July, 2011

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Member Recognition
Thank you to the following 72 manufacturers who have maintained their membership with MA since July 2002!

AbelConn LLC
Ablenet Inc
American Converters Inc
American Medical Systems
Artistic Finishes
ASI DataMyte
ATK
Atlas Manufacturing Co
ATMI Packaging Inc
Banner Engineering Corp
Bauer Welding & Metal
Beckman Coulter Inc
Bell Manufacturing & Services
Bodycote Thermal Processing
Boston Scientific
Bro-Tex Inc
BTD Manufacturing Inc
Ceramic Industrial Coatings
Chart Industries Inc
Clean Air Products Inc
Colder Products Company
Cummins Power Generation
Detector Electronics Company
Determan Brownie Inc
Diversified Plastics Inc
Douglas Metal Specialties
DRI-STEEM Corporation
E & O Tool & Plastics Inc
E J Ajax & Sons
Emerson Process Management
Exlar Corporation
FSI International Inc
General Label Inc
Graco Inc
Hartfiel Automation
Heraeus Medical Components
ICA Corporation
Ironwood Electronics
Johnson Screens Inc
Landscape Structures Inc
Laser Peripherals LLC
Lifeworks Services
Medtronic Neurological
Menasha Packaging
Mereen-Johnson Mach Co
Milestone AV Technologies
Minco
Minntech Corporation
NEXEN Group Inc
North Anoka Control Systems
PaR Systems Inc
Parker Hannifin Corporation
Precision Gasket Company
Precision Inc
Secoa Inc
Sico America Inc
Smiths Medical
Standard Iron & Wire Works Inc
Starkey Laboratories Inc
Synovis Surgical Innovations
TCR Engineered Components
Technical Serv for Elect
Tennant Company
Thiele Technologies Inc
Thomas Engineering Co
Top Tool Company
Turck Inc
UMC Inc
Upsher-Smith Labs Inc
Viking Drill & Tool Inc
Waterous Company
Williams Sound Corporation


MA Scholarship Program
To offer training assistance to companies and their key employees who are interested in additional leadership or continuous improvement skills the Manufacturers Alliance has launched its first scholarship program

MA Workshop Schedule
Download the latest workshop schedule from the Manufacturers Alliance.

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


Continuous Improvement Consortium - Save the Date
Join Optima for a complimentary preview of their Continuous Improvement Consortium (CIC) on Thursday, September 15 2011 from 8:00 – 1:00pm. Hosted at the Holiday Inn and tour provided by Menasha Packaging in Lakeville MN. <br><br>Attendees can expect to learn how consortium members will help each other teach, coach, learn and assess, in a safe facilitated environment. To learn more or to register call 920-425-1005 or visit www.optimanow.com

Going Beyond Lean Manufacturing
Attend this Lunch and Learn to see how local manufacturer Western Graphics has gone beyond applying lean techniques in manufacturing and has applied them to the entire enterprise. <br><br> Non-members of the Manufacturers Alliance may attend this event at no cost. To register contact Kirby Sneen at 763.557.8007 or kirbys@mfrall.com. Space is limited.

Article Index

8 Step Problem Solving at Lake Region Medical
Article by: Justin Dorsey

Kathy Jeurissen is Director of Continuous Improvement at Lake Region Medical’s Chaska Facility, an international company that leads in the development and manufacturing of OEM devices, as well as supplying the world's largest medical device companies with minimally invasive delivery solutions.


Continuous Improvement Champion: Sara Theis
Article by: Sara Theis

Where did you receive your Lean training/experience? Apogee provided Six Sigma Green Belt and Black Belt training and I started my training in 2001 with additional Lean training through industry offerings, such as Manufacturers Alliance. 


Secrets of Winning Engagement and Sustaining Momentum, Part 1
Article by: Lynn Moline & Mike Braun

Here in the Upper Midwest, a strange phenomenon occurs regularly during the summer. You’ve witnessed it yourself: certain people labor enthusiastically from dawn ‘til dusk all weekend, often in oppressively hot weather, to grow prodigious amounts of vegetables or tend giant flower gardens. Even after the garden is growing well, they sustain their efforts, not quitting until the last of the spent vines are cleared away for the winter.


