuses his attention to air quality in California and the impact transportation contributes to it.  Though short, his ideas provide insight for further studies and research.  


Read your latest post on process. Streamlining processes to make operations more efficient regardless of application should be pursued. I am reminded of transportation.

You would be amazed as to the amount of waste there is in the transportation realm. If you want to know just how much there is in the United States when it comes to driving then you'll want to check out the Texas A&M Transportation Institute's 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard https://mobility.tamu.edu/ums/report/; you would be astonished to learn how much fuel, money and time is wasted as a result of American drivers stuck in traffic. Building one's way out of the congestion mess (crisis?) isn't a solution. In my The Departure Track book I pointed out that according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, America's highways have a 42 percent congestion rate (in 2013). That's a 58 percent non-congestion rate which, by any measure, is failure. In industry, that would be unacceptable. So, why do we find it to be okay when it comes to driving? I am convinced that applying the continuous improvement, Lean Six Sigma principles to land use and transportation planning (the two areas go hand in hand) could really make a significant difference.

At any rate there is an interesting article about artificial intelligence in the Fall 2016 issue of Cal Poly Magazine (magazine.calpoly.edu). The article of most interest to me is called "The Shape of Cities" - the focus is self-driving cars. If ever implemented, this has the potential to cause even more congestion than what there is already as people who would not otherwise be behind the wheel would all of a sudden be in vehicles being shuttled about autonomously, not to mention cars operating sans drivers waiting for their next assignments. It is a really interesting topic of discussion to say the least. - Alan Kandel

Friday, October 21, 2016

Story About Process

My past posts covered subjects like the Hidden Factory, Standard Operating Procedures and the "what, hows and the whys."  Most recently, I read a book by Clayton Christensen, who introduced the concept of Jobs To Be Done or JBTB. If you have time, pick it up; I highly recommend it.  It's titled Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice.

In one YouTube video where he spoke in front of an audience in Oxford, the person who introduced him indicated that his book was one of the top six management books of all time. After reading it I couldn't agree more.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Poka Yoke or Mistake Proofing

I've had conversations about the term “mistake proofing,” a Lean Six Sigma term taken from Toyota's Production Systems “poka yoke,” which means to set up a work environment where mistakes are virtually impossible.  The definition: Mistake proofing, or its Japanese equivalent poka-yoke (pronounced PO-ka yo-KAY), is the use of any automatic device or method that either makes it impossible for an error to occur or makes the error immediately obvious once it has occurred. (Source:  http://asq.org/learn-about-quality/process-analysis-tools/overview/mistake-proofing.html  American Society for Quality or ASQ) Metaphorically speaking, the idea is if you poke an egg yoke while frying, it would prevent the mistake of it being under cooked, though some of us like it that way.