Volume 11 Number 3 - March 5, 2013


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


Many companies say, "we tried Lean; it didn't work for us." I'm not sure how focus on customer value, eliminating waste and developing problem solving skills in all employees applies to some companies but not others, but I certainly do understand how it could "not work for us."

Companies often have difficulty maintaining the initial gains of lean activities because they keep managing the same old way. That simply doesn't work when we're expecting everyone else to toss out their old behaviors and keep new ones.

The 3 primary aspects of a Lean Management System are: (1) Leader Standard Work -- a method to ensure that managers focus on the important things every day and reinforce that same behavior in others; (2) visual control systems -- easy ways to quickly detect gaps between "what should be happening" and "what is happening" so that action can be taken to solve the problem; and (3) daily accountability -- a series of daily tiered meetings that encourage employee groups to solve the problems they can and to quickly raise awareness of those they cannot to appropriate others.

These 3 interwoven elements of Lean management sound very easy, and in fact are with proper understanding and practice, but many managers and leaders find them just too much change for themselves.

Without methods of detecting gaps and addressing them quickly and reliably, why would anyone wonder why employees drift from the new lean behaviors back to the old non-lean ones? Of course, in those situations, "lean just didn't work for us."


Every organization with more than one employee has hired someone. Few if any among us have not made hiring mistakes.

I'm not convinced that long involved hiring processes are more successful than others, but I am convinced that those who actually know and can recognize successful characteristics in employees have much greater success.

When working for TRW in the 1980's, I fell in love with a resume (Duke and Virginia Tech, plus well-regarded previous employers), but the gentleman didn't make it through the first 90 days. Man, was I wrong.

The 2013 NFL draft will be held April 25. Prior to that date, hundreds of experienced football and position experts will have studied tape, attended live games, interviewed, measured, given Wunderlic and now a new aptitude test, completed background checks, talked with former coaches and interviewed again the vast majority of draft-eligible players that teams will consider drafting (hiring).

Their success rate is abysmal. There have been #1 overall selection busts and late round and undrafted all-pros.

Toyota does NOT look for automotive experience, but rather for teamwork, initiative, leadership, problem solving thinking and listening skills.

If your hiring process doesn't work (what should be happening vs what is happening indicates a worrisome gap), examine your best employees before interviewing potential new ones. Learn how to recognize characteristics of success in your organization. Don't hire a resume, or a fast time in the 40-yard; hire someone who fits your organization.



The Starting Pistol
Steve Jobs:
"Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected."

The Tape
Rebecca Morgan:
"If you accept less from yourself, don't expect any more from your co-workers."


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