2008 Baldrige Quality Award Winners Announced

From the press release:

The 2008 Baldrige Award recipients include:

The 2008 Baldrige Award recipients were selected from a field of 85 applicants. All of the applicants were evaluated rigorously by an independent board of examiners in seven areas: leadership; strategic planning; customer and market focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; workforce focus; process management; and results. The evaluation process for each of the recipients included about 1,000 hours of review and an on-site visit by a team of examiners to clarify questions and verify information in the applications.

See the full press release here.

Experts Say Bailout Will Not Bailout Chrysler

A wide spectrum of opinions are abound regarding the bailout. Here is one with some numbers, not politics, for us to contemplate: Full Article Here

Some excerpts:

"Auto sales are expected to fall from 13.3 million cars and trucks to 12.2 million vehicles next year, the lowest level in 26 years, according to a University of Michigan forecast released Friday.

"That's down nearly four million cars and trucks from the 16.1 million sold in the United States last year. The decline is almost double the 2.1 million cars and trucks Chrysler sold last year.

"Sales are expected to recover somewhat to 13.6 million vehicles in 2010. But that's far fewer than the nearly 17 million vehicles automakers sold annually earlier this decade.

"Chrysler is the most likely to file bankruptcy because it has little business outside of the United States to cushion it in a deep recession here"

(this makes sense, but consider the rumor that GM will be using $1B of the bailout money to invest in Brazilian auto markets. This has only been refuted by one source that I have found, here.

"Craig Fitzgerald, who heads the automotive practice at Southfield-based Plante & Moran PLLC, an accounting and business consulting firm, said domestic automakers might have to close at least 10 assembly plants to align vehicle production with demand."

"We disagree with the notion that the domestic industry is a herd of dinosaurs and destined to fail, Anderson said.

Wow, well at least their was some optimism in all of this, although Mr. Anderson was referring to a complete meltdown! Mr. Anderson and colleagues, may we conclude from your expert opinion that the destiny of the Big Three is ultimately in their hands and not those of the government?

For me, some questions come to mind: How is the government going to increase sales of cars by 4 million per year? Selling hybrid cars? Sorry, overpriced. Tell a young working family making $15/hour to purchase a $25,000 vehicle and report on the response o.k.? Gas prices have come back down and SUV/truck sales are trending back up, perhaps some pent up demand for work trucks is now being realized. Perhaps we don't realize the need for truck owners and the usefulness that trucks provide for people and the economy:

As one blog reader commented to a condescending (if not scathing) criticism of rural truck owners being ignorant: "Right, I'm an idiot for hauling wood in my Dodge Ram so I don't need to fuel my home with 'Big Oil'. Try hauling a thousand logs in your Prius, dude." To his point, in fact, oil demand is dropping and will continue to do so in the U.S. Despite this green trend, I contend that truck and SUV sales will continue to climb due to their usefulness, not willful ignorance as many critics tend to claim.

Before anyone makes the decision that the government can do work miracles for all of us followers...ask yourself the following questions: 1) has the government fixed their own house yet? 2) medicare, social security and a long list of other entitlements are in risk of insolvency. As taxpayers, do we want to take on the burden of adding auto manufacturing to the list?

The last time (that I know of) the government was awarded accolades from industry, i.e., people, was when the NJ Chamber of Commerce gave the TWI Service an "Industry Award". And truth be told, it was volunteers from industry that made the TWI Service a success along with the 1.7 million supervisors and their managers who had the common sense to put the fate of industry into the hands of people that were closest to the customer. In addition these volunteers had to do a whole lot of ignoring the government machine to pull it all off. But that was then and this is now. Public sentiment is different today then it was in 1945.

With that said, does anyone have any confidence today that the government will fix this problem, or are they really just buying votes with our taxpayer dollars?

[Latin American Herald Tribune]
[Market Watch]
[Energy Information Administration]



This Page Left Intentionally Blank

My house rule is this: if I have to pick up toys then they go in the trash. So you can imagine my excitement when I saw these:

I've seen this kind of thing in manuals and textbooks, but kids' games? Other kids' games we own will provide a couple of blanks so you can make your own cards, or replace one if others are lost - always sure to happen. But this card is pure waste. What is the point? They even went so far as to rhyme the wasteful activity!



IW Webcast - Toyota Talent - Job Instruction

Scheduled for December 18, 2008 with author David Meier. This book is jammed full with Job Instruction!

Sign up for the webcast following the link: http://www.industryweek.com/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=628

Read up on the topic before Dec 18...Amazon has some great deals on this must read book!

