Steps

Practical guides to help your business grow, change and improve

Change and improvement

The foundation stone of lean manufacturing systems is standard work.

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Encouraging pushback

Many years ago I witnessed my employer’s brutal reaction to a very public product failure. The product, a climate control heat exchanger, was based on long proven technology.  The design had been rigorously tested. It fully complied with the prevailing company design, manufacturing and client standards. And, after pre-production testing, had been “passed off” by the OEM customer for volume production.

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Supply chain shocks

At the foot of nature’s food chains is a primary producer, an autotrophic organism that creates complex compounds from substances present in its surroundings using energy from light (photosynthesis) or chemical reaction (chemical synthesis). In turn these organisms are eaten by animals, “consumers”, which in turn will be eaten by other higher level animal consumers. And eventually at the top of the food chain is an apex predator, an animal on which no other animals prey.

There are many food chains in nature. All share the linkage dependency of the higher levels for the activity outputs of the lower levels. Predators only exist if they have prey to feed on.

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Sticky Marketing

In today’s multi-media world firms face an even greater challenge to get their product messages noticed, heard and acted on. We are all deluged with emails, tweets, blogs and advertisements that seemingly can solve every problem known to humanity! In the midst of this digital information tsunami, how does the small firm get its message heard?

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Make it visual

Whenever I am in a factory or an office I look around to see what visual controls are in place. Surprisingly, particularly in offices, all too often there are none.

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Hygiene Factors

Do you remember your first pay rise? Three months into my first job I went through a probationary review. My thoughts were pragmatic; would they keep me?! The starting salary was the then typical entry level graduate package. I passed the review and to my astonishment was immediately given a pay rise of £1,000; 25%!

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Managing Teams - Who's got the Monkey?

“Who’s Got the Monkey?” is one of the most requested Harvard Business Review re-prints. Written in 1974 by William Oncken and Donald Wass, the article explores “the interaction between managers and their bosses, their peers and their subordinates”. It is for me one of the most influential management articles I have read.

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Spectacles, testicles, iPad and watch!

“Spectacles, testicles, iPad and watch” is a mantra I mutter to my-self every time I leave our front door. This simple checklist helps me make sure that I have with me the key items for the smooth running of my day; glasses, mobile, iPad, wallet and watch. The very act of reciting causes me to pause; think about what else I may need for the day ahead and, to check that I do indeed have everything with me.

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Practical Problem Solving (PPS) - national style

The starting gun for the General Election has been fired. Already politicians are lining up to convince us that their party’s way is best and that the other party’s perspective is wrong. We are being assailed with sound bites, video pieces, posters, leaflets and press comment from all sides.

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