July - August, 2012

Volume 2, Number 4

In This Issue

·    Summer Fun for Everyone

·    Waste is the Enemy

·    Holy Change, Batman!

·    Please Complain

·    Link of the Month

·    Pioneer of Quality Techniques Dies

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Summer Fun for Everyone

Summer is in full swing – fun outdoor sports, vacations, picnics, and if you’re in the Midwest – the worst drought in 50 years (which at least means less lawn mowing!).

It’s also a great time to lie in the hammock and catch up on your reading.  What are you reading lately?  While my stack is full of new titles, I like to also go back and occasionally reread some old favorites.

Recently, I came across an old passage that I always liked and it goes something like this:    Decisions are like forks in the road.  Our actions are based on our decisions which send us in a certain direction.  All our decisions stack up to lead us in a particular direction or destination – our destiny if you will.  Our future is largely in our own hands – it’s simply a matter of what decisions we choose to make. 

I’ve always liked that – a great thought to fall back on both in good times and bad.  What are some of the best decisions you ever made?   What was the hardest decision you ever made?  How do you prefer to make decisions?   What do you want your ultimate destiny or legacy to be?   Great questions to discuss with friends as we sip our iced teas on the porch this summer!

Have an excellent month!


Jeff Cole


JCG Management Consulting

Waste is the Enemy

One of the more popular OpEx methods these days is Lean.  It goes by other names such as Lean Manufacturing, Lean Enterprise, or even TPS (Toyota Production System).  One of the fundamental tenets of Lean is that “Waste is the Enemy”.  It is a full-scale search and destroy mission for chasing waste out of your organization!  But, did you know there are several classifications of waste?  Lean practitioners have this down to a science…

Lean has it’s origins in Japan, where we begin with a high-level classification:

·         Muri (Overburden) – Pushing machines or personnel past their limits

·         Mura (Unevenness) – Demand variation

·         Muda (Waste) – Activity in processes that does not add value


Waste itself is further broken down into either 7 or 8 types, depending on which author you read:

  • Overservicing (or Overproduction)
  • Waiting
  • Excess Transportation (unnecessary movement of resources)
  • Extra Processing (unnecessary steps in a process)
  • Excess Inventory
  • Excess Motion
  • Defects (output not meeting customer requirements)
  • Human Mind (not engaging and listening to the workers)


It’s easy to get started in your waste-chasing efforts.  At your next meeting list the types of waste and see how many examples your team can come up with for your department!

Holy Change, Batman!

Any young boy in the mid-1960’s was glued to his parents’ television set at 7:30 EST on Wednesdays and Thursdays, when a new television show “Batman” aired (in Color!).  It was great fun watching your favorite super hero come to life each week and fight crime.  It was even more fun recreating Batman’s adventures in the back yard with your friends.

What we wouldn’t have given to have our own Batmobile, Bat-a-rang, or utility belt!  Alas, many of us did not grow up to fight crime.  Instead we find ourselves fighting waste, inefficiencies, and bureaucratic red tape.

I’d posit that metaphorically our lives are not that much different than what we played in the back yard.  Process inefficiencies are your villain, and your laptop is the 21st century version of Batman’s utility belt.  Batman’s belt came fully equipped with smoke bombs, climbing rope, and somehow a 3’ x 4’ Bat Shield.  What does your utility belt hold in terms of tools for driving process change in your business?   For a short article showing six tools any modern-day crime fighter needs in their change management utility belt, click here.  Stock up your gear now and you’ll be ready for your next waste-fighting adventure!

Please Complain

When companies send out comment cards with their products, it’s typically along the lines of “Please rate our quality” and questions of that nature.  Not so at Susan Sargent Designs, a small Vermont-based rug and accessories company.  With every product comes a colorful card with the headline “Please Complain!”      

It encourages you to call if anything at all is wrong with the order or “if you’re just having a lousy day and want to unload on someone.”   Sargent’s husband, management consultant Tom Peters, wrote the copy and it’s all part of creating a distinct brand, building relationships, and architecting the customer’s experience.

Young’s Jersey Dairy, an innovative and successful business in Yellow Springs, Ohio, has used a unique customer survey as well.  In addition to traditional questions with Likert scales, it concludes with several open-ended questions, one of which is “What annoys you most about Young’s?”

One professor, who used to work in the auto industry, was known for conducting longer (100+ questions) surveys and had a philosophy that people tend to lie on surveys.  Not only did he ask the same question multiple times in the survey (to see if their responses were consistent), he was known for concluding his surveys with the question:  “To what extent did you just lie on this survey?”

Have you encountered any unique survey questions or practices?  If so, we’d love to hear from you.  Send us a note at:  info@jcolegroup.com

Link of the Month

The Kahn Academy .  You may have seen it on 60 Minutes or read about it in Time magazine.  If you haven’t visited it yet, you’re now one click away from seeing what all the excitement is about.

It started with former hedge fund analyst Salmon Kahn posting YouTube videos to tutor his cousin and has evolved into what some are calling a new paradigm for learning.  His short tutorial videos on a variety of topics have caught the public’s attention – even Bill Gates has his kids watch them.  But it’s not just for kids.  The videos on Finance, Economics, or Statistics would be useful for anyone pursuing Operational Excellence.  Visit the academy here: http://www.khanacademy.org/ 

Pioneer of Quality Techniques Dies

Dr. Genichi Taguchi passed away in Japan on June 2nd at the age of 88.   When one thinks of the great quality gurus, the name Taguchi ranks at the top along with Deming, Juran, and Crosby.  His many contributions serve as part of the foundation of popular methods in use today such as Six Sigma.

Six Sigma Black Belts will recognize his name from the classic Taguchi Loss Function.  Those familiar with Designed Experiments have either heard of or studied his contribution to the world of DOE know as Taguchi Methods. 

Dr. Taguchi made great strides in helping management view the financial impacts of quality.  He authored several classics and was the recipient of Japan’s highest honor for quality achievement – the Deming Prize -- for his work in quality engineering.


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