013: What A Waste

013: What A Waste

What do you think of when you hear the word waste?

There are certainly a bunch of different images that could come to mind. For whatever reason, for me, the image of food on a plate that wasn’t finished seems to come to the surface.

Maybe that’s because as kids it was ironed into us that we better finish everything on our plates so that we don’t waste food.

And then as parents we grab that baton and continue the tradition with our own kids.

It could be the kid who asks for a huge serving and then barely touches it. Or the one who is battling to the end to win the fight against the evil broccoli cheddar soup… remind me to tell that story one day.

There’s really only one food that I’m OK wasting. Liver.

Yep, that slimy, foul-smelling cooked organ… that somehow my father-in-law loved. I’ve never understood that.

But for anyone else, if I served that onto your plate you are more than welcome to immediately walk over and scrape it into the garbage. Yuck. Even mentioning the word makes my stomach churn.

There are, of course, lots of other images that come to mind when we think of waste. I’m sure you can think of several within your business that you could list off right now.

And when we’re talking about work, elimination of waste truly is at the heart of becoming more efficient and doing more with what you have.

In the manufacturing world, there is a popular system of thinking known as Lean Manufacturing. There is a lot to it (and we’ll be digging into many of the aspects of it in future episodes), but at its heart is the concept of seeking to eliminate waste… in all of its forms.

Now, it’s that last part that has been interesting to me, working to implement Lean Manufacturing concepts for years. Because in manufacturing they have identified eight main areas of waste.

Each business is different and yours will be different from so many others.

But digging into these eight types is an exercise that will uncover waste that you didn’t even know existed. Waste that you wouldn’t have even classified as waste.

So, here are the eight types of waste:
– Defects (product or service that doesn’t meet customer expectations)
– Overproduction (making more than customer demand)
– Waiting (could be in a process or anywhere)
– Unused Talent (so much untapped potential here)
– Transportation (moving products unnecesarily)
– Motion (unecessary movement by people)
– Inventory (excess that isn’t processed)
– Extra Processing (more work or higher quality than needed)

We’ll go deeper into these later, but each is a way to help you look at your business with a different lens and spot the wastes hiding in the shadows. So often, the issue is maybe just misindentification. Waste that went undetected or was seen as necessary or just the way things are.

One warning about Lean thinking and implementation: it is not for the faint of heart. If you really want to dig into these ideas and let them bring change to your company, toes will be stepped on, feelings possibly hurt, long-held ideas and systems challenged.

But in the end, you’ll be better for it and can become more trimmed down and able to withstand the storms and grow in the process.

As for withstanding a plate of liver…. that might take a much bigger effort. Good luck with that one.

Thanks for listening to today’s episode.

I can’t wait to connect with you again tomorrow

003: The Power of Process

Today, we talk about how processes make up every aspect of our daily lives and how optimizing them in your business can make a huge impact

Did you brush your teeth today?

It’s an honest question because I’m right by your mouth and, well, there’s some yucky breath coming out of there.

Seriously though, did you brush today?

How about get dressed? Make coffee? Pack a lunch? Drive a car? Scroll Facebook?

If you did any of those things… actually anything at all… there was a process involved.

Let’s take the teeth for example.

You went into the bathroom, grabbed your tooth paste, opened it up, grabbed your tooth brush, put a big glob onto your brush, brushed your teeth (for like 5 minutes, right?… right) OK, for probably 20 seconds, rinsed your brush put it all back and you were done.

Truth is, life is somewhat a series of processes. Everything we do follows a process. Whether it’s something quick like brushing your teeth, something longer like losing 10 pounds or a bigger task of getting a degree or raising kids.

One thing I love is studying and optimizing processes. It’s probably one of the reasons why I’ve been successful as an engineer. My brain is just wired that way. If you’ve ever seen the movie The Matrix, think of when Neo becomes fully aware and can see the matrix for what it is and then manipulate it.

That’s how I feel about processes. So, essentially Keanu Reeves and I are like the same, right? Yeah, well, maybe not.

But it’s honestly something that’s hard for me to turn off. Of course, I use it at work as I design and analyze manufacturing work flows and individual steps. But it also crosses over to things around the house or when I’m at a store or a restaurant or waiting for the one traffic light in our town that I swear never recognizes my presence!

All that said, I love looking at processes and seeing how they can be improved and streamlined. I almost see it as free money right there. Granted, sometimes you might buy a new machine or new software or an app that will help you automate or optimize a process. But often, it’s already all there right in front of you like a puzzle. You just have to re-imagine how the pieces could fit together better.

You have these processes in your business as well. Some of them are physical. Some are electronic or information-related. If you could put on magic glasses and see all of them in front of you, it might indeed look like some form of that matrix. A little overwhelming, honestly.

But there is so much potential there. Every step it takes to go from customer order to shipping your product, every email, every instruction, all your training procedures or onboarding or accounting. All of it can be optimized, streamlined, clarified, standardized.

I want that to bring you some hope today. Even if you’ve felt like you’ve been squeezing everything as tight as you can to try to improve that bottom line, there are still opportunities right in front of you that you can leverage to get you there, often with minimal resources. Just a different perspective or different approach.

I want to help you get there. Join me in coming episodes as we dig into all aspects of your processes. Communication, automation, identifying and reducing waste, standardization, fun (yep, fun is allowed), innovation, creativity, curiousity. All of it makes a difference.

I can’t help you make sure your teeth stay cavity-free (though regular brushing might help), but I can help you make a positive impact through the processes you touch each day. Let’s get after it!

001: Introducing the Engineering Your Business Podcast

001: Introducing the Engineering Your Business Podcast

Let me say up front here that if you are a robot listening today… this episode is not for you. Go ahead and do something else while we talk for a few minutes about how awesome humans are.

