Process Improvement Blog

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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.

The lowest cost failures in the industry

January 27, 2014

The Chief Marketing Officer Council has issued a report indicating small businesses don’t like big businesses. That’s a problem because small businesses are a growing part of the economy so the big boys and girls need to figure out how to sell to the little folks.

The BusinessWeek article on the report says, “Improving their abilities to gather data and personalize sales pitches are both at the...

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Take the bull by the tail and face the situation

January 16, 2014

So the President is going to “reinvigorate the nation’s manufacturing economy” by creating an Institute at North Carolina State University to conjure up better semiconductors. According to the White House, this is, “building off the success of a pilot institute headquartered in Youngstown, Ohio,” – an operation that is supposed to reinvent manufacturing with 3D printing technology. Depends on how...

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Strangling on Growth

December 27, 2013

Six years ago UPS strayed from its traditional practice of putting someone in charge who had risen through the ranks. “Previous UPS chairmen started in entry-level jobs, including bicycle messenger, accounting clerk, package car driver and management trainee.” Not this time, however. They wanted growth and who better than their CFO, Scott Davis?

As it turns out, just about anyone who understood...

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The best comeback since Scrooge

December 18, 2013

Everyone loves a good redemption story around the holidays, and this one comes as near to Ebenezer Scrooge waking up on Christmas morning, realizing he has been on the wrong path and resolving to change his evil ways as the lean world gets.

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No place for mercenaries

December 10, 2013

At the last Lean Accounting Summit they had a table with a half dozen or so large glass vials, each labeled with a different function: Accounting, HR, Sales, etc… There was a bowl of small rubber balls and, when people passed by, they were asked to drop one of the balls into the vial representing the function most needed to get on board with the lean vision. When I last saw it, Sales & Marketing...

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More Like Red Friday

November 29, 2013

As the day dawns millions of Americans are stampeding the stores scooping up bargains on what is the Black Friday debacle. It exists as a monument to bad management – a day on which businesses that compete on price, and price alone, demonstrate just how weak their business model is.

According to an article in the Chicago Tribune: “Big chains such as Target, Wal-Mart and Toys R Us said they should...

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Dysfunctional Silos

November 27, 2013

If “you have a) ambitious people with a variety of visions, b) limited resources, and c) serious flaws with decision tools,” “and any strategic decision is largely an outcome of power plays and politics,” then it seems apparent you have a big problem.

Perhaps we are making the problem more difficult than it needs to be, as Arthur Conan Doyle observed: “There is nothing more deceptive than an...

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Fundamentals of Performance Metrics

November 17, 2013

Received a question the other day:

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The Angels are in the Details

November 14, 2013

The latest edition of the Thinkers 50 is out – “the essential guide to which thinkers and which ideas matter now”, so they claim. It is an academic-heavy list of folks thinking grand thoughts on a grand scale. I’m not sure exactly who the Thinkers influence, but I can easily imagine the list of influencees is chock full of similarly academic credentialed executives from Dow Jones listees. (Hint –...

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Using 50 KPI's to Measure Waste

November 04, 2013

For starters, if you are thinking about paying a PR outfit to promote your book or whatever else you might be peddling to the business community, think again. I get bombarded – I mean a couple dozen a day – with email from PR folks with a suggestion for blog content; always another former CEO or a consultant with some cockamamie new buzz word or “The 10 Secrets to Outrageous Profits”. They are...

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DFMA versus DFCL

October 25, 2013

There is a great article on CNBC about a guy named Doug Clark who runs a company called New England Footwear who is working on bringing shoe manufacturing back to the United States. Beyond the usual Made in the USA cheerleading, Clark makes a very, very good point. “Wow. We designed a lot of labor out there. And if you don’t need labor you don’t need China.”

He is dead on. The focus on cheap...

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CCO? Are you kidding me?

October 23, 2013

The latest management fad is the creation of a CCO position – Chief Customer Officer. It seems to me that, if you think you need a CCO, it is a pretty sure sign you need a new CEO. The absurdity of it lies in the Wikipedia description of the CCO: “A chief customer officer (CCO) is the executive responsible in customer-centric companies for the total relationship with an organization’s customers.”...

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[MLC Exclusive] What’s in it for Me?

October 20, 2013

An article in the Financial Post explains “Why ‘temp’ is no longer a four-letter word in the workforce.” While it offers all sorts of reasons why the employer shouldn’t view temps as comparable to four letter words, it acknowledges that “it can be more difficult to see an advantage for an employee or job seeker.”

“Difficult” is putting it mildly.

