Posts Tagged ‘Lean manufacturing’

Lean Leadership Summit Focuses on Essentials to Becoming a Lean Company

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

After being delayed for a few weeks because of Hurricane Irma, Lean Frontiers held its annual Lean Accounting Summit in Savannah, GA on October 24th and 25th.  This was my fourth year to be invited as a speaker at the conference. This year’s summit was different in that the Lean Accounting Summit was combined with Lean Management and Lean People Development into Lean Leadership to include the people development aspect of being a lean enterprise. Co-founder Dwayne Butcher, said, “It’s about time that the whole enterprise be involved in becoming a Lean company. Lean is a business model and must therefore include every part of the business, including those in Executive Leadership, Accounting, HR, Sales, Product Development, Supply Chain. We need to breakdown the silos between these departments.”

Between the keynote speakers, there were three tracks related to Lean Management, Lean Accounting, and Lean People Development.  Besides giving my own presentation, “Rebuild Manufacturing – the key to American Prosperity,” based on my new book of the same name, I attended all of the keynotes and some of the sessions in the Lean Management and Lean Accounting tracks.

Lean Frontiers is not a consulting firm. Its sole focus is to provide learning opportunities to address:  Enterprise?wide adoption of Lean and the foundational skills needed by Lean companies. Dwayne announced a new program, the Lean Learning Pod, that will be taught by Jean Cunningham on Lean accounting. Participating companies will meet in a virtual manner on a regular basis, and Jean will be a mentor to the companies.

Jim Huntzinger, said, “The first Lean Accounting Summit was held in 2005, and out of that summit, Lean Frontiers was born.  Lean is still perceived as a program with short term results by too many, and we need to make the transition to Lean as a business model.  We need to traverse unclear territory — trust the process to go from current condition to the target position. We can use XYZ Thinking:  If we do X, then we will get Y, but if we get Z instead, then we will learn.”

He introduced the first keynote speaker, Art Byrne, former Wiremold CEO, author of Lean Turnaround and now a consultant. He has been practicing Lean since 1982 when he was a General Manager at a General Electric facility. He wrote his book and then wrote the Lean Turnaround Action Plan to show what would happen if a company becomes Lean. The reader is supposed to be management of fictitious company – United Gear & Housing.  He asked, “What is Lean?” His answer was, “It is strategy to run any business to remove waste to deliver more value to customers.”

He described United Gear as a traditional batch company with long set ups of 2-3 hour, a six-week lead time, and a strong management team.  The company is purchased, and the new owner make it clear that everything has to change to with Lean as the strategy.  They will have to:  lead from the top, transform people, increase gross by 5 – 7. Puts, reduce inventory by $70 M increase value, and reduce set up by 90%.  He said, “The present capacity = work + waste., and waste is typically 60%.  I particularly liked his comment. “Think about the stupidity of putting all the same machines in the same department as if the machines liked to be near each other. Instead, we should be putting the machines in the sequence of operations to be performed to go from batch to continuous flow. You could rearrange the machines into cells to go from raw material to finished product. Fewer people would be doing the work, and lead time could drop dramatically from 6 weeks to 2 days.”

He said the Wiremold strategy was to: “Constantly strengthen our base operations, achieve 100% on-time delivery, 50% reduction in defects every year, do 20 inventory turns/year, double in size every 3 to 5 years, use visual control and 5S, do one piece flow and standard work, do Kaizen, use a Pull system, and stretch targets.”

In his concluding comments, he said, “Standard cost accounting and lean don’t go together. The key is for senior management to function as one team.”

