Training Article

Multiple Authors
By: Kendall Powell, Knowable Magazine

When my kids, ages 11 and 8, bang through the back door after school, often the first thing out of their mouths is: “Mom! Can we play Prodigy?”

After a quick mental calculation of how much screen time they've already had for the week and how much peace and quiet I need to finish my work, I acquiesce. After all, Prodigy is a role-playing video game that encourages kids to practice math facts. It’s educational.

Right?

Though video games are increasingly making their way into classrooms, scientists who study them say the data are lacking on whether they can actually improve learning—and most agree that teachers still outperform games in all but a few circumstances.

But there is growing evidence that some types of video games may improve brain performance on a narrow set of tasks. This is potentially good news for students, as well as for the millions of people who love to play, or at least can’t seem to stop playing (see infographic).

“There is a lot of evidence that people—and not just young people—spend a lot of time playing games on their screens,” says Richard Mayer, an education psychology researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “If we could turn that into something more productive, that would be a worthwhile thing to do.”

Tom Comstock’s picture

By: Tom Comstock

How can industrial and manufacturing enterprises achieve better new product introduction (NPI), a critical element of operational excellence? Corporate goals of improving market share and revenue, maintaining competitive differentiators, and improving customer experiences are especially challenging when developing and launching new products—making it vitally important that NPI is seamless and high quality. Despite significant investment in NPI, a startling 44 percent of new products fail to meet most NPI success criteria.

Manufacturers and industrials face three key challenges:
• Organizational and data siloes, with little collaboration among increasingly complex supplier networks
• Core process deficiencies, as shown by key performance metrics, even as solutions are within reach
• Outdated or poorly integrated operations and quality systems, and data sources

Joseph Paris’s picture

By: Joseph Paris

A few years ago, I was asked to conduct a workshop, deliver a keynote, and chair a three-day conference on manufacturing process excellence in Europe, produced by the Process Excellence Network (PEX), a division of IQPC. Although that was a lot to ask of me, the lineup of speakers and content was pretty strong, and I was looking forward to gaining knowledge as much as I was to delivering what I had to offer.

During the conference, I had the opportunity to meet one of the speakers, who was the director of operational excellence in Europe for a publicly-traded company—which is not so unusual, as most of the speakers and attendees were in operational excellence (or continuous improvement) leadership roles. He was a bright and passionate individual for sure, and we promised to have a follow-on conversation in a month’s time.

When it came time for the follow-up call, the much learned and passionate individual told me that he had been released. Being rather shocked, I asked what had happened. He told me the company had killed the entire operational excellence program to “cut costs.” Hm... and so it goes.

Scott Cowen’s picture

By: Scott Cowen

It was a year ago that our country lost one of its most well-known and respected mavericks in recent political history. After John McCain passed away, many felt that his death left a void that would be hard to fill and wondered whether nonconformist leaders like him, who usually worry more about what’s right than about what’s popular, still exist. The McCain Institute for International Leadership even launched a nonpartisan campaign called #MavericksNeeded, reminding us all of the need to uphold principles of freedom and democracy, encourage moral reasoning, and bring progress.

One year later, we get our pick of politicians on the national stage who are willing to go it alone and ruffle some feathers. The four freshman Congresswomen known as the “squad” come to mind, and so might the four Republicans who crossed party lines when they voted with all Democrats in the House to condemn President Trump’s recent “go home” comments. Texas Democratic Representative Al Green has been called a maverick for trying to get Trump impeached three times without the necessary support from his party.

Matt Minner’s picture

By: Matt Minner

Across the United States, small and medium-sized manufacturers are contemplating integrating industrial robots into their facilities. There is a growing awareness that increasingly flexible and affordable robotics systems can help existing workers in a variety of different ways, taking on repetitive tasks and freeing up staff for higher level work and increasing productivity overall.

To serve this growing need, dozens of robotics systems integrators have come online and promise complete packages to guide manufacturers, from initial assessment to fully realized industrial automation. But deferring to these experts can feel a little imposing to manufacturers that rely on established processes they’ve developed internally.

