Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Lean Competition

This seems to be a fun way to get team members into quick turn-around of orders. I am thinking of ways to incorporate this into our training and celebrations to get us focused on finding ways to reduce assembly times. MLF

From QSRMagazine.com:
Restaurant News
Subway Sandwich Makers Race to Be the Best
September 29, 2009

The third time was a charm for Neenah, Wisconsin, sandwich artist Bryon Shea, who won the 2009 Subway Sub Jammers competition in Washington, D.C., by making a "perfect" footlong submarine sandwich in 42.1 seconds.

Bryon, who came in second place during 2007 and 2008 Sub Jammer competitions, beat a field of almost 100 fellow sandwich artists from throughout the world at the recent 2009 Subway Convention. Sub Jammers are judged based on speed, sandwich appearance, content distribution, and formula accuracy. Sandwich artists taking part in the Sub Jammers competition won regional events leading up to the championship round at the annual Convention.

The competition was sponsored by Otis Spunkmeyer Cookies and Schreiber Foods. Shea received the $3,000 top prize. Shelly Matson, from Esko, Minnesota, took home the $2,000 second-place prize with a total score 43.3. Sharon Hall, who took home the top prize the past two years, received $1,000 for her third-place finish this year with a score of 47. Hall, from Waco, Texas, set the record last year making a sandwich in the time of 38.6 seconds.

"This competition is fast-paced, fun, and one of the highlights of the convention, not just for the sandwich artists, but also for all the attendees," says Tom Coba, chief operations officer for the brand. "The sandwich artist is probably the person most responsible for creating a great experience for our customers and this competition is a great way to recognize their efforts and put a well-deserved spot light on them for a while."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

VIBCO Vibrators Lean Transformation featured in new GBMP Lean Training Video “VIBCO Vibration Nation: Learning to See”

VIBCO Vibrators (Headquartered in Wyoming, RI) is featured in a new training DVD from GBMP (Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership). The DVD premiers at the Northeast Shingo Prize Conference in Worcester, MA on October 8, 2009. It will be available for purchase ($129.00 retail) from GBMP starting October 9 via their online store www.shopgbmp.org.

“VIBCO Vibration Nation: Learning to See" is a high-energy, Virtual Plant Tour and lesson designed to train, educate, motivate and inspire viewers to embrace a lean philosophy and grow a lean culture.

“We were looking for an organization with an exceptional depth of lean understanding and breadth of employee participation. We found it at VIBCO Vibrators. The company president understands that employees are the most valuable resource, and improvement ideas spring from every body, every day. The "Vibration Nation", as they call themselves, has unleashed the power of kaizen, which they freely share with their community. GBMP is pleased to be able to expand this sharing through the release of the VIBCO Vibrators plant tour DVD.” says GBMP President, Bruce Hamilton.

This new DVD showcases the transformative impact of lean on VIBCO and how adopting lean principles can transform any organization – whether public or private, government, manufacturing, high-tech, or service-related. This shop floor and back-of-the-house virtual tour includes valuable lessons about management's key role as part of a successful lean transformation.

VIBCO's results are staggering:
• $2 million inventory reduction
• 35% more customers
• 50% of total sales volume shipped within 1 hour of order receipt with the balance shipped same day or next day
• dramatic improvements in machine and workforce efficiency

“We are really excited about the release of this DVD! We are so passionate about Lean and its potential to revolutionize how business gets done and the amount of value we can provide to our customers,” says Karl Wadensten, VIBCO President. “Our lean revolution has made it possible for us to continue to grow our business and build for the future despite unprecedented business challenges. This video really validates how hard we’ve worked and how far we’ve come and I’m so proud of the whole VIBCO team. But the VIBCO Lean story is far from over… lean has become a part of our DNA and we continue to improve, to grow and to innovate every day in our relentless pursuit of perfection. We have so much potential… who knows what the World Famous Vibrator Guys will accomplish next?”

About GBMP
Based at the University of Massachusetts Boston campus, GBMP (Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership) is a non-profit corporation that has worked with hundreds of companies, providing suggestions and solutions resulting in millions in cost savings and increased sales. Each year GBMP trains over 7000 people on Continuous Improvement principles through customized, on-site classroom and shop-floor training sessions and educates over 1000 more people in public workshops, plant tours and the Manufacturing Roundtable Speaker Series. www.gbmp.org

About VIBCO Vibrators
VIBCO is committed to producing a complete product portfolio that is 100% Made in the USA. VIBCO sought and was awarded a $49,380 Comprehensive Worker Training Grant from the Governor’s Workforce Board (maximum award is $50,000) to continue and expand training and learning opportunities for all VIBCO employees. VIBCO has been named a winner of the Best Places to Work in Rhode Island by the Providence Business News and Best Companies, is a winner of the Progressive Manufacturing PM100 Award, and is a past winner of a Providence Business News Business Excellence Award.

Founded in 1962, VIBCO Vibrators designs, manufacturers and markets a comprehensive range of electric, pneumatic and hydraulic vibrators for construction and industrial use. VIBCO Vibrators also designs, manufactures and markets a complete line of vibratory plate compactors and rollers. All standard VIBCO products are available from stock same or next day and the company is committed to quality, throughput and innovation. VIBCO Vibrators is headquartered in Wyoming, RI, USA.

VIBCO Vibrators sponsors LeanRI.org – a collaborative effort of private citizens, business leaders, educators, government workers, and elected officials with the sole purpose of transitioning a fundamentally broken system into a highly productive engine of growth that is sustainable and continuously improving. Through education and the implementation of universally accepted best practices within a climate of continuous improvement, Rhode Island will dramatically differentiate itself and begin to retain and grow its existing workforce, attract new business, and provide more efficient services in the public and private sector.

Toll Free in US:(800) 633-0032
Toll Free in Canada: (800) 465-9709
Email: vibrators@vibco.com
Web: www.vibco.com
VIBCO, We’re the Expert Vibrator Guys.TM
- full resolution graphics available by request –


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Another Great Lean Healthcare Story

Original Article appears at http://www.mddailyrecord.com/article.cfm?id=12256&type=UTTM

Streamlining at St. Joseph Medical Center
Daily Record Business Writer
August 25, 2009 7:38 PM

St. Joseph Medical Center has taken notice of the Toyota Way.