In her presentation on “Overcoming Barriers to WOW Results,” Cheryl Jekiel, CEO of the Lean Leadership Resource Center, said that the International Labour Organization for the United Nations asked her to develop and teach a class on Lean HR to be taught in 46 countries.  She had to develop the course for others to use to teach. In developing the course, she used the following working definition of Lean:

  • 7 common practices to improve
  • It’s about the customer
  • Measurable improvement
  • Problem Solving
  • Repeatable processes
  • Overall involvement
  • Visual management
  • Engaging leadership

She said, “HR can make the difference in the results. HR owns the things that are the obstacles. HR has a role in the culture of the company and can weave improvement into activities. HR owns talent strategies: hiring, training & Development, performance management, and reword systems. HR can build lean competencies into job design. The greatest is the waste of human development. Most companies don’t tsp into the power of their people. We define people by the tasks they do and not their capability. People are endlessly creative. The power of the ideas to solve problems is in people. Lean is about building a muscle — the more you do it the better you are at doing it. Lean is a way of expanding capability.  HR tends to engagement, and engagement goes with Lean. Studies show that companies are 7-11% more profitable when employees are engaged. Convert categories into dollars to make the connection of engagement into money.”

One of my favorite presenters is Jerry Solomon, who gave the presentation, “Bridging the Gap Between Accounting & Operations.” He spent 40 years in the manufacturing industry and is now retired in Naples, FL.  His last 14 years were at Barry-Wehmiller in St. Louis as CFO.

He said, “Lean is two pillars to eliminate waste in pursuit of perfection in safety, quality, delivery, and cost.  The two pillars are:  respect for people and continuous improvement. Inspirational leadership and a profound cultural and organizational change are required to become a Lean company. Elimination of waste is driven by Kaizen events, which need to be narrow and deep. The respect for people means no layoffs and requires strong C-level support.”

He explained, “Lean Accounting is using Lean tools in accounting and “plain English” P & Ls. Accounting is one of biggest roadblocks to successful Lean journey. Lean is about being a cash and capacity generator.  We need to change the metrics we use. In the traditional cost accounting pie, overhead is 10-20%, Direct labor is 60-70%, and materials are 20-30%. Today in Lean accounting, overhead is still 10-20%, direct labor is 10-20%, and materials are 60%.  Standard cost accounting is replaced by actual costs and can be understood by everyone. The benefit of Lean accounting is relevant information when you need it that is understandable to the 99% of people and not just the 1% who are accountants. It provides real-time information to run the business.”

On Wednesday, the keynote presentation was “The Continuous Improvement Engine” by David Veech, The Ohio State University, author of Leadersights and The C4 Process.

He said, “The foundation of the continuous improvement engine is trust. Two key things are required: clear expectations with standardized work and leader vulnerability and mastery. Challenges lead us to acquire knowledge and skills. It’s how we lead that sets our stretch goals. It’s a process that occurs with repetition. No one is in this alone, so we have accountability. Learning and coaching is required for mastery. The goal is to have a team of experts.”

He explained, “You need a system for problem solving to find out if ideas work – you can use PDCA, DMAIC, or my C4 system.”  He said, “C4 is short for Concern, Cause, Countermeasure, and Confirm. C4 offers straightforward, easy-to-remember techniques for identifying and solving workplace problems. These four steps-clearly identify the concern, find the true root cause, correct the cause with an effective countermeasure, and confirm that the solution worked.”

He added, “Problem solving builds mastery. Mastery results in self-efficacy, and people that have self-efficacy are willing to try new things and keep trying until they succeed. They need to have intrinsic motivation, which comes from the heart. This intrinsic motivation turns into ideas and generates initiative. The “exhaust” of this continuous improvement engine is:  satisfaction, meaning, awareness, and responsibility. Building relationships in teams is critical to the process.”

In the first breakout session, I attended “Eliminate Standard Cost Step by Step” by Nick Katco, author of the Lean CFO series. He told us that there is nothing in Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) that would prevent using Lean Accounting methods. He said, “In GAAP, you need to calculate inventory valuation and Cost of Goods Sold. Using Standard Cost Accounting, you often have to make assumptions whereas in Lean Accounting, you use “Actual expenses incurred to get goods in condition for sale. A major objective of accounting for inventories is the proper determination of income through the process of matching appropriate costs against revenues.  In the continuous nature of manufacturing, there are difficulties in matching specific costs to revenue because products not sold in same period as produced, prices change over time, and production costs change over time.”

