Volume 13 Number 8 - August 4, 2015


I was recently in a Minerals Technology talc mine in Montana, and then in the processing plant. That company is investing heavily in its people and processes, based on the Toyota Production System (aka, “lean” to some), and the results show.

Virginia Mason and the Cleveland Clinic are two of many hospital systems improving effectiveness and seeing results from the thinking of the Toyota Production System (TPS).

Chemical companies (Midwest Industrial Supply in Canton, OH is one), jewelry design and manufacture companies (including OC Tanner and Lashbrook Designs – both in Salt Lake City, UT), oil and gas company Aera Energy and brewer MillerCoors are benefiting from applying the same thinking and tools.

It's possible to learn from anyone, regardless of how different they seem at first glance. Each of those companies, and thousands more, have observed TPS in action, taken every idea they were ready to understand, and modified it for their own success. And continued to modify as learning continued.

Much of TPS cannot be easily observed, especially in one visit. All of the tools are concepts that require modification for any specific circumstances faced.

TPS is not the answer for everyone or everything.

The primary lesson is that any one manufacturer faces few if any problems that haven't been successfully addressed by someone else.

Leaders seek first to understand. Whenever you have the opportunity to visit a business operation (Chipotle, a gas station, and a bank qualify here!), look for how they address problems. You may learn how NOT to do something, which is also an invaluable lesson.

The wheel was invented long ago, but has been much improved along the way. Depending on use, the modifications vary.

Observe, steal and modify and greater success is there for the taking.

The Starting Pistol

Edward de Bono:
"Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.”

The Tape

Rebecca Morgan:
"which is why an outside perspective can be of incredible value."

August 5, 2015: Cleveland, OH: Operational excellence is rarely a straight line. The discipline can be challenged, but even more critical, during periods of massive growth. Tour the Vitamix operations center, learning the long and winding road of the Vitamix Lean Journey. The in-depth conversations and Gemba experiences will include supply chain, shipping, tiered metrics, improvement processes, and cells. See how lean operations were able to successfully handle massive and unexpected growth, and how a current ERP systems change is providing a new challenge to the organization's operations.

September 2, 2015: East York, Ontario Canada: The primary reason Lean improvements don't stick is because management doesn't change its behavior. Visit this Tremco facility to learn about and see in operation an outstanding Lean Management System.

October 5-7, 2015: Las Vegas, NV: The annual APICS conference will once again present multiple tracks of expert presentations on supply chain, offer plant tours, and continuous networking opportunities. Join 2,000 of your peers in supply chain to learn what the best organizations are doing, and share your successes and struggles.

October 18-23, 2015: Cincinnati, OH: The AME international conference is in Cincinnati (the north side of the river!) this year. Plant tours, workshops, keynotes, special interest sessions, and practitioner presentations supported by numerous networking opportunities provide value alternatives every day. If you haven't attended an AME conference and want to learn about operational excellence, here's your chance. If you've already attended one, you already know the value.

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