• Common Mistakes Companies Make When Starting Continuous Improvement

    Author: The Effective Syndicate | | Categories: Continuous Improvement , Continuous Improvement Coaching , Continuous Improvement Training

    Blog by The Effective Syndicate

    Running and maintaining a business is equally as challenging as starting a new business from scratch. With business expansion, new difficulties emerge, which require additional time and effort. Business coaches assist you in developing a plan for the growth of your business.


  • Lean Six Sigma

    Author: The Effective Syndicate | | Categories: Continuous Improvement , Process

    I was recently reading through the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) forum and came across a thread titled “What is Lean Six Sigma?” The person who started the thread posted the question with what they have come to understand to be the meaning of Lean Six Sigma. They started with a few definitions of lean straight from both the Urban dictionary (which is way out of context to this discussion, but still funny to read), and the free dictionary version of Lean. This person took the traditional version of lean, which is basically “less fatty” and tied it to Lean Six Sigma. They defined Lean Six Sigma as “Six Sigma without the fat”. To be honest, I love this definition, but I want to take it a bit further and give my spin on what Lean Six Sigma means.


  • Value Add vs. Non-Value Add: The Power of One Question

    Author: The Effective Syndicate | | Categories: Continuous Improvement , Process

    A few weeks ago, I was faced with the daunting task of moving across the United States with my family of four, two cats, a litter box, and everything we own in our Toyota Sienna minivan.

    One of the founding principles of Lean is the question between what "adds value" to a process and what doesn't. As explained in our Lean Primer series video (https://youtu.be/xAeDzukRMPg), for a process/step to be “value add”, it must meet the following three requirements:


  • Why Team Selection is a Critical Part of Problem Solving

    Author: The Effective Syndicate | | Categories: Continuous Improvement , Leadership , Teamwork

    Have you ever been stuck in a rut with problem solving activities? What causes stagnation in companies when it comes to solving problems? At its core, I like to break down problem solving into 2 key components. The first of these is tools and techniques, and the second is the team selection itself. We will focus on the tools and techniques in a future piece, but for now I want to spend a little time explaining why I believe that the “who” is more critical than the “how” when it comes to problem solving.

    I work with many companies who have extremely smart and capable people running the organization. A common problem that I tend to see is that a single person is charged with doing root cause analysis for issues within the company. Usually, this individual is either a QE or other individual with a technical background. The result of this approach also tends to have a common outcome. More often than not, the individual will come up with a solution that is driven by the data. Great! Problem solved, right? The next day, after the solution has been implemented, a new problem arises that was created by the solution to the first problem. The same individual is assigned to “fix” the new problem, and a solution is implemented. Then another problem arises from that fix, the cycle continues.


  • Lead the People & Manage the Process

    Author: The Effective Syndicate | | Categories: Continuous Improvement , Leadership , Process , Teamwork

    Last week, Supply Chain Now Radio hosted The Effective Syndicate President and Founder, Beau Groover, as he presented the webinar, "Lead the People - Manage the Process." If you missed the live webinar, you can view it here:


  • Theory of Constraints: A Bathtub Dilemma

    Author: The Effective Syndicate | | Categories: Continuous Improvement , Productivity

    After several weeks of training my son finally had his first track meet. He posted Personal Bests in both of his races. He was understandably a little sore and asked if he could take an Epsom Salt bath to help relax his muscles after dinner. Hearing this, my daughter also thought that sounded nice and asked if she could take one as well. Not considering any potential constraints, my wife and I agreed to let them both take baths.

    Shortly after, chaos ensued. One had water that was too hot, and the others was too cold. Both had added salt to their water, and my son simply had to add cold water to fix his issue. My daughter, however, was understandably upset when we explained that it would take a considerable amount of time for the water heater to warm up more water. She let the water out and moved on to something else. A few minutes later, my son informed us that he lost track of how much cold water was going into the tub; the water was now cold, and the water out of the spout wasn’t warm either. At this point I had two options: let out all of the water with neither of them taking a bath or boil water and add it to his bath. We opted for the second option, and I spent the next 15 minutes boiling pots of water and adding them into the tub.


