Monday, 17 March 2008

CMM or Constraints Management

Meant to write something about SKI on Troughput blog allready some time ago, but forgot about it. Now it popped up again from my Google Alerts. Just a generic comment on Bob Nardelli at helm of Chrysler, but in the post there are two books that I hadn't heard of before. Any of you read either of these and could give some comments?

The Logical Thinking Process: A Systems Approach to Complex Problem Solving
by H. William Dettmer

A major rewrite of Dettmer's classic Goldratt's Theory of Constraints, this new edition presents a whole new approach to building and applying logic trees. The logical thinking process referred to in the title is nothing less than a broadly applicable, systems-level approach to policy analysis. Dettmer has streamlined the process of constructing the logic trees while simultaneously ensuring that the results are more logically sound and closer representations of reality than ever before. He explains an easier, more logically sound way to integrate Current Reality Trees with Evaporating Clouds. His new version of the thinking process "retires" the Transition Tree in favor of the marriage of a more detailed Prerequisite Tree and critical chain project management. This book contains new examples of logic trees from a variety of real-world applications. Most of the diagrams and illustrations are new and improved. Explanations and procedures for constructing the logic trees are considerably simplified. Completely new to this edition is a unique graphical software application - Transformation Logic Trees, designed primarily to create thinking process logic trees and only secondarily for other flowcharting uses. Provided on the accompanying CD-ROM is a full-function, unrestricted copy of version 1.0 for new and experienced users of the thinking process alike to use in building their logic trees. Appendix J in the book provides more information on how to install and use the software.

Strategic Navigation: A Systems Approach to Business Strategy by H. William Dettmer
There are many parallels between the business world and the military world: both must always be wary of the competition; both must be able to adapt to rapidly changing conditions; and if either falters the results could be devastating. Yet while military leaders have employed essentially the same strategies for thousands of years, business leaders often feel the need to try the latest fad in an effort to capture lightning in a bottle and lead the company to success. In Strategic Navigation: A Systems Approach to Business Strategy, best-selling author H. William Dettmer explains how sound, proven strategies used by great military leaders from Sun Tzu to Schwarzkopf can also be easily and effectively used in the business world.

Dettmer begins the book by introducing the conceptual framework of military strategy and maneuver warfare, which dates back over 2,300 years to the time of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. He first explains how the time-tested principles of war planning and military execution can be readily applied to non-military uses, such as commercial business, not-for-profit organizations, and government agencies, leading to considerable benefits in coherence and focus. Dettmer then introduces a logical, systematic tool set to help you translate the military strategy ‘template’ into action, which can then be applied to nearly any industry or business type. The system described by Dettmer is quick and easy to use, flexible enough to accommodate changes in the external environment, and supports the creativity of both strategists and executors.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Apple designing snowmobiles?

Michael Lopp, senior engineering manager at Apple held a presentation at South by Southwest. Summarized here by Tech Beat. Isn't following quote something in the line with Boyd's Snowmobiles concept or am I completely wrong?

This was really interesting. Every week, the teams have two meetings. One in which to brainstorm, to forget about constraints and think freely. As Lopp put it: to "go crazy". Then they also hold a production meeting, an entirely separate but equally regular meeting which is the other's antithesis. Here, the designers and engineers are required to nail everything down, to work out how this crazy idea might actually work.
This sort of arrangement encourages designers to design snowmobiles and not restrict flow of thoughts but at the same time deliver actionable results.

Implementing Boyd?

Can Boyd's principles be really implemented in business? Chet Richards talks about that in excellent article.

This part:

That is, if the employees didn’t commit to making the system work, it wouldn’t move at all. The Toyota Way is why they do it for Toyota and don’t for most other manufacturing companies. The other important point about the Toyota Way is that the system is always getting better at whatever it does. As one Toyota exec put it, whatever we do this year is baseline for next year. A lot of companies talk continuous improvement (kaizen), but few achieve it. Their organizational climate is why.
got me thinking about blog few blog posts in couple lean blogs.

Ron Pereira of Lean Six Sigma Academy is on study tour in Japan currently and he wrote about spark plug factory where people have perfected their flow to the point that they don't even need kanban cards or similar accessories to help them control the process. How could this be achieved without highly motivated and committed workforce?