He explained how to do a Lean Inventory Valuation for material and production cost capitalization using three different methods:  days of inventory, units of inventory, and days of conversion cost.  He said, “Lean transformation is designed reduce inventory levels in manufacturing companies — 30-60 days is good target. There is no GAAP requirement to value every single product. Average costs replace standard costs. Capitalize total costs, not individual products by a journal entry.”  In conclusion, he advised:  “Design a lean inventory valuation methodology which works for your company and partner with your auditor to create a methodology they will be able to test.”

I had to leave early on Wednesday to catch my plane, so the last presentation I attended was “Lean Transformation from the CFO’s Seat” by CFO  Pete Gingerich of Aluminum Trailer Company. Last year I attended a presentation by the President and CEO, Steve Brenneman, so I was interested in what Mr. Gingerich had to share about their Lean transformation. He said, “In 2007, we did $27 Million and went down to $10 Million in 2009. We had to lay off half of our employees. Steve Brenneman started in 2009, and our first steps were office procedures for handling work folders and then we did 5S on the shop floor. We had lots of problems with material shortages, so we went to a Kanban system. We split into three value streams in 2012 and now have six.”

He explained, “Our big change was in how we pay our workers; we switched from piece rate to hourly and started at a rate of 10% higher than previous year’s rate. We also instituted a profit sharing plan. We didn’t use standard cost accounting, but we did have assumptions for material, labor, and overheads. Now, we know the actual costs for each value stream. Value stream planning is clearer and easier.”

He added, “We thought that our custom trailer was the most profitable, but it is actually our midline model trailer because too many engineers are involved in our custom trailer.

We have an annual meeting for top management, quarterly meetings for managers, and weekly meetings for team leaders. We have switched to rolling forecasts from budgeting, and we do weekly production planning forecasts and weekly P & Ls. Each value stream has its own weekly P& L with more detail. Lean accounting is based on shop floor metrics. We avoid allocations because if you can’t control them, why do you want to see them. We can close a quarter in one day. We clarified the definition of sales and revenue so employees would understand. We have had to work with suppliers on our Kanban system to cut inventory, such as having tires on a rack that is replenished daily. In 2009, we only did five turns of inventory, but in 2016, we did 19 turns.”

It’s always a pleasure to hear about a successful transformation into a Lean company rather than just a Lean manufacturer. I am a big proponent of Lean accounting because standard cost accounting is the biggest obstacle to more companies returning manufacturing to America using Total Cost Analysis.  When costs are divided into separate accounts, the purchasing agents and buyers do not have access to all of actual and hidden costs to be able to do a true TCO analysis. More CFOs need to take the time to attend the Lean Accounting Summit or get training from one of the qualified consultants and learn how to convert to Lean accounting.

Leadership is Key to Becoming a Lean Enterprise

Monday, November 9th, 2015

I finished off my week in Florida by attending the 2015 Lean Accounting Summit on October 8-9th Jacksonville, Florida, produced by Lean Frontiers, headed up by founder and President, Jim Huntzinger. It was two days of information-packed presentations and workshops that included case studies showing Lean principles in action. I was honored to be invited back to give a presentation on “How to Return Manufacturing to American Using Total Cost of Analysis.” I attended all five of the keynote presentations during the two-day summit and as many of the different breakout sessions as I could between the keynotes.

The First keynote, “Lead with Respect, was given by Michael Bole?, author, speaker and associate research at Telecom Aristech. He first challenged the audience with questions, such as “What is the meaning of leadership? How do you get people to follow you? What do they know how to do? “He stated, “Lean has a focus ? reduce waste and do more with less. The world is moved by ideas and words. To lead people, you need to take into account their experience, skills, and opinions to help them develop their autonomy. You need to create experiences for them so you can see at what level they are. Then, he asked, “How do you teach? You show them by means of problem based learning: Express the problem, look for the cause, and confirm the corrective measure.” He then outlined his seven-step model of Lean leadership.

The first breakout session I attended was “The Lean Management System: an Engine for Continuous Improvement” by Dean Locher, a four-time author and faculty member of the Lean Enterprise Institute. Dean said, “Lean creates a culture of continuous improvement you can actually see a culture.” He asked, “What is it to be a Lean enterprise? It is an organization where all members continually strive to do better and to develop a culture of continuous improvement. What is needed? Purpose, direction, CI methodologies and tools, processes, and engagement.”

