The Importance Of Small Wins & Continuous Improvement

 “If you just buy automation, you’re not really gaining competitive advantage. If you enhance the automation and understand how to manage it, that’s where you actually start to build some competitive advantage.”

– Andrew McFadyen, P. Eng, MBA

We were only supposed to chat for 5 minutes.

Instead, we kept him for 30 minutes and made him promise to talk to us again.

Andrew McFadyen is a lean practitioner with some serious street cred, and what we thought would be a technical conversation with a Sensei about lean when we hooked up with him, was instead a chat with somebody who “wants people down in the Gemba (work team) to have a voice.”

He’s a former VP Manufacturing Engineering at Canadian Autoparts Toyota Inc., former President and General Manager at Wexxar Packaging Inc., and now spends his time as an Executive Coach through Lean Sensei International, and as the President of Leansoft Consulting.

Andrew has a lot to say and it’s worth listening to.

Not the least of which was the quote at the beginning of this introduction. And he kept dropping bombs about myths we hold true when it comes to continuous improvement and automation throughout the conversation:

“Instead of trying to buy our way into productivity, we have to be smarter about it. It’s not about capital investment. That’s how we get into production economies, but we have to do more with it. And that’s going to involve well trained people, working together to drive out waste.”

The hits kept coming.

“The purest form of engagement is when the people who are doing the work are empowered and solve problems”.
If it’s not starting to become clear, just who is this podcast for?
  • Well, if you’re into lean, six-sigma, continuous improvement, or just generally interested in performance improvement as a manager or supervisor, this podcast is for you.
  • If you’re a supervisor struggling to become a facilitator instead, and believe that “people bring a brain to work and that we really need to tap into it”, this is also for you.
  • If you believe that management needs to shy away from “command and control and assigning work” and instead focus on “facilitating teamwork to make opportunities happen,” click the link below. Even if you don’t believe that, you should click it. Andrew’s pretty convincing.
  • If you’ve thought at all about downtime in factories and the fact that for “work teams to go for those small wins, we need to get more gritty data,” this one is for you.
  • Perhaps you’re more interested in “leader focused work” in factories, and how important is is for“front-line leaders to develop facilitation techniques.”
We’re just scratching the surface here.
Click the image below to stream the full podcast.

It’s about 30 minutes long, custom made to stream while you sort through reams of paper work at the end of the work day.


Top 3 Reasons Packaging Org’s Embrace SaaS Match the Reasons They Don’t


We know. You’re struggling to do simple things to improve your packaging operations performance.

So are most people like you.

Nobody blames you. Your days are hectic, and having to manage anything else on the factory floor is just another thing to worry about.

Plus, you’re right in the middle of another big project. A never ending stream of them really.

It’s not that you don’t want to improve, but it’s tough to figure out where to make small bets and build up a list of wins, beyond some complex capital budgeting process that will delay action for months (maybe years).

The struggle is real.

Luckily, discrete, SaaS (software as a service) based software is seriously eating the packaging sector in 2016.

What were once costly performance improvement projects, have become streamlined, focused, easy to manage efforts with on-demand intelligence.

The real question is, are you a buyer of these products? Or, are you finding every reason to object to the trend to buy SaaS products?

That’s what we want to share with you in today’s video:

This is actually true.

Most people would agree that a lot of new software and hardware based SaaS products can create value, (think internet of things and the industrial internet opportunities), but not everybody is buying them.

The reasons people are embracing semi-automated, discrete SaaS based software in the packaging sector are nearly identical to all the reasons other folks choose not to buy these tools.

And, it’s starting to separate truly progressive organizations in this sector from the ones who will clearly lose in this market as they struggle to build up small performance wins as quickly as the rest.

In this video, we’ll introduce the SaaS concept briefly, and share the top 3 reasons people either say no to them, or yes to new value:

1. We’re going to find problems! And then what do we do?
2. These SaaS purchases are different than how we usually budget. So, how do we buy?
3. We already have manufacturing execution software and we spent a lot of money on it. Should we spend any more?

Knowing these reasons is nice.

Acting to evaluate where you fall and whether you’re engaging SaaS providers and responding effectively is when you’ll start to see real transformation.

Watch the video now to find out whether you fall into the “yay” or “nay” category on SaaS software, and figure out how close you are to creating new value that you couldn’t last week.