  • Continuous Improvement: Expectations vs. Reality

    Author: The Effective Syndicate | | Categories: Continuous Improvement , Process , Productivity

    I recently posted a video clip from “The Karate Kid.” In the post, I spoke about the scene from the movie where Mr. Miyagi tells Daniel to either “Karate do yes” or “Karate do no.” He describes a half-hearted effort in karate as being the same as walking in the middle of the road. At some point you will be squished like a grape. A discussion about this scene with colleagues led to the realization that Lean and Continuous Improvement are very much the same way. You either need to do them with 100% commitment, or not do them at all. In this post, I will dive into some of the expectations that tend to become a pitfall for many companies starting their lean journey. I also want to cover the reality of a Lean Journey and what to expect when considering it for your situation.

    Following WWII, Japan needed a spark to ignite its economy. They looked to the successes of the U.S. and Ford’s production line. The shortcoming that they found was that the labor conditions were not suitable for a war-torn country. They needed something that would inspire and empower the workforce. They accomplished this primarily through a practice known as a "quality circle.” The output from the quality circle was two-fold: a production problem would be solved, but more importantly, the employees in the quality circle would develop critical problem-solving skills. This mentality created a culture within Toyota that would start a revolutionary way of thinking. We now use terms such as Lean, or Continuous Improvement to describe the efforts and methodologies of the Toyota Production System.


  • Continuous Improvement Stats You Need to Know

    Author: The Effective Syndicate | | Categories: Continuous Improvement , Culture

    Gallup’s most recent State of the Global Workplace report indicated the following:

    1) 85% of employees are not engaged or are actively disengaged
    2) As a result of this, approximately $7 trillion of productivity is lost every year

    You have probably heard these stats, and you are probably asking yourself what they have to do with "Continuous Improvement". The unfortunate truth is that all too often organizations associate Lean with the tools that it provides, not the cultural aspects that should accompany, if not precede, implementation of tools. They go hand in and.


  • Lean Thinking – To Go!

    Author: The Effective Syndicate | | Categories: Continuous Improvement , Culture

    In Lean Manufacturing, we reduce and remove variation of the operators by developing the “least waste way” of doing a task. We typically call this Standard Work (Work Content, Sequence and Time Components). Standard work is the best current model of doing the work in question, and when executed well, will produce consistent results. Results that you as a leader, and your customers can count on. This approach however, also applies to most any sort of job. If you run a customer service call center, don’t you want all your agents to answer the phone in the same way? If you are doing oil changes on automobiles, don’t you want a standard to ensure that you don’t let a car leave without oil in it? If you are serving cheeseburgers, don’t you want your customers to receive a consistent and delicious cheeseburger regardless of the time of day or night? This goes on and on.


  • Operations SOS: OEE, Common Problems, and Common Solutions

    Author: The Effective Syndicate | | Categories: Continuous Improvement , Process , Teamwork

    How do manufacturing companies define success? Although that is a loaded question with many possible answers, I want to focus on the productivity side of manufacturing. Manufacturing companies live and die by productivity rates. In this article, we will be focusing on Overall Equipment Effectiveness, or OEE, the three factors that drive this metric, the common bottlenecks associated with each factor, and some basic tools to deal with these bottlenecks.

    OEE is a common measurement term used in manufacturing. It calculates a percentage that can be used to gauge a factories pulse, and can be used to identify opportunities for improvement if used correctly. To determine a factories OEE, you first need to determine these three factors:


  • How to Get the Most Out of Your Consultant

    Author: The Effective Syndicate | | Categories: Continuous Improvement , Process

    So you’ve decided to bring in a consultant to provide particular expertise, help you solve a particularly thorny problem, or simply manage a project you don’t have time for. But are you effectively using all the resources that your consultant brings to the engagement?

    We have heard clients complain that “If I don’t ask exactly the right question in exactly the right way, I don’t really get the real answer. The consultant answers my question directly, but doesn’t really fulfill my need for information.” Good consultants give you answers to your direct questions; great consultants probe deeper to understand your true information needs - even the ones you didn’t know you needed!

    A good consultant will make good on the deliverables spelled out in your contract. A great consultant strives to deliver additional value above and beyond the scope statement and that includes providing resources that you may not have considered.