He briefly described the methodologies and tools: Hoshin Kanri (policy deployment process), value steam mapping, Gemba walks, daily management process, 5S, Kaizen events, 7-step DMAIC, Andon (visual management), Kata, Leader Standard Work, and Voice of the Customer.

The next breakout I attended was “First Steps to Lean Accounting Statement” by Jean Cunningham, President of Cunningham Consulting, co-author of Real Numbers, and one of the original through leaders for the Lean Accounting summit. She showed how to restructure financial statements to provide a Lean accounting statement presentation in addition to the traditional presentation of standard cost when a company hasn’t gotten rid of their standards cost system yet. She said the key characteristics are: “(1) separate variable from non variable costs, (2) separate direct from shared between value streams, (3) separate accounting transactions for labor and overhead, (4) use easy to understand language, and (5) organize by groupings meaningful to the business.” She emphasized that “money is language of business so it is really important to have an understandable language. Operations and finance have to come together.”

After lunch, there were three mini-keynotes. Bill Waddell was the first mini keynote speaker of the day discussing “People Process and Prosperity.” Bill is the author of Simple Excellence, co-author of Rebirth of American Industry, and most recently “The Heart and Soul of Manufacturing.” His three main points were: (1) You can’t manage people by the numbers, (2) There is an inherent right to life, and (3) Lean can enable you to be far-sighted as managers.”

Sam McPherson was the second mini-keynote speaker discussing “Leadership as Special Forces.” Sam is an internationally recognized Lean Transformation Leader and co-founder of the Lean Leadership Academy with Art Smalley. He was recalled to military service after 9/11 and became the Director of Special Operations Plans for the Elite U. S. Army Special Forces (the Green Berets) during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. He said, “A Green Beret is a symbol of excellence, and badge of courage, and act if distinction in the fight for freedom. Why would Lean leadership take a look at a Green Beret? Because every Green Beret is a leader. Special Forces are adaptable, capable, courageous, persistent, responsible, professional, integrated team player, and willing to lead.” He encouraged Lean leaders to develop the same qualities.

The third mini-keynote was Dean Locher discussing “Behavior Driving Culture.” He said that what leaders do is to develop culture. “Leaders need to help people understand that change isn’t like driving off a cliff. Teaching is not about you; it is about what your students learned. Leaders need to provide a target destination; there can be many different paths to the target. Leaders can teach PDCA and show how problem solving can be fun. When you use the Socratic method of teaching, you don’t provide the answer. Your students find the answer for themselves.”

In the afternoon, I attended the breakout session in which Eldad Coppens, CFO, and Anna Berkner, Director of Finance/Controller of QFix their company’s story about converting to Lean Accounting. QFix is a world leader in radiotherapy patient positioning and immobilization products. They are vertically integrated as an innovator, manufacturer, distributor, and marketer and have 100 employees. They have an extensive product portfolio with over 6,000 SKUs. They aim to be a one-stop solution so they distribute what they don’t make.

Eldad said, “You can’t do Lean accounting without doing Lean operations. We did Value Stream Mapping and a spaghetti diagram, and then reorganized by value streams: composites and devices, thermoplastics, resale of other people’s products. The value streams are supported by marketing, sales, and customer service, and technical support. The challenges were: high SKU/BOM, Box Score Analysis, new product development, profitability by profit, target costing, and tracking and reducing inventory. The benefits of Lean accounting have been: financial x-ray of company, timely reporting, consistency with GAAP, insight into economics, insight into traditional accounting, internal diffusion of financial results, and a baseline for incentive programs and the QFix Performance Bonus for employees.

At the concluding session of the day, the 2015 Lean Enterprise Institute Excellence in Lean Accounting Student and Professor Awards were announced. The student winner was Amy Shaw (Puckett), Western Washington University, and the professor award went to Patti Hart Timm, Walden University. The students and professors receiving LEAF scholarships to attend the summit were: Amal Said, Professor, University of Toledo, Jessica Jakubowski, Student, University of Toledo, Hassan HassabElnaby, Professor – Editor, University of Toledo, Joel Tuoriniemi, Professor, Michigan Technological University, Jeffrey Hines, Student, Michigan Technological University, Joanne Pencak, Professor, University of Vermont, and John Mangione, Student, University of Vermont.

