race car

Line Extensions, Lean Six Sigma, and Getting Beyond the Status Quo

When you’re a teenager driving a two-tone (not counting the rust) ’64 Ford Fairlane salvaged from a front-end collision and your friend has a hot ’67 SS Chevelle (the SS stood for Super Sport) with a 400 horsepower 396 cubic inch engine, you’ll do whatever you can to your car to increase the cool factor […]


How To Get Your Initiative To Stand Out: Continuous Improvement’s Positioning Problem

What’s in a name? Actually, quite a lot. Why do we call one of the most essential major strategic initiatives a business can undertake something as uninspiring as continuous improvement? Or worse yet, why would we ever consider naming it after the tools or methodologies we use like “Lean” or “Six Sigma”? After all, when’s […]

How To Get Better Results By Dumping Lean Six Sigma

Businesses have spent billions of dollars training employees and launching lean, six sigma, lean six sigma, Kaizen or some other variation of continuous improvement initiatives with lofty expectations. Finding and then advertising the “quick wins”, zealous leaders begin proselytizing and training every other function in the company to use the same tools. Yes, even the […]

Work That Matters: The Three Questions of Value Add

I made a quick stop this weekend at (usually) one of my favorite Do-It-Yourself hardware and lumber stores. Even though I like browsing around, with a busy day of projects on the schedule, I was in a hurry to get in and get out. So, I was a bit miffed when the slow, scowling sales […]

More Process That Doesn’t Matter

The story goes something like this. The archduke and duchess were returning by carriage to one of their palaces in the countryside. As the carriage approached, the duchess remarked about the beauty of a single solitary flower that had grown up in the middle of the courtyard. The archduke quickly ordered a guard stand watch […]

When Process Doesn’t Matter

Imagine what it took for Leonardo da Vinci to produce just one painting. Really. Imagine it. Leonardo lived from 1452 to 1519, long before there were convenient painter supply stores a short walk or car ride away. Getting a canvas or panel ready for painting would have been a huge job considering sourcing, stretching, mounting, grounding […]

Four Forces Trapping Value and Blocking Internal Innovation in CPG

I used to think it was just the company I worked for that had the problems but when I left and started my own agency, I found clients regardless of industry suffer the same problems. Things should be running more smoothly, but they’re not. Department leaders should be collaborating more, but they don’t. Results should […]

Doing Productivity Innovation: Conducting an End-to-End Assessment

As I’ve mentioned before, for many companies continuous improvement programs simply won’t be enough to handle the growing squeeze on margins. But what are companies to do? Well, stop paving the cow path. Instead, companies need to approach innovation in how they do business similar to the way they approach new product innovation. They need […]

Productivity Beyond the Cow Path

I’ve spoken of the growing need for productivity innovation before. And with the drought’s impact on food commodity prices, the languishing economic indicators and the high likelihood of a recession beginning in early 2014, most businesses are going to be competing for share of wallet in a low growth environment. Let me reiterate another point: […]

Battling the Squeeze on Margins

Will businesses be able to depend on traditional formulas for success in these margin-squeezing times: price up to cover rising input costs, spend back in marketing to manage elasticities, roll out new products to fill the leaky revenue bucket and drive some top-line growth, and lean on the operations group for even greater productivity to […]

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