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Auburn Technical Assistance Center (ATAC)

David Hicks's Blog (106)

Quality at the Source: Practical Leadership Techniques

 

One of the fundamental concepts of lean is Quality at the Source (QAS).  Typically, lean practitioners discuss QAS from the aspects of error proofing and not passing on defects.  These QAS…

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Added by David Hicks on April 2, 2015 at 7:02am — No Comments

Controlling Costs Through Safety & Medical Management

Uncertainty thy name is healthcare.  About the only thing we can count on with healthcare, particularly in an industrial situation, is continually increasing costs.

In addition to the personal impacts of a workplace injury to the employee, companies lose as much as $60 billion in decreased productivity each year.  Lost time since 2006 has increased 13% and injury costs have increased about 14%.  Only about 25% of the total costs of a workplace injury are covered by Workers’…

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Added by David Hicks on July 21, 2013 at 3:20pm — No Comments

Culture Change Through the Toyota Kata- Practical Leadership Tips

I’ve heard culture defined as, “what most of the people do, most of the time.” Leaders are constantly faced with the challenge to improve their financial situation, but culture often seems to hold them back (Pay, 2008).

The Toyota Kata process is a guidebook for obtaining a more…

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Added by David Hicks on July 5, 2012 at 7:00am — No Comments

Flavor of the Month - Practical Leadership Tips

 

Over the years, we’ve heard of many management techniques such as TOC, TQM, JIT, ISO, Lean, 6 Sigma, Shainin Red X, etc. One of management’s challenges is to prevent these useful tools from becoming the “flavor of the month.”

 

One of our clients was interested in the Toyota Kata…

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Added by David Hicks on June 28, 2012 at 7:57am — No Comments

Leading a continuous improvement culture- Practical Leadership Tips

“We know what to do, but never seem to execute.”  These were the words of a senior leader just last week.  They have six teams working on A3 projects, meeting every Friday for progress reports.  Like many teams, their groups had high energy at the beginning and made good progress for a few…

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Added by David Hicks on June 12, 2012 at 6:00am — No Comments

Where's the Exit?- Practical Leadership Tips

When you travel on a commercial flight, the safety briefing always includes a discussion of the exits.  When you go to a movie, the safety briefing includes, "The exits to the right and left of the screen have been checked and are clear exits from the building in the event of an…

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Added by David Hicks on January 17, 2012 at 6:36pm — No Comments

Who holds the key to sustainment?- Practical Leadership Tips

In every class I teach, sustainment is always a concern.  Folks want to know how to sustain improvement activities, usually focusing on techniques.

 

A better first question might be, “Who holds the key to sustainment?”  Many researchers found a lack of management commitment to be…

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Added by David Hicks on November 29, 2011 at 12:23pm — No Comments

Picking the Right Improvement Target- Practical Leadership Tips



A comedian once said, “Shoot first, then call whatever you hit the target.”

My duties with the Auburn Technical Assistance…

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Added by David Hicks on November 14, 2011 at 6:00am — No Comments

Picking the Right Improvement Target- Practical Leadership Tips



A comedian once said, “Shoot first, then call whatever you hit the target.”

My duties with the Auburn Technical Assistance…

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Added by David Hicks on November 14, 2011 at 6:00am — No Comments

Performance Metrics Matter- Practical Leadership Tips

“People respect what you inspect” is an old management adage. Is it true?



Industry Week magazine recently commissioned a study to test the validity of this saying (Jusko, 2011). Their results indicate a high percentage of companies, especially successful companies, use metrics to help improve…

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Added by David Hicks on November 7, 2011 at 12:14pm — No Comments

Improve Training Outcomes- Practical Leadership Tips



Excellent companies share several characteristics, particularly in the development of standards. Spear & Bowen (1999) described how Toyota defines clearly their standards, including content, sequence, timing, and outcomes.



When companies have problems with following standardized…

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Added by David Hicks on October 31, 2011 at 7:30am — No Comments

Mastering Cash Flow- Practical Leadership Tips





The old saying “cash is king” reminds us the importance of having sufficient cash on hand to make payroll, pay suppliers, etc. We often hear this called “cash flow.”



A recent LeanCor newsletter discussed the seven main business activities that drive cash flow. Let’s see how each of these…

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Added by David Hicks on October 24, 2011 at 7:30am — No Comments

Why Root Cause Failure Analysis Efforts Fail- Practical Leadership Tips

As our understanding of lean matured, we realized the importance of creating a problem solving culture.  In spite of our efforts, we sometimes see our problem solving efforts falter.  Sam McNair (2011) proposed six reasons why root cause failure analysis (RCFA) efforts fail.  His six reasons are listed below along with my comments for each.

1. RCFA is treated as a tool when it is really a process– We need to make it a normal part of our daily work instead of a special event. …

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Added by David Hicks on October 17, 2011 at 6:50am — No Comments

Professionalism- Practical Leadership Tips

In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins proposes the concept of the Level 5 Leader. Level 5 leaders exhibit a selfless concern for the long-term success of the organization.



Tony Kern proposes a similar model for professionalism, beginning with a six layer list of professional competencies:



1. Vocational Excellence

2. Professional Ethics

3. Continuous Improvement

4. Professional Engagement

5. Professional Image

6.… Continue

Added by David Hicks on October 10, 2011 at 6:30am — No Comments

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…

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Added by David Hicks on September 26, 2011 at 6:30am — 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…

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Added by David Hicks on September 19, 2011 at 7:00am — 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…

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

Six Key Lessons for Lean Implementation - Practical Leadership Tips





The Association for Manufacturing Excellence recently ( http://www.ame.org ) 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

Turn Facts into Wisdom - Practical Leadership Tips

My job involves a lot of windshield time as I travel among Auburn Technical Assistance Center clients. To pass the time productively, I listen to podcasts on a variety of topics. One of my favorites is the Business 901 podcast by Joe Dager (who happens to also be an…

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Added by David Hicks on August 29, 2011 at 7:00am — No Comments

Sure ways to waste money - Practical Leadership Tips

Folks are always looking for the next sure thing. Lottery ticket sales figures are a visible sign of how people want the quick and easy route to success. Unfortunately, as leaders we often look for the easy way out, too. Here are a few actions you can take that will guarantee success (if your goal is…

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Added by David Hicks on August 22, 2011 at 6:36am — No Comments

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