Archive for April, 2011

The obligations of knowing your stuff.

If you know your shit, you have an obligation to behave that way:

Do – don’t ask.

Say, “I don’t know.”

Wear the clothes you want.

Tread water with Fear until she drowns.

Walk softly – leave your big stick at home.

Ask people what they think – let them teach you.

Kick Consensus in the balls – he certainly deserves it.

Be kind to those who should know – teach, don’t preach.

Hug the bullies – they cannot hurt you, you know too much.

Work with talented new folks – piss and ginger is a winning combination.

In short, use your powers for good – you have an obligation to yourself, your family, and society.

Obsolete your best work.

You solved a big problem in a meaningful way; you made a big improvement in something important; you brought new thinking to an old paradigm; you created something from nothing. Unfortunately, the easy part is over. Your work created the new baseline, the new starting point, the new thing that must be made obsolete.  So now on to the hard part:  to obsolete your best work

You know best how to improve your work, but you must have the right mindset to obsolete it.  Sure, take time to celebrate your success (Remember, you created something from nothing.), but as soon as you can, grow your celebration into confidence, confidence to dismantle the thing you created. From there, elevate your confidence into optimism, optimism for future success. (You earned the right to feel optimistic; your company knows your next adventure may not work, but, hey, no one else will even try some of the things you’ve already pulled off.)  For you, consequences of failure are negligible; for you, optimism is right.

Now, go obsolete your best work, and feel good about it.

I can name that tune in three notes.

More with more doesn’t cut it anymore, just not good enough.

The behavior we’re looking for can be nicely described by the old TV game show Name That Tune, where two contestants competed to guess the name of a song with the fewest notes. They were read a clue that described a song, and ratcheted down the notes needed to guess it. Here’s the nugget: they challenged themselves to do more with less, they were excited to do more with less, they were rewarded when they did more with less. The smartest, most knowledgeable contestants needed fewer notes. Let me say that again – the best contestants used the fewest notes.

In product design, the number of notes is analogous to part count, but the similarities end there. Those that use the fewest are not considered our best or our most knowledgeable, they’re not rewarded for their work, and our organizations don’t create excitement or a sense of challenge around using the fewest.

For other work, the number of notes is analogous to complexity. Acknowledge those that use the fewest, because their impact ripples through your company, and makes all your work easier.

Pull the product lever, now.

If you’re reading this you’ve probably survived the great recession. You had to do some radical stuff, but you pulled it off. You cut to the bone as demand fell off, but you managed to shed staff and capacity and kept your company alive. Congratulations. Amazing work. But now the hard part: increased demand!

Customers are ordering, and they want product now. You’re bringing on capacity, re-hiring, and re-training, and taking waste out of your processes with lean and even extending lean to your supply chain and logistics. You’re pulling the levers as hard as you can, but you know it won’t be enough. What you need is another lever, a big, powerful, magical lever to make everything better. You need to pull the product lever.

So, you’re telling me to look at my product as a way to meet increased demand? Yes. To get more products out of few factories? Yes. To make more products with a short staff? Yes. To reduce supply chain complexity? Yes. Pull the product lever, pull it hard, and pull it now.

But meeting increased demand is a manufacturing/supply chain problem, right? No. What about flogging suppliers for unreasonably short lead times? No. What about quickly bringing on unproven suppliers? No. What about bringing on a totally new factory by next week? No. What about using folks of the street to make the product? No. Pull the product lever, pull hard, and pull it now.

Dust off the value stream map of your supply chain and identify the three longest lead times, and design them out of your product. Dust off your routings and identify the three largest labor times, and design them out of our product. Dust off your BOMs and identify the three highest cost parts, and design them out of your product. Pull the product lever. Then, identify the next three, and pull it again. Then repeat. Pull it hard, and pull it now.

Meeting increased demand will be challenging, but your customers and stockholders deserve your best. So, pull hard on all your levers, and pull them now.

Missing Element of Lean – Assembly Magazine article

With its strong focus on waste reduction of processes, lean has been a savior for those who’ve made it out of the great recession.  But what’s next?  I argue the next level of savings will come from adding a product focus to lean’s well-developed process focus.  For the complete Assembly Magazine article (one page), click here.

Mike Shipulski Mike Shipulski
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