The recent nuclear reactor problems in Japan reminded me of an important message from Weick and Sutcliffe's Managing the Unexpected. Their book is about how some organizations have built systems that are able to quickly and effectively adapt to unexpected events. In that book, Weick and Sutcliffe highlighted some of anthropologist Constance Perin's work in Shouldering Risks: The Culture of Control in the Nuclear Power Industry.
My wife recently found me a great deal on Bloomberg BusinessWeek to get a 3-year subscription for $18. While reading the first issue to arrive, I found a great story about a company in Silicon Valley that has created a flexible, U.S.-based manufacturing system for their product. The company is called SeaMicro. They make low-power servers for Internet companies like Mozilla and eHarmony. I liked what the CEO, Andrew Feldman, had to say about why they have taken the unconventional approach of building their servers onshore.
I have been enjoying Ron Pereira's great blog at lssacademy.com. He recently posted the following question to readers: Is Little Caesar's Lean?
Is Little Caesars Lean? I'd like to offer my view. A basic feature of the ideal Lean system is pull initiated one piece flow. Pull initiated means that the factory does not make the product until the customer places an order. One piece flow means that the factory is able to accommodate order sizes as low as one piece as well as high piece-to-piece feature variation with no finished goods inventory.
This morning, I experienced my annual visit to the optometrist. The wait was 30 minutes, but that is not what I wanted to address. At the optometrist, they have a fancy machine that takes a picture of your eye. I’ll call it the eyephoto. This is an expensive machine and insurance does not cover it. If you want to have the eyephoto, you have to pay $35 out of your pocket.
I saw this story about United Airlines charging customers to check a SECOND bag. Not the fifth or sixth bag, but NUMBER TWO!
This reminded me of a training slide that we have in our Lean education program. There are three ways to cut costs. You can cut costs across the board by reducing all budgets a fixed percentage. This is the lazy path. You can cut costs by cutting services. This is the stupid path. Finally, you can cut waste. The smart path.
The Theory of Inventive Problem Solving, also known as TRIZ, is a system of rules and tools aimed at practical problem solving. It was originally geared toward patents within the engineering community, but also applicable to many other disciplines including technology forecasting, strategic planning, etc. Basically, its an iterative process for systematic innovation that teaches you how to find answers to your problems, often by looking at other scientific fields. An underlying concept is that somebody, somewhere has already solved your problem —- the challenge is to find that solution and modify it into a new set of solutions to fit your circumstances.
All these lead paint toy scandals are only the beginning. On July 12, 2007, Businessweek ran a story, “Made in China: Faulty Tires.” This story foreshadowed the bloodbath to come. For every scandal, we can expect several high profile lawsuits to follow. On this blog, we’ve been talking about how American businesses encouraged the bad system that allowed … Continue reading The Bloodbath to Come