Training Article

Brian Lagas’s picture

By: Brian Lagas

When most people think of lean processes, they believe the goal is to optimize things in a step-by-step approach. The result that companies using lean methods can look forward to is incremental improvements brought about by the elimination of waste.

Individuals who stick with this definition often assert that lean principles oppose innovation. That’s because “innovation” is typically considered a product-based form of invention that causes disruption. Lean manufacturing is all about following well-defined processes and figuring out how to make them better. Innovation, on the other hand, usually occurs by uprooting current processes or blatantly not following them.

It may appear that lean manufacturing and innovation are opposed. However, some analysts assert that when companies recognize the compatibility between lean principles and innovation they will accelerate past their competition.

Carrie Van Daele’s picture

By: Carrie Van Daele

Crossing the street or stepping backward when you encounter another person has already become a habit, as has a routine elbow bump, instead of a handshake.

And that is definitely what is needed during a health crisis. But when the time is right, as a society we must bounce back to social connectivity to prevent productivity and relationships from being forever damaged.

Humans are social beings. Sure, we have varying levels of desire for social interaction; some of us want to spend time alone, while others are more inclined to want to hang out in groups. But in one form or another, we all strive for connection with one another.

The physical distancing and forced isolation was a shock to our social system. Although it is helping the health emergency, in the long run it will hinder companies’ efforts to ramp up productivity.

During the late 1970s, I remember the Big Three automotive companies launched a “Quality of Work Life” workshop to rebuild trust between employees and their superiors after an economic downturn resulting in layoffs. The Big Three knew ramping up productivity would happen only with repaired relationships.

Gleb Tsipursky’s picture

By: Gleb Tsipursky

So many companies are shifting their employees to working from home to address the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. Yet they’re not considering the potential quality disasters that can occur as a result of this transition.

An example of this is what one of my coaching clients experienced more than a year before the pandemic hit. Myron is the risk and quality management executive in a medical services company with about 600 employees. He was one of the leaders tasked by his company’s senior management team with shifting the company’s employees to a work-from-home setup, due to rising rents on their office building.

Specifically, Myron led the team that managed risk and quality issues associated with the transition for all 600 employees to telework, due to his previous experience in helping small teams of three to six people in the company transition to working from home in the past. The much larger number of people who had many more diverse roles they had to assist now was proving to be a challenge. So was the short amount of time available to this project, which was only four weeks, and resulted from a failure in negotiation with the landlord of the office building.

Multiple Authors
By: Donald J. Wheeler, Al Pfadt

Each day we receive data that seek to quantify the Covid-19 pandemic. These daily values tell us how things have changed from yesterday, and give us the current totals, but they are difficult to understand simply because they are only a small piece of the puzzle. And like pieces of a puzzle, data only begin to make sense when they are placed in context. And the best way to place data in context is with an appropriate graph.

When using epidemiological models to evaluate different scenarios it is common to see graphs that portray the number of new cases, or the demand for services, each day.1 Typically, these graphs look something like the curves in figure 1.


Figure 1: Epidemiological models produce curves of new cases under different scenarios in order to compare peak demands over time. (Click image for larger view.)

Quality Digest’s picture

By: Quality Digest

Marketing is all about having a clear vision. To many, that means understanding what you want to see happen, and how you plan to accomplish it.

As important as that is, however, a different and much more imperative vision must come first: the vision of your potential customers and their perception of your brand and offer. How these people locate you, and what they think when they first see your message, is something you must think about long and hard. First impressions are meaningful in real life. They are determinant online.

Questions abound when it comes to customers:
• Who are they?
• Where are they?
• What do they want?
• How do they find me?
• What moves them to act?

To start answering these questions, it helps to build a customer persona that is informed by data about your existing customers as well as some “dreaming” about the customers you want. Be specific. Create the story of your customers and imagine their lives in detail. You need to understand their motivations, their fears, their desires—whatever it is that will connect to what you have that will address their needs.

Knowledge at Wharton’s picture

By: Knowledge at Wharton

When the Mosaic browser, with its consumer-friendly interface, was released to the world in 1993, most had no idea how radically this first foray into the internet era would transform our lives, both personally and professionally. As humans, we are generally poor at detecting and acting on early signals of change. And as business leaders, we don’t fare much better.

Most companies were late to the party on PCs, e-commerce, smartphones, digital payments, the sharing economy, gig work, AI, and now virtual ways of working. And it’s not for lack of trying. Last year, companies spent nearly $1.2 trillion on digital transformation, according to research by International Data Corporation. Yet only 13 percent of leaders believe their organizations are truly ready to compete in the digital age.

Enter the Covid-19 crisis. Although it may not be a welcomed shock to the system, it’s driving the rapid adoption of digital technologies and ways of working needed for companies just to stay relevant and continue to operate. Not only has the stock market experienced a historic drop in value, but companies also have had to dramatically change the way they operate amidst a social lockdown.

Eric Stoop’s picture

By: Eric Stoop

According to the National Safety Council, the rate of preventable workplace fatalities per 100,000 workers has flattened or risen slightly since 2009 after decades of steady improvement in occupational safety.

Companies conducting layered process audits (LPAs) can help get the United States get back on track reducing the workplace fatality rate by conducting daily checks to help identify safety nonconformances and fix them before they cause safety incidents.

With daily checks of high-risk processes, layered process audits lead to more conversations about safety, also demonstrating that leadership prioritizes safe work—both critical to creating a culture of safety.

Achieving this level of reliability, however, doesn’t happen overnight. Organizations must first make a key mindset shift, and take a strategic approach to uncovering and resolving instances where people don’t follow standards.

The quality-safety link

Quality and safety may occupy two different departments in the average manufacturing organization, but the reality is that safety is itself an aspect of quality.

Jesse Allred’s picture

By: Jesse Allred

Imagine a manufacturing facility prioritizing cleanliness and organization—aisles are kept clear, equipment is well maintained, the plant floor is regularly cleaned, operators can easily locate tools, and materials are always stored in the right place. All employees contribute to managing work spaces, creating a culture of efficiency and quality.

Knowledge at Wharton’s picture

By: Knowledge at Wharton

Companies and societies are at the precipice of rebuilding their foundations to compete in an age of advanced analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML). Yet, in the real economy—or in the world outside the tech companies—I see more struggle than success in making advanced analytics and AI a management discipline.

Most leaders in these companies recognize that the perfect storm of big data, computing capacity, and algorithmic advances has arrived. They hear about spectacular use cases such as AI outperforming trained radiologists in detecting retinopathy in preemies. Research also shows that text analytics of earnings calls reveal that executives’ use of euphemisms (think “headwinds”) obscures the details of bad news and delays negative investor reaction. Yet, many leaders feel unsure about this new environment and are struggling to extract value from these cutting-edge technologies.

Ben Aston’s picture

By: Ben Aston

A large portion of a digital project manager’s job is making sure the right parts of the project are being worked on. Projects need to be prioritized. Tasks within projects need to be prioritized, too.

Plan View’s Project and Portfolio Management Landscape Report found that prioritization was consistently the second biggest challenge that organizations face. Also, McKinsley surveyed 1,500 professionals and found that only 9 percent were happy with their time allocation.

Many famous writers, businesspeople, and global influencers have stressed the importance of getting your priorities in order.

Mark Twain famously said, “To change your life, you need to change your priorities.”

The same applies to project management.

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