Managing to Standard Work in the Office

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In the fourth quarter of 2010, Fairbanks Morse Engine had to swallow a tough message from its customers: You are too slow and we are not going to take it anymore! After an extensive voice of the customer (VOC) effort, it was clear that our lead times for aftermarket parts were missing customers’ expectations. Although […]

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FLEXcon: Lean for the Long Run

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The following are selected highlights of a corporate leadership profile of FLEXcon. The complete article – with more details about Lean application and how the company avoided layoffs during the recession – is available for purchase on the iSixSigma Marketplace. FLEXcon positions itself for growth by embracing Lean at every level More than 50 years […]

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Lean Increases Small Team Effectiveness Three-fold [VIDEO] – With Jim Benson

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Implementing the Lean methodology in small teams can have enormous benefit, in one case increasing team effectiveness, as measured by throughput, by 200 percent to 300 percent. Other benefits include better communication (both internally and to the entire organization), improved employee moral, improved work output and increased customer satisfaction. Jim Benson describes how, through the […]

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Gemba Walks Come to Life at Fairbanks Morse Engine

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Editor’s note: In a previous article, author Lindquist describes what a gemba walk is. Here he presents three examples of gemba walks. Gemba walks at Fairbanks Morse Engine demonstrate the importance of the sometimes-overlooked basics of process improvement. Case Study One Single Process – Pama Machining Center Observation: The objective of a series of events […]

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The Many Sides of a Gemba Walk

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Editor’s note: A follow-up article features three specific examples of gemba walks. With so many tools available to a continuous improvement professional, it is easy to get overwhelmed and consequently focus on a narrow grouping of tools. Experience expands the practitioner’s toolbox, but sometimes it is just as important to return to the foundations to […]

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A Case of Mistaken Capability

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Lean Six Sigma (LSS) teams focus on the statistical analysis of metrics when identifying opportunities for improvement. The strong focus on data-driven evaluation, however, can overshadow the human element that exists behind the data collection plan. Despite its importance, the impact of human interaction is not easily visible or quantified, buried under reams of data. […]

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Increase Lean Six Sigma’s Power with TOC and Systems Thinking

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In order to achieve maximum and consistent returns with Lean Six Sigma, combine LSS with systems thinking and TOC into a single continuous improvement approach.

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Beware of Tools and 'The Next Big Thing'

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Isn’t it amazing how there’s “the next big thing” everyday? Headlines from blogs, sales websites, newspapers, even Twitter and LinkedIn, carry this headline continuously. How many of these “things” really are new? Years ago when I started my continuous improvement journey, I read about Deming and Juran. Quality Circles and SPC were big. Then Total […]

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Lean Manufacturing Vs. Continuous Improvement

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Let’s start off by defining Lean manufacturing. Lean (as described on multiple on-line resources) is described as a production practice that focuses on the elimination of wasteful elements in all process to increase the value to the customer. Sounds great! What organization wouldn’t want to implement a program to eliminate waste? The problem is that […]

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Why Lean Manufacturing Fails

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During both prosperous and difficult times, successful businesses naturally look for new ways to improve performance. However, in recent years, as the world economy suffered through one of the worst recessions in history, many companies turned in droves to Lean and other variations of continuous improvement programs to rescue their sagging businesses. But, did they […]

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Lean Leaders Are Everywhere – If You Make It So

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The first article of this series discussed how many Lean initiatives either fail outright or fail to deliver as planned. Furthermore, that article went on to attribute these shortcomings to four cultural factors. This article explores the second of these cultural factors: Lean Leadership. We will focus on why leadership is critical and highlight the […]

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Japan Disaster Rattles Manufacturers Worldwide

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According to a March 24 report from Objective Analysis, nearly 25 percent of the world’s semiconductor production capacity is in Japan, as well as more than 60 percent of the silicon wafers from which semiconductor chips are created. In 2010, industry analysis firm iSuppli determined that Japan held about 35 percent of the $31.5 billion […]

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Finding the Balance Between Leadership and Management

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The first article of this series discussed how a number of Lean initiatives either fail outright or fail to deliver as planned. Furthermore, the first article went on to attribute these shortcomings to four cultural factors: an organization’s purpose, its leadership, how it treats its people and how the organization views continuous improvement. This article […]

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Lean and Information Technology

Lean Line Balancing in the IT Sector

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This step-by-step guide shows how Belts in the transactional sector can calculate the time needed to complete a process and utilize their resources efficiently.

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Checking In with Starwood’s Evolving Lean Six Sigma Program

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Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone?… Well, almost gone. After 10 years of ups, downs and near cancellations, the Lean Six Sigma team at Starwood Hotels and Resorts, North America, knows what it’s like to see years of hard work nearly wiped out by mistakes […]

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Lean Techniques Help Boeing Production Take Flight

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In December 2010, the company announced that it would be ramping up production of its popular 777-series wide-body jet from 5 airplanes a month to 7 per month in 2011, and again to an average of 8.3 a month in 2013. Earlier in the year, Boeing also said it would be boosting production of its […]

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Top Lean Six Sigma IT Trends to Come in 2011

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As the calendar flips to 2011, several technology experts and software providers have made predictions about how Lean Six Sigma and other process improvement methodologies will shape IT departments in the coming year. Collected here are four of their forecasts for the next 12 months.

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E-Z-Go Accelerates Six Sigma Buy-in Through Lean

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Employed with Textron for 22 years, Stern entered the continuous improvement program in 2005 as a Black Belt and has since become a Master Black Belt. She currently oversees training in Textron’s CI program and leads value stream mapping improvement workshops. Here are Stern’s thoughts about the evolution of the company’s CI efforts and how […]

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Cost Cutting vs. Waste Reduction

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As hard as it can be to cut costs in this tough economic environment, it’s harder to sustain the reduction once it’s achieved. “Five ways CFOs can make cost cuts stick” (McKinsey Quarterly May 2010) illustrated exactly this challenge and concluded that “Companies must improve their processes and capabilities if they hope to reduce or […]

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Knowledge Worker Productivity

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Lean and Six Sigma have helped many organizations improve quality and productivity in their manufacturing and transactional processes. However, applying these methodologies remains a challenge in a knowledge work environment, such as the life sciences, based on my 15+ years of experience at various companies –from a start-up to a global pharmaceutical giant, as well […]

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How Can Lean Users Sustain Gains?

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How’s your Lean initiative doing? Is it going great? Or is it starting to lose steam? Or is it clearly failing to meet expectations? Have you given up and gone back to the not-so “good old days” from which you had hoped to escape? These are questions I see a lot of firms both asking […]

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Lean Six Sigma Remains Strong in Manufacturing

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A recently released study of compensation trends at manufacturing companies across the country contained some reassuring news for quality professionals: The deployment of Lean and Six Sigma methods remains strong in the manufacturing sector. Within the more than 1,000 pages of the 2010 Compensation Data Manufacturing survey on salaries and benefits, conducted by consulting firm […]

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Illustration of two hands holding a process map

Trimming IT Fat with Lean Assessments

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By mapping the entire software application development life cycle, IT departments can see dramatic improvements in efficiency.

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How Lean Can Be Applied to Software Development

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Software and IT experts discuss the best ways that methods such as business process managment and Agile can be applied to a Lean software development program.

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