Volume 13 Number 4 - April 7, 2015


The 2014 wildly successful Lego Movie was great advertising for developing mechanical and building skills required by the manufacturing industry. Unfortunately, the industry has done little to leverage that gift from Hollywood.

Sales of Lego sets are up. Kids are constructing and deconstructing structures they can visualize, as well as ones that evolve as they build. The structure can be a product, a building, a person, or just about anything else they can imagine. It's not too late for manufacturing to connect this type of play to the fascinating opportunities of the industry.

Lincoln logs have not enjoyed a similar resurgence, but could with some imagination by the folks at K'NEX. The logs are made of real wood, and designed for assembly into buildings of various sizes. The log shapes seriously restrict creativity to linear thinking, but can develop mechanical skills.

Electronic games have taught children problem solving, pattern identification, and that making mistakes is part of the learning process. Minecraft is an electronic game that teaches children to build whatever they want, including communities. While electronics limit much of the tactile mechanical learning of Lego or Lincoln logs, Minecraft offers a similar opportunity to envision, select components, and build.

Don't write off the ways children play today. The same lessons learned building a fort outside can be taught indoors. Then, when a child builds something she really likes, you can take her outside to build a larger version using accessible materials.

Opportunities to learn abound, for all of us.

The Starting Pistol

Antonio Porchia:
"We become aware of the void as we fill it.”

The Tape

Rebecca Morgan:
"Discomfort with ambiguity limits growth; grab on to it and go!"

April 9, 2015: Cleveland, OH: Wire-Net, the Cleveland area non-profit economic development organization that focuses on strengthening manufacturing, has asked Becky Morgan to present 2 hours of non-stop value for its membership. She will be discussing "Why Lean Doesn't Stick and What Company Leaders Can Do to Change That." Sign up now!

April 21-22, 2015: Henderson, KY: This is a rare opportunity to invest 2 full days in hands-on learning of Toyota's Leader Development. Your host, Accuride, will focus on Toyota’s leader development path, servant leadership approach, Jishuken, leader’s role in Kaikaku, leader’s role in Kaizen, leader’s standard work, and Toyota’s Improvement and Coaching Kata. To reinforce the value of the seminar discussions, we will then benchmark Toyota’s automobile manufacturing plants in Princeton, IN and conduct an assessment Gemba walk through Accuride’s, 2014 AME Manufacturing Excellence Award-winning, Henderson, KY steel wheel manufacturing operation.

April 30, 2015: Burlington, Ontario Canada: Ron Harper, President of Cogent Power, will be leading a full-day workshop on A3 Problem Solving. When the company president can take the lead, you know they're good!

May 4-6, 2015: Charlotte, NC: The annual Industry Week Best Plants conference is a great place to tour facilities, network, and participate in breakout sessions to expand your understanding of excellence. For those of you interested in the role of IT, IndustryWeek Best Plants Conference attendees will have free access to MESA's North American Conference, co-located at the Charlotte Convention Center.

May 19, 2015: Jasper, IN: Jasper Engines and Transmissions is a remanufacturer with multiple locations experiences high mix and volume variation, including the condition of incoming product. The culture of JET, an ESOP company, centers around continuous improvement that supports their Five Pillars to Management: safety, quality, productivity, customer service and reduction of waste.

June 24, 2015: Poway, CA: If you're interested in learning about Lean Accounting and useful operational measures from your financials, Metrics that Matter is a great opportunity. This full-day workshop with Brian Maskell, one of my favorite Lean Accounting gurus, will address all your initial questions, and no doubt, generate many more.

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