Book Review: The Remedy

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The Remedy

There are few business concepts which are applicable across any company in any industry. From solopreneurs to multi-national conglomerates, the principles of Lean Management are a tool to improve the culture of a company.

I recently got the chance to read “The Remedy” by Pascal Dennis, which is a real life story about how lean was applied across a large car manufacturer.

Lean is predominantly known to be a process to decrease waste within manufacturing processes. Through the travels of Tom and his sensei Andy, stories are told on how Lean Management is applied within non-manufacturing settings.  The reader is taken through a journey where common obstacles of dealing with a company that is heavily placed into silos, non-communitive, and insular culture are dealt with. You get the opportunity to see how Lean Management can be applied in the non-manufacturing departments of Human Resources, Marketing, Product Development, and Accounting.

The reader is introduced to many of the basic concepts and terminology of Lean Management (for example the 8 types of waste) in the style where Tom, the plant manager of the shining star of Taylor Motors, is taken from his current role to lead the development and launch of a new car, originally known as the Defiant.

If you want to learn more about Lean Management, this would be an ‘average’ book to pick up. The Japanese terminology is used throughout the book which can make things confusing at time. There are great animations throughout the book, but at times, too many. It gave the feeling that you were reading a Pictionary book at times.

I personally don’t see this book as being a good starting point if you are a novice to Lean Management. Lean is best learnt within a manufacturing setting since the subject matter can be visibly seen. The author previously wrote “Andy & Me” which details the journey of transforming a manufacturing plant towards being Lean. This book would be a good starting point.

Do you have any books about Lean and Lean Management that you recommend?

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for the South Edmonton Business Association, the Fringe Festival, Goodwill Industries of Alberta and donates blood at the Canadian Blood Services.

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How Are You Competing – Operational Excellence

excellenceThis is part 1 of 4 blogs which will cover the different customer value propositions that a company can use to compete in the market place.

Every company competes, in one way or another. Either they are competing to get attention with a gorilla marketing strategy or to simply get new customers. Competition is a fundamental part of any marketplace. Unless there is a monopoly or duopoly in place, market forces are moving resources between companies.

The weakest of all modes for competition in business is operational excellence. In the eyes of the consumer, you offer the cheapest product of all solution providers within your space. Your business model is based on maximizing your capacity and selling as much of your product as possible.

There is one Fortune 500 sized company that comes top of mind when you think about a company that is operationally excellent….Walmart. Walmart, in the eyes of the consumer, is the cheap place to go, in general, when you need to buy something. They are not very innovative in their offering. Customer service, well, you have to be able to find someone on their store floor to consider customer service. Lastly, quality products is not something that rings with Walmart.

When you create your company with a business model of being operational excellent, you are more than likely to attract a large portion of consumers. Who doesn’t want to save money?

But in following this model, it becomes hard for your company to raise prices. You have to ensure that you stay top of mind for your consumer when it comes to buying something cheap. But what happens when someone else decreases their prices below yours? Well, if you are tried and true to your strategy, you will decrease your price too. This will only start a race to the bottom. In reflection, you have just commoditized your offering and your consumer will always go to the cheapest name, no matter who it is.

There are some circumstances where being the cheapest in the market is the best position. You may be focused upon an economically sensitive target group which is under served. Perhaps you are entering a new market with a new product and you want to help accelerate adaptation of your offering.

Does your company want to be the cheapest in its industry? What companies do you see fitting that bill?

Have an awesome and productive week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for the South Edmonton Business Association, the Fringe Festival, Goodwill Industries of Alberta and donates at the Canadian Blood Services.

For help with your business, contact Kevin at kevin@L6SBC.ca or 780-868-1867. You can also follow Kevin on Twitter at @L6SBC or Facebook.com/L6SBC

Need to be Organized

being organized

Being organized is something that doesn’t come naturally to everyone. In some cases, what may look like a mess to someone, like the below picture, may be the organization system of the owner.

being unorganized

Being organized goes past how you have your desk organized, your papers filed away, and the cleanliness of your desk. What about the organization of that one valuable commodity that we can never get back and we never have enough of? Time!

During a recent luncheon, I was asked how I stayed organized with the different activities I am involved with. I will admit, I didn’t give an ‘organized’ answer because it is more than one thing.

Calendar: I block time off in my calendar to do certain tasks. The times and tasks are paired up so that my time is used up most efficiently. Items that require more creativity are done in the morning, for example. If you have taken or read the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People course or book, you can equate this to scheduling my big rocks.

To Do List: I keep my to-do list by my side at all times. That is my North Star to what needs to be done today. For people that know me well, I am very goal driven. My goal each day is to complete everything on my to-do list.

