A Time for Average Heroes

By: Val Liberman, UL LLC

A client from a large manufacturing organization once told me of their internal marketing campaign titled “Our Heroes.” It depicted, via giant posters hung throughout their facilities, a small number of employees who went above and beyond the “call of duty,” and highlighted their specific “heroic” achievements.

This story prompted me to think about the definition of the term hero, which I learned, with the help of The Oxford English Dictionary, is defined as “a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” As I continued my research, I learned that the term hero first appeared in mythology and folklore where it was aimed at entertaining the reader/listener in order to help them sympathize with the protagonist of the story. With the advances in the reach of mass media, heroes and their stories began to be used in propaganda materials, especially during times of war.

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Three Truths to Inspire Better Process Design

By: Julian Winn, The Manufacturing Institute

Many of the companies I have worked with who embrace the Shingo Model have built up years of experience of tools and systems as part of their lean implementations. They come to the Shingo Model with familiarity of guiding principles behind the Continuous Improvement dimension, and are often able to describe to me what they understand by Focus on Process. However, in my experience at The Manufacturing Institute, I find that there is often a gap in the deeper understanding of the principle. And this gap can lead to non-ideal behaviors at all levels of the business that make it difficult to truly focus on process.

The foundational belief we have defined for focus on process is: “Great processes set people up to succeed.” This is the human side of the principle, and I think we all like to be successful at what we do. As Fujio Cho, a former president of Toyota, famously said, “We get brilliant results from average people managing brilliant processes, while our competitors get average or worse results from brilliant people managing broken processes.

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