Auburn Works

Auburn Technical Assistance Center (ATAC)

September 2011 Blog Posts (12)

Checking, Checking, Checking - Practical Leadership Tips

As our understanding of lean has matured, we realized that creating a problem solving culture was the main goal.  At first, we learned to use the tools, then we incorporated systems thinking, and now we focus on people development.  We understand that our true competitive advantage resides within our team…


Added by David Hicks on September 26, 2011 at 6:30am — No Comments

A Signal For Help

Gotham City would flash the Bat Signal to indicate the city had a problem requiring help from Batman as quickly as possible.   Andon signals have a similar purpose in our organizations to signal a problem that requires attention by specific problem solvers immediately. 


An andon can be visual…


Added by Rick Battye on September 22, 2011 at 10:37pm — No Comments


I read an article in July entitled Sleep with your iPhone? You're not alone.

The story resonated with me and I began investigating our need to be continuously connected.  My observations - whether in a manufacturing plant, dentist office, shopping mall, on the highway, university campus or at the beach - were similar.  I…


Added by Tom Chandler on September 20, 2011 at 2:55pm — No Comments

Walk like you meant it - Practical Leadership Tips

In the good old days, we had lots of acronyms beginning with the letter M.  The two most troublesome were MBO (management by objectives) and MBWA (management by walking around).  Dr. Deming advised us to use a process focus and eliminate numerical targets such as MBO.


MBWA is often…


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

Research Brief: To Hire, or Not To Hire, That's a Good Question!

As the economy slowly gathers some steam and employers look to hire more employees, they have a rich candidate market to choose from. Many of these candidates are highly skilled and experienced employees, sometimes overqualified for the positions they are applying for. Yet many employers screen out apparently overqualified candidates because they feel these candidates might get bored with the job, develop negative job attitudes, perform poorly, and then leave. I have to admit that a few…


Added by Brian Flynn on September 19, 2011 at 5:00am — No Comments

"Benchmarking the Six Sigma Way!

What do you mean when you want to “Benchmark” your product?  Typically, in Industry, you are talking about comparing your product to competition.  What value is this type of “Benchmarking” to a manufacturer?  This comparison does give us an idea of how we stack up against our competition.  However, other than the points of comparison that you make; there is little real value to this exercise.  This exercise makes quantitative comparisons.  You may not measure what is really…


Added by John David Hayes on September 14, 2011 at 9:59am — No Comments

Innovate or Else

This is the mantra of New York Columnist Thomas Friedman and his answer to America's economic woes.  In a recently article published on Fast Company, Friedman describes the need for innovation and his new book "That Used to Be Us." 


"Where change is happening quickly, who best sees the openings, opportunity, and necessities of change? It's not always the CEO," Thomas Friedman tells Fast Company. Friedman, a New York Times columnist and…


Added by David Mixson on September 13, 2011 at 8:26am — No Comments

Backsliding - Practical Leadership Tips


What’s your largest challenge? In my travels with the Auburn Technical Assistance Center, most of our clients list backsliding as their greatest threat to sustaining improvements. Organizational inertia drags team members back into old habits.

A recent ASQ Six Sigma Forum article…


Added by David Hicks on September 12, 2011 at 8:06am — No Comments

Management is responsible for your Processes---Why don't we really get it!

Why do we agree that management is responsible for the process?  Is it because we setup processes and are the only ones that can change it?  Who in management is responsible?  Is it the foreman or section supervisor?  Is it the manager that reports up the organization to a VP or CEO?  Is it the Product or Process Engineers that work in the process?  My answer is that it is that all of managers mentioned already plus management all the way to the top of the organizational structure.  Yes,…


Added by John David Hayes on September 8, 2011 at 10:11am — No Comments

Six Key Lessons for Lean Implementation - Practical Leadership Tips

The Association for Manufacturing Excellence recently ( ) held a regional training event in Lexington, Kentucky. This event included training sessions, keynote addresses, and facility tours, with the goal of shared experiences and networking.

One… Continue

Added by David Hicks on September 5, 2011 at 9:49am — No Comments

Performance Management - Alignment

Continuing our theme of performance management topics, I would like to discuss another important issue regarding the selection of a performance management system. Over the last few postings I have looked at some of the issues related to common performance management practices, and suggested some possible ways to improve the systems by focusing on manager-subordiante relationships. But Bhave and Brutus (2011) suggest that there is more to it than that; performance management systems need to…


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

The Value of "It"

I recently read an interesting article that was passed on to me from a company that is teaming with Auburn Technical Assistance Center.  The article, The One Thing That Changes Everything, is written by Alex Green who is the Investment Director of The Oxford Club. 


The article began by stating:


"Whether you realize it or not, one indispensable quality affects every…


Added by Rick Battye on September 2, 2011 at 1:22pm — No Comments

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