The Towson-based hospital has adopted the automobile maker’s innovative strategy for streamlining car production and applied it to its emergency department, reducing the length of time a patient waits there by 25 percent over the last year through more efficient communication systems.

Lean manufacturing techniques, pioneered by Toyota, cut waste by improving the pace of the production cycle, bringing more value to customers at a lower cost. In hospitals, lean techniques translate to cutting down patient wait times, improving patient flow and upgrading the patient experience.

Two years ago, St. Joseph brought in Dave Norton, a 37-year auto industry veteran who worked for Toyota and General Motors, to lead its lean efforts.

The hospital fully implemented the program in its emergency department last year after word came from management that the hospital needed to shrink the length of emergency department stays.

“If you’re coming into the emergency department, your main value is probably not to die first, and second is to get in and out of there quickly,” Norton said. “So coming in and doing a half an hour registration or waiting for an hour or two is a waste.”

St. Joseph cut the average emergency department visit down from 5 hours and 57 minutes to 4 hours and 30 minutes in fiscal 2009, which ended June 30, said Durenda Juergensen, assistant vice president of nursing.

Now, instead of waiting to take blood until a bed opens up, patients get their blood drawn immediately. A major emergency department obstacle is knowing when a patient can move to the next step of the process, whether that’s reviewing lab results or getting discharged. St. Joseph implemented a color-coded patient tracker system that gives doctors, nurses and technicians visual cues on patient status, for example, by changing the color in each letter of the word “lab” to show when blood has been taken, dropped off for testing or the full lab results are available.

The hospital achieved the reduction last November and has sustained the drop, Juergensen said.

“We’re constantly pursuing perfection,” Norton said. “It’s focused on what the Japanese call kaizen spirit. It’s developing that continuous improvement.”

Clogged emergency departments have become a major issue nationwide, and many hospitals say the problem is a lack of beds.

But St. Joseph found that streamlining the process of moving patients from the emergency department to inpatient beds freed up space in the emergency department. The hospital cut the average move to an inpatient bed to 50 minutes — down from 1 hour and 50 minutes — by creating a system that sends a page to hospital staff when a bed has been assigned, instead of requiring multiple calls between staff to see if the bed is available.

“You have built capacity of your emergency department without building anything with bricks and mortar,” Juergensen said.

St. Joseph is certainly not the first hospital to employ lean techniques. In the last decade, businesses have popped up worldwide offering job placements in hospitals and other fields for former Toyota employees and students of the lean philosophy.

Jason Stiles, president and chief operating officer of Stiles Associates LLC in New Hampshire, a lean-focused search firm founded in 1991, said his company started getting calls for placing lean experts in hospitals in 2006.

Stiles said the use of lean systems in hospitals is growing rapidly, a likely result of more transparency in hospital data.

“It can be very impactful if applied correctly,” he said. “If it’s not [applied correctly], people can view it as a headcount reduction program, so it’s really important for hospitals to have the right people guiding them.”

St. Joseph plans to implement lean processes in operating rooms next. While the process will save the hospital money, Norton said that is not the priority.

“I’d like to think we’re saving lives rather than focusing on saving dollars,” he said. “Obviously the monetary savings come later, but the point is saving lives.”

According to Press Ganey, a leading national provider of patient satisfaction data, the average stay in Maryland’s emergency departments was 4 hours and 23 minutes in 2008, from the time patients walk in the door until the time they leave. The national average was 4 hours, 3 minutes.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Healthcare System Needs Lean More than Ever

Here's a link to a cnnmoney.com article regarding waste in the Healthcare industry... certainly not new news, but the numbers are huge...


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hip! Hip! Hooray for Iowa!


DES MOINES, IOWA – (July 1, 2009) The Iowa Business Council (IBC), during its 23rd Annual Partnership Meeting held in Des Moines on January 26, 2009, formally recognized the 100th Lean Enterprise event conducted within State government. Teresa Hay McMahon, Administrator of the Performance Results Division of the Iowa Department of Management and Chair of the Lean Government Collaborative, received a formal acknowledgement from IBC for this accomplishment.

At that time IBC also announced the creation of the “Iowa Partners In Efficiency Award,” to be presented for the first time in January 2010. This annual honor will recognize the employees or work units in any political subdivision of local, county, or state government that, through the use of Lean tools and techniques, significantly and measurably increase productivity and promote innovation resulting in the improvement of delivery of public services to the benefit of the citizens of Iowa and the private sector...

Read the rest of the story at http://www.iowapolitics.com/index.iml?Article=163348

Sailing a Straight Course in a Time of Variances

The following is from Jim Womack of the Lean Enterprise Institute...

Recently I spent a day as a lean anthropologist, sitting in the back of the room and observing the behavior of senior managers during the monthly leadership team meeting of a large corporation. I hadn't done this in some years and it caused me to reflect again on how organizations do strange things, particularly in difficult times.

The first agenda item of this meeting was to review how the team was progressing on its lean journey, but I quickly noticed a lack of actionable detail in the team's mandate. They wanted to create a "world class" lean enterprise, responsive to customers and all other stakeholders. That's fine, of course (whatever "world class" means -- I always ask and rarely receive a useful answer.) But how? What were the big, cross-organization problems standing in the way? What countermeasures were being pursued to clear the problems in the path? And who was taking responsibility to do what when to implement the best countermeasures?

Given the lack of clear objectives and the lack of progress toward stating them, I was not surprised to feel the relief in the room when the meeting moved on from the high-level overview of "lean" challenges for the whole enterprise to the next agenda item, a discussion of each department's performance on its annual plan. Given that the plan had been developed in the second quarter of 2008 for a fiscal year beginning July 1, 2008, it was not surprising that there were a lot of variances from the plan to explain. But was the original plan wrong? Or had the economy collapsed in the mean time? (It had, of course.) Or was the plan poorly executed? Or was it all three? Or was it two of the three? Or…?

