Food for Thought "If you have the right people, with good, basic values and good work ethic, you can have a tremendous journey."

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Food for Thought 2 "The follow-up in my Food for Thought series, with more focus on my experiences with Six Sigma and Kaizen."

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January 29, 2014

Getting Out of Your Own Way

Filed under: Motivation,Personal Philosophy,Services — Alec @ 12:58 am

Just what does DMAIC mean? Define, Measure, Analyze, Implement, Control

But what does that REALLY mean? It means you use a process to get it done, solve the problem, improve the process quickly.

A preacher was moving his desk from one office to another by himself. It was of those big old oak desks that do not move easily. He was pushing and pulling, breaking a sweat. The move was going really slowly. His 4-year old son was watching and then he ask if he could help. His dad said, “Sure!” So they both put a shoulder to the desk, grunted, groaned and had very little impact. Finally the 4-year old said, “Just move out of my way and let me do this!” Makes you wonder where he heard that.

There is some truth to the thought “Just get out of the way!” Except, then you have a new problem because no one else learns anything. And worse, sometimes we still don’t get the project done because sometimes we don’t address the root cause.

We think we can do it quicker and better with brute force. But we can’t. Work smarter NOT harder! With a team of people, working smarter, the task is easier and results better. With a little knowledge, a good team, some perseverance, control, focus, and the consideration of stakeholders you can accomplish huge things!

I always recommend you spend 40% of your time defining the problem so you make sure to fix the problem you really want to fix. I also highly recommend you go directly to the location of the problem. Where you go, where you look, how you look, will determine your success. You must go to the root of the issue to fully define the problem. If you go daily to the Mill Department and spend all your time talking to Mill employees…you will have a hard time improving the Lathe Department.

Do yourself a favor and don’t get out of the way. Think smarter; get a team to move the desk.

January 22, 2014

Go Forth and Share!

The night after I finished reading Viktor Frankl’s biography/autobiography Man’s Search for Meaning, I had a dream that I think was inspired by the book. Frankl discusses his personal journey and how he discovered his primary drive in life was not pleasure but rather the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.

In my dream, I was standing in front of one of my monthly communications meetings in Clarksville, Tennessee. The Clarksville plant was a greenfield project that Noe Gaytan, Dick Brisson and I started as a corn field and became a 200-employee Antilock Brake plant. The plant and the people I worked with there have been among my favorites throughout my 46 years of manufacturing. Noe, Dick and I helped form the culture and the employees were attentive to my goofy speeches and weekly letters.

Back to my dream – so, I am in front of the group and I shout out, “What is the meaning of life?” They shouted back in unison, “Feed my fishes!” So I shout, “And…?” and they respond back, “Share your bread and fishes!”

Now, I never actually remember saying “Feed my fishes”, but then again this was a dream. I often threw around the phrase “Teach them to fish…” like the old quote ‘give them a fish and feed them for a day, teach them to fish and feed them for a lifetime’. In my dream it may have been related to the Sermon on the Mount that we have been studying in our Bible study group. Or it may have been my subconscious pulling memories of mine remembering the biblical reference to ‘feed my sheep.’

I often did tell my employees to “share your bread and fishes.” I wanted the employees and managers to share skills, knowledge and rewards. I encouraged them to share behavior and the whole cultural improvement process. I still strongly believe in those sentiments. Whether inspired by biblical references and Viktor Frankl’s words on finding the meaning of life, they are solid ideals to live by.

I truly believe there is a great personal reward when you teach someone else to fish – when you share a skill or knowledge – and it helps someone to achieve at least part of their dreams. It was a fun dream to wake up from; truly, the meaning of life for me was always and is still to help others find their meaning in life, just as Frankl wrote. So go forth and share!!

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