Which way; Kaizen or some Lean Management course?

#1
I do analysis in a logistics environment almost daily. I scrutinise, monitor and suggest improvements in my 3PL provider’s operation all the time, but the thought dawned on me the other day; “Am I any good at it?” =-\\\\

I’ve undertaken some in-house Introduction Courses several years ago in 6 Sigma, TQM and Lean Management etc. at a previous Company that is totally **** on Lean Management, and although I tried to take in as much as possible, I never really used it in anger. My main forte is in Inventory and Supply Chain Management

My role now at my present company is evolving into more of a Lean/Quality role, and to be brutally honest, I’m not sure I’m doing it right. I compile the stats, make up the pretty graphs and then have a stab at interpreting what the results, to which I then offer solutions. It’s pretty easy the last few years as the company which provides our distribution operation is really inefficient, so I hit the quick fixes (relatively easy) but I’m now finding my analysis is being used for larger long-term/huge Capex projects.

So my question is; what courses should I be looking at to stop blagging and be confident in my abilities? Should be doing some type of Kaizen course, or an in-depth TQM?

The more I read up about 6 Sigma, I don’t believe it will be beneficial to our small-ish operation.

Can anyone offer an advice on direction, courses, methodology, etc.

Also is PRINCE2 any good? I wouldn’t mind moving into project management in Logistics too, but I don’t want to waste time and cash on something useless.
 
#2
Who were you with when in the Service? Were you on the logistics side?
 
#3
PRINCE2 is (mainly) aimed at IT projects, but project mgt is project mgt.

I'm PRINCE2 qualified but have never used it in it's entirety from start to finish, however it does impose a discipline especially when dealing with stakeholders when they buy into it.

I'd have a look around amazon and a google the subject too. There's quite a few primers and intros to the subject that have been published (of varying quality, but read the reviews), and there's more an enough blogs, forums, and websites to give you a feel for the practice.
 
#4
Who were you with when in the Service? Were you on the logistics side?
RLC Supply Controller.

Is it relevant? I left in '99 and have been in Inventory Management since
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
#5
I will respond at more length this evening, but all any quality tool/system does is provide a framework by which you can anaylse and improve a business process. Don't get too hung up on the jargon and the high flown technicalities - use the techniques as a toolkit to move you towards the solution.

First thing to do is get the big picture straight in your mind - what am I trying to achieve? Then you can break the big picture down into smaller problems to solve one at a time. And as you solve each smaller problem, your big problem also improves.

You have a toolkit of techniques you can use. Simplistically:

-- Do a Pareto analysis to get a feel for what the most important problems are.
-- Do a Cause and Effect diagram to find probable causes of the problem.
-- Put some charts in place to understand the degree and causes of variation in the process.
-- Prioritise the individual causes of that problem.
-- Start putting solutions in place.

A lot of people get hung up on the detail - first try and understand what the philosophy is behind the systems. If you understand the philosophy then everything else will fall into place. If you don't understand the philosophy, you'll end up using the tools parrot fashion...

And a BIG, BIG Point. You need a champion at the highest level in the organisation. Unless you have the CEO or another senior director pushing on your behalf, you'll have trouble getting things done. (Bitter experience).

Wordsmith
 
#6
Before looking at TQM, Kaizen and 6 Sigma etc what if any QM-System does your company have in place ? as these three systems tend to build up on an exsisting QM
 
#7
Cheers Wordsmith, most of what you're saying sounds familar.

I have experience most of it, but as I said, it was all in-house. I didn't stay long enough in the company to exploit their very good training program . Considering I was quite a cynic at the time I did try to absorb most of syllabus.
 
#8
The reason I asked about your background was really to determine the level of logistics training you received in the Service. I am now a management consultant specialising in supply chain management and have been in the civilian logistics industry as a 3PL operator, an in-house SCM director and a management consultant since leaving the RAOC some 20 years ago after 20 years service. My honest opinion is that concepts such as 6 Sigma, "Lean Logistics" etc. are buzzwords covering what are the basics of common sense logistics and supply management principles that were taught at the School of Ordnance on my OO's course nearly 40 years ago.

These are not the ramblings of a dinosaur but fact. I have developed and conduct training courses on supply chain management, inventory management and warehouse design and management that are in great demand and are highly thought of which are, to be honest, based very much on the military supply chain as it was and/or should be managed.The only thing that has changed are the information systems that are now available from proprietory packeage to the use of simple, self-generated spreadsheets.


The point I am trying to make, rather poorly I suspect, is that these buzz-words are just that. You have had introductory training in these concepts and I think that is all you need. If your Boss is happy with what you are doing and is willing to, as you say, invest in CAPEX based on your work, that take that as a compliment and an acceptance of your effectiveness. The Accountants will soon apply the financial brakes if they don't agree with your figures.