In fact no evidence was presented and no analysis was done. Instead the discussion was about tactical measures to make the situation look as positive as possible by the rapidly-approaching end of the fiscal year. And the path of least resistance was short-term cost cutting including more lay-offs. I was disappointed with the turn of the discussion, but I did learn something. I could see more clearly than I ever had the phenomenon present in every recession as companies rushing to avoid variances in out-of-date plans continue to cut costs and jobs after economies start to stabilize and stock prices start to rise (as is happening across the world right now.) This instinct then shortly turns to a realization that the skeleton crew doesn't have the capacity to deal with revenue growth in a rebounding market. And this is followed by a burst of re-hiring or outsourcing. The intensity of this natural but unfortunate response by senior managers to cut costs – which economist John Maynard Keynes long ago called the "paradox of thrift" – is a key determinant of the length and depth of a recession.

That' a shame for all of society because the recession is longer and deeper than it needs to be. But the loss to the company in this meeting was that the urgent – variances – had once again crowded out the important – the organization's long-term need to find its North Star and steer a steady course toward sustainable, superior performance. In fact, setting a course to stabilize the organization is what senior managers are supposed to do. And this is what senior leadership meetings should be for.

Next time you are in a management team meeting, whether you are a senior manager or working at a lower level of the organization, I hope you will keep a few simple questions in mind. (You might even want to ask them out loud at the start.)

  1. "Are we all clear on what is really important for our organization in order to solve customer problems and succeed in the long term? (Or, stated another way, can we get past the merely urgent.)"
  2. "Are we agreed on what big problems we need to solve as a team?"
  3. "Are we sure what obstacles are in our way and their root causes?"
  4. "Have we – or will we now – assign responsibility for determining the best countermeasures and removing the obstacles?"
  5. "Critically important, do we have a way of surfacing and resolving all of the cross-function, cross-department conflicts that stand in the way of resolving all major problems in any multi-functional organization including ours?"

If you can answer these simple questions -- blowing away the clouds that obscure your North Star -- you’ll be on your way to sustainable success as the world economy recovers in the coming years. And you may avoid disruptive shifts in course to deal with short-term variances in financial performance.

© Copyright 2009 Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc. All Rights reserved. http://www.lean.org/

Friday, June 19, 2009

Presidents Speak Out

 Watch this video

On June 15th, 2009 VIBCO hosted a free Presidents University to teach lean principles to presidents of many companies from around southern New England. Here is what a few of these Presidents had to say about the event. Watch Video Here

Lean thought for the day

Anther pioneer in Toyota

Eiji Toyoda (豊田英二 Toyoda Eiji) born 12 September 1913 near Nagoya in Japan, is a prominent Japanese industrialist, who was largely responsible for bringing Toyota Motor Corporation to profitability and worldwide prominence during his tenure as president and later chairman. Born into a family of textile manufacturers, Eiji Toyoda is the son of Heihachi Toyoda, the brother of Toyoda Loom Works founder Sakichi Toyoda.[1]
He studied engineering at Tokyo Imperial University from 1933 to 1936.[2] During this time Toyoda's cousin Kiichiro established an automobile plant at the Toyoda Automatic Loom Works in the city of Nagoya in central Japan.[2] Toyoda joined his cousin in the plant at the conclusion of his degree and throughout their lives they shared a deep friendship. In 1938, Kiichiro Toyoda asked Eiji Toyoda to oversee construction of a newer factory about 32 km east of Nagoya on the site of a red pine forest in the town of Koromo, later re-named Toyota City.[3] Known as the Honsha ("headquarters") plant, to this day it is considered the "mother factory" for Toyota Motor production facilities worldwide.[4]
Toyoda visited Ford's River Rouge Plant at Dearborn, Michigan, during the early 1950s. He was awed by the scale of the facility but dismissive of what he saw as its inefficiencies.[5] Toyota Motor had been in the business of manufacturing cars for 13 years at this stage, and had produced just over 2,500 automobiles. The Ford plant in contrast manufactured 8,000 vehicles a day.[2] Due to this experience, Toyoda decided to adopt US automobile mass production methods but with a qualitative twist.
Toyoda collaborated with Taiichi Ohno, a veteran loom machinist, to develop core concepts of what later became known as the 'Toyota Way', such as the Kanban system of labeling parts used on assembly lines, which was an early precursor to bar codes.[5] They also fine-tuned the concept of Kaizen, a process of incremental but constant improvements designed to cut production and labor costs while boosting overall quality.[5]
As a managing director of Toyota Motor, Toyoda failed in his first attempt to crack the U.S. market with the underpowered Toyota Crown sedan in the 1950s, but he succeeded with the Toyota Corolla compact in 1968, a year after taking over as president of the company.[5] During the car's development phase, Toyoda, as executive vice-president, had to overcome the objections of then-president Fukio Nakagawa to install a newly developed 1.0-liter engine, air conditioning and automatic transmissions in the Corolla.[4]
Appointed the fifth president of Toyota Motor, Toyoda went on to become the company's longest serving chief executive thus far.[4] In 1981, he stepped down as president and assumed the title of chairman. He was succeeded as president by Shoichiro Toyoda.[4] In 1983, as chairman, Eiji Toyoda decided to compete in the luxury car market, which culminated in the 1989 introduction of Lexus.[4]
Toyoda stepped down as chairman of Toyota in 1994 at the age of 81.[5]

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sakichi Toyoda (豊田 佐吉 Toyoda Sakichi, February 14, 1867October 30, 1930) was a Japanese inventor and industrialist. He was born in Kosai, Shizuoka. The son of a poor carpenter, Toyoda is referred to as the "King of Japanese Inventors". He is often referred to as the father of the Japanese industrial revolution. He is also the founder of Toyota Industries Co., Ltd.
He invented numerous weaving devices. His most famous invention was the automatic power loom in which he implemented the principle of Jidoka (autonomous automation). The principle of Jidoka, which means that the machine stops itself when a problem occurs, became later a part of the Toyota Production System.
Toyoda developed the concept of 5 Whys: When a problem occurs, ask 'why' five times to try to find the source of the problem, then put into place something to prevent the problem from recurring. This concept is used today as part of applying lean methodologies to solve problems, improve quality, and reduce costs. Sakichi had a deap respect for people, which is one of the pillars of Toyota today.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What is a lean workplace?
A workplace that is clean, well-ordered, self-explaining, and self-regulating. People recognize pre-failure conditions and correct abnormalities:
–Directly after they occur
–as soon as they occur, or
- even before they occur


•Question: If motion is moving without working, then what is work?


