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July 2008

The Squirrels of SAP

Thanks to fellow blogger Mike for pointing me in the direction of one of the best SAP pieces I’ve ever read, yes even including mine.  The author begins by trying to understand a particular peculiarity of squirrels. You are driving down a street in your car and up ahead there is a squirrel at the side of the road eating a nut. You aren’t on an intercept course, there is …
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Will Obama Learn from Europe?

Presidential candidate Barack Obama will soon visit several countries in Europe.  What will he see, and more importantly, what will he learn? Democratic activists and European intellectuals are ecstatic about Barack Obama’s trip to Europe. Europeans see a man they hope will win the presidency. U.S. Democratic activists see their nominee gaining the experience of a continent whose policies — more pacifist, statist and secular than America’s — they would …
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Leaving Oz for Kansas Technology

Lately we’ve been telling you about all the companies that are waking up to the unexpected costs of outsourcing, especially due to rising fuel costs increasing the cost of shipping, and are returning operations back to North America.  The rising cost of shipping everything from industrial-pump parts to lawn-mower batteries to living-room sofas is forcing some manufacturers to bring production back to North America and freeze plans to send even …
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McKinsey Figures Out Value – 20 Years Later

The guys at McKinsey can be some bright puppies… once they figure out they’re a decade behind.  First they tried to kill Lego, then they got religion and came out with a five-part series on lean.  Now apparently the lightbulb came on again and they’ve figured out that traditional organization structures aren’t optimal. When large companies are organized in the traditional division structure, strategic decisions too often fall to managers …
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Boeing Plays Whack-a-Supplier

I’ve held off ranting on Boeing for many weeks, but a recent news article on the company pushed me over the edge… again.  We’ve talked a lot about Boeing over the last few years, from deriding the supply chain convolutions that created the need for Rube Goldberg contraptions like the Dreamlifter to the downsides of transferring knowledge to suppliers that may become competitors.  Alas their woes continue. What statement raised …
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The Danger of Attacking Waste

Us leanies hate waste.  We go after it with a passion and vigor that has few equals.  But in our zeal could we be going too far, and actually decrease value?  That’s the question that popped into my mind after reading Steve Conover’s latest post over at The Skeptical Optimist.  You get a sense of where he’s going from his opening ramblings… I dislike waste as much as anyone else …
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Beware the Expensive Castle

Money may not be able to buy love or happiness, but apparently it can definitely create a barrier for the competition. Intel Corp. is turning 40 years old Friday, and patting itself on the back for pushing the pace of computer-chip progress. Few competitors are applauding, though, for reasons that become clear on a visit to a factory in Hillsboro, Ore.  The Silicon Valley company, supplier of the electronic brains …
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Nardelli – Customer Advocate?

Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli is on a mission to change Chrysler’s culture. Over the decades when Detroit’s Big Three dominated the nation’s auto market, Chrysler, General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. often put their own priorities, like keeping their plants running at full capacity, ahead of satisfying customers. Now, Mr. Nardelli is trying to replace those old habits with some of the no-nonsense management principles that have fueled the …
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Power to the People

Those of us in the lean manufacturing world have known for a long time that one of the most powerful ways to create change and efficiency is by leveraging the knowledge, creativity, and ideas of people.  You have to give them the knowledge of their environment via metrics and information, provide them with tools and training to learn how to impact that environment, and rewards when positive change occurs. The …
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It’s Global, Baby

Let’s review some recent statements on the manufacturing economy: Now many exporters and workshops here have shut their doors. Others, their work floors partly idle, are cutting costs. Some of the migrant workers who came here for jobs are returning home. Manufacturers say their profits have dwindled as they pay out more for raw materials and energy. Companies say the government’s tougher protection for workers and the environment has made …
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