December, 2010

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MA Announcements

2011 Wage Survey


The 2011 Compensation & Benefits Survey participation window opens December 20, 2010.

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). Look here for more information coming soon.


2011 Manufacturer of the Year Nominations
Nominations are now being accepted for Minnesota manufacturers that you feel qualify for the fifteenth annual Manufacturer of the Year award. Click Here for nomination instructions

Leaders Alliance Benchmarking Peer Groups
The Leaders Alliance is a group of peers from member companies who meet one morning a month to discuss critical issues of mutual concern. All 16 peer groups are specific to manufacturers and functional based. Groups include: Business Process Improvement, Finance, Human Resources and more.

MA LinkedIn Group



Join the Manufacturers Alliance LinkedIn Group to query over 550 local manufacturing practitioners your specific questions, concerns or simply to share a great article you read.


Employment Alliance Networking Group
Did you know... The Manufacturers Alliance launched the Employment Alliance networking group in February 2009.

The Employment Alliance is a networking group of Twin Cities based business professionals who share an Alliance association. This group helps members find meaningful employment in their respective fields: manufacturing, quality, continuous improvement, engineering, human resources, supply chain, logistics, and management. Another benefit - job seekers with manufacturing experience may post their resumes on our site for free. For details, Click Here


New & Renewing Members
LAI International, Inc.
Emerson Process Management
NWN Inc/Westin-Nielsen
Polar Tank Trailer LLC
Technical Serv for Elect
Tescom Corporation
Hammel Green and Abrahamson Inc.
Instrument Control Systems Inc.
Astro Engineering and Manufacturing
Paul Pelkola & Assoc LLC
OSI Consulting
System Designers Inc.
Orange Tree Employment Screening
Smurfit Stone
ReconRobotics
SunOpta Ingredients Group
AEL Business Solutions
Connectivity Solutions
Water Gremlin Company


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

Other Announcements


Leading From Within
Leadership for Women in Technical Fields and Industries <br><br> Leading From Within is designed to help women succeed in traditionally male- dominated industries such as engineering, science, technology, architecture, manufacturing, energy, agriculture, defense or construction. <a href="http://www.cpitwincities.com/services/leadership-development/leading-from-within/">Learn More</a>

Going Green: Interns help businesses decrease waste, and more
Each summer, six to eight companies in Minnesota add an extra engineer to address waste and energy issues. They do so by participating in the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program’s (MnTAP) intern program. These highly qualified interns lead projects that range from identifying opportunities to reduce hazardous waste to investigating process energy efficiency opportunities. <br><br> Participating companies, including Malt-O-Meal Co., who hosted a student in 2010, appreciate the opportunity to work with a student and have one person on staff who is dedicated to the projects that sometimes take a backburner to production projects. “Having our intern on staff allowed us the opportunity to focus on one or two major projects without taking away from our day-to-day activities,” Dave Krings from Malt-O-Meal said. <br><br> Businesses interested in reducing waste and improving efficiency are encouraged to apply for an intern in 2011. For more information about the program or the application process, contact Krysta Larson at MnTAP at 612.624.1300 or 800.247.0015.<br><br> MnTAP is an outreach and assistance program in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota that helps Minnesota businesses implement industry-tailored solutions that maximize resource efficiency. <a href="http://www.mntap.umn.edu/">Learn More</a>

Article Index

There is Always More in Store for MA Members in 2011
Article by: Art Sneen

2010 has been the “rebound year” for many – coming back from the brink. We are seeing renewed optimism from management in most manufacturing sectors, and the same is true within our association. The Manufacturers Alliance continues to add new features and benefits to our three main value streams: general company memberships with monthly educational programs; our practical, experiential workshops; and our sixteen exclusive Leaders Alliance benchmarking peer groups.


Engagement and Retention: The Role of Assessments
Article by: Jim Carr

Profile assessments are playing an ever increasing part in selecting the best talent for the job. Many companies are embracing the use of assessments to ensure they know more about the degree to which the candidate can and will perform the job as required.


Book Review: (Virtually) Stat Free Six Sigma: Focusing on Intent for Quick Results
Article by: Mike Reinitz

Are you aware of the true intent of Six Sigma?  Praveen Gupta and Arvin Sri, authors of Stat Free Six Sigma, claim that many Six Sigma proponents have lost sight of the true intent of the effort, that many Six Sigma initiatives are misguided by focusing too much on statistics and too little on improvement. 


MN Economic Business Condition
Article by: Dr. Ernest Goss

For the month of November 2010, reported December 1, 2010. For the first time since June, Minnesota’s leading economic indicator, based on a survey of supply managers, rose.