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Yugo - I had no idea.

The last ever Yugo will roll off the hand built production line today.

Remarkable. Hand built cars for the equivalent of US$5K and a cult following to boot. I thought these things were gone years ago. Scions they are not, but the owners in the video couldn't be more proud of their pimped out rides!

Video Links:

Pimp my Yugo!

Leading by Example - Deputy Prime Minister takes you for a ride in his Yugo - Convertible!


Job Instruction Breakdown Sheets Help Design Workcell Training

Another Job Instruction Session is almost in the can this week...

Job Breakdown Sheets help us see work in new ways. The example this week is in a workcell and with the team leader of that workcell. She wrote one job breakdown sheet for the entire job about (40 steps) in the workcell. Naturally, she had many questions:

1) "This sheet feels like it is too long, with too many steps, so we are not using this the way I think we should."

A JBS should be about 5-7 steps and no more than 10 if you can help it. Why? That's about all one person can retain in their memory. The problem she discovered was that many thought the JBS should be used as a reference. So, the natural inclination was to put it all in one sheet so it was seen as, "the book". The result is that no one really used it effectively. Bottom Line: Use the JI-KISS principle: Keep It Short & Simple.

2) "I know that breakdown sheets should be short, but I don't see anyway to break this job down any further."

To the genba we go! A further analysis of her 40 step job found logical stopping points in the job. This helped the team leader see where she could break the job down from one job into six tasks, two of them important quality checks. Doing this will help her achieve several goals that she has been struggling to meet:

Emphasizing quality checks. Breaking the quality checks out separately will help emphasize the key points of the job.

Meeting production goals. Currently, she does a lot of follow-up when training people because the training process is so lengthy - due to the one, 40 step JBS. By breaking it into six parts, she can train a person in one part and monitor the person in the workcell while working on the other five parts. Her plan will be to stagger the training throughout the day, and this is easier for her to do if the job is in smaller, digestible chunks. Bottom Line: the trainee is trained on the job, the team lead maintains a reasonable production level vs. zero, and she can monitor the trainee at the same time.

3) "We have loaded up the JBS with pictures. Should we have done that?"

Visual training aids are great. Pictures do speak a thousand words. Still, I hesitate to load up the pictures in a JBS for several reasons and only do so as a last resort:

Pictures often need updating. Products, materials, methods and tools will change as kaizen continues. Pictures need to be updated accordingly. This makes the cost of training go up and the delays of effective training increase. And if the JBS isn't updated immediately, the credibility of management support functions diminishes. Worse yet, the trainer is more inclined to NOT use the JBS because it is not up-to-date: "that isn't right anyway, so I'll just wing it."

Physical or Visual Aids in the Workplace are Better. If you are showing somebody how to route a flexible cable circuit through a molded assembly, nothing beats a physical model of the work itself. Make up a sample and keep it at the point of use. Your training aid is always up-to-date this way because the worker can create a new sample as needed. Picture maintenance is no longer required. This helps us also understand why the best JBS are usually written in pencil: the leaders in the area change it immediately to reflect the best standardized workplace practice.

Pictures work BEST when there is no other way to train. Sometimes a picture on the JBS is necessary. Perhaps you need a diagram of an assembly. Or perhaps a keypoint is related to something that can not be seen in the workplace, so a picture helps you describe the keypoint better. In a past life, a technician used x-rays of welded assemblies (he kept them from inspections) to show me how certain structures we designed were made. In this case the picture helped him do a better job of training.

The key point here is this:

The JBS is an aid FOR the trainer, it is NOT meant to replace her.

If your intent is to have documents replace your trainers, then you do not need Job Instruction Training, you need technical writers and illustrators.

Hopefully these tips help you like they are helping this team leader.

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Auto Bailouts - GM Facts and Fiction??

Here is a website of great interest to millions of people - right now. There are a lot of problems with the U.S. auto industry...there is not one single solution or one single problem we can point a finger at. I'm not sure if this website helps or hurts as we try to grasp the situation.

The problem I have with the bailout is that ultimately, we are just injecting some cash into a business that may or may not be used for growth and we may or may not see any of it returned to us taxpayers. It just isn't clear what will happen with that $25 billion. The Big Question I have for the Big Government regarding the Big Three is, will this bailout PREVENT an auto industry crash - helping us rightfully avoid the catastrophe promised if they do fail? My feeling is that if the Big Three fail it is of their own doing - is this something the government can prevent without screwing it up in the future? I suppose that there are some protectionist measures that could occur, but that will most likely result in increased costs for consumers...

