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.

Book Review: Five Key Principles of Corporate Performance Management

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As many of you know, I am constantly in learning mode. I am looking to learn the different perspectives of various items to not only help me, but my clients.

Recently, I finished reading ‘Five Key Principles of Corporate Performance Management’ by Bob Paladino. Mr Paladino is a specialist in helping companies to set up Corporate Performance Management offices (CPM). The CPM is a mechanism which can be used to link your corporate strategy, process improvement, and operations.

The strategic side of the CPM deals with the handling of the strategy map and the balance scorecard. The strategy map, as the name implies, maps out your strategy from the perspective of key operational processes to the higher level executive strategy. The balance scorecard is comprised of a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for each step of the strategy map. Based off the two strategy tools, operational improvement projects are identified to be worked on.

Mr. Paladino takes the reader through a number of case studies of actual work he has done as an employee or consultant. It is much appreciated to see how all of these tools (Strategy Map, Balance Scorecard, Lean, and Six Sigma) are used together to help improve a company.

The concepts delivered from the book are great but the book is hard to read. Not because it is too technical but some examples lack certain pieces of information which will help to put the pictures together. In other portions of the book, there are some concepts which are revisited a number of times which make it hard to read due to boredom.

If you are a lover of strategy or process improvement, there are better books out there for you. If you are interested to learn how the two can be placed together, this might be the only book for you to read.

What is your most favorite business book?

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 different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

Kevin is hosting a workshop series known as Entrepreneurial Community Edmonton. The workshops cover different areas of business, including finance, human resources, and collections. You can find more information at http://www.l6sbc.ca/ecyeg.html

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

Multitasking vs Monotasking

Over the last few weeks, I have re blogged my most popular blogs from the past year.  I will be back blogging about business news and concepts next week. If you have any suggestions for blogs, feel free to contact me.

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For many years, we have been told that multitasking is the basis of a productive worker. Looking at a job advertisement, it was common to see “Must be able to multitask.” What is multitasking exactly?

As per the online dictionary of Wikipedia, multitasking “is the apparent performance by an individual of handling more than one task at the same time.”1 An example of multitasking would be to listen to a conversation during a meeting while typing up an email in regards to another subject at the same time.

To put it simply, we have one brain and our body is best at completing one task at a time, rather than various tasks at a time. In looking at the picture above, you see an archer with various targets to shot at. Should that archer try to aim his arrow so he can hit multiple targets or shot for the center of the highest worth target? Based on the setup of the targets, it is best for him to aim for only one target.

Companies are trying to make it ‘easier’ to multitask now. As you can see below, an increasing number of the population is getting a smart phone, which allows you to call someone, email them, and surf the internet. The smart phone could the ‘poster child’ of a tool for multitasking.global smartphone shipments-3

If you look further down the Wikipedia definition, you will notice a statement that is become better known.

“Multitasking can result in time wasted due to human context switching and apparently causing more errors due to insufficient attention.”2

People don’t actually complete more than one task at a time, but shift between tasks on a constant basis, even before finishing the first time. When the person returns to complete the first task, they normally have to review what they previous completed or start all over again. In lean management vernacular, that would be considered rework which is one of the 8 different types of wastes.

Next time you find yourself trying to do 2 or 3 things at the same time, prioritize those items, do them one at a time, and to the best of your ability. It will create better quality work for you, your colleagues, and in the end, the customer.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach me.

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.

  1. Wikipedia, Human Multitasking, www.en.wikepedia.org/wiki/Human_Multitasking
  2. Ibid

ReBlog: Lean In Action

Over the next few weeks, I will be re blogging my most popular blogs from the past year.  I will be back blogging about business news and concepts in September. If you have any suggestions for blogs, feel free to contact me.

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As you may know, I have been on a road trip through the States of Oregon and Washington. During a three-day stop in Seattle, I took the time to tour Boeing’s Everett production facility. The facility is comprised of three different buildings that manufacture the 747, 767, 777, and 787 Dreamliner airplanes. The main portion of the manufacturing is completed in the largest building in the world, by volume. The other two buildings are painting bays that put on the finishing touch to the planes before they are delivered to the end user.

