July, 2010

A publication brought to you by the Manufacturers Alliance

Subscribe | Join MA
MA Announcements

NEW! HR & Advanced Lean Leaders Alliance Peer Groups
Advanced Lean Enterprise and Human Resources Management are the latest addition to the Leaders Alliance Peer Groups. Their are 16 total groups, all specific to manufacturers. Other groups include Lean Office, Finance, Product Development, Operations,and more.

2010 Wage Survey Available
Participants who purchase the survey will get a customized, participant profile report ranking their wage data against other survey participants for each position reported. (a real time-saver)

MA LinkedIn Group

Do you have a LinkedIn account? Would you like to grow your professional network online? Members may consider joining the Manufacturers Alliance LinkedIn Group. Learn More


RJF Agencies Benefits Survey
RJF Agencies 2010 Benefits Benchmark Survey results are now available. Download a copy of the presentation or the executive report today.

New & Renewing Members
Chart Industries
PaR Systems
Intek Plastics
Control Products
MnTAP
BTD Manufacturing
H & B Elevators
Conwed Plastics
Amstan Logistics
Gwizdala & Associates
Road Map To Excellence


MnTAP Summer Projects Presentations & Anniversary
On August 19, MnTAP’s eight interns from 2010 will be presenting the findings from their projects as well as, celebrating 25 years of providing technical assistance to businesses in Minnesota! Over that time, they have helped businesses save nearly $30 million and reduce their impact on the environment. This event, open to the public, will be held in the Johnson Great Room in the McNamara Building on the University of Minnesota campus from 1:00 to 6:30 p.m.

If you are interested in attending the intern presentations or the 25th anniversary reception, please RSVP by August 5, 2010, to MnTAP at 612.624.1300 or mntap@umn.edu.


Upcoming Events

February 7th 2023 09:00 am
- The Role of the Leader Online

February 8th 2023 08:00 am
- Creating Process Maps

February 9th 2023 08:00 am
- Sustaining Lean Culture Through Leadership Changes

February 14th 2023 09:00 am
- Learning to Solve Problems Supervision Fundamentals Certification

February 15th 2023 09:00 am
- The Role of the Leader

February 16th 2023 08:00 am
- Conflict, Communication and Collaboration

February 21st 2023 08:00 am
- Learning to Solve Problems 6 Sigma Green Belt Certification

February 21st 2023 09:00 am
- Leadership Style & Versatility Online

February 22nd 2023 08:00 am
- Root Cause Analysis

February 22nd 2023 09:00 am
- Learning to Solve Problems Supervision Fundamentals Certification

Article Index

Book Review: Understanding A3 Thinking*
Article by: John Hehre

The A3 Report is based on a simple concept. Frame the problem, provide background and objectives, summarize the possible causes  and describe the actions needed to improve all on one piece of 11x17 (or “A3”) paper.


Providing Reference Checks in Minnesota
Article by: Gregory Peters

The Minnesota Employment References Statute, affecting every employer in the state, restricts what job reference information employers may provide on current and former employees to a prospective new employer.  Under the Statute, employers are not required to provide reference checks. 


Lean Leader of the Month: Jolyne Cross
Article by: Jolyne Cross

Western Graphics, located in St. Paul, Minnesota, provides a wide array of print management services to our clients.  Our Print Less management principles help corporations save time by producing materials on demand and saving money by driving down inventory and obsolescence costs. 


MN Economic Outlook
Article by: Dr. Ernest Goss

For the month of June 2010, reported July 1, 2010. Minnesota’s leading economic indicator, based on a survey of supply managers, continues to point to advancing economic conditions ahead.


ADVERTISEMENT
Book Review: Understanding A3 Thinking*

The A3 Report is based on a simple concept. Frame the problem, provide background and objectives, summarize the possible causes  and describe the actions needed to improve all on one piece of 11x17 (or “A3”) paper.

Like almost all Lean Tools, however, the concept may be simple but the application is much more difficult. The title of the book, “Understanding A3 Thinking,” clearly implies that this book is about more than simply creating a one page report. The book covers three areas in particular. Most importantly, it covers the systems approach to problem solving that must be in place. It also does a good job explaining how to create the different types of A3 reports. Finally, the book provides excellent suggestions for managing the system.

The heart of the problem solving system is the familiar “Plan, Do, Check, Act” or PDCA approach. PDCA needs little introduction to those familiar with Lean concepts and thankfully, the authors realize that and limit their discussion to an overview of the seven key cultural elements required to for PDCA to work effectively as a system. These elements include logical thinking processes, objectivity, results and process, and a systems viewpoint among others. The book then provides a correlation between PDCA and the typical sections of the A3 Report. The sections corresponding to the “Plan” include providing background for the problem, describing the current condition, goals for the project and an overview of the root cause analysis performed. The Do, Check, Act portion of the report includes countermeasures taken and results achieved in attempting to resolve the issue, confirmation that the effects are directly caused by the successful countermeasures and a description of the follow up actions required. This structure is included for three types of A3 reports: Problem Solving, Proposal and Status reports. Another important point is that the reports should not be rigid but should fit the issue at hand.

For each of the three types of reports there are useful examples and a sample situation is provided so readers can practice creating their own reports.

Effective management is also an essential component of such a system and the authors have provided good advice here as well, including a series of questions to use when evaluating each of the three types of reports.

Overall, this book does a very good job explaining the organizational prerequisites for adopting the approach, illustrating clearly how to create the reports themselves, and providing solid advice for managing the whole process. A very useful book for any organization looking to improve problem solving and communication.