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There is Always More in Store for MA Members in 2011

2010 has been the “rebound year” for many – coming back from the brink. We are seeing renewed optimism from management in most manufacturing sectors, and the same is true within our association. The Manufacturers Alliance continues to add new features and benefits to our three main value streams: general company memberships with monthly educational programs; our practical, experiential workshops; and our sixteen exclusive Leaders Alliance benchmarking peer groups.

This past year our educational programs hit the road as we brought them to Owatonna and Mankato. Our next stop will be in St Cloud in early 2011. We continue to offer the manufacturing-specific Compensation and Benefit Survey with 2011 participation open this month. Additionally, to facilitate changing employment demands, we will offer a brand-new compensation survey tool: CompSage.  Members may try it at no cost - visit http://mfrall.compsage.com/ and create your own customized wage survey for any one unique position - surveying selected companies that you choose, to obtain aggregate data you need to make informed pay decisions.

In 2010, our Leaders Alliance family has added an Advanced Lean Enterprise group. This coming year we are launching the Business Process Improvement peer group, to focus on improving functional areas outside of production (contact Kirby at 763-577-8007 for details). Likewise, we are going to experiment with a unique SWAT team approach to realize more in-depth problem solving for member company issues.

 Finally, we are expanding a new workshop format we are calling “Learn and See.”  This workshop feature combines hands-on practical training with on-site manufacturing tours to reinforce classroom learning in a real-time setting. This powerful format has been very successful to date.

 We continue to seek to grow and improve the effectiveness of our members through the sharing of best practices and peer-to-peer education.

Art Sneen founded the Manufacturers Alliance in 1990 - an association of over 300 hundred manufacturers in the greater Twin City area. This 12,000-member industrial association specializes in sharing manufacturing education and resources peer-to-peer.

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Engagement and Retention: The Role of Assessments

Profile assessments are playing an ever increasing part in selecting the best talent for the job. Many companies are embracing the use of assessments to ensure they know more about the degree to which the candidate can and will perform the job as required.

Lately, companies are beginning to broaden their use of assessments in the talent management process. The challenge of engaging and retaining top talent once you have them on board requires companies to look closely at a number of factors about how they run their business.

The current recession has had a dramatic effect on employee engagement. Though there is a general sense turnover is low and employees are hunkered down doing the best they can, the survey statistics tell another story. Overall engagement rates have plummeted in this recession by 12% - 24%, depending on the sector. As many as 60% of employees plan to pursue new opportunities as the economy improves. The challenge of engaging top talent doesn’t look like it will go away anytime soon. The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by 2011, our economy will need 10 million more workers than will be available. Futurist Rick Smyre predicts that 40 to 60 percent of the jobs that will be needed in 2015 don't exist today. Yet, we’re not seeing the mass exodus that’s being predicted. The economy has not turned the corner quite yet and the perception that there are many new opportunities in the job market certainly hasn’t fully developed.  Jobs are being redefined and companies are looking more closely at the candidates to fill them.

Getting a better picture of the type of person the candidate is, and validating that against the “gut check” of how they will fit into the role and the company is the most common way assessments are used.  But, what about keeping top talent? There is research out there that tells us some of the major changes companies need to make in order to keep "the best of the best".  The company image is beginning to play a larger role in attracting and retaining talent. Being seen as a great place to work is increasing in its importance, especially in the social media age. What people hear about a company’s workforce climate can greatly affect their ability to attract and maintain top talent.

On a recent blog posting, the author stated that smart companies are beginning to see that strategically, there is no real competition to get the best talent. There is not and never has been a “war for talent”. Instead, there is an opportunity to use assessments to clearly define jobs as well as people who fill them and align them to the strategy. True, when it comes to high value, highly paid, knowledge work, talent does rule. To get a feel for this, let’s define what “top talent” means. I like to look at top talent in a couple of ways. One definition:  the top 10% of those available in terms of qualifications, experience, attitude, motivation and are prepared to work for the rewards offered.  And a simpler definition:  Those people who get to choose where to work. But a winning poker hand isn’t much good if you’re playing Bridge. The value of talent is highly dependent on context. One company’s trump talent is another’s discard. Therefore, I believe that the role of assessments in the talent management process is to help employers truly and clearly define what excellence looks like for a job role within their current context.  That context will include all of the elements that make up the alignment between the job role and the mission, values and strategy of the organization at the current time.

Look at the first definition of top talent. It mentions qualifications, experience, attitude and motivations as well as the level of preparedness to work for the rewards offered. Companies have worked hard to use assessments to define where their candidates are against each of these, but there are now many assessment processes to measure the rewards and attitudes required that will provide for an objective match between the candidate and the job. Hiring managers have notoriously used their own experience and ability to do the job well as a benchmark for success, but the context has changed.  What’s really required now may not be the same as it was when the manager held the job.