On day two, the morning keynote speaker was Jamie Flinchbaugh, co-founder of the Lean Leaning Center, and co-author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean, who spoke on “Leading Lean.” He said, “Leading is a verb whereas leadership is a noun…What is the adoption rate of Lean? Good intentions are not a good solution to the problem…An operating system is how everything fits together: (1) process, (2) skills and tools, (3) evaluation, and (4) behaviors. All four need to work together and be consistent. An operating system may be good but doesn’t work because of behaviors. You need to be relentless on the path, but need to be patient with others who just got on the path. Evaluation starts with a hypothesis of if I do ____, I expect to see____. It includes Total Shareholder Return (TSR), strategy, culture, and behaviors.” He gave suggestions of how to hook a CFO into adopting Lean accounting: “Start with why you are doing it. What is your purpose? Define your own personal reason for the Lean journey.” He also recommended that CFOs talk to other CFOs.

I then attended the first of two sessions put on by executives of Nicholson Manufacturing Ltd., which was formed after Nicholson Debarker acquired Madill Forestry Equipment. Nicholson is family-owned, 67-year old British Columbia based manufacturer of machines and parts for the logging and forest products industries. The first was “Value Stream Accounting at Nicholson” presented by Ian Scott Kerr, Director of Finance, and James Bowden and Gaetan Desmairis, Value Stream Managers. The second was the “Lean Management Journey at Nicholson,” presented by Doug Jeffrey, President, and Rhonda Morrison, Continuous Improvement Manager.

They began their Lean journey in 2004 starting with 5S and Green Belt training to change the culture to continuous improvement. After acquiring a new ERP system in 2006 and evaluating suppliers, they had additional Lean training by Bill Waddell in 2009. They implemented more Lean methodologies and tools and trained small teams of employees using the PDCA cycle for teaching.

They brought Bill back in 2013 to begin their transformation to Lean accounting and produced their first value stream statements in January 2014. They learned to break down the silos and organized by value streams. They have three value streams: Nicholson products, McGill products, and aftermarket products, and each value stream has a manager. Their production employees are unionized ? fabricators, welders, and machinists. Every employee received education in value stream leadership and has been cross-trained in the value streams. They use a new Lean Employee Development Tool by Bill Waddell instead of performance reviews.

Rhonda said, “The challenges were: bad data, complex ERP system, down turn during recession for their product lines, staff losses by people who didn’t want to do Lean, building common goals with the unions, and the fact that many people had new responsibilities. The gains will come faster than expected, so need to have a plan to handle the extra capacity. You will get slower before you get faster. You will have to make tough decisions. Accept that some people may not want to change.” She added, “Dividing into value streams was easier than expected, and our on-time deliveries have improved from 65% to over 90%.”

The final keynote session featured Bill Waddell and Jim Huntzinger discussing “The Lean Economy: The Importance of Tying Micro and Macro.” One of the most important truths Bill said was, “Individual people are the source of all productivity.” He described how companies following the Lean business model are the micro part of the economy, and in turn, they are part of the macro economy of a city, state, or country. He said, “Reducing waste equals increased capital (both human and capital.) He commented that “retail stores are going b the wayside to Amazon to direct buying from manufacturers…you need to eliminate the non value added. If you don’t know where you are adding value and your customer doesn’t know where they are adding value, then you are doomed.” In the closing Q & A, I asked why more companies on the Lean journey don’t realize that offshoring is the opposite of Lean, creating waste, and Jim Huntzinger said that presenting that truth is one of the objectives of the Lean Accounting Summit.

This is why it is important to me to be invited to speak at the Lean Accounting Summit. As I wrote in my book, I am certain that becoming a Lean Enterprise is one of the most important actions American manufacturers can take to “save themselves” and one of the keys to rebuilding American manufacturing to make America great again.