The over-riding requirment for logistics and supply chain management is Common Sense. Just apply it. It beats all the buzzwords into a cocked hat. PM me if you feel I could be of further assistance. T.E.
 
#9
RLC Supply Controller.

Is it relevant? I left in '99 and have been in Inventory Management since
This came in while I was rambling on my other post. Don't worry. What you learned in the Service is better than anything you will learn outside. It is still very relevant as long as you apply the same principles in a civilian context and ensure you introduce the commercial/financial viewpoint.
 
#10
Before looking at TQM, Kaizen and 6 Sigma etc what if any QM-System does your company have in place ? as these three systems tend to build up on an exsisting QM
There's nothing in place at all. There's no internal auditing, we have no quality manager, nothing. It's generally left to departmental heads or the best person for the job to do. I don't work in the core business, I'm 70+ miles away.

I'm in a stange set-up. I'm embedded in the 3PL owned and run operation that supplies our warehousing and distribution and all the lean I do is towards their operation , not ours. I suppose it's cheaper for me to manage their efficiency than for them to do it, or not, as may be the case?

Edited to add - One aim I have, is to become the de-fatco Quality manager. I might as well use it throughout the business
 

TheIronDuke

ADC
Book Reviewer
#12
The point I am trying to make, rather poorly I suspect, is that these buzz-words are just that.
Logistics and Ops are way out of my comfort zone so this is a question from an interested bystander.

Is it not the case these days that it is not enough to be able to Walk the Walk, and companies increasingly need to see a qualification to prove this?
 
#13
Having done PRINCE2 a couple of months ago it is no longer solely an IT project management methodology. If you’re thinking of having a crack at it look at Premier IT in London – they do some cracking discounts for ex-Forces. I paid £600 for the week’s practitioner course without learning credits.

I can’t say if it’s useful or not as I took the course in the hope of adding another skill to my CV & then having paid up was appointed to a full-time post. I did do some consultancy work for my new employer where I used some of the tools, however, & I hope that for any further projects we undertake I will have more credibility with stakeholders because of doing it.

If you’re interested in systems thinking have a look at Vanguard. I’ve attached the Wiki definition so you can see something independent of Seddon’s own site which is more than a tad self-congratulatory!
 
#14
Is it not the case these days that it is not enough to be able to Walk the Walk, and companies increasingly need to see a qualification to prove this?
Certainly I have found in the finance field a paper qualification is more important than proven ability. I was turned down for a permanent role on a team last year having worked for the organisation for six months, built relationships & saved them a sh*d load because organisational policy was to get a job at that level was to require a qualification. I asked who wrote the policy & why & got the answer, "we write it because it's policy".

The reasoning is the CYA principle. If a recruiter takes someone on who then proves to be useless they can use the excuse that the qualification indicated they should be good. It's also used to provide a form of quality line/screening level because of the sheer volume of applications for decent jobs these days.

I got the post I'm moving to as it is in a small organisation where personality & the ability to be part of a small senior management team, knowing where to ask advice, is more important than qualifications. I find it faintly ironic I'll be (effectively) the Finance & Operations Director of a business with turnover in the millions when the NHS (for example) wouldn't even look at me for anything beyond Band 6.
 
#15
The reason I asked about your background was really to determine the level of logistics training you received in the Service. I am now a management consultant specialising in supply chain management and have been in the civilian logistics industry as a 3PL operator, an in-house SCM director and a management consultant since leaving the RAOC some 20 years ago after 20 years service. My honest opinion is that concepts such as 6 Sigma, "Lean Logistics" etc. are buzzwords covering what are the basics of common sense logistics and supply management principles that were taught at the School of Ordnance on my OO's course nearly 40 years ago.

These are not the ramblings of a dinosaur but fact. I have developed and conduct training courses on supply chain management, inventory management and warehouse design and management that are in great demand and are highly thought of which are, to be honest, based very much on the military supply chain as it was and/or should be managed.The only thing that has changed are the information systems that are now available from proprietory packeage to the use of simple, self-generated spreadsheets.


The point I am trying to make, rather poorly I suspect, is that these buzz-words are just that. You have had introductory training in these concepts and I think that is all you need. If your Boss is happy with what you are doing and is willing to, as you say, invest in CAPEX based on your work, that take that as a compliment and an acceptance of your effectiveness. The Accountants will soon apply the financial brakes if they don't agree with your figures.

