Process Improvement Blog


Looking for ways for your organization to increase productivity and trim budgets? You’ve come to the right place.

DocuPhase’s “Business Process Automation” blog will provide valuable insight into how your company can benefit from implementing document management and workflow automation into existing processes.

How Empowering Employees Translates to Business Success

July 07, 2015

Just a quick browse of the latest top ten lists, LinkedIn user stories and employee relations headlines and today’s employee expectations become very clear. Aside from the usual bit about money, power and fame, employees lean heavily towards jobs that can satisfy their own sense of self and reflect their core values.

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How to Add Two Manpower Days a Week with the Same Staff

June 19, 2015

One mandate on every budget-conscious business’ collective mind is: get more done by spending less. In short, these businesses strive to be more productive and get more return on their investments without incurring additional debt like adding extra employees to manage an increasing workload, paying overtime or spending inordinate amounts of time in efficiency meetings. Is this really...

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HR Managers Can Dramatically Cut HR Onboarding Time

April 28, 2015

We’ve all found ourselves staring at a new employee packet at least once in our careers. Depending on the size and organization of the company, it may have consisted of several stapled sheets of paper (a welcome letter and a list of internal resources with a W-9 thrown in) or an impressive binder with everything from branding guidelines and the latest quarterly magazine to a full-color...

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iDatix CEO Steve Allen Opens Business Incubator in Clearwater, FL

March 20, 2015

Reposted from the Tampa Bay Times Website on March 20, 2015

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Consensus versus Fiat

May 06, 2014

One hallmark of the lean companies I have had the honor of seeing up close is a decision making process that is often maddening and frustrating to people new to the organization who are not yet immersed in the culture. As one exec described it to me, “It’s like eating at a Chinese restaurant – you really don’t want to look in the kitchen and see how they do it. Better to just stay out in front...

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The Manufacturing Cultural Norm

April 30, 2014
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Nike: People are people no matter where they work

April 23, 2014

An interview with Nike founder and chairman Phil Knight relates the story of his son’s tragic scuba diving death and Knight’s reaction. “Knight and his wife, Penny, were devastated. In a note to his staff, Knight told them that instead of sending him condolences, they should make a point of spending more time with their own families.” Obviously the reaction of a caring, compassionate man, and a...

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Freudian Lean

April 21, 2014

I came across an article called “When Big Data Meets Manufacturing” that has been widely blasted across the Net. It is actually a very good collection of examples of how companies have created greater value for customers in a wide range of ways what one of my clients calls “Customer Focused Manufacturing”. It is well worth a read, but the authors demonstrate just how little they really know about...

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Assessing for Continuous Improvement... or Not

April 18, 2014

You may have heard something about the ‘Nine Box’ employee assessment approach. I really don’t know who thought it up, but the academics love it and GE seems to have taken it to an art form. Like most of what academia and GE view as a grand. Critical concept, it is a very, very good idea that misses the critical point entirely. The problem is that it is built on the notion that their tried and...

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Time to Rethink HR

April 16, 2014

The Wall Street Journal has a very interesting article about the number of companies that are disbanding their HR departments. All in all, a very good trend, I say. It gets right at the heart of the knotty question of ‘value adding’ versus ‘necessary’. By and large, HR is neither – at least much of the conventional HR role.

The big problem with HR is that it is mostly built around the same...

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Good Culture Flows From Good Management

April 14, 2014

The ongoing debacle at GM is providing a real lesson on culture. Seems certain CEO Mary Barra really doesn’t know why people would make decisions that would get the company into its current predicament, and that her telling the GM folks that they should really, really care about customers and product safety will actually fix things. Like so many leaders she seems to be under the illusion...

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Playing to Win, or Playing to Tie

April 08, 2014

In one corner we have the Germans with their love of Technik. At the big show in Hanover robots and advanced automation were center stage – “machines take over factories,” the headlines proclaim; and the experts say, “where the technology has been implemented, increasing automization is leading to significant improvements.” Given Germany’s position as a manufacturing powerhouse and the fact that...

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MBM Is Managing For Linearity

April 07, 2014

For as long as I have been advising manufacturing companies I have been telling them that the single most telling indicator of whether they are doing any good or not is their ability to set a plan for the next week and execute it – schedule attainment. Rarely, if ever, does a plant actually execute its schedule exactly. In most plants whatever happens is not even remotely close to the...

