Four Signs a Problem Isn't as “Complex” as Your Team Thinks

Four Signs a Problem Isn't as “Complex” as Your Team Thinks

Think about the most valuable challenges your organization is facing. These are the really tough, messy problems that keep you up at night. If they weren’t so difficult, you most likely would have already solved them! What if it turned out that these problems were not complex, but instead were all surprisingly easy to solve? How would you approach the problems differently?

The Story of Four Gold Mines (Part 2 of 3 - Applying the Mine Plan Radar to Gold)

The Story of Four Gold Mines (Part 2 of 3 - Applying the Mine Plan Radar to Gold)

While more NPV is better (all else being equal) this calculation is only meaningful relative to the cost of acquiring the operation in the first place or the price for which it could be sold. So in this article (Part 2 of 3) we have segmented the landscape into four quadrants each with a distinct ownership philosophy and set of implications for operational improvement...

How Manufacturers Survive the Grocery Price Wars

How Manufacturers Survive the Grocery Price Wars

The ongoing price war between Amazon, Walmart, and other consumer goods retailers is great for the consumer, but tough for the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry. If you are a CPG company, you have already spent the past few decades constantly pushing prices down. And yet the price war will demand even more savings from you in the years to come. There are some more obvious places to look for these savings, as well as a hidden one that you might not initially consider, and which may hold the greatest promise. Let’s go through all the options together, as more opportunities on your plate will give you more options to respond.  

For Investors - Picking the Biggest Winners from a Border Adjustment Tax

For Investors - Picking the Biggest Winners from a Border Adjustment Tax

Congress is considering using a Border Adjustment Tax to increase the financial incentives to produce goods in the United States. If successful, demand would significantly increase for US-made products..  Most US manufacturers would likely benefit in some way over the long term, but some would win much more than others. The biggest winners will be those that are able to find and utilize excess capacity in their existing operations.

If you are an investor, where should you look to find those manufacturers who are best positioned to tap into excess capacity and become the biggest winners? 

The Four Stages of Management Operating System (MOS) Maturity

The Four Stages of Management Operating System (MOS) Maturity

Our info grahic displays the various stages of maturity for a Management Operating System. Knowing where you lie on the curve is the first step in furthering your improvement capabilities. Each category lays out four characteristics that will help you assess where your organization lies on the curve. Once you know where you are on the curve and what lies ahead, you can begin to create a plan for how to shift to the right on the diagram.

For Manufacturers - How to Take Advantage of the Border Adjustment Tax

For Manufacturers - How to Take Advantage of the Border Adjustment Tax

Congress is considering using a Border Adjustment Tax to increase the financial incentives to produce goods in the United States. If successful, demand for US-made products will increase significantly.  Most US manufacturers would likely benefit in some way over the long term, but some would win much more than others. The biggest winners will be those that are able to find and utilize excess capacity in their existing operations.

If you are a manufacturer, how do you find this excess capacity?

Measuring the Performance of Irregular Manufacturing

Measuring the Performance of Irregular Manufacturing

For irregular manufacturing processes, inspiring productivity through performance measurement can be very difficult because a single, meaningful unit of output is much more challenging to devise. As the combination of production activities constantly changes, no consistent baseline emerges against which improvements can be measured. As such, the full creative potential of workers may be left untapped. How can leaders in irregular manufacturing create comprehensive and meaningful metrics to track progress? 

Border Adjustment Tax: Who Will the Biggest Winners Be?

Border Adjustment Tax: Who Will the Biggest Winners Be?

A Border Adjustment Tax (BAT) in any proposed new United States tax code has the potential to create significant winners and losers in a rapidly-changing domestic manufacturing market.  Its proponents claim that the border adjustment tax will help rebuild US manufacturing--and hopefully the jobs that go with it--by creating pricing incentives to build products in (and export from) the US rather than import them.

How can a manufacturing business get the most out of a Border Adjustment Tax, and who will the biggest winners be? 

Mine Plan Radar: A Simple Tool to Visualize Your Mine Plan Alternatives

Mine Plan Radar: A Simple Tool to Visualize Your Mine Plan Alternatives

Integrated mine planning consumes tremendous amounts of organizational resources and management attention. Yet the resulting plans often fail to provide complete confidence that the ore body is being extracted optimally.

By creating a Mine Plan Radar for your operation you will have a clear, visual representation of the alternatives in front of you, allowing you to simplify a complex reality and provide confidence in your operational plans and allocation of capital.

Where Simple, Elegant Solutions Go to Die

Where Simple, Elegant Solutions Go to Die

When you help businesses to solve their operations challenges for a living, you experience all the highs and lows of organizational problem solving culture. For a sampling of the lows, check out our playful tongue-in-cheek infographic below. To learn more about finding the simple, elegant solutions hidden within your operations, join one of our Stop Guessing Workshops.

To Solve a Hard Problem, Change These Two Mindsets

To Solve a Hard Problem, Change These Two Mindsets

When we’re brought into an organization to help it solve a hard problem, we’re often introduced to the situation like this: “Oh, the solution to this one is easy: we just need to build a whole new second well — or plant — or warehouse.” Then comes the next part of that statement: “And good luck getting capital approval for that.” The translation, to us, is that the people we’re talking to already know this problem can’t be solved, and so we’re either going to have to live with it, or throw a lot of money at it.

Why Two Financial Targets Can Be Better Than One

Why Two Financial Targets Can Be Better Than One

(Originally published by Harvard Business Review)

As consultants, we once helped a manufacturing plant director discover how we could save $20 million from his costs in the coming year. His response? “I don’t want $20 million. I only need $3 million to meet my objectives. Why would I contribute more than that?”...

You are just guessing; stop it!

You are just guessing; stop it!

You have probably found yourself in this meeting before - the emergency, all-hands-on-deck sit in scheduled to solve the new, big problem.  It could be about people, customers, sales, a technical or quality issue--it doesn’t matter.  Your group spends the first 10 minutes excitedly proposing solutions to the problem.  These solutions are great, creative ideas that have sprung to mind.

The Lure and Limitations of Benchmarking

The Lure and Limitations of Benchmarking

The term ‘benchmark’ originates from surveyors marking a stone to act as a consistent reference point for where to place their equipment with each visit to a site. In life and work we now use benchmarks all the time as consistent reference points to measure performance against...

Carbon Tax: How will it impact oil sands producers?

Carbon Tax: How will it impact oil sands producers?

Earlier this year, Justin Trudeau and the federal Liberal government announced their intention to implement a Canada wide Carbon tax in the coming years, to the tune of $50/tonne at its peak. The reaction to this announcement was mixed, with recognizable names on either side of the debate.

Why asking stupid questions is the smartest thing to do

Why asking stupid questions is the smartest thing to do

“There’s no such thing as a stupid question”. You have probably heard that sentence before, maybe from a teacher or professor, encouraging you to raise your hand and participate in class. The concept of asking “stupid questions” doesn’t always resonate outside of the classroom.

3 Tangible Ways to Sustain Change

3 Tangible Ways to Sustain Change

A waste reduction team I recently worked on achieved 160% of its annualized savings goal yet saw the largest problem reoccur one morning six weeks later. The problem, a product spacing issue, caused a significant percentage of the product to be wasted, but on the other side of the plant from the solution.