The over-riding requirment for logistics and supply chain management is Common Sense. Just apply it. It beats all the buzzwords into a cocked hat. PM me if you feel I could be of further assistance. T.E.
PM sent T.E
 
#17
If I had my time over again I would have backed up my walk the walk (as Plumey says) with more paperwork. Curiously I seemed to be working on projects while colleagues were off learning how to run them, before skipping off with no return of service...to fresh woods and pastures new, where presumably they immediately signed up for the advanced courses?

I am however a PRINCE 2 practitioner and it is much more than just an IT PM system for government projects; which is what it originally was designed for. I would recommend it and also MSP. As far as quality systems go, well whatever your company is enacting is where you need some focus. However if you aspire to a career in quality then I would recommend learning a "philosophy" based system - like the EFQM or "kai-zen" as well as a "practical" methodology. TQM seems, IMHO, to have been devalued by generations of managers using it as "something we have to do" rather than "the spirit of the way we do everything".

Finally if you want to stand out from the crowd, try a bit of Australian/New Zealand Risk Management Standard. Replacing the old AS/NZS4360, the new Risk Management Standard AS/NZS ISO 31000 is pretty slick. It IS NOT "elf and safety" bollocks but it is all about doing business to maximise the economic benefits or reduce the economic impacts of everything in an enterprise.

I love it, it makes me money without making my clients grumpy, overworked or alienated through paperwork, jargon and similar such shoite. To use a technical term and identify some of the best practice elements of successful consulting. (That is simply to be a premium payment not a tax!)
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
#18
There's nothing in place at all. There's no internal auditing, we have no quality manager, nothing. It's generally left to departmental heads or the best person for the job to do. I don't work in the core business, I'm 70+ miles away.

I'm in a strange set-up. I'm embedded in the 3PL owned and run operation that supplies our warehousing and distribution and all the lean I do is towards their operation , not ours. I suppose it's cheaper for me to manage their efficiency than for them to do it, or not, as may be the case?

Edited to add - One aim I have, is to become the de-fatco Quality manager. I might as well use it throughout the business
OK - here's my take on this; you'll have to decide if it applies to your situation.

Your initial problem is a political one, not a quality one. Your first task is to set up the conditions in which you can be successful.

1) Get a few books on the subject. You can (for example) get 'Lean 6 sigma for Dummies' from Amazon for about £12. Give yourself a refresher course on the principles. Make sure you're the subject matter expert in the company.

2) If you've already been doing some QA work, briefly document the success stories and estimate % improvement/cost savings. It'll help show that doing QA will save more than it costs.

3) Put together a business case for implementing a company wide quality system. Estimate costs and savings. For example, you'll probably have to run a 1/2 day introductory QA course for the workforce so they understand the basics. Be realistic - you need to be able to say invest £X,XXX and you'll save £Y,YYY.

4) When you've done all your groundwork, arrange a meeting with the most senior person you can in the company. The CEO is best - following that one of his direct subordinates. Lay out your case for doing company wide QA. Tell him you don't need a lot of his time, but you do need him to make it clear to all and sundry that he's backing the project and will be watching the results. (You'll need this to convince everyone in the company doing QA is less painful than not doing QA).

Only then are you in a position to start serious QA - without the political groundwork first you can bust your balls and get zero results.

Wordsmith
 
#19
FatCav,

Have a look at this site Business Strategy Tools and Techniques from MindTools.com

It was recommended to me while doing a Business Analysis course last week so I haven't had much of a look around. It does bug you to sign up for a monthly fee but you get the first month for 75 pence and can cancel at any time.

Shiny
 
B

Biscuits_AB

Guest
#20
OK - here's my take on this; you'll have to decide if it applies to your situation.

Your initial problem is a political one, not a quality one. Your first task is to set up the conditions in which you can be successful.

1) Get a few books on the subject. You can (for example) get 'Lean 6 sigma for Dummies' from Amazon for about £12. Give yourself a refresher course on the principles. Make sure you're the subject matter expert in the company.

2) If you've already been doing some QA work, briefly document the success stories and estimate % improvement/cost savings. It'll help show that doing QA will save more than it costs.

3) Put together a business case for implementing a company wide quality system. Estimate costs and savings. For example, you'll probably have to run a 1/2 day introductory QA course for the workforce so they understand the basics. Be realistic - you need to be able to say invest £X,XXX and you'll save £Y,YYY.

4) When you've done all your groundwork, arrange a meeting with the most senior person you can in the company. The CEO is best - following that one of his direct subordinates. Lay out your case for doing company wide QA. Tell him you don't need a lot of his time, but you do need him to make it clear to all and sundry that he's backing the project and will be watching the results. (You'll need this to convince everyone in the company doing QA is less painful than not doing QA).

Only then are you in a position to start serious QA - without the political groundwork first you can bust your balls and get zero results.

Wordsmith
Is that it?
 

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