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May 1, 2012

Avoiding Conflict at Your Workplace

By Charaee May 1, 2012

Workplace Violence, Any Time – Any Where

Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site.  It can affect and involved employees, clients, customers and visitors. Homicide is currently the fourth-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States.

There are four recognized types of workplace violence.  They include:

  1. An employee involved with a criminal outsider (e.g. robbery)
  • Assailant has no business relationship to workplace
  • Motive is to commit robbery or other criminal act
  • Accounts for most of fatalities from workplace violence
  1. An employee involved with a client (e.g. customer, student, patient)
  • Assailants can be current or former customers or clients such as passengers, patients, students, inmates, criminal suspects or prisoners
  • The workers attacked typically provide direct services to the public

In some industries, violence by customers or clients occurs on a daily basis, especially verbal threats

  1. Assailant has employment-related involvement
  • Current or former employee or manager
  • An employee involved with a co-worker
  1. An employee involved with a spouse or other significant relationship
  • Assailant confronts a worker, at the worksite, with whom they have a personal relationship outside of work.
  • Personal relations include:
    • Current or former spouse
    • Lover
    • Friend
    • Relative
    • Acquaintance

Companies should take it upon themselves to:

1. Develop a Workplace Violence Prevention Policy

    • A policy should carefully define what workplace violence is, and should be written to complement any existing policies that deal with assistance programs. The policy should also let employees know what help is available from the employer.

    2. Train Employees

      • Procedures need to be developed to respond to situations in which violence erupts in the workplace. Employees should be trained on what specifically they should do when they spot it. Emphasis should be placed on how coworkers or close friends may assist in detecting potential violence. In addition, training should be given to managers and supervisors, human resources personnel and company security. The policy and procedures need to be communicated to all employees, with their specific reporting protocol.

      A number of different actions in the work environment can trigger or cause workplace violence. It may even be the result of non-work-related situations such as domestic violence or “road rage.” Workplace violence can be inflicted by an abusive employee, a manager, supervisor, co-worker, customer, family member, or even a stranger.

      Whatever the cause or whoever the perpetrator, workplace violence is not to be accepted or tolerated.

      April 24, 2012

      TWI Job Relations Session 1

      By Pat Boutier April 24, 2012

      Management Culture or Cultural Engineering & TWI Job Relations Blog

      Please read and answer the two questions below:

      Why do managers think they don’t need to learn how to deal with employees?

      Do any of the numbered items below ring through with yourself, or with managers you have observed?

      1)”Basically if a manager has treated one personnel problem successfully, he thinks everyone should be able to handle it too.”

      2) “Everyone has had a tremendous amount of personnel training, they should know how to deal with people problems.”

      3)  “I just wish they would all grow up and behave.”

      4) “We don’t have any real personnel problems, everyone is happy to have a job.”

      5) “Management doesn’t have it on their priority list.”

      A- Myself: please select one or more of the numbered responses, 1-5:

      B- My management: please select one or more of the numbered responses, 1-5

      March 20, 2012

      Achoo! Uh-oh, I think it’s the flu

      By Esteban Pedraza March 20, 2012
      The flu shot prevents recipients from contracting the flu.

      Have you gotten your flu shot?

      According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2003 American businesses lost earnings due to influenza illnesses and loss of life was $16.3 billion. What does this figure mean in a day to day business context? In 2005, the average per-employee cost of absenteeism was $660 a day in lost productivity according to CCH incorporated (a leading provider of human resources and employment law information). How can companies eliminate this loss of money, this waste?

      The single best way to prevent seasonal flu, according to the CDC, is to get a yearly flu vaccine, but good health habits and antiviral medications are other measures that can help protect against the flu. Studies have shown that American companies have had some success reducing the number of sick days taken by workers by offering the flu vaccine at the plant or office, not only is this more convenient for employees but it also reduces the time employees have to take away from work to receive the vaccination.

      Whether the flu vaccine is offered through an employer sponsored event or off site one of the biggest barriers for employees to taking the flu vaccine is lack of information/understanding about the flu and flu vaccine. Some misconceptions regarding the flu vaccine are that you can get the flu from the vaccine itself or you are protected from the vaccine you received three years ago. One of the company’s measures to prevent seasonal flu should always include educating the employees on what the flu is, how it can hurt you and how the flu vaccine can help.

