February, 2013

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New and Renewing Companies
The Manufacturers Alliance would like to recognize all of the new and renewing members in the last 30 days.

Albaviso LLC
Banner Engineering Corp
Boulder Creek Stone
Bro-Tex Inc
Brunn Industries, Inc
Buhler Inc
Buhler Versatile USA
Cat Pumps
Caterpillar Paving Products
Ceramic Industrial Coatings
Code Welding & Mfg Inc
Continental Hydraulics Inc.
Daktronics Inc
Douglas Machine
E & O Tool & Plastics Inc
E J Ajax & Sons
Edco Products Inc
Emerson Process Management
Federal Package Network, Inc.
Felling Trailers
Filtration Products Corp
FMS Corporation
GLS Companies
Graco Inc
Hearing Components
InPursuit Search
Intek Plastics Inc
Ironwood Electronics
Japs-Olson Company
Johnson Screens Inc
La Machine Shop Inc
Lake Region Medical
LASX Industries, Inc
Learnwella
Lifetouch Inc.
Mate Precision Tooling
Medivators/ Minntech Corp
Mikros Engineering
Minco
Morningstar Foods
Nystrom Inc
Orange Tree Employment Screening
Packnet Ltd
Patterson Thuente IP
Pentair Technical Products
Plymouth Industries
Polar Tank Trailer LLC
Pomerantz and Associates
Quali Tech, Inc.
Quality Ingredients Corporation
Ritchie Engineering Co
RMS Co
Sauer-Danfoss Company
Shippers Supply
Skyline Displays Inc
Starkey Laboratories Inc
SunOpta Ingredients Group
Tennant Company
The Purchasing Department
Thiele Technologies Inc
Tolomatic Inc
Top Tool Company
Travel Tags
TSI Incorporated
United States Distilled Products
Uponor
Veeco Instruments Inc
Volt Workforce Solutions
Wanner Engineering Inc


LinkedIn
Connect with over 1,400 peers online through the Manufacturers Alliance LinkedIn group. Learn More

Leaders Alliance
If you want to look beyond your four walls for best practices and leverage the experience of your peers as your own, consider joining a Leaders Alliance peer group.

Medical Manufacturing Innovations
April 16-17, 2013 | Hilton Minneapolis

Medical Manufacturing Innovations is where you can explore and share solutions in medical device manufacturing. With a focus on manufacturing processes and technologies, participants gain perspectives from different applications. Register today and indicate you are a Manufacturers Alliance member to receive the SME member rate. Learn More


EJ Ajax Acquires Swirtz Tool & Manufacturing
Fridley precision metal-forming company expands in-house tooling capabilities

EJ Ajax & Sons,in Fridley, MN, has acquired Swirtz Tool & Manufacturing, a Minneapolis tool and die company. Paul Swirtz has joined the EJ Ajax tool room. “Paul has been a fantastic addition to the team,” according to Erick Ajax, vice-president. “I simply could not imagine that we would be able to do all of the in-house tooling that we’re doing right now. His EDM machine hasn’t had many idle hours since it hit the floor at EJ Ajax late last year,”

For more on EJ Ajax and Sons, visit their website: www.ejajax.com


TwinWest Stem Summit
TwinWest invites you to consider the creation of a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) experience for students in the Robbinsdale, St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Wayzata, and Minnetonka school districts on Tuesday, March 19 from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. See below for more detail, including a link to sign up as an exhibitor. The STEM Summit is geared toward middle school students and features a trade show atmosphere in which area businesses exhibit an aspect of their profession that is related to STEM subject areas. Students leave with a renewed interest in STEM subjects and the job opportunities they provide. http://www.twinwest.com/stemexhibitors

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

Are you at risk?
Article by: Dave Karnes

Perhaps, especially if your EH&S program has lapsed or is not quite up to current standards. Workers, or their representatives, have the right to file a complaint and report actual or perceived violations, or unsafe working conditions in their place of employment to OSHA without fear of retaliation, and remain anonymous. 


Book Review-"How to Measure Anything" – Douglas W. Hubbard
Article by: David Haynes
"It's better to be approximately right than to be precisely wrong." –Warren Buffett

Douglas Hubbard's underlying philosophy about "measurement" is that, in his own words, "…it never really meant an exact quantity."


Why, when, and how to choose a coach for your leader
Article by: Anja White

Coaching is credited as a highly effective process for individuals to reach greater professional potential in a sustainable and forward-looking manner.  


MN Economic Outlook
Article by: Dr. Ernest Goss

For a second straight month, Minnesota’s Business Conditions Index moved above growth neutral. The index from a monthly survey of supply managers in the state declined to 52.6 from 57.2 in December.


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Are you at risk?

Perhaps, especially if your EH&S program has lapsed or is not quite up to current standards. Workers, or their representatives, have the right to file a complaint and report actual or perceived violations, or unsafe working conditions in their place of employment to OSHA without fear of retaliation, and remain anonymous. 