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8 Deadly Sins

October 10, 2013

I came across this article titled “Top 5 Reasons Lean Projects Fail” and thought I would jot down my own list of 8 big reasons for lean failure:

1 Let’s start with his article – viewing lean as a collection of projects. Too many companies think lean is all about doing business as usual, but adding in a bunch of kaizen events. In that mode the events/projects rarely generate significant,...

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Settling for 'Good Enough'

October 07, 2013

As you head west from the Mississippi River across the United States the landscape becomes increasingly, spectacularly more beautiful until you finally reach California, home of the most beautiful places of all. There are plenty of great places along the way, to be sure, but California’s collection of fertile farm land, vast amounts of timber and, of course, gold, made it the truly promised land...

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Branding is Over Rated

September 24, 2013

BusinessWeek writes about a guy named Daniel Lubetzky who makes “high-quality, naturally delicious and nutritious bars, trail mixes, and fruit snacks made with real ingredients.” Business is good and Starbucks was among his customers. Starbucks, however, wants their own label on stuff sold at Starbucks, so they put pressure on the guy to either sell them his company or private label the snack...

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Making the Case for Gun Control

September 10, 2013

The quest for manufacturing excellence has followed a rather tortured path for the folks at Smith & Wesson. Back in 2006 they were explaining to Wall Street that their earnings were down due to the massive expenses related to their Lean Six Sigma strategy. They apparently thought it paid off, however. By the end of the year they were buying a gun outfit in Rochester, NH, confidently advising Wall...

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SKU Reduction – Reverting to 1913 Thinking

September 06, 2013

‘The customer can have any color they want, so long as it is black – and white in the middle.’ That seems to be the latest mantra at a growing number of companies as they wrestle with the philosophies of lean and the lack of responsiveness in their unwieldy supply chains. The ‘black – and white in the middle’ part comes from Mondelēz International, the folks who make Oreo’s and Cadbury products....

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Factory First

August 29, 2013

There are a couple of facets of lean that don’t get much publicity and attention:

The first is that the Subaru factory in Lafayette, Indiana is probably the leanest manufacturing operation in the United States – maybe the world. It is lean enough that Toyota outsources a sizeable chunk of its Camry production to Subaru. You can read about them in this article from BusinessWeek from a couple of...

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The Naysayer Personified

August 26, 2013

In the HBR Blog a fellow by the curious name of Freek Vermeulen bashes what he calls “management pseudo-science”, which runs from Lean and Six Sigma to books such as In Search of Excellence, urging the reader to beware of the “Sirens” of such ideas – “to do what Odysseus instructed his men to do, when the Sirens were in sight: plug your ears with beeswax and just sail past.

As I read the piece I...

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The Measure of Efficacy of Spend is Value Adding

August 13, 2013

A writer by the name of Lindsay Levkoff Lynn asserts that charities should not be measured on the basis of the percentage of its money that goes to the cause for which it exists. “We cannot measure efficacy of spend by looking purely at the ratio of overheads to programme costs,” she says. I was curious as to how someone could not just be wrong, but absolutely, totally, dead wrong about such a...

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You can't buy happiness - or excellence

July 18, 2013

Wall Street took a good long look at Yahoo’s earnings the other day and decided it doesn’t know what to think. Revenues are up – of course they are in light of the billion plus Yahoo spent on their drunken acquisition binge. Earnings are off – largely because the core business continues to go in the wrong direction. While Yahoo’s previous 6 CEO’s in six years all engaged in the folly of trying to...

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Competition Is For the Mediocre

July 12, 2013

High school kids with an athletic bent do a lot of competing. They compete with other kids to make the team, then they compete with their teammates for starting positions; and then they compete with other teams for championships. All of that competition is good – helps them do better, work harder.

But what about the few extraordinary kids that go on to Division I college athletics and ultimately...

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You Can Make Book On It

July 11, 2013

One of the many great lines in Charlie Wilson’s War came when Julia Roberts’ character, Joanne Herring asked, “Why is Congress always saying one thing and doing nothing?”, to which Charlie Wilson replied, “Well, tradition mostly.” That explanation for inane behavior in Congress applies to the book industry, as well.

In the last week we have seen two events that show just how far off the mark...

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Solution to Problems, or a Purveyor of Stuff?

June 17, 2013

The story of Marlin Steel is perhaps the best lean story I have read all year, even though there is nary a mention of 5S, kaizen, kanban, or even the term lean itself. It is a story of flexibility, quality and recognizing that the very heart of lean lies in creating value for customers.

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