Volume 14 Number 10 - October 11, 2016


The Association for Manufacturing Excellence announced Goodyear's Akron Innovation Center as a recipient of the AME Excellence Award. It is one of the very first new product development organizations to win the award. Congrats to Norbert Majerus and the entire Innovation team for this significant accomplishment. I must share that their processes are replicated in the other two innovation centers in Europe. I am proud to have been a part of their success.


More than half of the manufacturing executives I talk with feel anxiety with the ambiguity of what it takes to make drastic improvements in operations. If there were a 5 or 10 step plan that worked for every situation, I would certainly share it. There isn't. Here is what I can tell you for sure.

If you're not serious about becoming remarkably better, don't try. It requires focus, energy, leadership and political capital. It requires going far beyond your comfort zone and much more than hope.

You will need to identify the top priorities for creating extraordinary change. Do you need a 50% reduction in time-to-market, a 25% reduction in product cost, a supply chain that is technologically advanced? An accurate assessment of current capabilities and resource commitment is also in order. A strategy for education, training, concurrent activities, and resource management that reflects those is necessary. Aligned views on risks and speed is imperative. Specifics depend on where the organization is currently, and where it needs/wants to go.

Your leadership team will have to become competent within ambiguity, within mistakes, and within the learning process. That means confidence despite not having all the answers, trying a logical step but in doing so realizing how little about the process we actually know, and then taking the time to truly understand how and why we were wrong. And the team will have to help everyone else in the organization become equally comfortable. The only way to do this is to, as Nike says, just do it. Work with a trusted advisor that can anticipate and navigate the rapids. Based on your answers to important questions along the way and that person's experience, she will warn you of impending dangers. The goal is to move as quickly as possible without shattering the organization. Why go slower? And moving faster is disastrous.

Your leadership team will have to become involved, like the pig, not the chicken. No, you won't be slaughtered. But you can't just drop by once in a while to cluck about the importance of big changes. Meaningful involvement is required of everyone else too. If you allow some to sit arms crossed on the sidelines after the first year or two, it's time to find out why they care so little about the future of the organization.

Your leadership team will have to make changes. Big changes. Radical performance improvements don't emanate from dabbling. It may mean different methods of getting information, and equally likely, getting different more valuable information. It means participation in management systems that provide awareness of daily activities and problems, being and holding others accountable, focus on priorities, and consistency. It may mean a step back to position the organization for a giant leap forward.

Does this list scare you? If so, look again at why you want to make radical improvements to become among the best. Then decide which view is less frightening for the future of your organization.

Check out my new video series, Manufacturing Greatness, now available through my website. Additionally, my new book, Start Smart, Finish Strong: Forging Your Path to Operational Excellence and Long-Term Success in the Manufacturing World will be available for Kindle and in paperback through Amazon in mid-October. I am always energized by sharing what I've learned to help manufacturing leaders succeed.

Effective Benchmarking

The Starting Pistol

Sigmund Freud:
"Neurosis is the inability to tolerate ambiguity.”

The Tape

Rebecca Morgan:
"“...then neurosis prevents greatness, as radical improvement requires acceptance of ambiguity along the way."

October 24-28, 2016: Dallas, TX: The annual AME conference will be in Dallas this year. As always, great plant tours, keynotes, practitioner presentations, workshops, and small group conversations on issues of importance to YOU.

November 2-4, 2016: Chicago, IL: If you are searching to better understand The Internet Of Things (IoT) the IOT Emerge 2016 conference at McCormick Place will provide a fabulous learning opportunity.

Feb 19-21, 2017: San Diego, CA: If that Internet of Things (IoT) has you scratching your head, here's another opportunity to get your questions answered, ranging from changes in the business model to security to data strategies. Check out the Industry of Things World USA conference, brought to you by TechForge publishing company.

Check out the Events page on our webiste for more information.

Image Map