It is a violation for an employer to fire, demote, transfer, and discriminate in any way against a worker for filing a complaint or using other OSHA rights in any way against a worker for filing a complaint or using other OSHA rights. This is known as the Whistleblower Protection Program.

Protection from discrimination means that an employer cannot retaliate by taking "adverse action" against workers, such as:

  • Firing or laying off
  • Blacklisting
  • Demoting
  • Denying overtime or promotion
  • Disciplining
  • Denial of benefits
  • Failure to hire or rehire
  • Intimidation
  • Making threats
  • Reassignment affecting prospects for promotion
  • Reducing pay or hours

The Whistleblower Protection program provides OSHA with a valuable tool to prioritize inspections and possible enforcement actions. Oftentimes this process will begin as a letter from OSHA listing the alleged violations and request for response or, if serious, an unannounced inspection. Granted, in some cases complaints are made to OSHA by workers that are disgruntled from other unrelated reasons, many complaints are in fact legitimate. 

What can you do? The bottom line is to create and maintain a safe and healthful workplace free from recognized hazards through a comprehensive EH&S program that includes hazard assessments, mandatory written programs such as Hazard Communication (Right to Know), employee training, safety rules and enforcement policies, as well as ensure the EH&S program is reviewed and continuously improved. Don’t forget that temporary employees and contractors must also be trained on specific hazards, rules and safe work practices required by your company even though they may be trained through their own employer. OSHA regulations can be complex and difficult to interpret. It is a good idea to bring in an experienced EH& S company to audit your program and make recommendations to minimize anything being overlooked. A company that instills a safe environment for their employees will not only reduce accidents and injuries, they will also increase morale, production, and lower insurance premiums.

Dave Karnes, Director of Health and Safety for HIGHPONTEHS specializes in the research and development of written programs, training presentations and provides on-site compliance training and environmental, health, safety and hazardous materials consulting. To Learn more please visit www.highpointehs.com or call 763.221.1765

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Book Review-"How to Measure Anything" – Douglas W. Hubbard
"It's better to be approximately right than to be precisely wrong." –Warren Buffett

Douglas Hubbard's underlying philosophy about "measurement" is that, in his own words, "…it never really meant an exact quantity."

That perspective begins to pry loose some of the skepticism that the title of his book, "How to Measure Anything – Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business", invites.

In a manufacturing world where the precision of six sigma seems pervasive, his idea of the "quality of information" is appealing, if sometimes confusingly recursive – a measurement of a measurement. Still, there is much to reflect on regarding Hubbard's views of collecting and using information.

Hubbard is the inventor of something he calls Applied Information Economics (AIE), a counter view to traditional accounting-style risk/benefit analysis that focuses on measuring risk and the monetary value of information – a topic we'll return to. He is the president of Hubbard Decision Research and the author of several books and numerous articles on risk analysis and information modeling. Much of his early work centered on quantifying the value of large IT projects. His web site, http://www.hubbardresearch.com/, offers additional information and downloadable samples of material referred to in his book.

"How to Measure Anything" isn't really about measurement, it's about making better decisions. The title of his book may beguile executives and managers, but to actually read it requires either the mindset of a statistician or an acceptance that getting the gist of things will have to suffice. I relied mainly on the latter.

The book is broken up into four sections. The first section deals with the concept of measurement itself and maps out the basis for what is to follow. The second section has insights into what to measure, and the third section talks about how to measure. The final section, entitled "Beyond the Basics", ventures into interesting territory, including a chapter where he talks about "homo absurdus" and behavioral biases any application of measurement results must deal with.

Hubbard's view is that the most valuable use of measures is to reduce uncertainty in the service of making better business decisions. Questions with high levels of uncertainty (many of the "intangibles" referred to in the title) are often susceptible to simple techniques to reduce that uncertainty. If one thinks about measurements in terms of ranges of values within a "confidence interval", the link between "intangible" and "immeasurable" begins to seem less inevitable.

It's generally accepted among statisticians that almost any model is an improvement over expert human decision-making, and using multiple models provides even further improvement. Hubbard makes a crucial argument that "expert opinions" can be calibrated and usually improved. In his book are several practice examples to demonstrate how you can calibrate your own "90% Confidence Interval" and get some practice improving your application of the concept.

Perhaps the most revealing aspect of Hubbard's experience is his reflection that business leaders seldom ask the right questions or measure the right things. What gets measured tends to be what has always been measured or what's easiest to measure in traditional ways. One of his primary tenets is that it is imperative to quantify the value of the information you're trying to capture as well as the cost of capturing it. Once you've determined if the value of the information is worth the effort, careful analysis reveals that most of that value can be realized via one or two key measures – often not the measures initially assumed as most valuable.

