All entries for January 2010

January 25, 2010

Lean Manufacturing

Lean Manufacturing often called Lean Production is one and the same thing. Lean Manufacturing is often associated with streamlining the processes by eliminating the waste. This waste can be in any form in the organisation, it can be the complexity in designing the process, over production, under production which leads to machines sitting idle, and that result to poor utilisation of capital employed, unnecessary flow of the people and materials, uncleanness which leads to confusion. Lean is more focused to the more visible causes of variation. Lean Manufacturing utilises some statistical tools and techniques to identify the waste at different levels in the organisation and to remove it. However, understanding these tools requires involvement of the management team. Implementation of Lean largely encourages the involvement of the people in the organisation. It tries to incorporate changes into the culture of the organisation because it understands that when the lean champions are away or when the pressure of change is removed, it doesn’t dies a slow death. Lean is centered on creating more value with less work. Lean Manufacturing is a generic process management philosophy derived mostly from the Toyota Production System. It is renowned for its focus on reduction of the original Toyota seven wastes to improve overall customer value. Implementing lean manufacturing can sometimes be a challenge as it provides so many tools and techniques that often it gets difficult to identify the best mapping tool which is often prone to judgemental inconsistency. No single technique is able to simultaneously solve overall problems associated because each has its own advantages and drawbacks. It requires careful planning, adequate knowledge and strong leadership in order to apply lean manufacturing techniques.

January 24, 2010

Six Sigma

In this competitive era, where all businesses want to be among the best both in terms of cost and quality are struggling hard to identify ways to improve their processes. Constantly challenged with downward price pressure and increased quality Six Sigma is one of the methods to improve quality and reduce cost. Six Sigma intends to achieve 99.99% precision by attaining 3.4 defect parts per million. These days it has not just remained a tool to reduce variability but it helps to align the business processes by engaging management at all levels. Using DMAIC model it helps to identify the customer needs and perception first, and then measure how far the process is in control in respect of the customer requirement, followed by analysing the reason for non-compliance, then looking for improvement options available which is best suited and then try and maintain the process. It requires involvement of people at all levels. Six-Sigma takes into account the individual projects focused at improving one part of the organisation at one time. External master black belts and back belts come into the organisation to implement the various projects and for supervision. Six-Sigma has its origin in Motorola where it leads to huge business improvements. In order to implement Six-Sigma it is important that the company has taken some qualitative initiatives beforehand which make its implementation easier. Application of Six Sigma leads to huge benefits and leads to organisation with best in class products; however its implementation incurs huge costs, so companies whose main issue is quality should only implement it. For instance sectors like IT where main issue is speed, implementing Six Sigma is not worth. The workforce of the organisation are often ignored while its application which sometimes leads to its failure. People in the organisation get de-motivated while seeing other people taking over the processes. They feel they have lost the power and since they play an important part, so when they are ignored it leads to failure of Six-Sigma project. People generally resist change because it involves them to come out of their comfort zone, they often don’t understand the potential benefits of its implementation.

Leadership Styles

While studying leadership, I came across four types of leadership styles: Autocratic, Democratic, Laissez Faire and Charismatic leadership. Autocratic leadership is where people are told what they are supposed to do without taking into consideration their suggestions, opinions or views. Democratic Leadership is where it demands everyone in the organisation to be creative, perform as a team, solve complex problems, improve quality and provide outstanding customer service. The style presents a happy medium between over controlling and not being engaged and tends to be seen in organisations that must innovate to prosper. Laissez Faire Leadership is where the leader leaves everything to their subordinates; everything from planning to execution is done by the people. Leader has the least say in making the decisions. Here people should be highly qualified, skilled and trained in order to make decisions on their own. Charismatic Leadership is where the leader is highly appealing to the people and can influence them easily towards it. It is crucial to understand the different types of leadership styles and in what situation it is best suited. You cannot say which is better and which is not so good. Each style works in different situations. For Instance, If you are in a boat which is going to get drowned in one hour, in that case you need someone who is straight forward and can make decisions faster, i.e. someone who is autocratic. Here people want to be led by someone who is more trustable and who make quicker decisions.