More if you want it…..If you liked this, you might like one of our most popular blogs last month. It’s a bit inflammatory, but, similar in nature to this content and calledThe 7 Reasons Your Factory Won’t Improve in 2016.


How Is Your Equipment Install Performing? Any Clue?

Do you really know? Most automation suppliers don’t, short of the odd visit to observe how things are going. It’s interesting given how big of a bet automation or equipment installs are to make.

All of the cost your automation business has to incur,
only to rely on “hope” over “intelligence” when you leave a customers site.

The automation business is challenging, and equipment installations are fraught with challenges, with suppliers trying to hit performance guarantees while struggling to integrate equipment with an install base that they didn’t put in. Operators, who may or may not know how to use or maintain gear, and, upstream challenges that may compromise how a new installation performs.

Admittedly, much of this is out of a suppliers control and while one can hold a customers hand for a short time (in fact, they have to), customers have to fly eventually.

Without intellingence, a suppliers margin and relationship be compromised while a customer learns to fly. The what if’s are tough to face:

  • What if your installation is causing downtime and rework?
  • What if the line is under performing, and, you were pegged as the problem even though it wasn’t you?
  • What if an operator wasn’t trained appropriately on how to use what you installed?
  • What if the next time you competed for an installation, you lost your bid because you botched the last install and didn’t even know it?
So, what’s an automation supplier to do?
The progressive suppliers are turning to cost-effective, discrete, low-friction technology to gather insight and intelligence, before the aforementioned questions are ever asked. And they’re doing so because today, they don’t get enough intelligence during or after their installs.
Consider for a moment, how much money a real-time alert like this could save you, and you’ll get the drift:
Blog Ipad Feb 9final
What if you got it via email? Or, your customers did at your choosing?

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We Asked 100,000 Performance Improvement Leaders How They Prioritize Projects


Last week we asked a group of over 100,000 performance improvement leaders how they were prioritizing their performance improvement projects this year, as our organizations builds our list of projects.

They’re members of the most helpful linkedin groups for improvement specialists called the “Continuous Improvement, Six Sigma, and Lean Group.”

They didn’t mince words. Seemingly simple advice, that can have huge impacts:

1. Focus on Small Wins that Align with Strategy to Build Momentum: Seek small wins that align with overall business strategy and corporate objectives. By doing so, you can build momentum and develop an improvement culture. As performance is enhanced, projects will become transformative for the organization over time.

2. Consider the Size of Waste and Loss: Mobilize a cost deployment team to analyze the waste and loss in your operation with real intelligence, run cost deployment matrices to identify significant issues, and prioritize based on the potential impact.

3. Go for Ease of Implementation and Impact on Cash Flow: Analyze the resources required to implement projects and consider the impact they have on cash flow. These are indicators of priority.

4. Force Rank Relative to Business Goals: Identify what the organization wants to spend in different departments, and populate a matrix to rank potential projects that are low-risk, low-gain to high-risk, high-gain.

5. Take a Look at Corporate Priorities and Vote: After projects have been identified at a high level, carry out facilitated and structured brainstorming exercises and multiple rounds of voting with sponsors of projects. Cross representation should build a consensus on priorities.

6. Empower the Focused Improvement Pillar: Ensure that the people identified as Focused Improvement Pillars (FI Pillar) have the resources required to maximize effectiveness and to address the wastes and losses in the operation. They likely have the ability to prioritize projects.

7. Leverage Lean and Six-Sigma Tools Available: Consider frequently used lean and six-sigma approaches, like creating a Pareto Chart, a Critical to Quality (CTQ) drill down, Quality Function Deployment (QFD), Min Max Analysis, or Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) prioritization. Priorities may become clear with such analyses.

8. Complete Planning Triage: Senior leadership teams and business units can discuss and select projects and identify project sponsors. This garners buy in throughout multiple levels of the organization, and helps build project queues.

9. Custom Project Prioritization Matrix for Business Generated Improvement Ideas: Build a pipeline of projects requested by the business rather than forced on business units. The matrix can include a variety of questions weighted in terms of importance, and scored. The priority projects go to panel for review and sign off, provided success critiera for the project has been defined.

To learn more about how SITEFLO customers prioritize improvement projects, and build momentum with small wins:

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