Lean manufacturing

What Stops US Companies from Becoming Lean?

 

Dan Markovitz provides an article that explores the ability of public US companies to operate as a wholly lean company.

Can public US companies really embrace lean? Well sure, they can deploy lean tools here and there, but the whole socio-technical system that comprises lean? I don’t think so.

Wall Street pressure for quarterly profits competes fiercely with lean principles, both inside and outside the company. Executives who take the long-term view and view employees as appreciating assets worthy of investment, rather than variable costs to be minimized, put their companies at risk of attack from outside “activist shareholders” who demand higher returns. And given how tightly senior executive compensation is tied to the company’s share prices, there’s internal pressure not to put their own wealth at risk by not pumping up the stock price. (Tom Johnson, Doc Hall, and Bob Emiliani have written extensively about this problem.)

 

Areas covered in this article include

  • Stockholder expectations
  • Toyota as an outlier
  • Barriers to becoming lean

 

Read the full article, Can A Public Company Ever Be Lean?, on the Markovitz website. 

 

What Lean Means for the Work Week

 

Dan Markovitz explains why time management and a shorter work week is good news for lean.

 

In the space of two weeks, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal both ran articles on the productivity benefits of reduced work hours. The WSJ introduced us to the workers at Rheingans Digital Enabler in Germany, who only put in five-hour days, for a workweek of 25 hours. The same is true of employees at Tower Paddle Boards (at least during the summer months) and Collins SBA, a financial advisory firm in Australia. 

Not to be outdone, NPR reported that Microsoft Japan moved to a four-day workweek this summer while increasing productivity by 40%. Of course, software firm 37 Signals has been operating four-day work weeks over the summer since 2008. And New Zealand-based Perpetual Guardian believes in the four-day week so strongly that the founder created a non-profit to promote it. Indeed, a recent survey by the Society of Human Resource Management indicates that fifteen percent of companies offer a 32-hour workweek. 

 

Read the full article, It’s Not Time Management, It’s Lean, on his website.

A Most Common Problem in Lean Manufacturing

Dan Markovitz reveals a common problem that lean programs often face. 

 

Boeing’s Starliner failed an important test flight two weeks ago. It was supposed to rendezvous with the International Space Station, but was unable to reach the correct orbit.  

The problem with this engineering marvel? Not the complex aerodynamics, not the critical separation from the Atlas V rocket, not the all-important re-entry heat shield. 

No, the problem was with the internal clock. The spacecraft’s internal clock became unsynced with the overall “mission elapsed timing” system, so the Starliner failed to fire its engines at the correct time to reach orbit.  

So—a $5 billion project was undone by something that your $10 Casio watch could handle. 

Does your lean program face the same problem?

 

Read the full article, Boeing Starliner Failure: lessons for your lean program, on Dan’s company blog.

Welcoming new member Glenton Jelbert

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Glenton Jelbert to our community.  Glenton does operational improvement work and data analytics.

He is a lean manufacturing expert, recently helping organizations with everything from factory layouts to complete operational turnarounds. He is also a data expert.

He has a PhD in Physics, and is comfortable in Excel, Access, MySQL, and Python. He uses these tools to gain operational and strategic insights out of messy data and to set up systems to do the same. He is very hands-on, having been the VP of Engineering at a high tech manufacturer for four years.

He lives in Orange County, California.