Training Article

Sharon Lurye’s picture

By: Sharon Lurye

Schools are always trying to get their kids interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). But that’s hard to do when the students don’t have a solid idea of what having a STEM-related job really means.

“I don’t think there’s a good connection between the classroom and what people actually do in their jobs,” says Beth Bryan, a middle-school enrichment teacher in Edmond, Oklahoma.

So Bryan was happy to be one of five teachers selected in summer 2017 for a pilot program in her state that gives teachers real-life experience in STEM fields. The program, run by Oklahoma’s department of education, aimed to give teachers a more concrete understanding of the applications of science and technology—by getting their hands on some actual concrete.

The five teachers participated in a paid, two-week externship at Terracon, an engineering firm in Oklahoma City. The goal was to help teachers learn more about the practical applications of what they teach, in fields like construction and environmental testing. A typical day might involve touring a concrete-making lab, testing soil samples, or visiting a construction site.

Jason Furness’s picture

By: Jason Furness

I would like to share with you a tale from the real world. It’s an extract from the book Michael McLean and I wrote, Manufacturing Money (Amazon Digital Services LLC, 2015). It offers an example of the “Five Focusing Steps” to improvement, especially “Step 1: Identify the constraint,” and “Step 2: Maximizing the constraint’s output.” This was a situation where I looked at a problem for months before I finally figured out where the constraint was.

Megan Ray Nichols’s picture

By: Megan Ray Nichols

Manufacturing is in the middle of a new industrial revolution that requires skilled laborers. However, by most reports, many manufacturers lack enough of these well-trained employees, creating a worker shortage due to the skills gap—the difference between the skills manufacturers need and the skills job applicants have.

Companies are responding to the skills gap in numerous ways, seeking novel approaches to bridge the divide between the knowledge the workforce has and the knowledge they need.

Technology automates formerly routine processes, decreasing the need for workers who once did these jobs. Although manufacturers no longer need as large a workforce, they still need to find skilled laborers, ones who understand how to program and run a CNC or industrial robot. Although some work has been done toward addressing the skills gap, two out of every three companies don’t have a plan for remedying the problem.

Naphtali Hoff’s picture

By: Naphtali Hoff

A story is told about a reporter who was interviewing a successful bank president. He wanted to know the secret of the man’s success. “Two words: right decisions,” the banker told him.

“And how do you make right decisions?” asked the reporter.

“One word: experience,” was the banker’s reply.

The reporter pressed on. “And how do you get experience?”

“Two words: wrong decisions,” answered the banker.

We all recognize the importance of job and life experience, especially for leaders. Experience gives leaders context for important decisions that they must make and insight into how best to lead, motivate, and respond to their people. Experienced leaders have been through the wringer before and can use their past learning and decisions to guide them moving forward.

Dick Wooden’s picture

By: Dick Wooden

Iran across the book, Successful Human Relations: Principles and practice in business, in the home, in government (Harpercollins, 1952) while browsing older books about relationship development from William J. Reilly, who also wrote The Law of Intelligent Action (Joanna Cotler Books, 1945). His books have proved notably successful in applying in a popular way the findings of psychology to the everyday problems of business, social, and personal life. In Successful Human Relations he discusses in basic terms the attitudes that can make your relationships with others more pleasant and productive. The book is filled with concrete examples of typical problems in human relations and their solutions.

“Accept the solution which has the largest number of advantages and the fewest disadvantages.”

—William J. Reilly

MIT Sloan School of Management’s picture

By: MIT Sloan School of Management

Traditional corporate hierarchies tend to rely on static design. There’s the CEO at the top, followed by directors and managers. Red tape and inefficient processes can bog down decisions. 

Dynamic work design is a more effective method of managing workflow, especially intellectual work, says MIT Sloan senior lecturer Donald Kieffer. Using four underlying principles, it defines two distinct types of work for both physical work and intellectual work: “factory” and “studio.” Kieffer began his career as a pieceworker on a factory floor and rose to become vice president of manufacturing excellence at Harley Davidson.

In his MIT Sloan Executive Education course, “Implementing Improvement Strategies: Dynamic Work Design,” Kieffer offers practical tools and methods for sustainable improvement efforts of any scale, across industries. These tools and methods are from work Kieffer conducted with MIT Sloan professor and associate dean Nelson Repenning.

Knowledge at Wharton’s picture

By: Knowledge at Wharton

Volatile markets, challenging consumer demands, and the technological disruptions resulting from digitization and Industry 4.0 are producing unprecedented rates of change. In response, companies have worked to increase organizational agility, hoping to foster innovation and shorten go-to-market cycles. Yet organizational experiences and sociological conditioning often impede true agility.

As a result, many of these efforts fall short of their objective to manage the uncertainty generated by change. But another movement—mindfulness—can help companies overcome these challenges.

Mindfulness is a centuries-old idea that has been reinvented to address the challenges of our digital age. In essence, mindfulness describes a state of being present in the moment and leaving behind the tendency to judge. It allows one to pause amid the constant inflow of stimuli and consciously decide how to act, rather than react reflexively with ingrained behavior patterns. Mindfulness, therefore, is perfectly suited to counterbalance the digital-age challenges of information overload and constant distraction.

Mike Richman’s picture

By: Mike Richman

On the May 4 episode of QDL, we discovered that love is a key component to winning a Baldrige Award, learned how to be more efficient at work, and discussed how great art helps us to really see our processes. Here is an up-close look:

Undersecretary of Commerce and NIST Director Walter Copan Presents Five Organizations with Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award

2018 Baldrige winners Bristol Tennessee Essential Services, Stellar Solutions, City of Fort Collins (CO), Adventist Health Castle, and Southcentral Foundation were honored to receive their awards at last month’s “Quest for Excellence” conference.

How Productive Are You?

In this piece from MIT Sloan School of Management, lecturer Robert Pozen demonstrates how certain habit impinge on workplace efficiency. His Pozen Productivity Index (the test for which will take you an efficient three minutes or so) shows how productive you really are.

Mark Rosenthal’s picture

By: Mark Rosenthal

A couple of weeks ago I posed the question, “Are you overproducing improvements?” and compared a typical improvement “blitz” with a large monument machine that produces in large batches.

I’d like to dive a little deeper into some of the paradoxes and implications of 1:1 flow of anything, improvements included.

What is overproduction, really?

In the classic seven wastes context, overproduction is making something faster than your customer needs it. In practical terms, this means that the cycle time of the producing process is faster than the cycle time of the consuming process, and the producing process keeps making output after a queue has built up above a predetermined “stop point.”

If the cycle times are matched, then as an item is completed by the upstream process, it is consumed by the downstream process.

If the upstream process is cycling faster, then there must be an accumulation of work in progress (WIP) in the middle, and that accumulation must be dealt with. Further, those accumulated items are not yet verified as fit for use by the downstream process that uses them.

Mary Hallock’s picture

By: Mary Hallock

In lean we talk about “seeing the waste” and using visual tools. Many of us who use these terms  have had a lot of training in engineering, manufacturing, and other highly technical areas. However, the skills needed to “see” problems may lie more firmly in the study of art.

I recently read an article about some forward thinking companies that are creating art programs to help them identify safety problems. Why would we want to do this? When we are trying to see waste opportunities or see safety opportunities we should be asking ourselves:
What do I see?
What does it mean to me, other workers, and productivity in the area?
What should I do about it?

If we understand concepts in art education, we may be able to overcome some of the biases that we all have when we are observing what is taking place on the shop floor. The following are some of those biases:

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