Book Review: Being the Boss
Article by: John Hehre

Are you a boss? If not, do you want to be? Need an instruction manual? Some people make management look easy, but many people struggle with it even if it’s not obvious from the outside. Why is this book useful? Large companies frequently have management development programs but most managers work for smaller companies where training is pretty much non-existent.


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8 Step Problem Solving at Lake Region Medical

Kathy Jeurissen is Director of Continuous Improvement at Lake Region Medical’s Chaska Facility, an international company that leads in the development and manufacturing of OEM devices, as well as supplying the world's largest medical device companies with minimally invasive delivery solutions.

Lake Region Medical is based in Chaska, Minnesota, with manufacturing and sales locations in Ireland and China. Lake Region’s Chaska facility has been working on their Lean Journey for the past four years. Jeurissen and her Continuous Improvement team have participated in a Lean Certification Program at the University of Kentucky, which is based on the Toyota Lean System. Along with this, Jeurissen and her Continuous Improvement Team have attended many Manufacturers Alliance Lean workshops.

"What we found to be highly beneficial from all of the training workshops was the emphasis on “One Voice One System”, the importance of Visual Management, Standard Work, and 8-Step Problem Solving Methodology.  We have put forth a greater effort to standardize our processes, not only within our Chaska facility, but between all Lake Region facilities. We are much better at communicating with each other, and no longer duplicate efforts. We've removed a great deal of waste from our system and have 'cut the fat,' so to speak," she said.  “We are also much better at finding the root cause of a problem and implementing a solution more efficiently, rather than exploring hypothetical reasons."

Former Toyota employees Luther Cottrell and David Parsley, both from the University of Kentucky Center for Manufacturing, traveled to Minnesota to provide additional onsite 8-Step Problem Solving training and certification of two practitioners per site. Since participating in the courses, Jeurissen says Lake Region has implemented 8-Step as the company problem solving methodology and has achieved many positive results. “It is no longer acceptable to problem solve solely from behind a desk or around a conference room table.  We must practice GENCHI GENBUTSU, (get your boots on), go to the production floor to see what is actually happening and gather the facts.”

Jeurissen continued, “In the Workshops we have attended, a simulated assembly line was used as part of the training. We found this to be a good training tool and very beneficial. A simulation assembly line is now part of Lake Regions’ continuous improvement employee training. This gives the trainees a chance for participation in actual hands-on team exercises.  These exercises included 5S, line balancing, removing waste in the process and learning to write and use a job breakdown sheet.”

 "We came out of these training workshops with many great ideas and direction on how to implement Lean at our facilities," she said. "As we implemented lean systems at Lake Region, the roles of team leader and team member were developed and added to our tiered management.  We have developed a training program to introduce all employees to Continuous Improvement, 5S, line balancing, standard work, and 8-Step Problem Solving. Our Lake Region employees have been very receptive and supportive of these efforts. Without their enthusiasm and dedication we would not have been able to achieve the success that we have to date.

"Our training on lean systems has given us a sound foundation for our Continuous Improvement Program here at Lake Region Medical," Jeurissen said. "The training we received helped us to develop our Continuous Improvement philosophy emphasizing the importance of attitude, knowledge, systematic problem solving, values/beliefs, and employee engagement. As we progress through our lean journey we appreciate the continued support and willingness to take our calls and offer guidance from both the Unversity of Kentucky and Manufacturers Alliance.

MA will be offering a workshop on 8 Step Problem Solving soon. Sign up to receive more information.

Justin Dorsey, Director of Sales & Marketing, Advanced Capital Group located at 50 South Sixth Street, #975 Minneapolis, MN 55402. call (612) 230-3009, email jdorsey@acgbiz.com, or visit www.acgbiz.com.

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Continuous Improvement Champion: Sara Theis

Where did you receive your Lean training/experience? Apogee provided Six Sigma Green Belt and Black Belt training and I started my training in 2001 with additional Lean training through industry offerings, such as Manufacturers Alliance. 

 My experience with applying Lean and Six Sigma was during my role as a full-time Black Belt leading process improvement projects in the transactional areas of the business.  I spent 4 years in a full-time project leader role prior to my current Process Improvement Manager role which started in March of 2011.


How, when, and why did you get introduced to lean and what fuels the passion?