•Waste is identified and dealt with before it accumulates. Materials and information flow through the workplace at an accelerated pace; changeovers happen quickly and often; and people are flexible in their skills and are spirited in their involvement. There is a rhythm to work.
Our appreciation goes out to Terry Grey, Deputy Director of Rhode Island Environmental Managment who has become a lean advocate. Terry just came back from Iowa where 140 people attended a lean government conference. The opening sentence of Terry's summary tells it all.

Karl and Paul:
Absolutely a fantastic event. Focused not so much on “what is lean” but how to get something going and sustained in an organization. Please feel free to circulate to anyone you have been working with on lean, particularly in lean government. As I say in the end, we’ll be refining our approach based on all the information and suggestions from this. If you want to discuss anything or get any further info, let me know. Once again, thanks for all the help so far. Clearly more to come.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Presidents University Attracts A Huge Audience

Here's a photo gallery from our VIBCO President's University event yesterday (6/15/09).

We had more than 45 LEAN thinkers in attendance from government, business, medicine, non-profit... The LEAN movement is gaining momentum!

Developing a Passion for Lean - Reading List

Attention Lean Thinkers!

Here's a Reading List for your reference - great beach reading if we ever get beach weather this summer! Developing your PASSION FOR LEAN is truly the key to your success - the more you read, the more inspiration and passion you can find for your journey. I've linked to their amazon.com pages so you can easily order them...
the first two books on the list are from the Lean Enterprise Institute (they have a ton of great resources in addition to these) and are available via amazon.com or via the LEI website

Managing to Learn: Using the A3 Management Process to Solve Problems, Gain Agreement, Mentor, and Lead (Paperback)

Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results (Hardcover)

Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment (Hardcover)

Now, Discover Your Strengths (Hardcover)

Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life (Hardcover)

VIBCO Yokoten of the Week

Current State:
Shannon is often assigned projects/tasks verbally or via email. At times projects would be pushed aside or forgotten due to distractions and lack of a proper organizational procedure. She would be asked to report on her progress and often did not have the answers ready. She would run around wasting time looking for the answers.

Shannon knew she needed to find an answer to this problem. She decided to use a dry erase board to list her projects and show the progress she has made on each one. That way as soon as she is assigned a task or project, she writes it on her board! She starts by writing the date the project was assigned, description and any constraints or reasons it may not be completed. Now anyone can come into her office at any time and see what is in Shannon's queue and why it is not finished. Now nothing gets forgotten and Shannon never has to worry about explaining why certain projects take longer than expected.

Wastes Eliminated:

Leaders must face reality.
Reality starts with the person in charge. Leaders need to look themselves in the mirror and recognize their role in creating the problems—then gather their teams together and gain agreement about the root causes. Widespread recognition of reality is the crucial step before problems can be solved. Attempting to find short-term fixes that address the symptoms of the crisis only ensures the organization will wind up back in the same predicament. To see the real reasons for the crisis, everyone on the leadership team must tell the whole truth. Everyone on the team must be candid in sharing the entire truth, no matter how painful it is. How can you solve problems if you don't acknowledge them?

Monday, June 15, 2009

VIBCO hosted another presidents tour and event with over 50 attendees. We had a cross section of people and industries including: manufacturers, service companies, medical practitioners, government officials. To date we have hosted more than 150 people at these events and over 800 on plant tours. We are spreading the passion of lean throughtout our state and beyond.

Friday, June 12, 2009

LeanRI at the Gaspee Tea Party

A group of people representing LeanRI.org gathered on the steps of the Rhode Island Statehouse to support the Gaspee Tea Party. The Gaspee Tea Party was organized to protest excessive taxes and excessive government spending. LeanRI believes that it is though lean principles that these taxes and excessive spending can be reigned in. Lean principles teaches us that through the elimination of waste we can decrease expense. If government can adopt lean principles, eliminate waste, they can then provide better services with the current resources and we can all benefit.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Lean thought for the day

Lean across govenment agencies:
How to allign Multi-Agency Government Processes that involve hand-offs among multiple government agencies or offices pose unique challenges and opportunities. Each agency has its own internal process that interfaces with other agencies’ processes. These agency-specific processes may not be well-aligned and process “ownership” boundaries may not be clear. Value stream mapping can be a powerful tool for building cross-agency understanding, trust, and alignment. Kaizen (continuous improvemtent) events can help improve internal agency processes that interface with the multi-agency process. Leadership and political will across the participating agencies is typically needed to navigate obstacles arising from differences in agencies’ missions, goals, and organizational cultures.
Think carefully about which processes types you want to target first and set realistic expectations for results.
By focusing on improving the process and not pointing fingers on people managment and line workers can eliminate waste by finding solutions together.

