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January 2012

It Takes the Patience of Saints

by BILL WADDELL  If ever a man deserves sainthood it is John Vicklund of Impact Washington – the MEP out there.  By way of background, the governor – Christine Gregoire – has gone all in on lean.  She has reduced the number of government agencies and departments, has everyone engaged in value stream mapping and has made lean mandatory for the whole state government.  So far, so good – in …
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Lean Chickens 1 Fat Lions 0

by BILL WADDELL  So …. Golden Bear Ltd gets the contract to produce the official mascot for the 2012 British Olymic Team, and decides labor costs – excuse me, labour costs – are way too high in England to make them there.  So they make them in China and, as a result of 26p per hour Chinese labor is able to sell this thing for $20 (12.99 pounds).  Meanwhile, West …
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Beyond Just Words – What Apple Could Do

By Kevin Meyer The New York Times created a deserved furor last week with their article describing how the U.S. supposedly can't compete with China on manufacturing – specifically the manufacturing of Apple products.  As our fellow blogger Mark Graban points out in an excellent summary of that article, we shouldn't want to compete in that manner.  The stories of worker abuse and managerial tyranny are appalling.  Time magazine, in …
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Uh – But What About the Product?

By Kevin Meyer That old retail icon, JC Penney, is undergoing a transformation thanks to Apple.  Apple?  Yep – JCP's new CEO is one of the guys responsible for creating the Apple Store.  Anyone that has been in one knows it is a bit of a different experience.  Where else can you pick up a $2000 piece of equipment at the back of the store and walk all the way …
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Tumbling Down the Slippery Slope

by BILL WADDELL The task of the die hard Toyota defenders just got tougher. The company just sold out sixty plus years of being able to assure job security at a level no one else could. To save one tenth of one percent of their global payroll they sent the message to all 317,000 of their employees that their long-standing pledge to keep them on the job no matter how …
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Why Mitt is the Anti-Lean

by BILL WADDELL My disdain for Mitt Romney was made clear a few months ago – I was bashing Mitt before Mitt-bashing was cool. I am compelled to do it again if for no reason other than the fact that his supporters have the unmitigated gall to sneer at anyone who opposes him as anti-capitalism. There is no one on the planet more committed to capitalism and free enterprise than …
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Advice for Women

by BILL WADDELL Gender discrimination comes in a lot of forms, and with all of the hundreds of companies I have visited and the thousands I have researched I expect I have seen them all. There is the overt 1950's neanderthal style like the manufacturing guy who explained to me just a few months ago that set up reduction was not practical in his plant. His reasoning: most of the …
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Milliken, the Anti-Kodak

By Kevin Meyer The last couple weeks have brought the story of yet another icon of business, Kodak, collapsing and filing for bankruptcy.  Yes, failure a key component of capitalism, and when you try to skew things so they feel better you get some crazy outcomes… like $250,000 Chevy Volts. But failure doesn't have to happen.  And that's the story we also read about last week – the story of …
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Hoshin and the Fading of Occupy Wall Street

By Kevin Meyer Over the weekend I was chatting with a couple friends on different sides of the world and the subject of Occupy Wall Street came up.  I'm not exactly sure how, but our common response was along the lines of "wow – I had almost forgotten about them."  That prompted me to dive into various internet news feeds, from all sides of the spectrum, and it turns out …
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Command by Buzzword

by BILL WADDELL What does an Ivy League trained Commander in Chief with his Ivy Leaue trained staff mean when they describe their strategy with the words "lean", "agile", flexible" and reliant on "innovation"? Of course, those buzzwords mean only one thing to an Ivy Leaguer: headcount reduction.   Read it here