Are you interested in using A3's as an improvement and communication tool at your company? Learn from your peers how they have successfully implemented A3's at an upcoming Educational Program or Workshop.

* Sobek, Durward and Smaller, Art: Understanding A3 Thinking: a critical component of Toyota’s PDCA management system. Boca Raton, FL: Productivity Press, 2008

John Hehre is a senior operations executive and provides interim management and project based consulting to mid-sized private companies in need of transformative change. He can be reached at jhehre@cprocess.com.

Back to Top

ADVERTISEMENT
Providing Reference Checks in Minnesota

The Minnesota Employment References Statute, affecting every employer in the state, restricts what job reference information employers may provide on current and former employees to a prospective new employer.  Under the Statute, employers are not required to provide reference checks. 

Nevertheless, if an employer chooses to provide reference checks, the employer should be aware of the requirements to avoid potential claims under the statute.  The following is a summary of the Employment References Statute.

An employer may, upon request, provide the following information about a current or former employee to a prospective employer or employment agency:  (1) dates of employment; (2) pay history; (3) job description and duties; (4) training and education provided by the employer; and, (5) facts related to acts of violence, theft, harassment, or illegal conduct documented in the employee’s personnel record if those acts resulted in disciplinary action or resignation, and any written response by the employee (disclosure of the items noted in this paragraph must be made in writing and copies must be sent to the employee at the same time as the prospective employer).

The following information may also be provided to the prospective employer (or agency), but only if the employee (current or former) provides prior written authorization: (1) written performance evaluations and employee responses contained in the employee’s personnel file; (2) written disciplinary warnings and actions and the employee’s response in the five (5) years prior to the date of authorization contained in the personnel file; and, (3) written reasons for separation from employment.

Employers who comply with this law in their disclosures are protected from liability unless an employee can prove the disclosed information was false and defamatory and the employer knew or should have known the information was false, and disclosed it with malicious intent to injure the employee.  The law also prohibits employers disclosing acquired information to others without the written authorization of the employee.

As a general rule, employers who choose to provide reference checks on current or former employees should disclose the minimum amount of information set forth above (numbers 1, 2 and 3) without the need for an authorization.  There is very little upside to providing any additional information.  Employers should adopt a policy along these lines and make sure all managers route reference inquiries to the appropriate person(s) for a response.  On the other hand, prospective employers should seek as much information as possible.  Those businesses should require that all employment applicants provide written authorization in order to attempt to obtain and/or provide all employment-related information, including performance evaluations, disciplinary warnings and actions, and reasons for separation from employment, as a condition of employment.

Gregory L. Peters, is an attorney with Seaton, Peters & Revnew, P.A. whose practice is limited to representing employers in labor and employment matters. Mr. Peters has worked with companies in all areas of employment counseling, employment litigation, labor arbitration, union organizing and labor negotiations. Mr. Peters can be reached at (952) 921-4607.

Back to Top

ADVERTISEMENT
Lean Leader of the Month: Jolyne Cross

Western Graphics, located in St. Paul, Minnesota, provides a wide array of print management services to our clients.  Our Print Less management principles help corporations save time by producing materials on demand and saving money by driving down inventory and obsolescence costs. 

Our target market is printing materials for the manufacturing, medical and training verticals.  Our capabilities include digital and offset printing, bindery, mail, fulfillment and e-commerce.  Bottom line, we are leveraging advanced technology today and changing the way print is purchased and produced.

I have most of my Lean training from the Manufacturers Alliance.  All of my Lean job experience is from Western Graphics.  We have a good management team at Western Graphics that has embraced the Lean culture and really made it fun to change.

When training others regarding the Lean process and tools, I have learned it is important to remember that there are different learning styles, and that some learn best by doing, others by hearing.  It is important to use different tools when training multiple people.  In addition, not everyone is at the same place in their lean journey, so it is important to make sure that everyone can apply what you are talking about to their workplace.

The MA training is very good.  I have learned a lot from the classes I have taken.  I also think that the instructors are very knowledgeable on the topics they are teaching.  I always feel like I am learning from an expert.

The MA program breakfast sessions are good to go to as well.  I always have at least one take away from everyone I attend.

Jolyne Cross is the Lean Champion at Western Graphics in St. Paul MN. For more information on Western Graphics visit www.western-graphics.com

Back to Top

ADVERTISEMENT
MN Economic Outlook

For the month of June 2010, reported July 1, 2010. Minnesota’s leading economic indicator, based on a survey of supply managers, continues to point to advancing economic conditions ahead.

The Business Conditions Index climbed to 65.5 from May’s 64.1 and April’s healthy 62.4.  This was the 11th straight month that Minnesota's index has risen above growth neutral.  Components of the overall index for June were new orders at 68.1, production, or sales, at 70.6, delivery lead time at 66.1, inventories at 55.1, and employment at 67.5.  “While both durable and nondurable goods manufacturers are reporting very healthy economic activity, nondurable producers, especially those tied to international markets, are experiencing upturns in overall business gains.  Average weekly hours worked by workers in manufacturing has been growing over the past several months,” said Goss.   

Dr. Ernest Goss of Creighton University, used the same methodology as The National Association of Purchasing Management to compile this information. An index number greater than 50 percent indicates an expansionary economy, and an index under 50 percent forecast a sluggish economy, for the next three to six months.

Back to Top


Copyright © 2011 Manufacturers Alliance. All rights reserved.
Thank you for reading the Manufacturers Alliance E-Newsletter.