Lean thought for the day

From Wikopedia
Lean Government is a term used, mostly in the United States and Canada but increasingly more in international public administration circles, to describe an evidence based process for the state to identify the most efficient and value added way to provide needed government services. As more and more government services are delivered electronically,[1][2] Lean Government initiatives are commonly applications of Lean IT.
The practice uses a process called Value Stream Mapping to analyze administrative processes. The results are used to design technology use, task completion and staffing patterns to meet the identified need.
Lean Government practices promote and transform the state into an efficient operation that ebbs and flow with identified needs for infrastructure, education and other services based on the political changes in policy. Lean Government proponents generally believe that the government should cut out "waste" and "inefficiency" from the State, which will result in overall better services and more value for tax supported necessities.
Lean government does not necessary promote low taxes only efficient use of those taxes levied. Tax policy is discerned by the legislative and executive branches of government with oversight of the judicial branch of government. Lean Government is implemented by the administrative function of government through executive order, legislative mandate or departmental administrative decisions.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lean thought for the day

Find a way to make it their idea. There is a saying "people support what they create" and this is very true. When people generate or help to develop an idea they are more likely to be engaged and to support it. Many times the kaizen leader has a great idea, or sees a golden opportunity to apply a textbook lean concept to a process. The people working in that process may not see it that way. Rather than fight over an idea, grapple with resistance and cause people to disengage from kaizen it is best to clarify and agree on the problem and ask them for ideas. Even if it is 30% wrong, let them try it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

VIBCO Yokoten of the Week

Current State:
Giovanni used a single monitor and needed to have multiple applications opened simultaneously. It took a long time to navigate between all the applications and this had a negative impact on customer service levels - particularly when there were several customers needing Giovanni's attention.

Giovanni had the idea that if he added a monitor he could do more for the customer faster with less repetitive motion. And it worked great! So he added a 3rd monitor and, guess what? It worked even better! He found that he could reduce his call time and increase efficiency while improving the level of service to the customer. Ultimately, Giovanni added a 4th monitor and again showed increased efficiency and faster results for all customers (internal and external)!

Is a 5th Monitor on the horizon? To be continued…

Wastes Eliminated:
Under Utilization

Lean thought for the day

Some pointers on employee development:
Assess current and potential employees objectively. The use of well developed and well validated measures of personality, technical skills, values and cognitive ability consistently lead to higher-quality hiring and promotion decisions.
Create growth opportunities. Survey findings consistently indicate that providing superior growth and development opportunities increases job satisfaction and reduces turnover. Remember that training and development is part of the "total rewards" package that can be offered to employees, and that focusing on skill development is beneficial to individual workers and the company as a whole.
Develop great leaders The stability and excellence of a company's leadership is critically important to its continued success. Do your employees view leaders as committed to the long haul and committed to their individual growth and success?
Track satisfaction. The job satisfaction of individuals, teams and the organization as a whole often serves as a "leading indicator" for operational metrics such as sales, customer satisfaction and profitability. Frequently and consistently monitor job satisfaction via both formal and informal means.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Added New Resource

Please note that I have added a new resource - the "Lean in Government Starter Kit"

This is a great introduction to lean and how government agencies can and are using lean!

(Thanks to Janet C. for the link!)

Lean thought for the day

"You can observe a lot just by watching." --Yogi Berra
"If you see a snake, just kill it - don't appoint a committee on snakes." - H. Ross Perot
"Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I'll understand." -Chinese Proverb

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lean thought for the day

Do You Understand the System of Profound Knowledge?
W. Edwards Deming said "without theory there is no learning" while Taiichi Ohno said "understanding means doing." Deming left a great legacy with his Theory of Profound Knowledge which if followed allows the wayward Western organization to transform itself into one that excels and improves continuously. It could be said that Ohno and others valued practice over theory and transformed Toyota.
Deming explains that Western organizations must transform themselves, and that a system cannot transform itself without first understanding itself. One who is part of the system cannot understand the whole without first stepping outside of it and looking in. Deming called this developing a system of profound knowledge:
The first step is transformation of the individual. This transformation is discontinuous. It comes from understanding of the system of profound knowledge. The individual, transformed, will perceive new meaning to his life, to events, to numbers, to interactions between people.
Once the individual understands the system of profound knowledge, he will apply its principles in every kind of relationship with other people. He will have a basis for judgment of his own decisions and for transformation of the organizations that he belongs to. The individual, once transformed, will:
- Set an example- Be a good listener, but will not compromise- Continually teach other people- Help people to pull away from their current practice and beliefs and move into the new philosophy without a feeling of guilt about the past

Lean thought for the day

These are the times that try men's souls. Thomas Paine said these prophetic words almost two hundred and thirty five years ago on the eve of the American revolution. What we are experiencing in our country today is our 1776 and we must do all that we can to save our country and our way of life. Through best practices and lean thinking we can increase productivity dramatically and begin change the paradigm. In troubled times there is tremendous opportunity and we must seize the day and begin the journey

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Lean thought for the day

The three simple keys to lean leadership

1) Go see- Sr. managment must spend time in the front lines

2) Ask why- use this technique daily to get to the root cause of the problem

3) Show respect - "respect people at all times"

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Introducing: The Yokoten of the Week

Here at VIBCO we have a very special environment! All VIBCO employees really run their own small business and are empowered to improve their own day-to-day processes as long as they "side ways share" (yokoten) the improvements.

I will be sharing one of these once a week in light of our Lean journey and maybe YOU can eliminate some waste from your day!

Current State:
When Lucy needed to use her wrench she would have to look at each end to be sure it was the correct side.Improvement:
Lucy cut the end off that was unused eliminating looking.

Wastes Eliminated:
Under Utilization

Lean thought for the day

What is a “Lean Culture”?

An organization’s predominating attitudes and behaviors resulting from individual and collective continuous improvements and innovations that begin to occur naturally. As obstacles and opportunities become apparent (eyes to see), action occurs, waste begins to vanish, processes flow smoother, and “True North” is realized.

Paul Cary, Lean Sensei

Monday, June 1, 2009

Lean thought for the day

A reflection on GM
"What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight - it's the size of the fight in the dog."
Kaizen. The rise and fall of countless civilizations attest to the fact that is not how big, strong or good you are but how hard you are working to improve that makes the difference over time. It is not the past revenues, reputation, bank account or accumulated glories and credentials that matter. All of those thinks can be washed away in a week. What matters is whether you can pick up and keep fighting, building and improving.

