Volume 10 Number 6 - June 5, 2012


If you know a company — customer, supplier, friend, or your own — that could benefit
from improved operations, let us know.
Your best interest is our best interest.

The Finish Strong® monthly e-newsletter is for business leaders who recognize Operations as a strategic function that creates competitive advantage, profitability and brand loyalty to the marketplace.

These brief articles, list of events, and amended quote will make you think.
Go ahead: test us


"Gemba" is a Japanese word that means "the real place." It's regularly used in a company adopting a lean philosophy, as it implies: "let's go get the real facts and not sit in an office and think we know what's going on." Much too much time is wasted by believing we know the facts without going to gemba to truly observe.

I've been in hundreds of North American manufacturing facilities. I've talked with people who have been in Asian factories, and read a great deal of reliable journals and authors about Asian factories. But until May of 2012, I had not gone to gemba to truly learn about Asian factories.

I had the pleasure of walking the floors of a capital equipment manufacturer in Shanghai, and electronic factories in Suzhou and Wuxi China as well as outside Manila Philippines. I was able to interact freely with management and production workers. I was also able to see Chinese and Philippine lifestyles firsthand.

While what I had heard and read prepared me well, what I saw was fascinating. I learned so very much about the similarities and differences of processes, culture, and regulations. I won't pretend that seeing six plants in two industries in two countries has given me a complete and accurate understanding of the facts of Asian manufacturing, but I will say I understand much more than I did a month ago.

There's nothing like a trip to gemba for gathering facts. We should all go there regularly.


When I explain to people that my pre-consulting career taught me that challenges are more similar than they are different, many argue that I oversimplify. It's often better to simplify than to complicate.

Congratulations to friend and client Vince Slusarz, founder and President of Gotta Groove Records in Cleveland OH for being selected as one of 9 area companies to work with NASA engineers to improve manufacturing processes.

NASA engineer Paul Bartolotta described the similarities between his "normal" job and working with Gotta Groove: "If you look at the vinyl presses, they deal with automated valves. They have thermal automation issues. Those are the same issues we deal with when we're launching a rocket."

Once again, the ability to see similarities instead of concentrating on uniqueness helps a manufacturer improve.


The Starting Pistol
Thomas Alva Edison:
“Discontent is the first necessity of progress.”

The Tape
Rebecca Morgan:
"Doing something about it is the second."


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