This is NOT Lean: Lean Staffing

In this post I would like to talk about another term that claims to be lean: lean staffing. It is NOT lean! It is an abomination. It is pretty much the opposite of what, in my opinion, lean stands for. It is a complete lack of respect for humanity. Let me explain you what it is, why it is terrible, and how to prevent this. Note that this post may include a rant here and there.

Read more

How to Look Good at the Cost of Your Successor (Please Don’t!)–Part 3

This is the last of my three posts on how to benefit at the cost of your successor. And again, please don’t. This is more of a warning on how to damage the plant for the benefit of the manager. And again, I hope rather than someone using this as a to-do list, someone uses it to see dangers. This last post looks at the worst “trick” of them all, burning the goodwill of your employees for a quick buck. It also looks at the one easiest to see, selling the plant and renting it back.

Read more

How to Look Good at the Cost of Your Successor (Please Don’t!)–Part 2

This is the second post in this short three-post series on how to look good while driving the plant into the ground. Again, the following is intended more of a warning on how NOT to do it, even though I fear some may use it as a checklist. My hope is that even more see the signs and can stop it, or at least not reward the person in question for this type of skullduggery. I will also talk briefly about how to recognize and counteract this type of behavior for the long-term health and success of your plant.

Read more

How to Look Good at the Cost of Your Successor (Please Don’t!)–Part 1

This post series will be an unusual one. I will tell you how to look good in manufacturing at the cost of your successor. Of course, I do NOT want you to do that. Not only will there be no improvement, but instead the plant will be worse in the long run at the cost of a short-term benefit. This is a somewhat sarcastic post on the dirty tricks you can use to look good, while at the same time driving your (future) plant into the ground. The responsible managers of course will be somewhere else before the inevitable happens. Even though the approaches below are bad for the plant, I am sure some managers will use this as a checklist. But I hope that even more people will see it as a list of warnings for bad managers.

Read more

Where to Start Your Kaizen?

To become lean, you need to improve your factory. Continuous improvement (kaizen) consists of many smaller and/or larger improvements. However, often the first challenge is where to start this improvement. Let me dig deeper into the possibilities and challenges of picking improvement projects, with a particular focus on systems that have multiple independent production lines, which makes everything trickier.

Read more

The Boss Knows Best … or Does He?

Businessman is pointing at himselfThis post is on a topic you probably all have had experience with at one point or another (or even all the time) in your career. A superior makes a decision, and you are internally wincing because you know right away that it is a really bad idea. In this post I would like to talk about uncertainty and decision making, and how to make better suggestions. If you are a regular reader of my posts, you probably already know the answer: Involve the employees! This post is a continuation of my previous post on military leadership.

Read more

Military Leadership and Disobedience

In a recent LinkedIn discussion, there was a disagreement on leadership favoring a much more authoritarian leadership style and stating “A general who asks his soldiers if they will fight, he is not yet ready for war.” I disagree with this view, both for military and especially for manufacturing. Yet, this discussion inspired me to write two posts on the difficult subject of leadership. This first post here looks in more detail at military leadership, and the occasional need of soldiers to refuse, ignore, or disobey an order. A second post will look at what this means for manufacturing.

Read more

How to Convince Your People to Do a Lean Transformation

Many companies want to achieve a lean production system. For this, these companies conduct lean transformations. And this in turn needs the buy-in of the people who will be working with the transformed system later on, usually the operators. However, a problem many lean transformations encounter is that … the operators don’t want to transform! This is of course a challenge. Let’s have a look at why this happens, and how you can prevent and overcome the issue.

Read more