Lean thought for the day

“How do we implement the kaizen ideas which are accepted?” If the ideas are kept local and small, the individual or team who generates the kaizen idea will be able to implement the idea most of the time. When it is an issue of skill or ability to make the changes either physically or in terms of macros, computer code or revision of procedures and standards, the long-term solution is to cross-train and enhance skills of people to enable them to implement suggestions. By expanding the skills of workers to build their own tools, equipment, workstations, visual controls and mistake proofing devices and so forth we can reduce the bottleneck in implementing kaizen ideas caused by reliance on a limited number of skilled engineers, technicians or maintenance people.

The primary motivator for kaizen idea generation should be the opportunity for individuals to learn and grow. For this reason many companies in will make the suggestion program a part of the human resource devleopment organization rather than operations or engineering. The aim is not to teach people technical skills but to teach people how to analyze processes, define value and waste and to solve problems. These are highly valuable, portable skills for a worker at any level in the organization. Beyond problem solving, learning through the kaizen idea generation process can involve improved writing skills, presentation skills, team leadership skills and many other fundamentals of management. engineers, technicians or maintenance people.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Lean thought for the day

Life improves slowly and goes wrong fast, and only catastrophe is clearly visible
~ Edward Teller

That may seem like a pessimistic comment, but we can also see it as optimistic if for example we look at this next quote:

No endeavor that is worthwhile is simple in prospect; if it is right, it will be simple in retrospect.
~ Edward Teller

Nothing seems easy or obvious until after it is done. A common often heard statement, when people see simple Lean systems functioning is "That's common sense!"
But common sense is far from common when you are working to change the current state.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A message from a CEO

In our current economic situation, every little thing we buy or do affects someone else and perhaps even their job. So, after reading this email, I think this lady is on the right track. Let's get behind her!!
My grandson likes Hershey's candy. It is marked made in Mexico now. So I do not buy it any more. My favorite toothpaste Colgate is made in Mexico now. I have switched to Crest. You have to read the labels on everything.
This past weekend I was at Kroger. I needed 60W light bulbs and Bounce dryer sheets. I was in the light bulb aisle and right next to the GE brand I normally buy was an off brand labeled, "Everyday Value." I picked up both types of bulbs and compared the stats - they were the same except for the price. The GE bulbs were more money than the Everyday Value brand but the thing that surprised me the most was the fact that GE was made in MEXICO and the Everyday Value brand was made in - get ready for this – the USA in a company in Cleveland , Ohio .
So throw out the myth that you cannot find products you use every day that are made right here.
So on to another aisle - Bounce Dryer Sheets....yep, you guessed it, Bounce cost more money and is made in Canada . The Everyday Value brand was less money and MADE IN THE USA! I did laundry yesterday and the dryer sheets performed just like the Bounce Free I have been using for years and at almost half the price!
So my challenge to you is to start reading the labels when you shop for everyday things and see what you can find that is made in the USA – the job you save may be your own or your neighbors!
If you accept the challenge, pass this on to others in your address book so we can all start buying American, one light bulb at a time! Stop buying from China or Mexico.......
(We should have awakened a decade ago......)
Let's get with the program.... help our fellow Americans keep their jobs and create more jobs here in the U.S.A.

John R. Kovalcik

Lean thought for the day

Culture of Fulfillment
In my mind, the greatest leaders create a culture of fulfillment, thereby gaining such desired benefits as increased productivity, greater retention, lower costs, and cultural differentiation.

1) Productivity. People who find fulfillment in their jobs work with enthusiasm, passion, and attention to quality—mostly because they develop a sense of ownership and take pride in what they are doing. They’ll arrive early, stay later, pitch in outside their area of responsibility and seek ways to improve their performance—all with-out being asked.

2) Greater retention and lower costs. People hang on to fulfilling jobs as long as they can, knowing that their chances of finding another one are slim. And fulfilled employees attract other good employees, either by actively recruiting them or by telling friends about their enthusiasm for their work. This results in lower costs for recruiting, hiring, and retaining.

3) Cultural differentiation. People begin to take greater interest in their colleagues, helping them find meaning and relevance in their work and find better ways to gauge their own success. This gives them a greater sense of meaning while creating a sustainable cultural advantage.

Lencioni, Patrick. “Greatest Leaders.” Academy Leadership. 02 Oct. 2008.

28 May. 2009 http://www.academyleadership.com/news.asp?page=article44

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lean thought for the day

10 Ways that Kaizen Develops Better Leaders

1. Attention. The leader well-heeled in kaizen notices the small things and is bothered by them if they seem abnormal.

2. Vision. The practice of kaizen gives a leader an idea of what is possible, an image of the ideal, enabling long-term thinking instead of a focus on the nearest alligator of daily firefighting.

3. Insight into the business is developed through reflection on problems, their root causes and how to solve them.

4. Teamwork is part and parcel of leadership that is strengthened by effectively facilitating kaizen events or coaching others on turning their ideas into reality through suggestion schemes.

5. Advancing your team member's careers by walking along side them on their learning journey, mentoring them and keeping them from wavering on the path of the creative thinking process is also a leadership habit kaizen develops.

6. Linking the impact of many small, practical improvements requires that the up and coming leader become more familiar in the financial language and formulas of her company, despite its limitations, in order to link these actions to the top level management agenda.

7. Clarity in the mind of the leader well-heeled is developed through observation during kaizen activity, resulting high situational awareness that is not easily distracted by misdirection, but able to focus on eliminating waste, variation and overburden systematically.

8. Respect. Kaizen teaches respect for people, time, resources, and differences in viewpoint, all qualities of an effective leader.

9. Objectivity is the ability to face and manage by fact and kaizen develops this in a leader by requiring them to practice genchi genbutsu, by checking one's assumptions by testing them through experimentation, and turning the PDCA cycle. Connections are built between internal customer-supplier relationships, making stronger personal relationships as well as a stronger organization through kaizen.

