I awoke this morning (3/15/20) and thought every rational and caring person that I know understood the importance of social distancing. I spent yesterday talking to dozens of people and getting dozens of small social events canceled. I thought my job was done. This morning I spoke to my close friend - a smart and compassionate person - and found that he was heading with his family to a bike shop and the Container Store... I realize my job had just begun.
Mar 13, 2020 4:19:05 PM
With more new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed every day and the recognition that we’re only at the beginning of this pandemic, the health and safety of employees is a top priority of companies around the globe. Our hearts go out to the many people around the world who will be affected by this development. In an effort to do our own small part, on Thursday, March 12 our company transitioned into a virtual company with all staff working from home indefinitely. Our system is hosted on Google servers, which are state-of-the-art, and we don’t anticipate there being any issues in continuing to provide our platform.
Mar 11, 2020 12:52:04 PM
Eliminating waste is at the heart of the Lean Business methodology. The goal of Lean is to spend more of your time creating value for customers by reducing or eliminating everything else - the waste. Several common types of waste have been identified and together represent the “7 Wastes of Lean” (sometimes expressed as "8 types of waste, including the additional "waste of human potential" or "waste of talent").
Some types of waste are fairly self-explanatory, but others can be a bit difficult to grasp. Here are some practical examples of each.
Feb 25, 2020 12:23:46 PM
Has your organization started a quality improvement program with great fanfare and a ton of enthusiasm only to see it peter out over time? If so, you are not alone. Starting down the path to continuous improvement is easy. Sustaining momentum is not.
This post examines some of the most common reasons that CI programs go off the rails and how you can avoid or recover from them.
Dec 17, 2019 9:01:11 AM
Every year, the collective wisdom about how to lead organizations and engage in continuous improvement continues to grow. Many of the core principles remain unchanged, but new ways of thinking about how we get close to perfection emerge, and new voices add their insight to the conversation. In 2019 several new books were published that we think are worth your consideration. If you are putting together a reading list for the holidays or you need some new audiobooks for a long drive, here are three great ideas.
Oct 31, 2019 12:50:41 PM
Is the US heading into a recession? This question has been coming up more often over the last few months as economic indicators have economists, investors, and politicians concerned. In fact, the manufacturing sector is technically already in a recession, when defined as two quarters in a row of negative growth. Whether or not the larger economy will begin to slow, nobody can say for sure, but it’s not unreasonable to be concerned.
One of the things that companies do during a recession or when they think one is coming is cut costs. This makes sense because the only ways to protect profitability are to increase revenue or reduce expenses. Increasing revenue is more challenging during a recession, so cost-cutting seems like a sound idea.
Planned technology investments are often the first thing on the chopping block. After all, the easiest way to cut costs is to stop buying stuff. The rest of this post will be dedicated to laying out the financial reasons that improvement management technology should be the exception. In fact, the data is persuasive enough that it makes sense to invest in an improvement platform even if one was never in the budget.
Mar 18, 2019 10:13:10 AM
A high-reliability organization (HRO) is an organization that has succeeded in avoiding catastrophes despite a high level of risk and complexity. Specific examples that have been studied, most famously by researchers Karl Weick and Kathleen Sutcliffe, include nuclear power plants, air traffic control systems, and naval aircraft carriers. Recently healthcare organizations have moved to adopt the HRO mindset as well. In each case, even a minor error could have catastrophic consequences.
Mar 15, 2019 7:11:00 AM
The urgency to improve organizational performance is at an all-time high. Today’s customers expect more value for every dollar, knowledgeable employees are difficult to find and retain, competition is fierce, technology and data grow increasingly complex, and business models evolve ever more quickly. Given all of that and the complexity of modern organizations, a scatter-shot approach to improvement is not enough. Organizations need a systematic approach to incremental change that will drive them toward the ultimate goal of performance excellence.
The Baldrige Framework, which was developed in 1987 as a public-private partnership to be managed by the Department of Commerce, specifically the National Bureau of Standards (now called the National Institute of Standards and Technology – or NIST), provides a structure that organizations can use to diagnose weaknesses and set priorities for improvement. The approach has been proven to help organizations transform with respect to customer satisfaction, employee engagement, leadership effectiveness, resource optimization, and ultimately performance excellence.
Mar 7, 2019 7:32:00 AM
High-reliability organizations (HROs) are those that successfully complete their missions despite massive complexity and high risk. Examples include the Federal Aviation Administration’s Air Traffic Control system, aircraft carriers, nuclear power plants, and NASA. In each case, even a minor error could have catastrophic consequences. Yet, adverse outcomes in these organizations are rare. How is it possible that we can go years without a commercial airline accident, but the guy at the drive through can’t seem to get your order right?
Feb 13, 2019 10:04:46 AM
Are you trying to spread an improvement culture without the improvement software?
You invest in software for all of the important parts of your business, right?
People. That software exists for continuous improvement, too.
When you started on your improvement journey, you may not realize it, but you actually already made a technology decision. I bet you probably managed the work in spreadsheets and bulletin boards - these are technology! Now that you’re starting to engage more people in it, though, I bet that you’re finding that it’s hard to get the visibility you need to spread that culture efficiently and make sure nothing falls through the cracks. Your technology needs an upgrade.
You could theoretically use Dropbox and a folder structure to manage critical components of your business - say, for example, your medical records or accounting transactions - but I promise you, no one is putting their organizations at risk like that. They use software built specifically for the business issue you’re dealing with.
It continues to baffle me that organizations don’t take improvement software as seriously as they take their accounting platform or their medical records system.
Realizing that, it can be tempting to have your IT department build you a solution in SharePoint - which, out of the box, is just another document storage repository and an easy way to make website portals.
There’s not an IT department in the world that would volunteer to build a medical records system themselves when they know there’s software out there built specifically for this purpose. They understand that the resources it would take to build, maintain, and improve the system would be astronomical. I could wax poetic on the decision to build software vs. buying it, but I’ll spare you and just offer up this post and this one with more details on the topic.
Topics: Continuous Improvement Software