Volume 14 Number 1 - January 5, 2016


Garrison Keillor told his NPR audiences that the children in Lake Wobegon are all above average. While the statistical impossibility makes the statement funny, most of us believe our employees and our operations are above average. Is "average" bad?

There's nothing wrong with running a profitable manufacturing business that employees average people and provides average product and services. On average, that's what most companies do. But even that is not as easy as it sounds.

While some of us strive to be great, and I am always in support of that goal and the underlying actions required to reach it, many just don't have the energy.

If the best offer 99% on-time and in-full delivery, is my 95% all that bad? No it's not. Until everyone else is better. Then it's the kiss of death. Amazon is developing a core competency in delivery to overcome the now-annual December letdowns of its traditional delivery partners.

Average that is always average is one thing; average that sometimes slips to below average opens the doors to the wolves.

Unfortunately, average is a moving target, as is excellence. The bell curve keeps shifting to the right. Performance that yesterday put a company on the right end of the bell curve leaves them hanging on to the left tail for dear life today. Staying average requires continuous improvement. And it requires a tight bell curve, where the left side outliers are non-existent. That requires controlled processes.

Heck, if you're going to do all the work to stay average, you might as well consider becoming excellent. It's safer, and really no harder.

Lake Wobegon, where the women are strong and the men good looking, and the children... well, you know how that one goes.

The Starting Pistol

Albert Pike:
"What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”

The Tape

Rebecca Morgan:
"Share what you know. There is no other reason to know it."

January 24-25, 2016: Brussels, Belgium: Packaging is protection, marketing, handling, costly and environmentally challenging. The Global Packaging Summit is designed to provide state-of-the-art information to help you master all those challenges, and more.

February 17-18, 2016: Salt Lake City, UT: One of the best cultures and manufacturers in the United States, O. C. Tanner, is opening their doors to executives and managers of companies that want to learn how to create A Lean Transformation That Never Stops Improving. This E&Y Master Entrepreneur of the Year winner will share strategy, key tools, and coaching to enhance employee participation.

April 12-14, 2016: Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business presents its 4th annual Leading Through Excellence Summit. Join your peers in this opportunity to learn. Keynotes, breakout sessions, and simulations are augmented by workshops and plant tours.

April 19-20, 2016: Akron, OH: Hold the dates for this never-before-available peek into how Goodyear has dramatically improved both the speed and success of converting ideas into profitable products. Lean Product Development processes will be examined and the "fuzzy front end" will be made crystal clear.

May 3-5, 2016: Rosemont, IL: The Industry Week Best Plants Conference is now the Manufacturing and Technology Conference. This two day event continues to offer keynotes, plant visits, and insights from leaders in the manufacturing industry, along with increased focus on technology advances of importance.

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