10. Connections are built between internal customer-supplier relationships, making stronger personal relationships as well as a stronger organization through kaizen.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lean thought for the day

Yesterday morning at 7:00 I gathered with about two hundred people at the Vietnam Memorial in back of the Veterans Cemetery in Exeter, R.I. honoring those some 250 men who paid the ultimate price. I am a Vietnam Veteran and not a day goes by that I don't think of the fallen heroes who ransomed our freedom. On one of the plaques was the name George Bourne he graduated with me from high school in 1966. I knew George as a almost painfully shy person who didn't say much but I read that he gave his life to save his fellow men.
lean R.I. is a way of honoring their memory by respecting the gifts we have been given and using our gifts wisely and efficiently. We must become a more efficient nation the private sector as well as in government and nonprofits.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lean thought for the day

The first step is transformation of the individual. This transformation is discontinuous. It comes from understanding of the system of profound knowledge. The individual, transformed, will perceive new meaning to his life, to events, to numbers, to interactions between people.
Once the individual understands the system of profound knowledge, he will apply its principles in every kind of relationship with other people. He will have a basis for judgment of his own decisions and for transformation of the organizations that he belongs to. The individual, once transformed, will:
- Set an example- Be a good listener, but will not compromise- Continually teach other people- Help people to pull away from their current practice and beliefs and move into the new philosophy without a feeling of guilt about the past
This is indeed a high bar for personal transformation. If as Taiichi Ohno says "understanding is doing" then personally, I am far from transformed.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

VIBCO to Host President's Event on 6/15 - "Learning to See"

PRESIDENT’S EVENT - “Learning to See”
What does every organization have in common? Waste. It is everywhere - all throughout your business. It’s in your inventory, your accounts payable processes, your maintenance program, your production process and (gasp!) it’s in your very own office. Learn to see waste and start acquiring the tools to eliminate it by participating in the next VIBCO University President’s Event. President’s Events are open to any company officer or senior level executive.

You will be welcomed with a few brief remarks over coffee and pastries and then will immediately break into small groups for a 1.5 hour plant tour where you will see, first hand, the unbelievable results of getting lean. This is your opportunity to directly interact with the Vibration Nation... VIBCO employees! Ask questions and get real answers from the folks actually doing the work. They’ll share their lean transformation stories and demonstrate how they are actively removing waste from their work flow.

Once the tour is complete, you will participate in an interactive overview of “lean thinking”. This is the first step to building your lean toolbox. You will absolutely take away ideas that you can start implementing now... passion, culture, leadership, strategic deployment. Prepare to get to work!

VIBCO Vibrators is firmly committed to the sideways sharing of our knowledge and experience - yokoten. We believe in the collective power of lean to transform our economy and create a better future. That is why we host these events. All we ask is that you share the knowledge, inspiration and experience you have with us with others in your organization and your network.

Plus... Once you have attended a President’s Event, any of your staff are welcome to participate (always at no charge) in any VIBCO University lean training course, space permitting. Courses are run weekly, typically on Thursdays. Topics include an Introduction to Lean, Kaizen Events, Value Stream Mapping, and more.

The next President’s Event is:
8:00am - 12:00pm
VIBCO World Headquarters: 75 Stilson Road, Wyoming, RI

To register, please call 401-539-2392 or email karlw@vibco.com

Lean thought for the day

What is Trust and Why is it Important?

In its simplest form, trust can be described as the belief that those on whom we depend will meet our positive expectations of them. While this may sound the same as confidence, they are different. Trust is not always rooted in past experience with others, whereas confidence generally results from specific experiences with people and is built on reason and fact. In contrast, trust is based in part on faith. We sometimes give our trust in spite of evidence that suggests we should feel some caution, if not outright suspicion, about relying on another.

“What is Trust and Why is it Important?.” Academy Leadership. 17 Apr. 2009.

21 May. 2009 http://www.academyleadership.com/news.asp?page=article52

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lean thought for the day

Words of wisdom from Shigeo Shingo

Those who are always satisfied with the current situation and do not question it will never be able to see problems; the status quo is a comfort to them. On the other hand, those who do question will find that, not only can they see the problem, but the very act of asking will lead them halfway to a solution.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lean thought for the day

Breaking Down Barriers to Continuous Flow

One way to look at lean is that it's all about enabling the continuous flow of actions, information, materials, services and cash in such a way that these things generate goodness, however you may define that. The theory is that when things flow they take less time and resources. When this theory fails, lean says that a problem has been exposed and that by solving this problem we win in two ways: by enabling flow and by getting rid of that problem. Relentless focus on continuous flow can create a positive feedback loop.

Miller, Jon. “Breaking Down Barriers to Continuous Flow.” gemba panta rei. 28 Jan. 2008.

04 May 2009


Friday, May 15, 2009

Lean thought for the day

Current budget constraints in the public sector require an innovative response from legislators, public administrators and government employees. Legislators must set the course with directive statutory specific policy, administrators must develop the management plan to carry out those mandates and government employees must remain flexible and committed to the personal transformation required to do public business in a new leaner way. Bob Dylan said it right…the times they are a changing. Citizens are demanding ethical and responsible government.

Many states are transforming to a lean culture including: Iowa, Minnesota and Florida.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lean thought for the day

My Recipe for a Lean Transformation.

  • 1 strong dose of leadership involvement
  • Seasoned heavily with tacit learning
  • Bast entire enterprise with employee empowerment
  • Sprinkle frequently with celebrations
  • Add large and small chunks of continuous improvements
  • Incorporate a potpourri of fun
  • Continuously stir with Socratic teaching
  • Season daily with humility
  • Bake relentlessly in pursuit of perfection

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lean Thought For The Day

Lean success comes from cultural acceptance and ownership. This is how it breaks down!

Demographic model
  • 2.5% Innovators (actively driving change)
  • 13.5% Early Innovators (looking for change)
  • 34% Early Majority (open to change)
  • 34% Late majority (Skeptics)
  • 16% Laggards (Concrete heads)

What category do you fall under?

There are a lot of factors in driving success and the formula/recipe is complex – if you fail to plan then you will plan to fail.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Asking the 5 Why's!

Finding the root cause of a problem...you have to dig deep! Ask the 5 whys!

