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Manufacturing Simulation Game 

Focus for Success
Part 4 of 4

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Lean Manufacturing, Basics, Principles, Techniques

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Future vs. Past

Leaders with a vision need support from those who are willing to change. Forgetting the past, they want subordinate leaders who will press on to a higher level of achievement. Creativity is approaching a need, task, or idea from a new perspective. Initiative is recognizing a need and developing a strategy before someone asks. This is at the heart of em­ployee empowerment and continual improvement.

APICS leaders can inadvertently fall into the same trap as others within the organization. It is the "that is the way we have always done it" trap. There are various forms that this trap takes. When business is booming, changes like setup reduction or cross-training can wait. We are too busy making parts. In bad times we are too busy jettisoning our most valuable resource for improvement, namely our experienced people, because we failed to provide funds to guide us through these inevitable market fluctuations.

There is an inherent reluctance to change. We will go to many ex­tremes to keep the status quo. Benchmarking in some situations be­comes a rationale to stand still. If I compare my delivery to my com­petitors and I offer assemble-to-order in three days instead of their three weeks, am I motivated to develop a strategy of same-day as­semble-to-order? If I become complacent, I am only asking for trouble.

Loyalty vs. Own Agenda

Loyalty is using difficult or challenging times to confirm my commit­ment to those leaders and ultimately the customers that I am called to serve. Corporate leaders want us to advance strategies such as kaizen and SMED. Both have a proven positive impact upon profit and cus­tomer service.

However, this cannot be said for all popular APICS strategies. ISO 9000 is a prime example. Why did you achieve ISO 9000 certifica­tion? Did the certification improve the quality of your product and total service to the customer? Or did the process only serve to qualify you as a quality guru? To merely document what we are doing without endeavoring to improve is to demonstrate a lack of loyalty to our lead­ers and our customers.


There are five "I Wills" that will produce positive actions. These "I Wills" will enable APICS leaders to develop, hone, and maintain the necessary focus. These simple and yet profound "I Wills" are

1. I will diligently evaluate every decision and action according to its impact on profit. To accomplish this goal, I must know the intimate details of a "manufacturing process" that transcends the four walls of my factory. I must make my evaluations based upon the total supply chain, from raw materials to the customers' use of my out­put for its intended purposes. My vision must also encompass the total product life cycle.

2. I will commit to remain alert to every opportunity to effect positive change. Continual improvement of each stage of the manufacturing
process must become my only constant. The guiding principles, as passed down from my leaders, will keep my improvement efforts focused on the right target.

3. I will become a leader who has earned trust. This trust will come from accurately reporting facts and living up to all my commit­ments. This trust is also earned by knowing and doing what will make both my leaders and the customer successful.

4. I will remember that true leadership is a combination of strategy and character. If I can only possess one, I will choose character.

5. I will continue to develop my skills. This will enable me to keep abreast of the latest hardware, software, and systems tools.


The challenge is embodied in answering the following questions both for myself and my company:

• Will I adopt the "F-O-C-U-S" of profit that is necessary for success?
• Will I acquire the hard skills necessary to execute this focus?
• Will I build into my own life the character qualities required to energize and sustain this focus?

To answer yes to each of these questions will send us on an excit­ing, challenging, and ultimately successful journey into the next mil­lennium. Assuming we accept the challenge to take the critical first step, it is not so much what you and I do immediately upon our return from this conference that will make the difference. What will we do on the third and fourth tries? That is the key.

You and I have the choice to make. It is our move! What will your answer be?


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