I just realized that the Evolving Excellence blog is a year old this month, which made me pause for a few moments of reflection.
Creating and building Superfactory over the past seven years has been a labor of love. What began as a simple list of manufacturing excellence resource links for personal use has grown into a web portal with over 3,000 links, tools, forums, articles, and a very popular monthly e-newsletter that is now read by over 50,000 subscribers worldwide. The mission has stayed the same: provide manufacturing excellence resources to the global community. It has always been a sideline project to the "real jobs", but growing the website has often been the first priority. Perhaps because of what I’ve been able to learn, the knowledge I’ve been able to provide, the incredible people I’ve met, and the hope that I’m making a difference by helping someone create excellence.
A year ago I added the blog. Like most additions to Superfactory, it started as an exploration of a new technology. Early in the year it even went international, and I blogged from Argentina and Chile. In July I asked Bill Waddell to join me as co-author, and as regular readers know he has added immense insight and a welcome edgy and hard-hitting style as he explores the underpinnings of Lean. The core of Lean revolves around continuous improvement, and Bill is forcing us to look at continously improving Lean itself.
We get so caught up in our day-to-day activities that we sometimes fail to see the big picture. I, too, get embroiled in the firefighting, but yesterday I took some time to reflect on some other events over the past year. I’ve been working with a local company to help them execute a lean transformation. Some of the metrics aren’t falling in line yet, but the culture shift is occurring. It’s invigorating to sit in a meeting and listen to employees at all levels discuss improvement opportunities, and the look of fear on their faces when someone suggests an idea that may actually add waste. They are starting to think in terms of process, waste reduction, value from the perspective of the customer, and excellence through simplicity. They are getting it. I’m confident it will be a radically different place a year from now.
How many of you take the time during your commute to think about the day and to consciously put work and life in perspective? I consider myself very lucky… my commute is about 30 miles long, starting at the ocean in the small coastal town of Morro Bay, going up the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway a few miles, then a very curvy road through some hills, and finally a nice long stretch through the vineyards of the Paso Robles wine country. With almost no traffic and some Handel playing softly on the radio, you arrive very very mellow! With over 100 wineries in this area, I’ve always subscribed to the theory that a good cabernet prevents all kinds of ailments, but I sometimes wonder if the mental exercise of driving curvy roads also has a benefit. To test this theory we’ve recently decided to take it to an extreme by acquiring an overpowered German-built machine.
We may get sucked into our passion for creating manufacturing excellence, but remember, it’s really about life. Thanks for coming along on this ride over the past year.