November, 2006

A publication brought to you by the Manufacturers Alliance

Subscribe | Join MA
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

What's New at the Manufacturers Alliance
Article by: Manufacturers Alliance
The Manufacturers Alliance continues to add new workshops, peer groups, and MA Store items to help the local manufacturing community raise the performance bar.
The Move to Lean Printing - Nahan Printing
Article by: Justin Dorsey
While Nahan Printing is new to the Manufacturer's Alliance, it is not new to printing. Established by Jim Nahan, it continues to be family-owned and operated at its 300,000 square-foot facility in St. Cloud. Nahan recently purchased a second building to accommodate the growth in Direct Mail.
Employee Retention
Author Unknown
Bob finally understood why his company's bottom line was sagging even though sales were at record levels. He had just calculated the cost to replace one employee, taking into consideration the direct cost, the indirect cost, and the lost opportunity. The cost was half the annual salary of the employee. When he multiplied that by the number of employees he replaced in the past year, a very large number evaporated from the bottom line.
Developing Breakthrough Products -- From the Inside-Out
Article by: Rod Greder
Companies are launched and careers are made with breakthrough products. New-to-the-world products or services, like Post-it Notes, Teflon, and e-Bay create new capabilities for users. Breakthrough products overcome considerable barriers in size, speed, quality, and usability, when compared to existing products. Examples include iPod, VOIP, and the Macintosh computer.
ADVERTISEMENT
What's New at the Manufacturers Alliance
The Manufacturers Alliance continues to add new workshops, peer groups, and MA Store items to help the local manufacturing community raise the performance bar.
This past year we introduced a number of new workshops including: Lean Accounting, Setup Reduction, Standard Work, Lean Manufacturing in Spanish, and Design for 6 Sigma. We have also further developed several Lean Office workshops and introduced a new Leaders Alliance Lean Office peer group. Lastly, we added an entire new division - the Medical Alliance - with courses and events designed for the medical device community.

In 2007, we will simplify Manufacturers Alliance membership by offering two levels. Smaller companies may join at a flat rate of $325. For larger companies with over 300 employees or multiple divisions, the entire corporation will be enrolled for $495.

Thank you for making this year great! We look forward to making 2007 even better!
The mission of the Manufacturers Alliance is to provide peer-to-peer training, education, and resources which inspire manufacturing companies to continuously grow, improve, and stay competitive.

Back to Top

ADVERTISEMENT
The Move to Lean Printing - Nahan Printing
While Nahan Printing is new to the Manufacturer's Alliance, it is not new to printing. Established by Jim Nahan, it continues to be family-owned and operated at its 300,000 square-foot facility in St. Cloud. Nahan recently purchased a second building to accommodate the growth in Direct Mail.

Nahan has a worldwide reputation for quality. In the past year alone, it was honored as both the National Sappi Magazine and Catalog Printer of the Year and it won the prestigious International Sappi Award for Magazine Printer of the Year. President Mike Nahan says, "We have won numerous awards for printing quality and design, and the International Printer of the Year Award is the ultimate."

What does Nahan print? Its business model is focused on commercial print and direct mail; what sets the company apart in that world is attention to quality, detail, and customer service.

A facilities tour revealed a one-stop shop with a diverse press department to handle sheet fed forms and web work along with a bindery to complement any cutting, folding, stitching, and perfect binding needs.

And, then there's the mailing. The letter shop delivered over 300,000,000 pieces of mail to the onsite post-office facility for mail clearance last year.

As is the case with most manufacturers, however, not every internal process and procedure at Nahan's is working at optimum level. In fact, Nahan is just now turning its focus to Lean Manufacturing - which explains its decision to join the MA. Concepts that the readers of this newsletter take for granted, such as "cell" outlines, visual flow, and publication of daily, weekly, or monthly metrics are tools that Nahan is just beginning to use. On the other hand, now that Nahan has brought its attention to bear on these issues, they have become top priority for the management.

As part of that initiative to integrate Lean into its organization, Nahan has reassigned its Vice President of Operations, Dave Bednar, to serve as its Continuous Improvement Leader. As an employee for twenty years, Dave is a logical choice to take Nahan to the next level of manufacturing excellence. In this year alone, Dave has overseen the initiation of 26 internal continuous-improvement projects.

Dave observes, "In my opinion if you're not 'networking' with your peers, you're in trouble. And the MA's 'tours' are the best networking device I've ever seen. It's amazing how much I've learned from them. They're truly invigorating. Not just for me. I think, already, six other folks from our shop have gone on company tours. We look forward to being able to reciprocate. Yes, indeed, the MA has been a good investment of our time and money."

Nahan's transformation to Lean will be an interesting process for members to watch. No doubt its move to Lean will enhance its market share and already successful business.
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.

Back to Top

ADVERTISEMENT
Employee Retention
Bob finally understood why his company's bottom line was sagging even though sales were at record levels. He had just calculated the cost to replace one employee, taking into consideration the direct cost, the indirect cost, and the lost opportunity. The cost was half the annual salary of the employee. When he multiplied that by the number of employees he replaced in the past year, a very large number evaporated from the bottom line.

