2007 has been a fun year at the Evolving Excellence blog. We’ve confronted, tackled, and complemented excellence and incompetence at organizations large and small, ranging from traditional automakers to sweatshops to charities and government. Let’s take a quick trip through the time machine to review some of our favorites from each month.
January saw the beginning of a series of posts on the craziness of the Boeing and Airbus supply chains, creating Dreamlifters and Belugas. Dan Markovitz then kicked of a series of posts on lean in the apparel industry by telling us how Joesph Abboud was competing globally from U.S. factories. Our ongoing rants on traditional accounting causing companies to chase low cost labor continued with a piece on NCR and Whirlpool. And we kept a watchful eye on the supposed improvements happening at GM and Ford.
February continued to the auto wars with a post on how GM apparently doesn’t understand the fundamental lean concept of respect for people. After a couple years of thrashing business schools, we actually found a case where one, Wharton, was actually right. We profiled the understated excellence at one of our favorite lean companies, Danaher. And we commented on Herbert Meyer’s article titled A Global Intelligence Briefing for CEOs, which bluntly analyzes the current geopolitical environment. Later in the month we began what would become an ongoing rant on companies that whine and complain about competitive burdens instead of focusing inward to improve.
March began with one of our more popular posts that tried to understand why consultants always feel the need to support their heads with their hands, and whether that indicates overly heavy brains or simply a hole in their heads. We contrasted the lean operational attributes of Boeing’s 787 and the Airbus A380 as well as the messy situation that is created when a politician takes the healm of a major aircraft manufacturer. And we continued to keep a watchful eye on the auto wars, especially the upstarts from India and China.
April kicked off with a post on the power of a global pull economy and then we continued the critique of Boeing with a story on how they spun off a manufacturing division that later became very profitable. We couldn’t let another month go by without complaining… about companies that complain. We briefly touched on the nascent lean construction industry and narjed the milestone when Toyota surpassed GM in terms of sales… as if that really means anything.
May began on a more serious note we tackled how political policies can create a knowledge drain. I commented on one of my personal highlights, where I moderated a panel discussion at Kellogg on the benefits of onshoring… right before another panel discussion on the challenges of outsourcing. We told you how one steel company was complaining about competitive burdens while it’s overseas competitor was building a factory in its back yard. Our interest in Michael Bloomberg began to grow, and we couldn’t let a month couldn’t go by without commenting on Boeing. And finally, after letting ERP systems off the hook for a couple months, we complained about SAP’s chasm of complexity.
June kicked off with more kudos for Wisconsin’s lean efforts. We analyzed the productivity improvements at GM and took a peek at how low tech dabbawallas in India can run circles around FedEx. Another month, another comment on Boeing’s Dreamlifter and the battled of the false gods. And then we told you about lean grocers and lean dentists.
July began with a post on Michael Bloomberg’s leadership style, which probably played into the results of a poll later in the year. We told you how value isn’t related to price, and we kicked off our occasional Fun With Statistics series of posts. We even touched on the lean and free market aspects of religion and foreign development policy. The ethical side of lean business was discussed in a post on Kyosei and the Caux Round Table and we commented on recent Chinese quality problems.
In August we told you about how Toyota trains its new workers and the impact of Chinese quality problems on the value of reputation. A new industry, filmmaking, began looking at lean manufacturing methods. Craig Woll posted on the lean aspects of personal health, and later we described lean software development. We analyzed Colin Powell’s 19 Lessons in Leadership and then told you about a five part series on lean manufacturing by McKinsey. And, yes, we continued the saga of Boeing’s Dreamliner.
September kicked off with a post on the challenges of an organization that has gone from being non-existent to a larger employer than 96% of U.S. businesses… in six months. We then told you about the carbon footprint of outsourcing and continued our rant on SAP. Another month, another insightful analysis of Boeing. The ongoing discussion of the outsourcing and productivity impacts on manufacturing jobs was touched on, we found another apparel company practicing lean, Mattel decided to apologize to China, and we even found a relationship between pirates and global warming.
October began with a post on former Delta CEO Gerald Grinstein and how he leveraged the power of people. We dipped into the political sector again with an analysis of a Newt Gingrich article on "what works." We lauded Parker, a company that really gets lean, and took General Dynamics to task for not really understanding what lean is about. We couldn’t help but comment on how a VP at Boeing won "Supply Chain Manager of the Year" which was almost as curious as Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize. In the past we’ve discussed the leadership styles of Bloomberg, Giuliani, and others so this month it was time for Schwarzenegger.
By November it was time to take on the false god of the almighty algorithm again, so we told you about the silliness of using software for exception documentation management. We reminded readers again that creating value was only pillar of lean, and that most companies still forget about respect for people. Toyota helped us reemphasize that point later in the month. Our observations on the auto wars continued with an updated analysis of who’s really ahead in the battle between GM and Ford. We took a look back at the best lean companies of 2007 and then did a poll on which would be the best for 2008. And, with strong backbone and bravery, we then did a poll asking who would be the best president for manufacturing issues.
In December we told you about how China is aggressively moving into the personal and commercial aircraft industry, thanks to some help from Boeing and Cessna. Some employers around Toyota’s new plant in Mississippi are worried, but they shouldn’t be. PBS aired a good interview with some midwest manufacturers that have found they can compete globally from U.S. factories. The auto wars continue with Chinese manufacturer Chery learning a thing or two about… learning. Craig told us about another Japanese term, karoshi, and why it can literally be deadly. And of course we had to comment again on… yes, you guessed it… Boeing. In a strange twist of fate, the declining value of the U.S. dollar has made us a haven for outsourcing from Europe. And finally we proposed a couple resolutions for the New Year.
A little Boeing, a little SAP. Ok, a lot. Throw in the auto wars, a couple false gods, some bizarre statistics, companies that get it and some that just don’t. Lean in grocery stores, dentist offices, and even filmmaking. Toss in a mild dose of libertarian politics, and even an occasional analysis of celebrity hairstyles. Over 350 posts and 2,000 comments. That’s the makings of a fun year of blogging and ranting and raving, and hopefully some interesting reading for our subscribers and visitors.
I’d also like to thank my fellow lean bloggers Mark, Jon, Ron, Peter, John, Joseph, Ted & Lee, Dan, Kathleen, Tom, Karen, Craig, and Mike. The collaborative lean blogging community we’ve created is fun, inspirational, and informative.
Best wishes for a healthy, peaceful, and prosperous 2008!