The last thing I do during my work day is review my to-do list and make my to-do list for the next day. I don’t want to spend time reviewing my previous days’ work to figure out what I should be doing today.

Communicate: I freely communicate to my colleagues and customers about my time availability. Most commonly, I keep my Mondays and Fridays open for my clients. It seems to be the easiest for them to meet with me. I am either meeting with my clients or working on their projects, at the very least, on those days.

Emails: Many people forget that email can be a very big time waster. Some simple suggestions would involve paying attention to the emails that you read and don’t read. If you find yourself deleting emails from companies where you somehow got onto their mailing list but you are not interested in them, take your name off the distribution list.

I have noticed that I have received the vast majority of my emails by 2pm every day. I do a quick scan of my emails first thing in the morning to see if there is anything pressing. If there isn’t, I stay away from my emails until 2pm. Together with the first email tip, I can be done dealing with my emails within 15 minutes.

Distractions: It is very easy to get lost in Facebook and Twitter for hours.  Working from home, it is also easy to get distracted with folding the laundry or just listening to music. Limit your own time on social media. Use it as a reward for breaks that you take.

Do Take Breaks: Make sure that you give yourself a break. A short 5 minute walk around the block can do wonders for waking yourself up and revitalizing your energy for the next hour or two.

What do you see as your biggest challenge for being organized with your time? Is it an external factor or is it yourself? It is very hard to come up with a solution if you haven’t identified the problem.

Have a great week!

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

Midway Check In

80023028_9202c3d6cf_zIt is half way through the year which means it is a perfect time to check in with our goals. You may find it comical that I check in with my goals on a quarterly basis. That is not the end of it!

I actually review my goals and the plan to reach my goals every Sunday morning. My goals and plan are actually right beside my computer monitor so it is always top of mind. I try my best to ensure that the actions I take are in line with my plan to make my goals a reality. It is one thing to have a dream, but it is another thing to have a plan to reach that dream. I don’t plan on dreaming away my whole life, so I would rather get things done to reach those dreams.

I have been progressing nicely on my personal goals. I have hit some bumps in the road, but as we all know, success is not a straight line up.

successisnotstraight-part2My work goals have been doing much better. Even with my best efforts, some goals have obviously fallen off of the way side. Actually, they have fallen so far away that they can’t be seen any more. I am currently re-evaluating if those goals are possible. Based on current conditions, there will be a pretty big shift in my skills development goal that I had set out. In the end, those fallen goals were not SMART goals. Upon retrospect, they were not realistic with everything else going around me and in some cases, the timing of having the goals achieved is poor.

Are you keeping up with your goals that you set for yourself at the beginning of the year? Have you made any adjustments or you have just fallen off of the wagon? I am very goal orientated so I used those goals to drive me. You might not be goal orientated but you do have driver that keeps you going. As long as you are progressing forward, you are moving in the right direction.

Feel free to share with me your goals. We can help to keep each other accountable.

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

In Life as In Sport as In Business

ray rice

Growing up, I was told that playing sports will give you skills and lessons that you can use in everyday life. As a matter of fact, I like to giggle at ‘reality TV’ since I don’t consider it to be very real at all. I personally consider watching sports to be the closest thing to reality TV.

In playing sports, you can learn:

1.      Team Work: Your coach and team mates are there to guide, support and mentor you. Family, friends, work colleagues and your boss (hopefully) do the same for you in life.

2.      Self-Discipline: To improve at a sport, to improve as a person or as a colleague, practice and repetition helps. Don’t be scared to be placed in a sticky situation. It will happen more than once and when it does; you will be prepared.

3.      Perseverance: Obstacles are something that you will meet everywhere. Opponents on the field, a friend who doesn’t want to travel or a co-worker who thinks your idea is faulty. Everything can be worked through as long as you try.

4.      Focus: It is very hard to attain something if you don’t make it a goal. That focus can be used to fuel your perseverance and get things done.

5.      Accountability: You are accountable to your team mates, coaches, and fans when you play sports. The team that you have developed around yourself will help to keep you true to your focus and your end goal.

Last Monday, a video surfaced showing Ray Rice punching his then fiancé Janay Palmer in the face, knocking her out cold. I guess that Ray Rice forgot the sport lessons of Team Work, Self-Discipline, Perseverance, and Focus. He is, I am very happy to say, learning now about Accountability.

Now, with the multi-billion dollar brand of the National Football League (NFL) tarnished, will Roger Goodelll follow suit and become accountable to the team owners? Only time will tell.

What did you learn from playing sports? If you didn’t play sports as a kid, where do you think you got many of your life’s learning?

Kevin

(Photo credits from Left: Rob Carr/Getty Images, Andrew Burton/Getty Images)