It is obvious that Boeing has undergone lean activities. All workstations are cleaned and organized. Shadow boards were filled with the appropriate tool in the appropriate place. As you walk around the plant, you can see the flow of the production process.

Lean is now starting to become involved in the design of the planes. Over 6 million rivets were placed into the first 747 planes. With the newest version of the 747, over 1.5 million less rivets are used. Re-engineering of the plane with an emphasis on improving the production while maintaining safety has increased the number of planes made in a year. From the catwalk, it also looked like some engineers are now on the production floor to make it easier and quicker to have questions answered.

As in any company that is following lean principles, there are still areas of improvement available. Only 1 of 4 production lines allows for easy movement of the airplane during the production process. Two different production processes are utilized within the facility. Added training is required for workers to be transferable between the two production processes. Due to the body positioning that workers must put themselves into during the production process, some tasks require two people to complete the task. I also didn’t notice tool kits that could be easily moved in and out of the airplanes. What I did notice was production line workers spending time walking between their workstation and the shadow boards.

A very difficult problem to solve would be to move the paint shops to the same side of the highway as the production facility. As of right now, planes can only be moved to the paint shop at night.

Lean is a never-ending journey in improving your processes and people. Boeing is definitely progressing very well in their journey. Where are you on your lean journey? What projects are you working on?

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.

L6S Business Consulting will also be holding 3 sessions in regards to better understanding and using social media (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn). For more information, please email: info@L6SBC.ca

Social Media Seminars

Doing Lean the Wrong Way

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Over the past 6 months, the Alberta economy has been undergoing a correction due to the rapid price pressures on crude oil. Being a natural resource based economy, Alberta has become accustomed to the volatility which comes with the opportunity to develop our resources. Some companies have right-sized to the current operating environment which we are in.

I have spoken with a number of businesses lately in regards to their progress in their lean initiatives that they have taken. One of these companies was very proud in the decrease of expenses that they were enjoying through the lean initiatives. When I asked them how they were able to get such large cutbacks, they answered ‘We just cut our staff. Everyone is tightening their belts and working harder.’

In others words, the company used the terminology of being lean to decrease headcount but not improve their processes, the quality of their end product, or improve the customers’ experience with their product. When asked which tools they had used and how they came about the conclusion that the staff needed to be reduced, they stated that they spoke to their accountant.

The company didn’t complete a I/O Matrix or go through a 5 Whys conversation to help identify roadblocks in their progress, but used financial analysis in the name of being lean. Being an accountant, I don’t have an appreciation of the end product they developed. In the future, when employees are told that they are going to go through another lean activity, don’t expect employees to help along with their processes. They are just going to remember their co-workers who were dismissed due to a lean cause.

Lean is about developing a culture which fosters constant change and improvement in an organization. The goal of lean is to increase the engagement of staff and allow them to voice their frustrations and possible solutions to activities that they complete on a daily basis. Overall, these items help to increase your profitability.

Have you completed a lean activity? What steps did you take?

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Photo Credit: mjtmail (tiggy) from Flickr Creative Common

Kevin MacDonald is the CEO of L6S Business Consulting Inc. L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin holds his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

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

What? 5:30 am?!

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As someone who is constantly looking to learn, I find myself reading articles from various business and entrepreneur publications. These publications give the insight of various people who fostered an idea, developed a business around that idea, and grew it to a scale that they didn’t expect.

I find that their insight and opinions on what made them successful to be eye-opening and challenges some of my views.

In many of these articles, I do find that they do have a common piece of advice.

Wake up early and be at work at 5:30 am!

I understand the proverb that ‘the early bird gets the worm’ but that doesn’t work for everybody. Some people are not productive at all in the morning. Others are more productive at night, seeing that they are a night owl.

Set up your work routine for which is best for your productivity. I will admit, I do get up at 5:30 am, even with working from my home, but that’s because it is during my prime productive hours.

Personally, creative task that need a high level of concentration are now done first thing in the morning. I typically check my emails just before lunch when I am starting to lose some steam. More mundane or repetitive tasks are kept for the afternoon or evenings to complete.

