Auburn Works

Auburn Technical Assistance Center (ATAC)

May 2011 Blog Posts (16)

Look Before You Leap - Practical Leadership Tips-Post to blog 5/31/11

I’ve recently worked with two companies on problem solving techniques. In one company, the focus has been on gaining stability before we attempt large-scale improvements.

The other company was faced with the need to correct a safety concern. They took the initial step to…


Added by David Hicks on May 31, 2011 at 7:00am — No Comments

Research Brief: Getting more creativity and Innovation from the employees we have

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about fueling creativity and innovation by bringing in entrepreneurial individuals into our organizations. These types of people seem to have the characteristics that promote creativity and innovation, but introduce an element of risk as well. Sometimes, we don't need or want additional individuals in the organization. How can we get more creativity and innovation from the people we have?


Past research has linked, though not unequivocally, the…


Added by Brian Flynn on May 30, 2011 at 5:00am — No Comments

Getting Started - Practical Leadership Tips


The Auburn Technical Assistance Team ( frequently gets the question, “How do we start our lean program?”  The common thread in all these inquiries seems to be a tool focus.  Managers are conditioned to think of programs that create results, often leading to a tool-based approach to continuous improvement.


Speaking about a company’s focus on stock price, one of my mentors said, “Trying…


Added by David Hicks on May 24, 2011 at 7:00am — No Comments

Innovation and Strategy

How do innovation and strategy relate?  Author and blogger Jeffrey Phillips provides some good insight.


According to Phillips, strategy consists of the vision your executives have for the business over the longer term. It includes how the firm will acquire the necessary inputs and resources it will need to thrive, and encompasses the changes that the firm will make in its products, services and served markets in order to continue to grow and differentiate from…


Added by David Mixson on May 23, 2011 at 11:57am — No Comments

Research Brief: Does Higher Pay lead to Greater Job Satisfaction?

Increasing employee job satisfaction often has desirable organizational outcomes, such as "usually" better performance, higher levels of commitment to the organization, and lower levels of turnover. One of the mechanisms often cited as a source of job satisfaction is pay. Pay is often used as an extrinsic motivator and is sometimes claimed to lead to higher job satisfaction. After all, it stands to reason that if you pay me more, I will be more satisfied with my job. Or does…


Added by Brian Flynn on May 23, 2011 at 5:00am — 1 Comment

Lean Leader Characteristics

I recently was asked what I considered to be characteristics of a Lean Leader.  After giving some thought, I came up with the following....if you want to add any, feel free as I always welcome your feedback.


Lean Leader Characteristics


The following are characteristics that I have most often found in an effective Lean leader:


  • Visionary - Before bringing change at an organizational level, a person must know why change is…

Added by Rick Battye on May 20, 2011 at 9:49pm — No Comments

Wait a Second! - Practical Leadership Tips


The Auburn Technical Assistance Team just returned from hosting an 8-Step Problem Solving Workshop. Former Toyota leader, Tracey Richardson (, presented Toyota’s culture and techniques for systematic problem…


Added by David Hicks on May 19, 2011 at 7:00am — No Comments

Demonstrating Management Commitment- Practical Leadership Tips

In my last post, I discussed a recent Industry Week article that provided five tests of management commitment (Wilson, 2011):

1. Are you actively studying about and working at making your facility leaner and hence more flexible, more responsive and more competitive? (All must continue to learn and must be actively engaged; no spectators allowed!)

2. Are you willing to listen to critiques of your facility and then understand and change the areas in your facility that are not lean? (We… Continue

Added by David Hicks on May 16, 2011 at 8:00am — No Comments

Research Brief: Getting the Right People for Innovation

Today, more than ever, just about every manufacturing or service delivery product and process can be duplicated quite easily by competitors. What sets a company apart and helps them maintain a competitive advantage is not what they make or even how they make it; it's who makes it or who provides the service. If you want to stay ahead of your competition, you need at least some people in key positions that can help you innovate and be creative, and are willing to take some personal risk to…


Added by Brian Flynn on May 16, 2011 at 5:00am — No Comments

Keen To Be Lean



Good Article from CFO Magazine - December 2009 discussing 3 healthcare systems and their journey's in Lean including:

  • Change Management
  • Lean Culture
  • Rapid Improvement…

Added by Rick Battye on May 13, 2011 at 2:19pm — 1 Comment


A respected colleague and friend, Dr. Brian Landry, is researching emergent theory on Followership.  He recently asked my thoughts on this subject.  I had none, beyond the obvious that we are all followers in some capacity.


There is much published information on Leadership, but relatively…


Added by Tom Chandler on May 12, 2011 at 8:56pm — No Comments

Management Commitment- Practical Leadership Tips

The Auburn Technical Assistance Center re

cently helped two companies under an E3 Energy Reduction grant. This grant for automotive suppliers provided funds to perform an energy assessment, training, and a rapid improvement event.

I assisted a company with a throughput project, focusing on improving Overall Equipment Effectiveness. OEE is the product of availability, performance, and rate of quality of a machine system. Availability consists of time lost to breakdowns and…


Added by David Hicks on May 9, 2011 at 9:00am — No Comments

Is Standard Work needed in Sales and Marketing?

Watch as Mike Micklewright uses comedy, to dissect the top 10 list of unacceptable corrective actions when it comes to today's quality systems:

You know why this video is funny? It is because we have heard them all. In fact, Most of us have said them ourselves at one time. And as odd as it may seem, customer may even accept them for awhile. What is the corrective action?

I find in any methodology that the creation of a standard seems to be the key… Continue

Added by Joseph T. Dager on May 9, 2011 at 7:17am — No Comments

Research Brief: Work-Family Conflict

If your life is anything like mine, I bet you are pretty busy right now. Between work, family obligations, and other activities (such as church related activities). life can get pretty hectic and create a lot of stress. And stress, can create a degradation of work performance. Earlier this week I had over 30 items on my to-do list for this week alone! And as I finished one, two more were added. It was almost paralyzing!


For many of us, and for our employees, the biggest…


Added by Brian Flynn on May 6, 2011 at 11:09am — No Comments

AME's Workshop - 12 steps to Manufacturng Excellence

Tuesday I attended Larry Fast’s, Pathways to Manufacturing Excellence, Lean workshop titled “How to Achieve and Sustain Manufacturing Excellence”

He started addressing reasons continuous improvement initiatives fail -

•Flavor of the month •Event focus – Short term & unsustainable

•Lack of a Production System Perspective

•Lack of top management support – They don’t understand

•Leadership turnover

•Don’t see quick results/ financial – Programs Don’t…


Added by Hank Czarnecki on May 6, 2011 at 5:54am — No Comments

Disaster Preparedness- Practical Leadership Tips

As most of you know, Alabama was hit with severe tornado damage on 4/27/11. Many people have volunteered in disaster relief centers, helping with food, supplies, and cleanup.

In the case of tornados, disaster preparedness takes many forms. The local Emergency Management Agency has…


Added by David Hicks on May 5, 2011 at 8:42am — No Comments

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