      Companies should always educate employees on good health habits and strategies to prevent the spread of germs.

      Always Remember:

      • Wash hands with soap and water and/or use an alcohol-based hand rub
      • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze & throw the tissue in the trash after using it
      • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way
      • Try to avoid close contact with sick people
      • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them

      The CDC has put together a FREE toolkit for businesses and employers that provide educational material that can be used to fight the seasonal flu and help companies eliminate the loss of money caused by the flu (

      February 7, 2012

      ISO Excited!

      By rhernandez February 7, 2012
      Quality Control 4

      Image via Flickr

      What are the benefits of running your business systematically?

      1. Setting goals and establishing a culture of customer satisfaction and continual improvement enables an organization to maintain and grow.
      2. Working with employees and gaining consensus of the best way to conduct different processes (procedures) and activities (work instructions) ensures buy in, efficiency and productivity.
      3. Documenting best practices ensures consistency (all perform processes and activities in the same, accepted best way) and continuity (both current and future employees perform processes and activities in the same, accepted best way).
      4. Monitoring and measuring processes to prevent problems from occurring and taking long term corrective actions when problems do occur leads to increased productivity and profitability.
      5. Effectively training and enabling employees ensures highly qualified and motivated employees and results in higher productivity, increased customer satisfaction and improved profitability.

      The ISO family of standards (ISO 9001, AS9100, AS9110, ISO 14001, etc.) provides guidelines for conducting and managing business systematically, efficiently and effectively.

      February 2, 2012

      Coaching To Accelerate Improvement Projects

      By ayanez February 2, 2012

      There are several elements that can affect the time to complete an Improvement Project (IP). The following is a partial list than can influence the time to finish a project:

      • Project selection that is relevant and linked to corporate goals
      • Type of project (e.g., Kaizen, Lean, Six Sigma or Design for Lean Six Sigma (DFLSS))
      • Scope of project
      • Project financial impact
      • Ease of implementation
      • Roles & Responsibilities of Stakeholders
      • Project sponsor support or engagement
      • Training
      • Coaching Green (GB) or Black Belts (BB) candidates
      Coach Fitz

      Image via Flickr

      As GB/BB concludes their training, they are assigned an IP that they would facilitate and take to fruition. Some belts think that Lean Six-Sigma (LSS) is about using as many tools as possible for each phase of the DMAIC methodology. This is where the coach can provide feedback on what tools make sense to use and provide a direction on the next steps.

      The coach can also lead the facilitations of the first kaizen events and have the belts participate on the event, and learn from it, so that they can lead such event.

      The coach does not need to be an expert on the process but needs to have a vast experience on the DMAIC or DFLSS methodology. The coaching sessions should not be prescriptive, meaning guiding the belt step by step, but rather should be treated like a sounding board where the belt can bounce ideas.

      Coaching should take place on a biweekly basis and should last for about one hour. The coaching is more efficient if the belt provide information before each coaching session.

      The bottom line is not to overlook coaching sessions.

      Do you use coaching in your company? Have you seen a difference in the impact of project completed?

      January 17, 2012

      Top 10 reasons to attend the 2012 Texas Manufacturers Summit

      By Jennifer Wilson January 17, 2012

      Manufacturing is an exceedingly important industry sector in our state – maintaining our strength is a key economic driver. We’ve rewritten the rules regarding ROI on conferences. Gone are the days when you spent three days out of the office only to return with fragments of useful information. Join us this coming February for an informative day of learning that impacts every facet of your business!

