Management Article

Susan Whitehead’s picture

By: Susan Whitehead

It’s a Catch-22 for a manufacturing supervisor: You need to train new hires properly to master the skills for the job, but your own daily job duties can’t wait. Putting time aside to train workers is especially challenging if you’re a small- to medium-sized manufacturer (SMM) with tight, daily deadlines.

“I want to make time for training new employees, but how am I supposed to do that and do my job? How am I supposed to deal with line problems and train someone new at the same time?”

As a process improvement coach with the South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership, I hear concerns like these all the time from SMM supervisors, who have been forced to train new employees while trying to do their own jobs.

But putting off training is like postponing the oil change on your car even though the sticker in the corner says your odometer is at 55,000 miles, and your oil change was due at 50,000 miles. You can probably put off the oil change and drive a couple hundred more miles, and the car will run just fine. Then it’s another 200 miles, and you think, “OK, I can keep doing this for a while.”

Ziv Carmon’s picture

By: Ziv Carmon

Counterfeiting is widespread and rapidly expanding. In 2015, the value of fake and pirated products globally was estimated at $1.7 trillion, equivalent to the GDP of Canada. The scope of this phenomenon is vast. In both developing and developed countries, counterfeiting affects many sectors, including apparel, electronics, beverages, food, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, and even vehicle and airplane parts and heavy machinery.

Companies actively try to fight the trade. They seek damages for lost sales from other firms that rip off their designs and conduct major, aggressive outreach campaigns to deter potential buyers from purchasing fake products. They also band together to raise awareness about how counterfeiting funds organized crime and terrorism, and often involves child labor. The Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCP), under the International Chamber of Commerce, for instance, represents 25 companies at intergovernmental forums, formulates best practices in supply chains, as well as funds outreach campaigns such as ibuyreal.org to fight the flood of fakes.

Jesse Lyn Stoner’s picture

By: Jesse Lyn Stoner

While I was facilitating a retreat for a group of 15 men, all in their late 30s and 40s, all high-level executives and all high achievers, an interesting topic arose. One of the men asked for help dealing with his wife, who was complaining he worked too much. He wanted help in getting her to understand that she was being unreasonable since the reason he was always working was to provide for his family.

He got sympathy from several, but fortunately for him there were a couple of mentally balanced leaders in the group who challenged him. They pointed out that his family needed more from him than to take care of them—that this family needed him to be with them. They told him quite frankly that his marriage was in trouble... and it wasn’t up to his wife to change.

That was 20 years ago. Technology has made this an even bigger challenge today. With the advances in technology, you can always be connected to work, anytime, anywhere—and because you can be available, you are expected to be. Many people are uncomfortable turning off their mobile device even at a social gathering. And how many of us take a vacation without checking email?

Multiple Authors
By: Julien Pollack, Petr Matous

Someone we know recently told us about a team-building event that proved anything but.

The chief executive who arranged it loved mountain biking. So he chose a venue to share his passion with his team. On the day, he shot around the track. Others with less experience took up to three hours longer. He settled in at the bar with a small entourage. Other staff trudged in much later, tired and bloody, not feeling at all like a team.

Many of us can recall team-building exercises that seemed like a waste of time. One problem is overcoming the natural human tendency to hang out with those people we already feel comfortable with, just as that chief executive did.

We suggest there is a better team-building approach. It doesn’t involve bicycles or obstacle courses or whitewater rafting. It doesn’t even necessarily involve your whole team.

It’s about understanding that teams are social networks built on connections between individuals. It involves deep one-on-one conversations, designed to get people out of their comfort zones.

Jennifer Lopez’s picture

By: Jennifer Lopez

Globalization of the medical device market as well as its supporting supply chains continues to increase year after year. This has forced regulatory bodies to grapple with finding a way to narrow the gap between international and domestic regulation. In spring 2018 the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its intention to adopt the internationally recognized quality management standard ISO 13485:2016 for medical devices. According to the FDA, the revisions are intended to modernize and reduce compliance and record-keeping burdens on device manufacturers by harmonizing current domestic and international requirements.

