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; 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 ( 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:  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.

Thursday, October 13, 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, October 12, 2016

How to Determine If You Need Lean Sigma

The big question is, now that you know a little about Lean Sigma, why do you need it when you feel your company is efficient and streamlined with customers happy enough with the quality and service you provide?

The comeback is:  “Are you sure?”

Monday, October 10, 2016

Kaizen in a Lean Dojo

As a martial artist for many years, I was taught dojo kun.  “Hitotsu, jinkaku kansei ni tsutomuru koto” the first of five guiding rules in Shotokan Karate, one of the major martial arts systems originating in Japan, practiced worldwide, and founded by Gichin Funakoshi.  Translated it means:  Each person must strive for the completion of one's character.  When recited in the dojo after each class, it was shortened to “Seek perfection of character.”

Question is:  Can this same principle apply in a Lean Enterprise environment?