      1. Competitive advantage. You need to figure out how to evolve your business and this Summit is an important gathering for people like you – people figuring out how to make their business succeed in challenging times.
      2. See all the best tools in one place. You will meet with established leaders, Texas resources and creative innovators to find the right tools and technologies to take your business to the next level.
      3. Real-world solutions to your real-world problems. Summit sessions and keynote presentations are designed to highlight how forward-thinking users are accessing current and new technologies to drive change in their organizations.
      4. Stay ahead of the curve. Leaders who understand how to be collaborative, flexible and transparent will be the most sought-after employers.
      5. Topnotch Keynote Speakers. Dr. F. Barry Lawrence, Director, Industrial Distribution Program at Texas A&M University System; Representative Joe Straus, Speaker of the House and Mr. Richard Fisher, President & Chief Executive Officer, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
      6. Breakout Sessions. Three tracks: Mix and match or stick with one track all day! Choose from informative tracks on Policy & Regulatory Issues, The Business of Manufacturing, and Innovation & Growth during four sessions.
      7. Case studies from experts detailing practical advice and best practices for all manufacturers, large, medium and small.
      8. Meet & Greet. Network with fellow senior-level manufacturers and manufacturing support organizations in an interactive environment throughout the Summit.
      9. Exhibitors. Visit Summit exhibitors for a taste of the latest and greatest resources and technologies to support your manufacturing operations.
      10. We’ll be there – of course! TMAC is a proud sponsor of this important inaugural event. Join us for the Welcome Reception on February 14th and stop by our booth and breakout sessions during the Summit on the 15th. But don’t wait! Registration ends soon!

      Planning on attending? Use #txmfgsummit2012 on Twitter and share the event on LinkedIn and Facebook.

      December 8, 2011

      How do you move a barn?

      By Mark Sessumes December 8, 2011

      Furthermore, what does moving a barn (click link for video) have to do with Lean?

      Moving the barn

      Moving the barn

      • Moving the barn is like moving an organization.
      • There’s a BIG difference between the tools and the ability to develop the various working parts to be successful.
      • There were tools involved – saws, rulers, welding equipment, hammers.  But that’s not the key to success.
      • Many different roles with different responsibilities.
        • Someone in leadership had a vision and compelling need.  They had to know where they were and where they wanted to go.
        • Leadership recognized the value of ‘people power’ , not simply cutting edge technology.  No cranes or trucks involved but there was innovation (or at least ingenuity).
        • Leadership created a plan with many parts – preparation, communication, coordination, schedules, execution, etc.
          • Someone had to build the hand rails.
          • Someone had to recruit the people.
          • Given the caps, overalls, and cowboy hats, I bet there was barbeque involved.  Someone had to prepare it.
          • Someone had to announce instructions using the bullhorn.
          • Someone had to run the video camera.
        • There were measures.  Someone calculated the weight of the barn and the number of people to know each had to lift their 90lbs.  They knew how many feet to arrive at the destination.
        • The announcer was coordinating the actions of the group.  He was also giving them recognition and encouragement.
        • People had to show up and participate.

      TMAC’s emphasis in Lean deployment is the ability to identify and prepare the different roles to fulfill their respective responsibilities to move the organization along the journey to achieve the vision.  Tools are integral to the journey but in themselves are insufficient.  Working in ‘the white space’ beyond the punctuated activities related to training, events, and projects requires that we develop each role to fulfill their responsibilities.

      • Top Leadership – focus, inspire, and engage the organization.  From strategy development/planning to management systems to measurements, recognition/rewards, communication, etc.
      • Value Stream Managers – transform the value stream.  Create and implement the VS management system (not just a map), and actively manage the transformation to the future state across multiple improvement activities.
      • Supervision – change behaviors.  Designing new methods and creating a sum of daily habits conforming to the new methods are two different things.  Supervision focus on changing behaviors including but not limited to safety, standardization, simplification, scientific method, social responsibility, and self-discipline.  There are multitudes of mechanisms to accomplish each.  What do you use?
      • Workforce – participate.  Either in structured projects or equally importantly, outside of formal projects/events.  Getting them to show up, mentally, physically.
      • Coaches – guide and mentor the other roles.  Are you prepared to guide top leadership?  Do you know what they should do?

      What are you doing to work in the white space?

      December 6, 2011

      But we have to…

      By raikman December 6, 2011

      Some Lean practitioners have promoted the use of a third type of value-add: Non-Value-Add Required (NVAR).