So how does a manufacturer contemplating a first robot-integration project participate fully so that the project is a success on their terms? Here are four suggestions to guide you during the process.

Jamie Seo Yeon Song’s picture

By: Jamie Seo Yeon Song

The internet has radically democratized the means of marketing cultural products. Enormous advertising budgets are no longer necessary to get the word out about a new release; companies can connect directly with vast numbers of current or potential consumers through Twitter, Facebook, or whatever virtual communities may be relevant for their target audience.

Indeed, I previously found that these changes have significantly eroded the size-based advantage enjoyed by dominant players in the culture industries. My 2017 paper (co-authored by Henrich Greve, INSEAD professor of entrepreneurship), also the subject of an INSEAD Knowledge article, showed how in the world of e-book publishing, the Big Five companies (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, and Penguin Random House) derived less sales advantage from their relative clout than smaller presses did from user-generated buzz on Twitter and Amazon.

Anthony D. Burns’s picture

By: Anthony D. Burns

Not long ago, we had a client inquire about virtual reality (VR) and quality training. VR and its close relative, augmented reality (AR), are hot technologies right now, not just in entertainment, but also in industry, including their use in training. So it’s no surprise that clients inquire about them. However, as with any technology, you must pick the right tool for the right job, and VR and AR are not always the right choice.

VR explained

VR is a technology that allows a person to feel immersed in a 3D virtual world. This is usually achieved using a headset with a separate display for each eye. Unlike a single-screen view of a 3D scene, the slight parallax in views for each eye gives the viewer an immersive, 3D effect. Headsets range from $10 for Google Cardboard with your mobile phone, to well over $1,000 for self-contained headsets.

Movement of the headset wearer’s head is detected by the accelerometer and/or gyroscope in the mobile phone (Google Cardboard) or the proprietary headset. This movement is then used to adjust the view of the two cameras, one for each eye, in the 3D virtual scene. As you move your head, the scene moves.

Dylan Walsh’s picture

By: Dylan Walsh

In principle, the mountaineer’s work is simple: “To win the game he has first to reach the mountain’s summit,” said George Mallory, who took part in Britain’s first three attempts on Everest during the 1920s. “But, further, he has to descend in safety.”

The tension between these two goals—summiting while also surviving—makes the Himalayas context especially interesting and relevant for companies also balancing multiple goals, says Lindred Leura Greer, an associate professor of organizational behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business.

“Mountaineering provides an interesting setting, and an extreme one, in which you’re trying to win while also trying to mitigate loss,” Greer says. “This looks a lot like, say, a startup, where you’re trying to maximize to become a unicorn while at the same time trying to make sure the small details don’t pull you under.”

Given this analogue, Greer and other researchers used mountain climbing as a lens to explore longstanding assumptions about group performance. For decades, academics have suggested a straightforward link between a group’s solidarity and its success: The more a group operates with a single mind, the better its execution.

David Midgley’s picture

By: David Midgley

Ask any manager at a large organization why the purchasing department matters, and the first factor he will mention will probably be costs. But cost control, though a core competency, is far from the only way purchasing affects firm performance.

Every contract signed with a supplier represents a considerable amount of trust on the part of the buying firm. It’s the purchasing department’s job to ensure that trust is invested wisely, not squandered on the unworthy. Therefore, purchasing is obliged to be the organization’s eyes and ears within the supplier environment.

Bill Kraus’s picture

By: Bill Kraus

Continuous improvement is generally considered to be a journey in pursuit of perfection and is regularly associated with the concept of lean manufacturing. In early 1990, reflecting on the Toyota Production System, the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP) created a six-part definition regarding the components of lean manufacturing:
• A systematic approach
• To identifying and eliminating waste
• Through continuous improvement
• By flowing the product
• At the pull of the customer
• In pursuit of perfection

In late 1990, our Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions (AMS) MEP team embraced lean and began promoting it to our manufacturing clients. However, in our enthusiasm, we inadvertently set about “doing lean to our people rather than with our people.” Considerable time and effort was expended in the teaching of “tools” (e.g., value stream mapping, 5S, quick changeover, kanban). Then, like hammers looking for nails, we descended upon the factory floor.

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