Archive for March, 2011

Mental Walls

Mental walls are more powerful than physical ones.

With physical walls you know where they start and end and know if you can bust them down. With mental walls, you’re not sure.

With physical walls you know they exist – that they’re real. With mental walls, you’re not sure.

With physical walls you can blame someone for bad workmanship. With mental walls, you’re the workman.

The only way to tell a real wall from a mental one is to to take a run at it, but even then, you’re never really sure.

Money out the wazoo

There’s a huge untapped source of profits out there – a virtual gold mine – with profit opportunities so large you can’t see them, and if you do see them, too large to believe. These profits larger than you’ve achieved with your traditional lean work. (Actually, what I’m talking about the next evolution of lean.) Want to see what I’m talking about? Go to your factory and watch. The gold mine will be hiding in plain sight – it’s your product.

Huge savings blah, blah, blah. How significant? Here’s the formula:

material cost x volume x 50%.

Now, for your highest volume product, do the calculation. Go ahead. Do it. Humor me. It’s worth it.

Go get your best pen, and calculate by hand. Write down the number. Go ahead. Write it down, but make sure you put the dollar sign in front, and, please, put in the commas. Don’t abbreviate thousands, millions, or billions (or trillions, Mr. Gates) – write the zeros.  All of them.

There. You did it. Not so hard. Now, sit quietly, and contemplate the number. Look at it for an hour. Don’t say anything, just sit with it.

Now, get bigger piece of paper, and re-run the calculation, but this time write big. Repeat with a poster board, and finish with your biggest whiteboard – big zeros, lot’s of them. (Don’t forget the commas.) Marinate for an hour. Don’t say anything, just sit.

Now that you appreciate the significance of the number, go make something happen.  If you’re a CEO, tell your engineering leader to do DFMA; if you’re the manufacturing leader, grab your engineering leader by the ear, and walk to the whiteboard; if you’re the engineering leader, do DFMA.

You likely don’t believe the number. I know. It’s okay. But, a number that big at least deserves a Google search: save 50% with DFMA.

Upcoming Workshop on Systematic DFMA Deployment

I will be running a half-day workshop on Systematic DFMA Deployment on June 13 in Providence, RI.  The workshop will kick of BDI’s 2011 International Forum on Design for Manufacturing and Assembly and will focus on how to incorporate DFMA into your product development process.

The Forum (June 14, 15) is the yearly gathering of the world’s leading DFMA experts.  It is THE place to learn about DFMA and see examples and results from leading companies.

I urge the product development community to attend.

I am also presenting at the Forum and hope to finally meet you in person.

Japan

Japan, may you find the strength to move forward.

Work that creates wealth

Today’s biggest problems are difficult to solve and our approach to solving them isn’t helping. Whether it’s healthcare, education, infrastructure, defense, or the economy we never get past the wrong question: “Who’s going to pay for it?

With healthcare we argue about costs and taxes – who pays and how much. But we’ve got to move past that argument. The real deal is we create insufficient wealth. (Our inability to pay for healthcare is a symptom.) So the real solution must focus on work that creates wealth, real wealth. I’m not talking about merger and acquisition wealth. I’m talking about real wealth generated by inventing, designing, and making products. I’m talking about manufacturing – creating products out of dirt, rocks, and sticks and selling them for more than the cost to make them. With more manufacturing we can fix healthcare. (I also think we should look deeply at the work of providing healthcare and improve the work.)

With education we argue about costs and taxes – who pays and how much. But we’ve got to move past that argument. The real deal is we create insufficient wealth. (Our inability to pay for education is a symptom.) So the real solution must focus on work that creates wealth, real wealth. I’m not talking about merger and acquisition wealth. I’m talking about real wealth generated by inventing, designing, and making products. I’m talking about manufacturing — creating products. With more manufacturing we can fix education. (I also think we should look deeply at the work of providing education and improve the work.)

With infrastructure we argue about costs and taxes – who pays and how much. But we’ve got to move past that argument. The real deal is we create insufficient wealth. (Our inability to pay for infrastructure is a symptom.) So the real solution must focus on work that creates wealth, real wealth. I’m talking about real wealth generated by inventing, designing, and making products. I’m talking about manufacturing — creating products. With more manufacturing we can fix our infrastructure. (I also think we should look deeply at the work of creating and maintaining infrastructure and improve it.)

With defense we argue about costs and taxes – who pays and how much. But we’ve got to move past that argument. The real deal is we create insufficient wealth. (Our inability to pay for defense is a symptom.) So the real solution must focus on work that creates wealth, real wealth. I’m talking about manufacturing — creating products.  With more manufacturing we can fix defense. (I also think we should improve the work of providing defense.)

Pulling it all together, with the economy we argue about taxes – who pays and how much. But we’ve got to move past that argument. The real deal is we create insufficient wealth. (Our economy’s health is a symptom.) So the real solution must focus on work that creates real wealth. I’m talking about manufacturing. With more manufacturing the economy will fix itself.

Thankfully we all have different views on healthcare, education, infrastructure, and defense, and I want to preserve them. (That’s what makes our country great.) However, I think we can all agree that creating more wealth will improve our chances of fixing our big problems.

Let’s do more manufacturing.

Treat your parts like your children

There’s lots of charged debate these days on the strengths and weakness of in-sourcing and outsourcing. That’s good. But what’s a company to do?

I’d like to propose a new framework to think through the situation. I call it the Parental Framework. (I get to name it since I just invented it.) There’s only one tenet – think of your parts like your children.

When they’re young you take care of their every need. They cry and you jump. If not, they make you pay with sleepless nights.

As they grow you still take care of them. But now it’s about control. They gain independence and try to go where they want. You continually bring them back to center. Their independence scares you, and it should. You cringe when you think of what can happen to them. Take your eye off them for a minute and all hell could break loose.

When they go to school you become deeply concerned with the systems and processes that control the quality of their education.

Before you dare go out for a nice evening with your spouse (I heard that happens now and again), you do background checks on potential babysitters because the consequences of a bad one are severe. The slightest question of the sitter’s capability fills you with anxiety. No chance of connecting with your spouse. It’s all about the little ones.

The Parental Framework may be a bridge too far, but I find it helpful. I like thinking about my parts as my children. It works for me.

Mike Shipulski Mike Shipulski
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