      Value-Add Ratio

      Also known as Business Non-value Add, these activities are those that must be performed for legal or regulatory requirements.  Another consideration is whether the process would fail altogether if the process step were eliminated.  It is important to keep in mind that these activities are still a form of Non-Value Add.  So the goal from a Lean practitioner standpoint for NVAR activities is to minimize or (if possible) to eliminate these process steps.

      A Fundamental Lean Measure: Process Cycle Efficiency

      Once you have agreed on the definition of CVA a key measure to understand for any Lean practitioner is the Process Cycle Efficiency (PCE – also called value-add ratio).  This is simply the ratio of the total customer value add time for a single item (or transaction) divided by the total process lead time to deliver the product (or service).  This is the key performance measure of any process.

      A number of Lean writers estimate that a typical process has a PCE of 5% or less.  In other words, 95% of the time required to move a product (or information) from start to finish are due to non-value add activities.  Common examples of such activities include waiting, performing rework, reviewing information, dealing with defects / errors / mistakes, moving items, and watching.

      Past research for a variety of types of business processes resulted in the following figures for a typical PCE, and ‘world class’ PCE (George Group, 2004):

      Type of Process Typical PCE World Class PCE
      Machining 1% 20%
      Fabrication 10% 25%

      (Batch Transfer)

      15% 35%
      Continuous Process/ Assembly

      (Continuous /One Piece Flow)

      30% 80%
      Business Processes


      10% 50%
      Business Processes


      5% 25%

      My own experience is that the values in the table above for ‘typical’ processes are somewhat generous.  That is, the values are too high.  I have seen PCE values well below 1% for many processes.  In short, while the practice of determining the PCE for any process is an important one, it can also be very humbling.

      The Challenge of Defining Value

      As noted previously, both new and experienced Lean practitioners sometimes struggle with defining value.  I hope the guidelines covered in Parts 1 and 2 of this blog will help to make this task a little easier.  But even if you still find it challenging, I would suggest that the time spent discussing, debating, and arguing over how to categorize each process step in terms of CVA is exactly the sort of thing you should be doing as a lean practitioner.  Working through this categorization is fundamental to developing Lean thinking, and hence is always worth the extra time required.

      Finally, from a Lean practitioner standpoint you should always keep in mind the following rule of thumb when working on various types of activities:

      • Customer Value-Add : Optimize
      • Non-Value-Add Required: Minimize
      • Non-Value Add : Eliminate

      December 1, 2011

      Defining value, part deaux

      By raikman December 1, 2011

      In part 1 of this topic the fundamental concept of customer value was discussed.  Before applying lean methods to improve a process, the first step is to define exactly what value means for that process.  Or more accurately, to define what value means for the customers of that process.

      Does your process contain too many non-value added activities?

      What's the value?

      This understanding of what adds value – which comes from an understanding of customer requirements – can then be used to categorize each process step as either Customer Value-Add (CVA) or Non-Value-Add (NVA).  Once this categorization is performed a lean practitioner can focus on eliminating or minimizing non-value-add activities.  Sounds simple, and for many lean projects it can be that straightforward.

      As was explained in Part 1 of Defining Value, there are two key characteristics of process steps that add customer value:

      1)      Change to materials OR information

      2)      Something for which a customer will pay

      So to be clear: A customer value-add process step must cause both a change to materials (OR information) AND be something for which customers will pay.  Examples of such activities in manufacturing include cutting metal, assembling a wiring harness, and painting a panel.  In a transactional process CVA activities include analyzing data, writing a report, approving a loan, performing a credit check, and answering customer questions.

      The Second Time Around

      Not covered in Part 1 was the situation where any of these activities are done a second time due to a mistake made the first time.  In this case the process step should not be categorized as customer value-add.  Such an activity is a form of rework, and although it may meet the first part of the definition of customer value-add (a change to materials or information) it fails the second part (activities for which a customer will pay).  Think about it:  If you purchase a new television, would you want to pay for rework performed on that TV?  Or if you submit an application to refinance your home loan do you want to pay for mistakes made by the staff of the bank?

      One easy way to check if an activity is non-value-add is to see if the letters “re” are used in describing the task.  Some NVA examples include: rework, review, rewrite, repaint, retest, recheck, return, recall, retype, retrain, reissue, reship, redesign.  Always keep in mind the lean goal to ‘do it right the first time’.