It is important, when in an organisation a leader interacts with as many people as possible to understand how people perceives different things. There can be different types of people in the organisation which can be broadly categorised into four groups, walking dead, urban terrorists, fans and the stars. A leader must try and see who is good at what and accordingly should assign responsibilities to get an effective outcome. Motivation is the key that aspires people to convert from various groups to stars. Many a times it happens that leader is aware of all the problems and what exactly are going on in the organisation. It is important that the leader is able to deliver what the organisation wants from its people and that people don’t work without knowing what they are working for or what their ultimate goal is.

January 13, 2010

How important is Leadership?

To get people to achieve a shared goal by means of team work is important. In a company if you appoint many great leaders but if they are not working co-operatively in a team it wouldn’t yield the desired outcome. Being a leader it is important that it can get everyone engaged towards working for the shared vision of the company. It can get people to contribute voluntarily and influence their thoughts and behaviours is such a way that coming to work is just isn’t something they do unwillingly. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a large amount of people come to work just to satisfy their psychological needs, their security towards job and their social needs. So getting them involved into the vision of the company does really get difficult. It is vital to make them understand, what is in it for them, how they will benefit. It is crucial to make them realise that they would not be laid off. Most of the time it happens, that people are working for decades, doing the same job repeatedly, but has never contributed when it comes to using their brain. So they get use to working like that, and asking them to change their way even after making them aware of the material benefits they would receive doesn’t really help. At that point, it is important that a leader must motivate and inspire them constantly. From the session today, Leadership is the art of influencing other people’s thoughts and behaviours towards achieving the shared goal or vision. An effective leader is one who can achieve the intended goal. If a leader is effective basically depends on three things, the leader itself, the quality it possess, the group members, and the situation prevailing at that particular time interval. In an organisation it is important to generate leaders at all levels, for instance you need someone to talk to the bottom level, get to their level and make them understand the benefits in it for them. One thing, I learnt that interests me, is not to assume that if the person is not qualified, and not educated is not intelligent. By giving the right training the same can yield result that even qualified may not. One thing that need to change is, the idea that management should do everything, design all the processes, and just get the people doing it, considering them as dirt. When you can get even better results by engaging them, why not creating a system by making the most of them, but some organisations are so profit oriented that they don’t realise how important it is and how it can save millions. A leader get change started which of course involves risk but anything innovative or anything better can happen only if there is trying and error, experimenting and analysing involved.

January 11, 2010

Understanding Leadership

Leadership can be direct or indirect. Direct leadership is when you are an autocratic leader, where you tend to ask people to do just as they are told to do. You do not entertain any opinions or suggestions from them. Here people are being treated just as the means to get the required work done. Hence, it doesn’t come with any motivation or inspiration driving them to work out of their comfort zone. People do work, but not with enthusiasm. They don’t have a vision of where the company might want to be in a longer term. They just work for their own survival. Another is Indirect Leadership. Here the leader is more democratic, takes into the account the viewpoint of individuals. This can be a great inspiration for the workers because they are the part of the solution. From the session today I learnt that when they are inspired, they tend to have a broader vision of the company, and then the work doesn’t remain just salary package they are working for. But they work to learn, to improve and get the company to the next level which of course will lead to their development as well. Working just to attain compliance is not the only aim of the workers. The most important characteristic that I see in a leader is, when it can get the most out of the people. It is very important to have the right approach to keep them motivated and getting the work done at the same time. The second most important characteristic of a leader is to keep up the team work. It can be influenced in different ways, as how the people are being recognised, rewarded, praised, empowered and punished in an organisation. Leadership by definition involves change whereas management’s work is getting the current system going by minimising the risk. It is important that both work well to get the organisation where it wants it to be.

Well, if I will be working in an organisation later this year, my expectation of a leader would be to create a working environment where there is team work, and all striving to achieve a common aim, that is the aim of the company. No individual interest involved and guides in a way that creates learning and development at all the stages and keep us motivated. Suggestions and opinions are taken and everyone is treated fairly.

January 2010

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  • Hey Ronald! Thanks for sharing your views, it is true that when the people are qualified you can dir… by on this entry
  • I totally agree with you Meenal, in the sense that people work better when they are inspired, and th… by on this entry
  • You got a good discussion going there. We do live in a world with a largely win–lose mentality which… by Paul Roberts on this entry
  • are right, a company establishes a vision which should be "shared" by all employees, as ho… by on this entry
  • Thanks Paul by on this entry

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