Winning companies will begin to use objective job assessments as well as candidate and employee assessments to match talent to jobs.  It boils down to this: assessments aren’t just for people anymore; use them for the job as well. This comprehensive process is the best approach. What’s the next challenge? Helping those hiring managers manage, engage and retain the employees that are not wired just like them, but will match well to the job!

 

The 2011 Manufacturers Alliance Compensation & Benefits Survey participation window will open on Decmber 20, 2010. Look for an invitation in your mailbox soon or call us at (763) 533-8239 to make sure you aren't left out. Copies of the 2010 survey are still available click here for more information.

Jim Carr is President of Right Connections, LLC, a coaching and consulting firm that specializes in employee fit, engagement and development. He can be reached at www.rightconnectionsllc.com.

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Book Review: (Virtually) Stat Free Six Sigma: Focusing on Intent for Quick Results

Are you aware of the true intent of Six Sigma?  Praveen Gupta and Arvin Sri, authors of Stat Free Six Sigma, claim that many Six Sigma proponents have lost sight of the true intent of the effort, that many Six Sigma initiatives are misguided by focusing too much on statistics and too little on improvement. 

They state the original intent of Six Sigma at Motorola was to use statistical thinking as a common language to make “a lot of improvement very quickly”.  Statistical thinking is very different from the rigorous statistics that many Six Sigma programs are currently using.  Statistical thinking consists of understanding the nature of variation, cause-and-effect relationships, and then making logical adjustments to improve the process.

Gupta describes his work with Bill Smith during the development of Six Sigma at Motorola.  Smith, a senior quality engineer at Motorola, is recognized as the “Father of Six Sigma”.  Smith observed that field failures of product are nothing more than escaping internal failures.  He theorized that these failures experienced by the customer would not be reduced without significantly reducing the quantity of defects produced internally.  According to Smith, to reduce one defect found by the customer, the organization must eliminate ten defects found internally through improving process consistency as well as the product design. 

Gupta and Sri point out that 80% of the problems an organization is attempting to improve with Six Sigma can be solved with process knowledge and statistical thinking.  They also point out that the current body of knowledge for the ASQ Certified Six Sigma Black Belt Program consists of 80% non-statistical tools and only 20% statistical tools.  Gupta and Sri suggest using the simple non-statistical tools to reap 80% of the potential benefits from a Six Sigma initiative.  To gain the benefits of accelerated improvement a company should provide some basic statistical-thinking skill training to the employees, thereby leveraging these employees into becoming statistical-thinking process experts.  As for the 20% remainder, these tools are purely statistical, are needed rarely, and actually cannot be effectively applied without first applying the non-statistical tools.

The authors also cover the topic of how to select the right projects which will impact the bottom line and generate measureable savings.  They use a simple equation to select Six Sigma projects called the Project Prioritization Index (PPI).  The PPI equation is stated as: PPI = (Benefit / Cost) x (Probability of Success / Time to Complete the Project) The PPI should be a value of 4 or higher for companies that are beginning their Six Sigma implementation.  By focusing on the original intent of Six Sigma and by developing Green Belt/statistical-thinking process experts, the authors are confident that organizations can maximize the benefits of a Six Sigma effort. 

The book was a refreshing, low-jargon, and quick read on Six Sigma.  It does not try to uphold the myth that Six Sigma is the only antidote to cure your business problems, but explains the thought process Motorola was engaged in at the outset of the creation of Six Sigma.  I would recommend this book for those new to Six Sigma who may have a pre-conceived fear of the statistical portion of Six Sigma.  It can also be used by change-agents for discussing benefits of implementing a fact-based business improvement methodology.

Mike Reinitz, CSSBB, CQE, Lean Leader, MBA, is a Senior Manufacturing Engineer at Johnson Screens in New Brighton.

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MN Economic Business Condition

For the month of November 2010, reported December 1, 2010. For the first time since June, Minnesota’s leading economic indicator, based on a survey of supply managers, rose.

 The state’s Business Conditions Index climbed to a healthy  56.2 from October’s 52.8.   The November survey represented the 16th straight month that Minnesota's index was above growth neutral. Components of the overall index for November were new orders at 57.7, production or sales at 61.1, delivery lead time at 48.2, inventories at 64.9 and employment at 49.1.   “Both durable and nondurable goods producers in the state are experiencing very healthy business conditions with increases in both domestic and export sales.  Computer and electronic component producers are reporting improving economic conditions,”  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.

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