      Assessing Value in Internal Processes

      This approach to classifying activities as CVA or NVA seems pretty straightforward for most manufacturing processes, and even most service processes.  Where many lean practitioners struggle is when they are working to improve internal processes that may not directly impact the external customer.  Examples of such processes include payroll, month-end close, hiring/HR, and regulatory processes.  Clearly such processes do result in a change to materials or information.  But just as clearly, external customers are not willing to pay for these types of activities.

      There are two keys to assessing value in such processes.  The first is the previously mentioned question of who is the customer of the process.  But the second consideration is to answer the question: Are we looking at the process level, or at the organization level?  The answers to these questions will help in characterizing the process steps.

      To be clear, when speaking of organization level I am referring to the value stream used to meet the needs of the external customer by the organization.  This value stream – sometimes referred to as the order fulfillment process – is really made up of a series of sub-processes including order entry, scheduling, operations, packaging, and delivery.  The customer at the organization level is the customer who pays for the product or service they receive.

      On the other hand, the process level refers to any process within an organization whether it is part of the order fulfillment process (such as operations) or is a support process (such as payroll or hiring).  The customer of the hiring process is the department that needs a new employee.  The customer of the month-end-close process is the management team.

      Now let’s look more closely at a process like payroll.  Does the external customer – i.e., the paying customer – care about payroll of their supplier?  No, they do not.  So at the organizational level, the payroll process does not contain any CVA activities.

      But now consider the customers of the payroll process: employees (who want to be paid), managers (who need to track costs), and the government (who need the information to tax the company and its employees).  Each of these entities do value the activities required to provide them with the various products (checks, reports, information) of the payroll process.  So at the process level, there are CVA activities.

      And here is the clincher: What if the company decided to outsource payroll?  That is, what if they asked a third party to perform the process of payroll.  Would the company pay the third party to perform this process?  Absolutely.  Therefore, one can infer that the company values the critical activities performed in the payroll process.  So now we have met the two requirements of a CVA activity covered in Part 1: (a) Change to material OR information, and (b) Something for which a customer will pay.

      Do you have non-value add elements in your processes? What are you doing to make your processes more efficient?

      November 15, 2011


      By jcrosswell November 15, 2011
      Change sign

      Are you open to change?

      When implementing Lean transformation projects one concept that I have always included in the training material is R=Q X A:

      (R)esults = the (Q)uality of the solution times the (A)cceptance.

      Recently I have worked on a large transformation project that includes a significant quantity of classroom training and Rapid Improvement Events (RIE) over several months. In the past there have been some disappointing experiences with companies that seem to want to implement Lean  only to go through the motions - and ending up in a place where they could not sustain the improvements they made. The culture of the company that I am currently working with is very traditional and relatively resistant to change. The management is knowledgeable of the benefits that can be achieved by using Lean practices but they are reluctant to make significant changes. My working partner and I are helping the RIE teams develop Lean processes. We agree the changes the teams have come up are low risk and are very doable. In fact, since we began working with this company we have always agreed that common Lean techniques such as cellular flow could be applied to almost all the customer’s value-streams.

      However my partner and I do disagree significantly on our approach.

      Since this organization has proven to be very conservative, I have taken the approach of supporting the limited changes they approve whereas my colleague continues to try and persuade them to embrace larger changes. In some cases his approach has intensified their resistance. I see it as a “human relations” issue. I agree that the company will get better results with more significant changes, but since management is very conservative I support their limited approvals. So far this has worked well and is continuing to improve. Once the employees gain experience with the limited changes they are taking more initiative to continue improving their processes. The teams have actually continued the changes to some processes to the point we originally estimated could have been achieved by making the larger change initially. I think either approach could be the most appropriate depending of the situation. I would like to hear from others who have had similar experiences and your success using one or the other approach:

      A)     Accepting a limited amount of change to begin with, relying that the small successes will help continuous change become part of the culture

      B)      Pushing for higher expectations and risk that larger changes will be resisted or not approved.

      Which has worked better for you?

      Related Post:
      How to get Results: R=Q x A

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