The 5 Whys is a question-asking method used to explore the cause/effect relationships underlying a particular problem. Ultimately, the goal of applying the 5 Whys method is to determine a root cause of a defect or problem.

My car will not start. (the problem)
Why? - The battery is dead. (first why)
Why? - The alternator is not functioning. (second why)
Why? - The alternator belt has broken. (third why)
Why? - The alternator belt was well beyond its useful service life and has never been replaced. (fourth why)
Why? - I have not been maintaining my car according to the recommended service schedule. (fifth why, root cause).

Sometimes it takes asking fewer or more whys to get to the root cause.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Lean thought for the day

Lean thinkers are intuitive

Intuition can be developed through practice and immersion. Practice is doing the same thing so many times that you no more know that you know. Imagine how Roger Federer swings his tennis racket, without thinking and knowing how exactly he achieves whatever he achieves!
Immersion means such a deep experience that it enters the implicit memory and stays firmly lodged without your being aware it is there. It equates with what sports psychologists call "flow" or being "in the zone."

Friday, May 8, 2009

Lean thought for the day

When striving towards a goal, you must focus on what you want to obtain and avoid the impulse to go back to what you know and to what is comfortable. When Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortez landed in Mexico, one of his first orders to his men was to burn the ships. Cortez was committed to his mission and did not want to allow himself or his men the option of going back to Spain. By removing this option, Cortez and his men were forced to focus on how they could make the mission successful.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Lean thought for the day

We hear the buzz words all the time "lean culture." After much thought and reflection on my journey I came up with the following definition.

What is a lean culture?

An organization’s predominating attitudes and behaviors resulting from individual and collective continuous improvements and innovations that begin to occur naturally. As obstacles and opportunities become apparent, action occurs, waste begins to vanish, processes flow smoother, and True North is realized.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lean thought for the day

When eliminating waste you first have to have the "eyes" to see it. Waste can be broken down into eight identifiable wastes:
  1. Waiting
  2. Defects
  3. Transportation
  4. Overproduction
  5. Over processing
  6. Motion
  7. Inventory
  8. Under utilization

Once you are able to recognize the waste you must then act on it and apply the appropriate "lean tool" to eliminate or reduce the waste.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Lean Thought For The Day

"You can't control the wind, but you can adjust the sails."

Often times we wait for the economy to get better or for customers to call. We need to look inward at processes that we have control over and identify waste in order to eliminate or reduce it.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Lean Thought For The Day

How much Lean could this person have done in the time it took to discuss and decide that they were too busy to do Lean? Lots.

Think of the fable of the tortoise and the hare. Dashing from one busy project review or status meeting like a hare, people get done far less than they think, while the tortoise that takes a moment to do a little improvements each day finds they have more time in a day than they imaged. In Japan there is an expression says "cranes live for one thousand years, turtles for ten thousand years." Do turtles take the long view because they live long, or do they live long because they take the long view?

Miller, Jon. “Five Questions to Ask When You Hear We’re too busy for Lean.” gemba panta rei. 26 Nov. 2007.

04 May 2009 http://www.gembapantarei.com/2007/11/five_questions_to_ask_when_you_hear_were_too_busy.html

Lean thought for the day

The definition of lean:

Lean is a systematic approach to identify and eliminate waste through continuous improvement by flowing the product/service at the pull of the customer (internal/external), while relentlessly pursuing perfection.

Note: At it's highest level "lean thinking" becomes part of the DNA of the organization, it becomes as natural as breathing, "it is in the air."

Friday, May 1, 2009

Lean thought for the day

"Simplicity means the achievement of maximum effect with minimal means"

Dr. Koichi Kawana

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lean Thought For The Day

How practical is Lean training?

While there is a minimum of Lean awareness training needed at the beginning of a Lean transformation to establish what and why, the vast majority of training should be practical in nature, focusing on what and how. When people are too busy to participate in a training class, consider how you can make the class more attractive by giving the learner new skills to solve specific problems they have in their work. If 80% of the training is not focused on applying ideas to tools to solve their problems, it is not practical enough for a busy person.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

First Steps

The first step in transforming an traditional organization into to a "lean organization" is to educate yourself: visiting lean blogs, reading books on lean, touring lean organizations, attending lean seminars. These will all be helpful, most helpful would be to visit a lean organization and see for yourself the dramatic transformation that is possible by embracing a lean culture.

Lean Thought For The Day

"It is not mandatory to improve. Failure is an option."
~ Dr. W. Edwards Deming

Monday, April 27, 2009

Representative Rod Driver visits VIBCO

True to his word, RI State Representative Rod Driver (D-Dist. 39) visited VIBCO Vibrators this morning! Members of the VIBCO Vibrators Lean Team met Rep. Driver at the Operation Clean Government Public Affairs Forum this weekend and extended an invitation to visit VIBCO headquarters and see, first hand, how going lean has and continues to transform the company.

Rep. Driver and his wife, Carol, got to see first hand how VIBCO employees embody "the relentless pursuit of perfection" and how ready, willing and able they are to share their experiences, passion and knowledge with any and all who want to learn.

Rep. Driver called it "an eye-opening experience."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Operation Clean Government

Several members of LeanRI were on hand to talk lean as people arrived at this event. Many people who were attending the event stopped by our booth to say hello and learn a bit more about Lean.  Thanks to all who attended and helped with our booth.

We hope to see you this Saturday morning at the Operation Clean Government Public Affairs Forum. We will be attending the event at the Quonset "O" Club at 8:45. (200 Lt. James Brown Road, North Kingstown, RI)

This forum on the economic state of Rhode Island will be moderated by local radio talk show host and personality Dan Yorke. The panel will include, Frank Caprio, RI General Treasurer, Elizabeth Dennigan, Representative, House Finance Committee, Leonard Lardaro, PH.D., Professor of Economics, University of RI, Gary Sasse, Director, RI Department of Administration and John Hazen White, President / CEO Taco, Inc. This should prove to be a provocative discussion by the panel of experts on the economy of Rhode Island. The public is invited to attend.

Find out more by visiting the Operation Clean Government website Here.