Small improvements can make a big difference in any continuous improvement journey. David Galloway shares his thoughts and observes how leadership, innovative thinking, and lean six sigma principles can be used to drive safety and process improvements.
It’s a sad truth about the workplace: Just 30% of employees are actively committed to doing a good job.
According to Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace report, 50% of employees merely put their time in, while the remaining 20% act out their discontent in counterproductive ways. These employees are negatively influencing their coworkers, missing days on the job, and driving customers away through poor service. Gallup estimates that the 20% group alone costs the U.S. economy around half a trillion dollars each year.
What’s the reason for the widespread employee disengagement? According to Gallup, poor leadership is a key cause.
Richard Sheridan, Founder of Menlo Innovations, describes an antidote for this lack of enthusiasm. He claims that “joy” is what is missing from the workplace. In a recent interview, Sheridan spoke about some of the ways that he purposely designed joy into the way that people work.
How many variations of products or services does your company offer? A few? A dozen? A hundred? More? Are all of these products really required to meet customer demand? Does it make sense to provide all these choices to your customers?
Many companies have embarked on a journey of product proliferation. In an effort to capture more market share, we have seen an explosion of customization and niche marketing. A trip to your local grocery or large retail store confirms this. For example, 352 distinct types of toothpaste were sold in 2010. There are entire aisles dedicated to cereal, dog food, and toilet paper. Have these companies enjoyed increased profits by offering all these new products? Not necessarily…
In this post, we will briefly discuss the implications of having too many products (choices) on both (1) revenue and (2) costs.
One of the primary tenets of Lean is the concept of value added activities. These can be defined as actions which transform raw materials and information into products and services which the customer is willing to pay for. Anything that does not add value can be considered “waste”. These are activities which consume time, space, or other resources, but don’t contribute to making value.
Classic Sources of Waste
Lean practitioners are familiar with the eight sources of waste. They form the basis for lean thinking and are often used to offer a framework for removing waste (and cost) from any process. A graphic depicting these eight sources of waste and a brief definition of each one is shown below.
Observing the queue of people being checked out at a large grocery or retail store can be fascinating. You can see the shoppers deciding on which line to enter – based on the number of people, how many things are in their cart, how quickly the cashier is ringing up each sale, whether someone is assisting with bagging process, etc. Although most people don’t realize it, they are making an estimate on how long it will take for them to get through the checkout line by using a theory called “Little’s Law”.
This fundamental concept was developed over 50 years ago. It enables us to predict a specific process behavior and is named after John Little, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.