Lean Roadmap Newsletter
Becoming a World Class Organization 
33rd Edition   
The topics for this edition are: 
  • Combating "Can't" 
  • The Second of Five Strategies for Competing in the U.S. and the Global Economy for Small and Medium Size Organizations (SMMs have < 500 people). Strategy #2 - Moving Left & Right in the Supply Chain Finding More Places to Add Value
Certified Lean Facilitator Training 
This standard Certified Lean Facilitator training session will be hosted by Alliance Laundry Systems in Ripon, WI.  
You can attend just one class or start the journey to becoming a Certified Lean Facilitator by attending all 3 weeks.
Session dates are:
Week 1 - July 19, 2010
Week 2 - August 16, 2010
Week 3 - September 13, 2010
For more information, click here, or for scheduling, call Gloria at 260_637_8064 or email gloria@wcmfg.com
Combating "Can't"
by Mattie Watson 
Picture this. You are in a team meeting. The group has identified and defined a legitimate and significant problem. They have gathered data and performed a root cause analysis. They are on a roll, tossing out ideas and possible solutions. Then it happens. An innocent comment heard in teams around the country. "We can't do that!" The positive charge in the room vanishes and "reality" sets in.
AAARRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!  I hate the word "can't!" I hate what the concept does to teams and individuals and I hate the lie that it perpetuates. I can't, we can't, you can't, they can't. Why not? Who says? Prove it!
Okay, perhaps I get a bit emotional about this topic. It's just that I have seen what "can't" does to teams, individuals, creativity, and problem solving. It's not good. In fact, there is not much that is more destructive to the problem solving process than the casual toss of the word "can't." Unfortunately, "can't" tends to be used as the politically correct reason why an action should not be taken. Why? More importantly, how can we stop it?
The word "can't" usually means one of three things. Leaders must determine the real meaning of the word before they can choose the best antidote. Let's explore the possible meanings. Although the issues are addressed as singular (I), they apply to teams, also.
1) I am not allowed. There is a sense that someone's permission is needed before the individual can proceed.

Antidote - Help the individual (or team) assess if this is an accurate perception. Either the leader will provide the permission or, better yet, help the Associate understand when permission is and is not required. Establishing boundaries, limits of authority, and expectations of responsibility will be very helpful. In organizations that are transitioning from traditional leader/follower styles to participative/interactive environments, this information will need to be repeated continuously until the behaviors change.  
2) I don't have the skills or ability. This implies there are competency issues - either not knowing the necessary information or lacking the experience or talent needed for the task.
- Assess the skill of the individual and provide training or coaching as needed.

3)  I don't want to. If we do this, we could get in trouble. On the other hand, this seems like a lot of work. Or, we could fail. 

Antidote - This is the most troublesome issue to accurately assess and change. Speak with the Associate privately and ask what specific concerns he/she has. You may need to ask someone else to talk to the Associate if you feel he/she may hold back their true feelings from you. Corrective action will need to be assessed based on the issues identified. 
While "can't" may seem debilitating, realize it is based on a belief system that may not be accurate. Taking the time to understand the real meaning and addressing these issues quickly will help the organization make progress much faster. 
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Seminar - Policy Deployment & Lean Implementation Planning

Two-hour Seminar - The most powerful Lean activity your organization will ever accomplish! Learn how the "Policy Deployment" process links your Lean activities directly to your organization's goals.
Hosted by: Tooling & Manufacturing Association (TMA), 1177 S. Dee Road, Park Ridge, IL 60068 on Wednesday, July 14th from 8-10 a.m. CST.  
For More Information or to Register:  
  The Second of Five Strategies for Competing in the U.S. & the Global Economy for Small & Medium Size Organizations (SMMs) 
Strategy #2 - Moving Left & Right in the Supply Chain Finding More Places to Add Value
Traditional SMMs are transaction based organizations. They take product/part orders, and ship those orders. To successfully use this strategy to compete and grow, SMMs must get outside their transactional based comfort zone. 
by Larry Rubrich 
Competing outside of the "price only" commodity environment (Strategy #1) is about producing the most "value" for the customer. It is important to remember that it is the customer that decides what value is, and that value definition can vary by industry, by market segment, and by market niche.
To use Strategy #2, organizations must be able to move outside the comfort of their normal position in the supply chain, and move left and right in the supply chain to find opportunities to add the value that the customer is looking for.
Here is an example of some typical components/members of a supply chain:
Typical Supply Chain 
Ideally, the supply
chain is typically made up of companies who trust each other and coordinate their activities to set themselves apart from the competition by maximizing the amount of value to the end customer/user. However, while that conversation flows easily from many lips, today that cooperation and partnership is still rarely the case. Because of our traditional "short term" thinking, each member of the supply chain makes decisions that are in the best interest of their organization, but these decisions do not necessarily improve the amount of value supplied to our customer in the supply chain or to the end customer/user.  
So, what are the supply chain opportunities? Assuming we are the "Tier 2 Supplier" in the supply chain example above, here are some of the opportunities/strategies (note that all of these opportunities require superb communication between the supplier and upstream suppliers and downstream customers):
Discovering the Opportunities, Moving Left and Right in the Supply Chain
1) Identifying and supplying skills and capabilities (or skills that can be developed) that your customer wants but does not have. This could include skills outside of manufacturing such as Lean, IT, HR, and Accounting.

2) Identify local services that your customer needs that cannot be supplied by your offshore competitor (i.e. assembling sub-assemblies, emergency small lot parts/product shipments, prototypes).

3) Consider partnerships (in a shared risk arrangement) with upstream and downstream firms that have or are developing unique capabilities. For example, in the expansion of communications with the raw material suppliers, your organizations discovers that one of the raw material suppliers is developing a new process that would eliminate the requirement to NDT test the raw material (another example might be to eliminate the heat treat requirement). Your organization partners with this company to "lock-in" your company's ability to supply the improved value to the customer.  

Upgrading Your Sales Force

Consider upgrading your sales force so "technical" people, who understand your customer's product development process and product offerings, can make recommendations to your customers on: 

  • Alternate designs       
  • Alternate manufacturing processes
  • Alternate materials
  • Sub-assembly sourcing
  • Concurrent engineering possibilities
    which can be supplied or developed by your organization. The goal is to make your organization a necessary part of the customer's design and development process. 
    Both of the above strategies require a commitment to opening up the lines of communication and developing superb communication with all the members of the supply chain as  a starting point. This commitment may not have an immediate payback, but it will change how your organization views, understands, and appreciates "value" as defined by the customer.      
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    Next Edition 
  • Optimizing Your 5S Implementation - Some Thoughts and Considerations
  • The Third of Five Strategies for Competing in the U.S. and the Global Economy for Small and Medium size Manufacturers            
    Strategy #3 - Add/Find Global Niche Markets
  • Larry Rubrich
    WCM Associates LLC
    2010 WCM Associates
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