As taxpayers then, shouldn't we be calling for the government to create manufacturing incentives for the creation of new domestic car companies with this bailout, which is going to happen with our without our consent? Not to be too pessimistic, but do we expect the Big 3 to change the overhead structure of their health care and pension legacy costs, union relations, supply chain and purchasing practices anytime soon? A lot has to happen to be competitive with cash-flush Toyota and others.

The only thing that is going to change the Big 3 is the Big 3 themselves. Economic conditions, tax incentives, government policy and consumers will change - but whether or not the Big 3 anticipate problems and proactively adapt to these changes is ultimately up to them, is it not?



Microsoft Office 2007 Command Converter - Heaping Waste

In the spirit of the ever lengthening Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas-Holiday season, I would like to spread a little joy around...

And what a joy it is in learning a practically brand new interface in Office 2007 just so I can get the same results obtained in 2003! The new ribbon menu does have a new, certain flavor to it, I think I detect a dash of "throw-my-laptop-out-the-window" in there.

If you are going through the conversion from Office 2003 to 2007, it's like a Lean journey, its endless. Except in this journey their is no pursuit of perfection. Instead, you are embarking on an endless journey for your favorite 2003 commands that have simply vanished, because someone had a great idea that 300 million icons needed a facelift.

Thankfully, Microsoft has sort of redeemed themselves, well o.k., not really. But they are trying by heaping some more waste on top of the 2007 cesspool. Follow this link to a Flash converter for your 2003 commands. When you click on the commands, the screen instantly switches over to a Flash animation of where that same command is in 2007. You won't recognize your long lost friends in the new 2007 neighborhood, but you sure will be glad you found them!

THANKS, Microsoft, for adding another whole layer of work to this infuriating suite!



It's a Waste Free Christmas Season, Charlie Brown!

I love Christmas. And since Halloween is over, the Christmas season has unofficially begun. (I heard the all Christmas song radio station this weekend.) AAAAGGGHHH!

There is a lot of inherent waste when its comes to Christmas. Return gifts in the subsequent days after the big day come to mind. With all that said, I don't have any strong feelings about some of the silly things that go along with the season - (like playing Silent Night 480,000 times in two months.)

There are two things that come to mind though and they aren't really Christmas' fault so we can rail on them for a moment:

1) The inevitable and annual Stepping on a Lego in the Middle of the Night event,

2) Packaging! You know what I mean. All of the joy in gift giving results in 15 trash bags of cheap cardboard nobody will recycle, enough blister packs to mold a new trunk lid for a Saturn Vue, 1,500 "anti-theft" steel twisty ties, several lacerations and one missing tooth!!!

Amazon has recognized consumers "wrap rage" is launching some new waste-free-packaging products through their "Frustration-Free" products. Check it out. When its time to open presents, you can skip the need for wire cutters, blowtorches, safety goggles and band-aids this year. Plus you can do your part to reduce landfill waste.

There are customer pictures and videos of gift opening mishaps at this site as well, and you can even upload your own.



Standardizing Waste using 5S

I've railed on mainstream 5S programs for quite sometime now. Thanks for enduring this. The latest travesty was the 5S article in the Wall Street Journal. A lot of companies are making a good go of 5S and visualizing their workplaces, indicating that some folks are taking the genba kaizen to the next level.

The following example though illustrates how we still get caught up in doing 5S without really thinking about WASTE FREE standardization. Take a simple thing found in the the genba - a machine gauge.

Look at the following picture. The gauges do the same thing on different machines. The genba people did a GREAT job of visualizing the ranges on each gauge. But what is the problem here? What questions do you have? Is this waste free standardization? How hard would it be to train someone if many things in the workplace are in a similar non-standardized condition? Which one is correct? Is one process making better product then the other? Is this truly a stable process?

5S is NOT housekeeping. The area this picture was taken was very clean and well kept. So this group had moved beyond the basic cleaning level of 5S: this picture illustrates that the genba people were really thinking about how to make their job easier by knowing the condition of the machine. Cleaning is the basic easy level of 5S, this visualization is another level up. But when our standardization is not waste free, we will have a problem moving beyond the 3S level.

So, the next question our leaders have to ask these people FIRST: is this gauge reading important to the quality of the operation? If not, don't mark it, it so then we have more questions to ask. What is the failure point if the system isn't operating within range? What should the operation range be? How does this affect the operation? Is it in the correct range now? What should you do if it runs out of range?

So many questions that go beyond visualization, yet the visual factory should answer these questions for us.

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