Apogee deployed Six Sigma as a business strategy in 2001 and I wanted to be a  part of something that would make a big impact on the success of the company.  I continue to be passionate about continuous improvement because I enjoy working with a team to find ways to continually improve and make a difference.  I believe there are always opportunities to improve and a focused effort on continually evaluating ways to be better than we are today is a necessary part of every organization.


What are you current Lean oriented activities?

Process Improvement Manager – Inspiring Apogee’s six business units to incorporate more Lean concepts into their individual businesses and supporting their continuous improvement strategies. 

Black Belt (previous role) -  Led process improvement projects which used lean and six sigma tools to accomplish desired goals.  Project examples:  Reduce Order Entry Cycle Time, Customer Service Workload Balance, Increase Phone Yield, Increase Supplier Yield, and Evaluate Complex Pricing Strategy to name a few.

What were the lessons learned from leading or training your team on a Lean project?

A major lesson I learned early on while leading process improvement projects is that a key part of your role is leading people in the organization through the process of change.  Every project will result in a change of some sort and every person reacts differently to change.  Just because I was excited about the “opportunity” to improve the process didn’t meant that everyone was going to be just as excited about it, because to them it meant that something in their world may change and that can be scary to some people.  Once I realized that fact, I spent more time upfront and throughout the project with my team members and stakeholders in the process gaining buy in and explaining the benefits to “them” and to the organization for improving the process.  Once you have everyone at least “open” to the idea of change, it makes it easier and more successful when you actually implement the solution.


What are the next steps in the Lean journey for your company?

Apogee’s next steps in the Lean journey are:

1)      Cross-Business Unit Application of Lean

2)      Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement

1) Cross-Business Unit application of Lean -  Typically we have applied Lean within each individual Apogee business unit, now we are looking for opportunities to apply Lean concepts in the supply chain from one business unit to another.

2) Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement – where continuous improvement is embedded into the daily lives of each employee.  We hope to achieve that culture through employee empowerment, Lean leadership, accountability/expectations, consistency, and sustainment.

MA will be offering our Lean Office Simulation on August 18th. Attendees will learn how improvement tools and techniques may be applied in office and transactional settings. Learn More

Sara Theis is the Process Improvement Manager at Apogee Enterprises, Inc in Bloomingotn MN. Apogee’s six business units provide fabricated value-add glass, metal and installation services for enclosing commercial buildings and framing art.

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Secrets of Winning Engagement and Sustaining Momentum, Part 1

Here in the Upper Midwest, a strange phenomenon occurs regularly during the summer. You’ve witnessed it yourself: certain people labor enthusiastically from dawn ‘til dusk all weekend, often in oppressively hot weather, to grow prodigious amounts of vegetables or tend giant flower gardens. Even after the garden is growing well, they sustain their efforts, not quitting until the last of the spent vines are cleared away for the winter.

These people--and you may be one of them—apparently do it for nothing more than a sense of pride, the compliments of admiring neighbors, or the satisfaction of producing home grown food, even though that food is certainly easier to come by at the grocery store. Yet, for some small subset of these same people, when it comes to doing a job at work for a competitive salary and benefits, they barely muster enough energy to just get by. 

The fact that people can be motivated to work hard at one thing but not at another is a paradox that can drive managers crazy. After all, the primary task of management, says author Peter Block, is to get people to take responsibility for the success of the business and to produce results. But just exactly how does a manager do that when the employee just doesn’t seem that interested?

Fortunately, most people do their jobs and do them well without causing their bosses any heartburn. But even good performers can be resistant when it comes to things like adopting different procedures, embarking on a new strategy, using unfamiliar technology, or sustaining improvement initiatives. Unraveling this dilemma requires understanding and harnessing the sources of the drive behind the behavior of people like the gardening enthusiasts.

So what drives those avid gardeners? While the exact sources of the motivation vary for each individual, a set of general conditions is usually present. First, never underestimate the value of intangible rewards. Gardeners get tremendous satisfaction from simply mastering their craft and making their gardens better every year. As Daniel Pink explains in his new book, Drive, mastery and accomplishment are extremely motivating for most people. Recognition and positive feedback from others serve to further enhance and sustain the drive.

Next, most gardeners have compelling visions of what could be. They imagine the colorful, fragrant flowers that are possible after long months of winter’s sensory deprivation, or the satisfying, succulent, like-no-other taste of a tomato right off the vine. Moreover, they also see clearly the integral role they can play in achieving that vision, and they can decide more or less autonomously how they will go about accomplishing it.

