— Insights From The Factory Fixer —

Blog Posts

Solving Talent Systems Problems

Solving Talent Systems Problems for Successful Factories

Over the next few months, I will be writing about talent systems that will highlight specific parts of the talent pipeline. For any factory—and any place of business, for that matter—success is directly correlated to the talent of the workforce. Having a methodical, deliberate approach to hiring, onboarding, and retaining the right people is imperative.…

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The Importance of Supervisors in the Manufacturing Industry

A production supervisor has perhaps one of the most difficult and thankless jobs in a factory. I learned firsthand one summer as an intern at a GM Factory in Saginaw, Michigan, where I filled in for vacationing supervisors. There I was, a 21-year-old college kid supervising a bunch of grizzled workers. It was daunting at…

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What Letting Go of Emotions Means for Making Business Decisions

What Letting Go of Emotions Means for Making Business Decisions

I have an 18-year-old son who is on the autism spectrum. This morning, he boarded a flight by himself to go visit his grandparents in Florida. My wife and I know that this is an important step for him. It’s a milestone in the transition from being a child to an independent adult, but our…

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The Appeal of the Group: How Groupthink Affects Change

The Appeal of the Group: How Groupthink Affects Implementing Change

One of the most powerful forces that can inhibit the willingness and ability of people to change their behavior is the effect of groups. Humans are social creatures, and we want to be part of and identify with a group. It may be a church group, sports team, work team, book club or even a street…

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Joy to Work: A Fun Work Environment

Joy to the Work: Making the Job Fun

There’s a carwash in our community that does an excellent job. They vacuum the interior, wash the inside of the windows and hand-dry the exterior. It is staffed mostly with high school students who bust their butts, and I applaud them for that. I often bring my dog Lily with me when I go to…

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Leadership Change

What a Few Sardines Can Teach Us About Embracing a Leadership Change

When there’s a leadership change or different direction embarked upon, folks at your company may not be quick to embrace it right away. It’s not uncommon and is often the natural course of things. But we can learn from nature, too. Take, for example, the story of the blue whale and school of sardines. The…

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Lean Operational Excellence Easy as BBQ

Lean and Operational Excellence in the BBQ Pit

Over the past couple of years, BBQ cooking has become a hobby for me. I enjoyed watching BBQ Pitmasters on TV and it led to the purchase of a wood smoker to do low-and-slow barbecue. After a lot of experimenting, I’ve developed some decent tried-and-true recipes, but I wanted to learn how to move beyond…

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Three Things to Help Drive Successful Sale

The Three Key Things for an Old-Fashioned Sale

I often find inspiration for business and life lessons in my everyday surroundings. For example, I have a cabin in northwestern Wisconsin. It’s a great retreat for my family because the area is both beautiful and quiet, and the fall colors were amazing this past weekend. We have some modern luxuries, like indoor plumbing and…

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Executing Business Plans with Precision

The Wedding Planner: Executing With Precision in Business and in Life

I’ll probably get lambasted for mining my daughter’s wedding for business lessons, but I can’t help myself. When I was first learning about Lean 20 years ago, I remember sitting in church saying to myself, “I bet I could double the throughput of people through this church without people missing a single bit of the…

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Finding Grace in Details

Finding Grace in the Details: Become a Master of Your Operation

I’ve always been fascinated with heavy equipment. I suppose it started with my Tonka trucks in the sandbox. To this day, I can watch a backhoe in action with no small degree of amazement. In the hands of an experienced operator, this hunk of metal, cylinders and hydraulic fluid becomes a work of grace and…

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