As with any advice, take it with a grain of salt. Advice for one person may not be something for the next person. If anything, a good piece of advice would at least make you think about how you could change things for the better for yourself.

Don’t worry if you don’t get up at 5:30 am for work, it may not be your productive time anyways.

What is your work routine? Have you tried to change it?

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is the CEO of L6S Business Consulting Inc. L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin holds his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

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

Feel free to contact Kevin at @L6SBC or www.L6SBC.ca

Wow Am I Busy!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen going to a networking event, water cooler talk, or catching up with a friend, it is a very common question to ask “How was your day at work today?” Commonly, we answer back “Oh, I was super busy!” Personally, I have always thought it was interesting that people answered that they were busy.

In my experience, if you were not busy working on something, why would you be employed there? Employers typically don’t hire people to have their feet on their desk or play Facebook games all day. If you are employed, I expect you to be busy, which is why I typical ask “What were you busy doing?” The answer I got… “Welllll…you know…stuff.”

Personally, when I am ‘busy’, I remember what I have been working on. At the very least, I can take out my to-do list and show you what has been working on.

Is telling someone you are busy the correct thing to say? Is ‘being busy’ a way of showing people your worth to a company? Is it a sense of pride to be busy? If that is the case, shouldn’t we be altering our answers?

What if you were to say “I have the Rothschild proposal progressing, got a new office manager hired, and made a huge breakthrough with a client”?

Being busy means that your plate is full but it doesn’t mean that you are productive. You could be working on a number of things, but maybe you are not prioritizing your efforts properly. You may be busy but you are fighting fires because a vision is not in place and an end goal is not there to be achieved.

Being busy is great….but what about being productive? Isn’t that the true badge of honour that every person should strive for at work? I believe that anyone can be busy, but not everyone can be productive.

How productive have you been during the last week?

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is the CEO of L6S Business Consulting Inc. L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin holds his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

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

Feel free to contact Kevin at @L6SBC or www.putechnologies.tk

The Different Forms of Being Organized

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Being organized comes in different forms. During my history as an employee and business owner, I was told that a clean desk surface with no material on it is a sign of organization. I actually worked somewhere with an unwritten policy that desks needed to be clean of any materials or papers.

When employees were asked to work on a certain project, I would witness them open their drawers to packed chaos where paper was arbitrarily placed in the drawer. As many people say, a clean desk means dirty drawers.

Personally, a clean desk makes me nervous. I organize myself by keeping active piles of material that is logically ordered by priority and deadline. Even though my desk is not ‘clean’ and is covered with paper, I am able to find any piece of information within seconds.

Organization is not something that can be judged or perceived by the look of an office. There are different ways for people to organize themselves, but I have noticed that they can be placed into two general groups.

Clean Organizer: The Clean Organizer is someone that has everything in their colour coordinated file folders which can be found in a filing cabinet.

Dirty Organizer: The Dirty Organizer, like myself, has numerous things in the open. This person has either structured piles or a loose organization system that allows the person to find information.

Neither system is incorrect; it depends on the personality that is using the system. I have tried to use files and filing cabinets to organize myself. With this level of organization, I found myself spending a lot of time dealing with housekeeping of making files, ensuring the right thing was in the file, and that the file was placed in the appropriate place. Surprisingly, with this ’organized’ system, I was losing items and taking time, sometimes an hour, looking for something.

With my current dirty or clutter system, I have my piles set out where current projects are within arms reach. I have my plan sheet on the top of each appropriate pile so I know where I am in the workflow of the project. Lastly, I have found that I haven’t lost anything (knock on wood).

Organization is not something that can be determined by the look of an office. The effectiveness of the person and their level of responsiveness to request is a better estimator or gauge to their level of organization.

As someone that keeps their desk dirty, don’t force someone into using a system that is not natural to them. Respect their system and review the performance of the employee instead.

Kevin

Picture from http://varyincambodia.blogspot.ca/2012/08/mastering-organized-chaos-theory-to.html