No offense to you. You’re amazing too and can automate and pick stuff up and weld things and even dance now, apparently, but this episode is for the people. So, be on your way (even though I know you’ve already tapped into this feed, transcribed it and have scanned it for errors.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s you and I just talk for a few minutes, human to human.

One of the things in life that I’m most fascinated with… is you. A human being. I mean, probably not you specifically since I’ve most likely never met you. But no doubt, I’d feel the same if I met you.

But humans in general are just amazing.

We come in all kinds of shapes sizes, skin colors, personalities, senses of humor (or lack thereof), passions, skills, and more.

I believe that you were created for a reason. You were designed and planned, and you bring something unique and vital to the world around you.

The same is true for each of the people on your team or in your company

I’ll be a little transparent here. I believe we were all created by a Creator. But sometimes I think, “wouldn’t it have been easier to just make everyone the same?” I mean, from an efficiency standpoint it just makes sense. If you want to make a bunch of people, design one and just copy that.

But that is actually what makes us so special. No one is the same. Think about it. If I played a five second audio clip of someone you knew just saying random things, you could pick out their voice… out of billions in this world.

And every time I think that we’ve come up with everything new in this world or used up all the great ideas… boom, here comes something new and different.

In my 25 years in manufacturing, this has been one of my favorite things to see. Yeah, welding robots are cool. And yes, riding on top of elevators to learn how they work was fun. And sure, traveling to another country to verify a new machine was incredible.

But topping all of that has been witnessing the breadth of personality and creativity and life experience and humor and strength and ideas and heart within all of the people I’ve had the privilege of working alongside.

I know it’s cliche to say that “people are our most important asset” but it’s true… if you’ll let it be.

That said, I’ve also seen so much potential go wasted and so many great ideas stay bottled up and so many much optimism get squashed when that most important asset doesn’t truly get valued and used to it’s full potential.

In the coming episodes, you’ll find that I talk about people a lot. How they’re wired. What makes them tick. How to truly listen to them, encourage them, empower them, not only get the most out of them but help them to get the most out of themselves. 

Your people truly can be your most important asset. If you’ll let them. I want to help you do that.

I’m not an expert on people, but I have a heart for them and a brain wiring that has helped me connect deeply and tap into their lives and what fills their cup.

So, I hope you’ll join me in this journey as we look to harness the power and potential of those humans you rub shoulders with every day. 

The robots? Well, they’ll do fine on their own.

Thanks for listening to today’s episode.

I can’t wait to connect with you again tomorrow

001: Introducing the Engineering Your Business Podcast

001: Introducing the Engineering Your Business Podcast

Today I’m introducing a new podcast that’s been already playing in my head for years but will now finally make it into your earbuds for the first time. Going forward, a new episode will come out every weekday morning, starting a week after this intro episode.

Before I get into the show itself, let me address the change in the podcast feed. You may notice that there are older episodes out there of a podcast called Stories of Starters. If you’re new to it, that was my first podcast, where I interviewed people who had taken a vision or passion and turned it into something bigger.

In order to preserve those interviews, which I still think offer a lot of value, I decided to start here where they left off instead of with a totally new feed. But feel free to dig through some of those older episodes and enjoy.

As for the Engineering Your Business podcast, it will be a totally different format and focus. Where Stories of Starters was a semi-weekly show that featured interviews which could be anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, Engineering Your Business will be a short daily show (I’m thinking five minutes or less) that will focus on helping you optimize the People and Processes that you deal with every day as a business leader. My goal is to provide you with bite sized episodes that you can easily grab and go daily… or even batch on the weekends.

Personally, I have a mix in my own podcast playlist. Some are longer, interview or monologue shows while others are short daily shows like this one. I’ve really taken a liking to the shorter ones as they pack a punch, have a lot of variety and yet are easy to get through even if I’m short on time.

So, back to this podcast, you might ask “why the name Engineering Your Business”? Well, it has sort of a dual meaning. On one hand, I’ve been an engineer working in manufacturing for over 25 years and I’m bringing some of the lessons I’ve picked up over that time to your and your business field. As well, the episodes will help give you tools, encouragement and practical ideas that you can use to engineer your business and get it running at peak efficiency.

Now, about the specific focus, People and Processes? That comes from my wiring and makeup. I’m part engineer (it’s my job and I’m also generally curious about how things work), I’m part human resources (in that I’m relationally wired), I’m part creative (I love to write, create and see things differently) and honestly I’m part comedian (sarcasm is one of favorite languages). Granted, I’m not sure that those four types would often hang out together outside of my head, but somehow they get along in there.

And that all brings us to you, the listener. You are a business leader with a lot on your mind daily and a weight of responsibility for your business or department. You have demands. You have stresses. You have goals. And a lot of the time you might feel stuck. I want to be able to help give you a jolt, a boost, some new insight or even just some encouragement along the way.

Personally, I’ve often found that I can pound my head against a wall over and over trying to solve a problem or how to make something more efficient and then someone will come by, offer a few words and totally change my thinking or perspective. And that’s my goal with this podcast.

That said, I also believe in being yourself and offering the world your own special flavor, so you’ll find plenty of humor and creativity mixed in among the often-stuffy business talk.

I appreciate you taking the time to listen to this intro episode. Your time is valuable and I don’t take that for granted. I mean, you could have been catching up on the latest social media buzz or watching ESPN highlights or organizing your sock drawer, but you chose to spend these few precious minutes with me… while probably also doing those other things… which is why I love podcasts so much.

If you haven’t already, hit subscribe so that the next episode drops right there into your favorite podcast player. And I’d love it if you told a friend or coworker about the podcast as well.

Thanks for listening to today’s episode.

I can’t wait to connect with you again tomorrow