Along the way they also make sure they have all the resources needed for success: seedlings, compost, garden tools, mulch, information on when and where to plant, a way to water their beds, and the strong back of the neighbor kid to help dig out the sod from the expansion site. (Gardeners are always making their plots bigger.)

Finally, gardeners have a sense of how they will measure their success: “something new and colorful blooming each month,” or “big enough tomato and zucchini crops to give some to everyone at work,” or “more strawberries for us this year and fewer for the birds.” 

So when the weather is finally warm enough in the spring, gardeners engage energetically in behaviors like tilling, planting, weeding, fertilizing, watering, picking, and so on. An important point to note is that the consequences of these work behaviors are immediate and certain: careful tending and the plants grow quickly and show buds; too little watering and the plants wilt; properly amending the soil and the cucumber vines produce a bumper crop; insufficient weeding and the desirable plants are choked out.

Up until this point about consequences, you were probably nodding knowingly and agreeably with everything I’d written. After all, the importance of rewards, vision, resources, measures, and autonomy are included in every leadership seminar you’ve ever attended or book you’ve read. And to be certain, they are critical. But what if people still don’t buy in to the vision you’ve plotted, or if they aren’t sustaining the gains from improvement initiatives, or if they still resist using features of that new MRP system?

It’s at this point that leaders benefit from understanding the impact of consequences, the missing ingredient in most discourses on winning and sustaining engagement. Consequences matter a great deal more than we realize; in fact, all human behavior is shaped by consequences. The employee who knows why the new MRP system is important but still uses Excel to bypass it is doing so because of consequences that either reward the old behavior or punish the new behavior.

We’ve looked briefly at how consequences shape the gardener’s behavior. In the next issue of this newsletter, we’ll explore how leaders can use knowledge of consequences to shape employee behavior and achieve win-win employee engagement.

Lynn Moline is an instructor in the MA Supervisory Training series. Learn more about Supervisory Training opportunities here.

Lynn Moline, owner of Lynn Moline Associates, Inc., is a consultant and trainer who specializes in executive development, executive team alignment, and planning. Mike Braun is a partner at CLG, a company that provides behavior-based strategy execution and performance improvement services.

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Book Review: Being the Boss

Are you a boss? If not, do you want to be? Need an instruction manual? Some people make management look easy, but many people struggle with it even if it’s not obvious from the outside. Why is this book useful? Large companies frequently have management development programs but most managers work for smaller companies where training is pretty much non-existent.

Furthermore, most business books cover leadership which, although related, doesn’t address the job of managing very well. Being the Boss is one of the few business books that does cover management and provides some practical advice on how to be a manager.

The first few chapters offer some thoughts on why being a manager can be difficult, especially for those new to the position. Some thought provoking questions help the reader understand where they stand as a manager. After the introduction, the authors present three imperatives: Manage Yourself, Manage Your Network, and Manage Your Team.

The first imperative addresses the way you work with others. Formal authority is not as effective as many people think. How do you react to “I’m the boss, do it my way or else?” At the same time, trying to be everyone’s friend is a path full of potholes. As a manager you will likely have to take actions that run counter to personal friendships. Trust is one of the most important bases for influencing people and organizations. Without trust, formal authority and friendships will not help move the organization forward.

Managing a network is one area frequently missed by managers. Activities undertaken by organizations frequently cross not only departmental boundaries but companies and countries as well. A strong and well developed network will prove extremely beneficial in getting the support and cooperation of other organizations over which you have no real control. This section provides a thorough approach to building and maintaining an effective network. The last and frequently missed member of your network is your boss. Supporting your boss will yield obvious but often overlooked benefits.

The last section of the book addresses the area everyone always thinks about first – how to develop and nurture a team culture that can work well together. After all, as a manager, your role is to get work done through others, a notion that is difficult for many new managers to grasp.

This book provides clear and concise advice for becoming a better manager. In addition to the steps listed in the book are discussions that explain why these steps are important. There is also a story line that roughly follows the key points of each section. It isn’t a business novel but the stories provide a pleasant diversion. Useful for new and seasoned managers alike – this book has some good ideas and suggestions for anyone in management.

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.

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