• Recovery Thinking

    Author: The Effective Syndicate | | Categories: Leadership , Productivity

    We are now (hopefully) about in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s still a day-to-day situation. The first case in the US was confirmed on January 20. It’s hard to believe that it has been almost a quarter of 1 singular topic and news story.


  • 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.


  • When's the Right Time to Implement an ERP?

    Author: The Effective Syndicate | | Categories: ERP , Productivity

    In the world of continuous improvement, having data is a cornerstone to understanding where to improve and measuring your efforts in doing so. So it’s natural to want to build technology systems to capture data across your business. A popular choice of technology solutions is the integrated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. This blog is focused on when is the right time to implement an ERP system relative to the Continuous Improvement process.

    ERPs come in many shapes and sizes, from behemoth, multi-million-dollar solutions that require an army of analysts to maintain to small, cloud-based subscription models. There are even free open source versions out there as well. But regardless of the solution you choose – a detailed topic in and of itself – implementing an ERP system is a daunting task. Generally, the implementation costs far outweigh the cost of the software and the risk to your business of a poorly-implemented ERP can be catastrophic.


  • 5S For Personal Productivity

    Author: The Effective Syndicate | | Categories: Productivity

    We at the Effective Syndicate have always been fans of increasing our personal productivity. Notebooks, apps, calendars, and techniques like Pomodoro . . . we eat these up, always trying to squeeze more awesome accomplishments into our day. Plus, we're Lean Thinkers, so it's only natural that we've come up with 5 steps towards personal productivity based on the principles of 5S!

    Check out this infographic which outlines how to 5S your "To-Do" list to make it a "Done" list and let us know your feedback.


  • What to Look for in a Lean Consultant

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


    How many times have you heard this kind of comment from friends, colleagues, and business acquaintances- “I just hired a Consultant, and they are the worst ever!” I would guess more than once, right?

    While there’s no question that many so-called ”lean consultants” or ”lean experts” have a less than stellar reputation and deserve it, not paying attention or being sloppy when hiring a lean consultant partner will likely result in less than desired improvements, sometimes even worse results, and mutual frustration - no matter how good or bad the lean partner is.

    So, what should you look for in a Lean Consultant to avoid all of the hassles?

    I wish I had a well thought out, highly educated, straightforward, one-size-fits-all, Jedi-master level answer to that question, young padawan, but there isn’t one. And, that’s because: It depends!