Volume 13 Number 10 - October 6, 2015


How easy is it for new employees to see and understand how things work at your organization? The more effortless it is, the more quickly they can contribute. A lack of systems, inconsistent systems, and violated systems increase costs enormously.

I recently drove through Northern Italy for 2+ weeks. Friends had warned me that Italian drivers are aggressive and recommended I take trains instead. Having driven without problems in countries where I don't speak the language (e.g., Germany, Spain) and in countries where traffic patterns and driving controls in cars are the opposite of what I'm used to (e.g., England, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia), I decided to drive.

I found an easy to understand and execute driving system in Italy, and one much safer than that employed on American roads. Only pass on the left and drive in the right most lane for your speed relative to that of surrounding traffic.

Traffic circles are hardly new and standardized signage quickly becomes second nature even to the Italian-illiterate driver.

Traffic patterns were also easily discernable in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City. While driving on the right side of the street is recommended, driving on the left for a short distance if more convenient is acceptable. Motor bikes curve and cut, but eye contact and standardized patterns again make it easy to understand the system. I quickly felt safer there than I do on the interstate highway near my home.

While each of these systems is different, they are obvious to an interested observer. Accepting that a system is different but effective is all that is required to get up to speed in a hurry.

If describing your systems is bogged down by exceptions, or difficult because they've never really been defined, the new employee learning curve is long and dangerous.

The Starting Pistol

Peggy Noonan:
"Decision-makers have the luxury of seeing life in the abstract. Normal people feel the implications of their decisions in the particular.”

The Tape

Rebecca Morgan:
"Vision is valuable; don't forget that details matter to those implementing the vision."

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.

October 29-30, 2015: Houston, TX: The APQC annual Process Conference includes 2 days of presentations on topics related to process definition, management, and control. It is preceded by 3 days of workshops. While I have not yet attended this conference, my experience with APQC has been excellent. I would expect nothing less in Houston.

November 17-18, 2015: Orange County, CA: The sixth annual American Manufacturing Strategies Summit packs keynotes, small group deep dives and practitioner presentations into 2 full days. Technology, data analytics, Opex/Lean/CI, and workforce retention and development are just a few of the topics on the program. And as with most conferences, the best conversations often occur in the hallway with peers.

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

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