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  OCTOBER 2012 Issue #006

Great supervisors know that it is more important to make frequent small improvements, so the culture becomes one of steady progress. Poor supervisors ignore improvement efforts, or they put great efforts into major changes that happen only sporadically, and often don't last.

Why this works ...

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We're now well into the fall, and the days are growing shorter quickly. The variation in length of day is an annual cycle that we in Canada know very well. But we're less acquainted with the impact of variation in our production processes. In this newsletter we have an autumn theme: baseball playoffs, where reliable hits are the name of the game, a success story in which sooner is not better, and some insights about how much opportunity there is when you eliminate variation. Enjoy the growing darkness!

We hope you find it worth a few minutes of your time. We welcome your comments. Write to us at info@firstlinetraining.ca. And please feel free to forward this to anyone who you think might be interested.


Tips for Supervisors - "Look for People's Feelings and Opinions"

When handling a conflict or a performance problem in the work place, poor supervisors ignore what other people think and feel about the situation while great supervisors know that if they understand the feelings and opinions of others they'll have a better picture of what's going on. It's not that other people's feelings and opinions are correct or valid, but as a supervisor you need to know what they are so you can adjust and adapt to what the rest ...

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WHEN IS THE BEST TIME? Sometimes sooner is NOT better Robert (not his real name) ran a batch powder coating line in his plant. The company made large farm equipment, and all the accessory pieces came through his operation, as well as all the large assemblies. His challenge was getting the accessories to match up with the big assemblies.

Robert and his team were struggling because they didn't have enough racks for the painting operation. However hard the six of them tried, they were continuously running out. So then they would spend time unloading the racks and storing the parts so they could keep going. That meant more space was needed. He was just learning the Job Methods approach, so he started by breaking down the operation and capturing every detail. Once he had that done, he started questioning every detail. The big insight came when he asked the question, "when is the ...

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In the summer edition of Plant Magazine, Robert Gerst compared the shift that has happened in the manufacture of products compared to services. He observed that where once manufacturers would work to loose tolerances, they had learned, through the teaching of Taguchi, that the sum of all the tolerances created products that weren't reliable. And so began the task of removing sources of variation from manufacturing.

Gerst observed that the same practice has not happened in companies that provide services. Just think of the unsatisfactory process of trying to call a help desk or a "customer service" line. The lack of attention to variation gets dangerous when the service you're discussing is an ambulance or attention in the emergency room. As Gerst points out, we set service standards to impose better performance, but we still don't have a practice of looking for the sources of variation. And so it is very hard to improve the process.

How does this apply to a supervisor? ...

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Blog Posts
October 16, 2012
It's nice, but not necessary, for co-workers to like each other. Find out what to do when they don't.

October 13, 2012
Three ways you can improve the facts you use in your decisions.

October 10, 2012
Don’t make situations worse by guessing. Get the facts. See why.

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