If you tend to get excited by z-scores, regression analysis, Monte Carlo simulations, and Bayesian inversions, you'll find much to keep you up late at night reading "How To Measure Anything". If your interest falls more towards the bottom-line effect of informed decision-making, you'll get to sleep earlier but you'll still find much to challenge your existing worldview of what can and should be measured within your organization.

For most, Hubbard's book is more of an uncomfortable paradigm shift than a simple how-to manual. It's an important work that deserves serious reflection. As in many areas of inquiry, the right answers are often simpler to find than the right questions.

David Haynes- Owner of Lean4All LLC providing consulting services in influencing change: aligning strategy, IT, process improvement, and organizational communication. David may be reached at david@lean4all.com

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Why, when, and how to choose a coach for your leader

Coaching is credited as a highly effective process for individuals to reach greater professional potential in a sustainable and forward-looking manner.  

According to a study by The Sherpa Leadership Institute (7th Annual Survey), 85% of people considering hiring a coach see the credibility of the profession as high or very high. 

Why would you hire a coach for your organization, your team, your leader, or yourself?
The short answer is:  when you want to achieve sustainable, lasting behavioral growth and effectiveness. 

You might consider hiring a coach

- for executive and leadership continuous development,

-  when promoting an individual into his or her first leadership role,

-  in times of transitioning significant change in the organization ,

-  right after a leadership change or during leadership transitioning,

-  if you experience conflict within a team.

What does a coach do?

Coaching styles and approaches vary greatly.  I describe it as using a continuum with “consulting” on the left edge and “therapy” on the far right edge.  Coaching is in the center.  Some professionals have a style that is more consultative, advising and mentoring.  If a coach is offering something closer to therapy, make sure he or she is properly educated and trained in psychology.  Normally, coaches will immediately refer clients they sense would be better served by psychological or psychiatric support to professionals in that field.   Other coaching styles apply techniques that get to the depth of the matter through very powerful questions and reflection methods.  Clearly, a coaching session should not be a friendly conversation, but it is hard work for the client.  The desired outcome should be established before the coaching project begins.  A good coach holds his client accountable, challenges old boundaries, avoids dwelling in the past and worn out stories, and consistently pushes the client to move forward into more effective behavior patterns. 

How should you select a coach?

You might find a coach through the ICF (International Coach Federation) or MCA (Minnesota Coaches Association), personal referrals and other networking.  There are several highly reputable training institutions in the US and abroad that will also gladly provide referrals to their alumni and network.  Here are some questions you might want to reflect on when searching for a coach:

-  Is having a certification and/or other credential critical or desirable?

-  What background and experience would be most beneficial within your organization?

-  Would you prefer a local contact?

-  Do you prefer coaching sessions to be in-person or telephone?

-  What is your budget?

Most coaches will gladly provide references and give you a concise overview of their approach, process and coaching philosophy.  I encourage you to take advantage of a sample session.  A coach-client relationship is very personal; what may have been a very successful experience for one individual may not be for another.  If you do hire a coach for someone in your organization, arrange for a sample session for that employee.   The benefit is significant as the relationship begins at the first interaction.  The level of interpersonal chemistry is directly related to the effectiveness and results of the coaching project.

How long is a coaching engagement?

There is no right or wrong answer.  Each individual circumstance is different.  Most arrangements are over a period of 6 to 12 months with sessions in regularly scheduled intervals.  After the sample session and some dialog of your goals, the coach will advise you what he or she deems most beneficial. 

When is a coaching engagement terminated?

Many people, including myself, continuously work with a coach.  And for others, the contract may be fulfilled and there is no need to renew; hopefully, it was a great experience and you simply feel complete.  It is absolutely critical, however, that you are very open with your coach if something is not working well during the coaching engagement.  This is one of the muscles you will strengthen during your coaching project:  giving and receiving respectful and honest feedback.  

Most coaches enter the profession because they believe at a deep level in the power of the work to bring individuals forward to a better, more fulfilling life and career.  “All of us would already be doing ‘it’ - whatever the ‘it’ may be for us, if we easily saw before us how to achieve ‘it.’  Coaching can support you as you search for those answers.” 

Anja White is a Manufacturing Executive Coach | Manufacturing Leadership & Team Development | German-American Business | Dynamic Speaker and VP of Operations at Albaviso LLC. She may be reached at anjawhite@albaviso.com

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MN Economic Outlook

For a second straight month, Minnesota’s Business Conditions Index moved above growth neutral. The index from a monthly survey of supply managers in the state declined to 52.6 from 57.2 in December.

Components of the index from the January survey were new orders at 45.1, production or sales at 51.0, delivery lead time at 62.5, inventories at 52.7, and employment at 51.7.“January pullbacks were recorded for nondurable goods manufacturers, including food producers. Excluding medical equipment manufacturers, growth among durable goods producers, especially metal manufacturers, more than offset nondurable weakness,” 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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