• 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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!


  • The Trust Factor: Cultivating an Approachable Leadership Team

    Author: The Effective Syndicate | | Categories: Culture , Leadership , Teamwork

    Trust is a little word that carries with it a gigantic impact.  Whether I am speaking about a personal, intimate, or work relationship, Trust is the single most important component you can have (or too often don’t have).  Trust is hard to develop for lots of us, and most of us have been burned once or twice by trusting the wrong person.  And as the saying goes, once burned twice shy.  However, if you have your sights on leading, Trust is a non-negotiable component. So, what’s a person to do?  Let’s talk about how we build and cultivate trust in the workplace.   

    Let’s start with the fundamental concept of trust: What does it mean to trust someone?  For this entry, I am talking mainly about the workplace, but the concepts are the same whether it’s a personal or a professional relationship.  Also, I am not a psychologist, so please read these from the perspective of someone who has watched, coached and led human teams for 20 years, not someone who wants a job as a college professor. 


  • 2 Rules for “Not Helping” Like a Leader

    Author: The Effective Syndicate | | Categories: Leadership

    This article was written by Dan Rockwell on February 1st, and it is short and worth sharing.  Great message!

    Over-helpful leaders encourage irresponsibility and low engagement.


  • 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.


  • Trust

    Author: The Effective Syndicate | | Categories: Culture , Leadership , Teamwork

    I do a lot of work on company culture for my clients. It is an amazing thing that most companies today have devolved to a place where the culture isn’t very healthy. According to Gallup in 2016, 70% of American workers are either Disengaged or Actively Disengaged from their jobs (for discussion purposes, disengaged means that they basically couldn’t care less). Actively disengaged means they are either consciously or sub-consciously working against you.

    For the places that actually take the time to do employee surveys, it shows up in several key (and mostly universal) areas. The survey will show things like:


  • Self-Leadership: Be Present

    Author: The Effective Syndicate | | Categories: Leadership , Self-help

    Be right where you are, right now. It is both very simple and extremely difficult to do. One of the big challenges that I see over and over (myself included) is the ability to be present, wherever you are currently. It seems that we develop pretty tough and nasty habits around not being where we are, but always being somewhere else in our minds. My hope through this little written thinking is that you will take what I am sharing with you and reflect on it a little while. With that reflection, you can develop just a little more strength and ability to be more of where you are and less of where you’re not.