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When it comes to people, objectivity is over rated

March 28, 2014

I worked my way through college a long, long time ago selling high end men’s clothing at a small retail chain in Cincinnati. Well, that was the theory, anyway. In fact, I am so hopelessly color blind that I was perhaps the most unqualified person on the planet to do that job. I was able to do OK by sheer rote memorization – watching the people who were good at it and memorizing which suits...

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You can't compete with a DIRTTbag

March 26, 2014

I came across a company called DIRTT some time back and keep coming back to them for the simple reason that they seem to be the ultimate example of just what a lean company can be. There are lots of reasons to be impressed with them from their culture (DIRTT stands for Do It Right This Time and they call themselves and their employees Dirttbags - no job titles), flat organizational structure,...

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"I seriously doubt they are any more responsible"

March 17, 2014

So GM put a bunch of defective switches into its cars and dragged its collective feet for a dozen years in launching a recall. “GM has reported 12 deaths and 31 crashes among the 1.6 million recalled cars.” “A study commissioned by the Center for Auto Safety found that 303 people were killed in crashes of now-recalled General Motors vehicles where the airbags did not deploy …” The truth is...

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Self-preservation of wasteful work

March 16, 2014

I’m no big fan of Tesla, but I am slowly warming up to them. The story a few weeks back about them working with the boys from Valor Equity Partners to bring production back from Asia, resulting in a reduction in costs of some $30,000 per car went a long way. But this post is not so much about Tesla as it is about resistance to change.

The state of New Jersey, in its infinite wisdom, has decided...

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An Important Anniversary: The Cortés Principle

March 13, 2014

495 years ago today the Spanish Conquistador Hernán Cortés with 11 ships and some 500 men landed in Mexico and launched one of the most audacious escapades in history: The conquering of the Aztec empire with its population numbering in the millions and dominating army of over 300,000 warriors.

Now there is not much a leader can learn from Cortés. By all accounts he was a greedy, arrogant and...

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A Wasted Gathering of Foxes

March 09, 2014

Nothing wrong with people getting together and kicking around ideas. The trouble seems to come when such an idea swapping session hasn’t really explored the old ideas – especially the big ideas that have proven to be good ones. An old Greek poet Archilochus is noted for having said, "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Lean was a good idea – a very, very good idea,...

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Who Needs Kollidge Anyway?

March 04, 2014

The results of an interesting poll from the folks at Gallup came out a few days ago. Seems that, while 80% of the folks out there think where someone went to school is important, only 46% of the leaders who actually hire college graduates think it is. In fact, only 9% of them rated it “Highly important”. Similar results when it comes to your college major: 47% of the population at arge think it...

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Follow the Flour

March 02, 2014

I love it when a story proves my point – not all my points, mind you. It disproves all of the badmouthing I have done to investment bankers and venture capitalists whose usual mode of operations is to suck the hard earned value someone has created out of the business and leave the stakeholders high and dry. Not these guys, however. “’We don’t want to turn around stuff and fire a bunch of people....

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Kaizen won't get you there

February 23, 2014

Now don’t get me wrong. I am all in when it comes to continuous improvement – kaizen – the fact is it isn’t enough and most companies cannot possibly kaizen their way to excellence. Usually a few major things just need to be completely blown up and replaced, and there is nothing incremental, small or continuous about it.

Sometimes kaizen just won’t get the job done and kaikaku – radical,...

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Winning requires flawless execution on the front lines

February 19, 2014

There is a lot Canada has to offer but of all of their assets I am inclined to believe Tim Horton’s is at the top of the list – my list anyway. For those too far from the border to know about Tim’s it is a first class coffee and donut joint. As they expand into the USA, and US companies move into their home turf the competition is fierce and Tim’s has held up but taken their share of the lumps....

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The curious events in Chattanooga

February 15, 2014

Folks who work in factories, as a rule, are not stupid. Just about every one of them I have met – and I have met thousands of them – understand that profits are a good thing and continuing, growing profits are not only good for the owners, but a necessity to keep things going. They also understand that management people want to make good money (just like they do) and they are aware of the fact...

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Feckless and Annoying Advice

February 12, 2014

Advice untethered from a strategy for implementing it is feckless, merely annoying. It doesn't do any good.”

That from an article in the Wall Street Journal that has nothing whatever to do with lean, or even business, but an enjoyable article nonetheless. It says a mouthful, to be sure, and it really gets at the heart of the leadership challenge in a lean transformation – or a transformation of...

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