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.