It was clear that his company would be more profitable if he could decrease employee turnover, but first Bob needed the answers to some key questions:

  • Why do people leave companies?

  • How can you keep your best employees with you?

  • Or, even better, how do you get top talent to beat your door down to work for you?

It turns out that people need three things to stay with a company. They need to feel valued. They need engaging work, and they need an organization that makes sense. When any of these are violated too deeply, or are absent for too long, employees will leave.

Feeling valued involves receiving respect as a person, receiving performance feedback, and receiving recognition for a job well done. It includes openness to new ideas, and work and life balance. It also includes fair compensation. (Wages don't have to be the highest in your area, but they do need to be competitive.)

Chances are that you know someone who left a company because she didn't feel appreciated, or worse, because he felt advantage was taken of him. The person didn't feel valued.

If people don't have engaging work they will soon get bored or give up. In my experience as a job fit consultant, I estimate that over half of all workers are not doing work that matches their innate talents. We aren't paying them to do what they do best and enjoy. That makes it easy for them to leave.

Sometimes it is how a company functions that is the main cause of turnover. I know two vice presidents who left because their organizations no longer made sense. One fellow left because the rules were constantly shifting, and he couldn't tell if he was doing a good job or not. The other left because after the merge, the new organization did not value her department. More commonly, people just wear out fighting red tape, poor communication, rules that don't make sense, and bad managers. The latter was cited by the Gallup Organization as the number one reason people quit.

If you want to reduce the costs and stress caused by employee turnover, help your workers feel valued, match employees with jobs they are already wired to do, and eliminate anything that inhibits trust and accountability.
Author Unknown

Back to Top

ADVERTISEMENT
Developing Breakthrough Products -- From the Inside-Out
Companies are launched and careers are made with breakthrough products. New-to-the-world products or services, like Post-it Notes, Teflon, and e-Bay create new capabilities for users. Breakthrough products overcome considerable barriers in size, speed, quality, and usability, when compared to existing products. Examples include iPod, VOIP, and the Macintosh computer.

Breakthrough products make users more productive (BlackBerry), or appear cool or provide status (iPod or PS3), or they give users security and piece of mind (OnStar).
They turn our heads; we yearn to own them. They are magnets and we are made of iron.

Breakthrough products allow start ups to get financed; they allow growing companies to gobble up market share; and they give established companies the opportunity to reinvent themselves. Breakthrough products are the single biggest driver of corporate growth and success.

So why aren't all of us developing breakthrough products? In his book, Innovator's Dilemma, Clayton Christensen states that once a company has built an infrastructure and an entire business around an existing product it becomes hard to see other possibilities and even harder to make the far-reaching internal changes to accommodate a radical new product.

Railroad companies of the twentieth century couldn't see that they were actually in the transportation business; as a result, the automobile revolution passed them by. Today's manufacturers might need to recognize that they most likely will be successful in high-end, customized, short-run manufacturing, and that most least-cost, high-volume, commodity production will move offshore. How might they innovate to exploit this reality or maybe reverse it? Would automation and robotics be a consideration?

Innovation requires a new frame of reference. Albert Einstein said, "You can't solve a problem on the same level you created it." We need to think differently, outside of the box, to develop breakthrough products.

How do you recognize a product that could be disruptive to a market and allow you to leapfrog competitors? You know it when you see it. It satisfies a compelling need or uncontrollable want or eliminates an annoying irritation that has become larger than life to you. Search with Google. Watch HDTV. Drive a Tesla. Pay bills online. You get it right away.

Like the Stealth bomber, however, new-to-the-world products can be hard to detect. Our radar won't allow us to see them in their early forms because of our biases about reality. We, as individuals, must change from the inside out before we can change things in the world.

We see the world not as it is but as we are. We process the sensory information we receive from the world through internal multi-layer filters of emotions, cultural biases, life experiences, learned cognitive capabilities, and our basic evolutionary programming. We don't see things that we have not been conditioned in some way to be able to see. To see potential breakthrough products we must intentionally walk through the following sequence:

  1. Recognize that we are biased. We can't see straight! Peel back our filters as much as we can as we evaluate opportunities.

  2. Become an expert on the market, customers, technology, and the like. Don't consider the collected information as fact but as observation, until proven fact. Challenge all assumptions.

  3. Listen empathetically to users. Observe them. Believe what they do, not necessarily what they say. Develop a story that captures the nuances of their needs.

  4. Connect the list of needs and wants to the late psychologist Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Address physiological and emotional needs that are not being adequately met by existing products. Breakthrough products are directly linked to a basic need; for instance, Viagra--sex, OnStar--safety and security, MySpace--societal approval and self-esteem.

  5. Give yourself permission to think and share aloud hundreds or more of outlandish suggestions that will address customer's needs. Don't judge, just generate. Don't worry about looking foolish. All will be forgotten if your idea becomes the next Palm Pilot or Tesla electric car.

The next article will cover formal tools and processes that can increase your odds of seeing, creating, and developing breakthrough products.
Rod Greder, Ph.D. founded Breakthrough Forum, an innovation dialogue and accountability group, for product developers and marketers to tap the collective intelligence of their peers who have been there and done that. rgreder@improveproducts.com, (763)443-1531.

Back to Top


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