Often it is the simple and basic question that unlocks the mystery of our business or process problems. What’s more, we don’t have to be trained experts in process improvement techniques to ask the all-important, all-powerful dumb questions. So, here are some dumb questions that we can keep handy for the next time that the means to solve an issue isn’t readily apparent.
Like all design engineers, Thom Haubert is a problem solver, but one of his latest projects offered the ultimate challenge in solving a puzzle with literally billions of pieces.
If foreign engineers are well-educated and less-expensive, does that give these countries a competitive advantage? Not necessarily. I just returned from a trip to Europe where I talked about entrepreneurship and open innovation (OI) with various groups in the Eurozone, and have come back with a mixed bag of predictions about the probabilities of success for well-educated but low-cost engineers.
Google's recently-announced Nexus Q has a gorgeous, unique design, with a sphere shape bisected by a ring of glowing lights. It looks downright futuristic. Initial reports and reviews were tepid, but then reporters at the The New York Times reporters started to notice some interesting branding on the device’s back: “Designed and Manufactured in the USA.”
Cyberattacks are following a well-trodden path down which earlier forms of militarily useful technology passed decades or even centuries ago. The trend is from discovery to initial, usually rather amateurish, experimentation, and then to serious funding and adoption by all sides in a conflict. With regard to cyberwarfare, we are now beyond the amateurish-experimentation phase and well into serious adoption.
When pointing to the characteristics (or price) of your products, never assume that these “benefits” are a no brainer. Some plant personnel have told us in recent years that their biggest impediment to spending has to do with their current staff. One operations manager told us he would wait for his personnel to retire because they knew how to fix the current machinery and it wasn’t worth it to re-train them in the ends of their careers.
It’s been confirmed. Nothing is sacred anymore. First, residential homes and churches, then parks and playgrounds, now this? Graveyards? I’m afraid it’s true. Hydraulic fracturing (or the abbreviation thereof, known as fracking) companies are now targeting the final resting places of your loved ones for plundering the earth in the name of natural gas. Why not?
Let’s face it — the state of costing in almost all U.S. companies today is atrocious. It has not kept pace with advancements in technology or manufacturing.
Examine a few disasters of recent or historical note. Colorado Springs has faced a terrible threat and much damage with astounding efficiency, in my opinion and observation, and without injury. Clearly, they have learned to improve communication and coordination between various public service agencies since 9/11 when we learned just how unprepared we were in the U. S. to deal with catastrophe.
The city where I live has been assaulted by wildfire. It was been a busy week helping friends, strangers, and firefighters in the miniscule ways I can and still trying to keep up with business as usual or unusual. So, I confess that local events that dominate my attention inspire the thoughts that I would share. The fire about which I speak is named the Waldo Canyon fire, outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado.
No two disturbances are the same, and the increased complexity of these disturbances has proven to be catastrophic to the lifespan and reliability of medical equipment.
When New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a proposal to ban the sale of large sodas at restaurants and theaters, the reaction of disbelief from the public was predictable. Incredibly, a few days later Bloomberg’s health advisory board began considering an expansion to rope in milk-based drinks and popcorn. It’s not surprising that they want to control more food choices. What’s astounding is that they were so honest, so quickly.
“The New New Thing” is out there waiting to be developed, deployed, and utilized. Microsoft isn’t waiting to stumble upon it.
I soon realized that Mark had a different understanding. As he sat at his desk and logged into his computer, I repeated that we should go to the floor first. To my surprise, he responded, “Yes, we’ll ‘be there’ in a second.” I realized, at that moment, that there might be a generational communication barrier. I asked hesitantly, “Did you use your computer to ‘go to the floor for last three weeks’?”
At issue is a compensation practice known as “gang time,” which the plaintiffs allege violates the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The gang time practice, as used by Creekstone, pays employees only for time when the production line is moving, plus 10 minutes for putting on and removing protective gear. It's a complex issue that has judges and courtrooms debating over what qualifies as "work."
Upon the initial release of Facewatch, London’s latest initiative to invite the community to police itself, I was troubled. This world doesn’t need an app that allows a gang of Joe Mercs to police the streets and rid the fair city of all its petty thieves. According to the website, Facewatch is “an online crime reporting system for businesses to report crime, providing the full evidential package required by the police.”
If you are one of 190 million U.S. adults studied by an obscure company in Little Rock, Arkansas called Acxiom, they have the digital equivalent of what used to be known in spy circles as a dossier on you. In the bad old days of the Soviet Union, secret police maintained files on millions of ordinary citizens, consisting of allegations (many by friends and neighbors) of suspicious or subversive activities.
It’s been awhile since I’ve had the time to sit down with friends and family to play an old-fashioned game of Monopoly. I generally trust them not to pocket cash from the bank, bheft in the manufacturing sector, where trusted employees are stealing from companies they’ve been with for a number of years. Quite a bit more damaging than a few lost plastic houses, fraud in manufacturing companies seems to be becoming more and more common.
A friend and colleague asked me a difficult question: “What do you think the future of Six Sigma and Design for Six Sigma will be? Will it continue, or is it a dying idea?” While trying to answer him, I was forced to consider the successes and the challenges of various business improvement and process improvement programs in a way that forced me to think not only about where they are, but what I thought they should be. It was a good exercise.
Livestock operations and animal rights organizations naturally hold opposing views, so when the speaker mentioned the necessity for animal producers to work with animal rights organizations, I could feel the tension in the room. But for the meat and poultry industries to continue to succeed, an effort to improve relations with animal rights groups is needed. Steps to engage the HSUS in more dialogue already have been taken by some industry groups.