For FDA-regulated manufacturers, the required actions to close the gap between the FDA’s existing Quality System Regulation (QSR) 21 CFR part 820 and ISO 13485:2016 should not increase manufacturers’ regulatory administration significantly. However, it is important that manufacturers are aware of and prepared for these changes, and they understand what the changes will mean for their businesses. They can do this by seeking industry insight on best practices.

Jack Dunigan’s picture

By: Jack Dunigan

It happens easily enough and usually innocently enough. You start a business or organization then endure what is often a long and expensive learning curve. Along the way you learn. You learn a lot. You discover the competencies and incompetencies of those working with you. You learn how to manage cash flow challenges. You learn the ins and outs, the ups and downs of business in the real world.

In a few years, the business or organization begins to prosper. By then your role should change from working in your business to having more time to work on your business.

But too often it doesn’t. The business begins to prosper and could expand to another level, but something seems to be holding it back. (I use the term “business” in a very broad sense. Even nonprofits are enterprises with a mission to accomplish and must function in just about every sense as a business. The only differences are that the excess revenues received are not distributable to anyone except in the form of salaries paid for work performed.)

Leading2Lean’s picture

By: Leading2Lean

It’s no news that U.S. manufacturing has a workforce problem. However, a new survey conducted by Leading2Lean (L2L) offers some unexpected hope. The survey reveals that a new generation of workers could spur industrywide innovation.

The 2019 L2L Manufacturing Index, an annual measurement of the American public’s perceptions of U.S. manufacturing, found that adults in Generation Z (those aged 18–22) are 19 percent more likely to have had a counselor, teacher, or mentor suggest they look into manufacturing as a viable career option when compared to the general population. One-third (32 percent) of Generation Z has had manufacturing suggested to them as a career option, as compared to only 18 percent of Millennials and 13 percent of the general population.

Gabriel Hawawini’s picture

By: Gabriel Hawawini

Given the recent, renewed intensification of the shareholder vs. stakeholder debate, the concept of value creation has become more ambiguous. On whose behalf should organizations generate value? For owners, employees, upstream and downstream partners, or local communities immediately affected by organizational activities?

Both shareholders and stakeholders have solid claims. Financial managers are understandably fixated on share price as an index of market value. A stubbornly slumping share price means the loss of real wealth for the firm’s owners, and less ability to attract capital to fund the firm’s activities. Without some form of equity capital, a company cannot survive.

At the same time, the increasingly urgent global war for talent raises the stakes for companies that pursue narrow financial objectives at the expense of employees. Further, customers and civil society groups have a louder voice than in the past, thanks to social media and other online tools enabling the far-flung masses to mobilize quickly and effectively.

ISO’s picture

By: ISO

Innovation isn’t just about having a few bright ideas. It’s about creating value and helping organizations continuously adapt and evolve. ISO is developing a new series of International Standards on innovation management, the third of which has just been published.

Innovation is an increasingly important contributor to the success of an organization, enhancing its ability to adapt in a changing world. Novel and innovative ideas give rise to better ways of working, as well as new solutions for generating revenue and improving sustainability. It is closely linked to an organization’s resilience, in that it helps stakeholders understand and respond to challenging contexts, and seize the opportunities that might bring and leverage the creativity of both its own people and those it deals with.

Ultimately, big ideas and new inventions are often the result of a long series of little thoughts and changes, all captured and directed in the most effective way. One of the most efficient ways of doing just that is through implementing an innovation management system.

Nick Castellina’s picture

By: Nick Castellina

Manufacturers often have a love-hate relationship with technology, particularly artificial intelligence (AI) and other solutions that have the potential to affect jobs. On one side, companies need every tool available to help bolster efficiency and cost-effectiveness. On the other, the workforce fears loss of jobs. Predictions for lights-out factories, run by robots, may even make jobs in manufacturing seem destined for obsolescence, scaring away new recruits.

A more logical view, though, sees advanced technologies as a workforce power tool equipping the enterprise with enhanced insights and speed. Freed from manual, tedious tasks, humans can focus on their unique abilities: innovating, problem-solving, and relating to customers.

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