On similar note in Evolving Excellence Dan Markovitz wrote a piece about respect for people. He attendet LEI summit and there one of the speakers claimed that:
Everyone at these conference focuses on tools like value stream mapping and 5S. But the tools are only 25% of the story. Lean is about peple, not about waste. Focus on the employees -- all other benefits are just by-products.
And that kinda rings a bell with motivated, committed workforce creating great results.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Boyd videos

If some of you have missed these, there are few videos from Boyd Q&A session in youtube. Part 1 is mostly about fighters, in parts 2 & 3 Boyd talks about Toyota Production System and last and shortest is about correct questions.

These videoes can also be found from here and there is also audio about Conceptual Spiral. Thanks for Chet Richards for reminding me about these.

Are there any other videoes about Boyd available?

Thursday, 6 March 2008

How to measure decision making?

Was reading an article about Chrysler decreasing their decision time drastically and that led me to thinking about metrics that could be used to measure decision making. Couldn't think of any besides the obious of length of decision process. Brief googling didn't make me much smarter either. Please provide links if I have been blind and overlooked something.

I would think it would be good to start with question if measuring decision making is even necessary? I think so, if for nothing else then atleast to provide company leadership a tool to improve their work. I don't mean looking for some ratio for correct decision divided by total decicions. Correct decisions are somewhat subjective and more often than not made with not enough information. So decision might've been correct given the information available at the time but incorrecet when looking back with better information.

I'm thinking more in line with measuring speed of decision making or reaction speed or something. A way to tell if company is adaptable and agile.

Supply Chain Councils SCOR model has pretty long list of different metrics so decided to check them out. There were few almost-but-not-quite metrics, mainly ones that measure different timeframes.

Average Release Cycle of Changes
Cycle time for implementing change notices divided by total number of changes.
High amount of changes lowers this metric this but high amount of changes is not good in itself.
Manufacturing Cycle Time
Total time from order to delivery
This includes several cycle times with different start and end points. These measures really don't tell anything about other operations inside company besides manufacturing. Important metric but not what I am looking for in here.
Cumulative Source/Make Cycle Time
The cumulative external and internal lead-time to build shippable product (if you start with no inventory on hand, no parts on-order, and no prior forecasts existing with suppliers), in calendar days.
This could actually describe companys ability to respond to sudden changes in product mix.
ECO (Engineering Change Order) Cycle Time
The total time required from request for change from customer, engineering, production or quality control to revise a blueprint or design released by engineering, and implement the change within the Make operation.
Quite good measure of ability to change.
Management Decision Timeframe Ratio
The ratio of the time needed to make a decision about a particular process divided by the cycle time of that process. (This generates a number that is better if it is lower). For example, if an operation can be performed in 2 hours, and it takes 4 hours to make a decision about that operation, the ratio would be 200%. The timeframe would be affected by the time it takes to collect data, process information, develop knowledge and evaluate the situation, and implement the decision.
I think that this is one of the best SCOR has to offer. Could be also expanded by including cost of one cycle time so we could calculate price of decision.
Upside Production Flexibility
The number of days required to achiece an unplanned sustainable 20% increase in production.
This could be useful as well. But why 20%?

My googling did reveal this paper by Katsuya Takii in which he provides following measure for adaptability:
The difference between actual and predicted input (the residual) can be considered as the firm's reaction to changes. If the correlation between the changes and the residual is large, we can infer that the firm's ability to appropriately adapt to change is high.
Paper concentrates on effect of prediction ability on projected profits. Even though he presents subject matter in convincing way I am inclined to disagree with his starting point. I can believe that better forecasting would lead to better profits but my ideal company can respond so fast to changing conditions that it makes predicting obsolete.

Thoughts, comments?

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Toyota product development

Found interesting article from part two of Andy Wagners two part Boyd introduction at Lean Blog. Matthew May at Elegant Solutions provides two examples of Toyota creating creative tension to encourage innovation and to cut product development lead times.

He also asks important question about the burden faster cycles unleash to organization. Are they paying for faster product launches with decrease in quality and how they can overcome these problems?

Is decreased quality inevitable result of ever faster cycles? Are faster cycles worth the quality hit?

Wagners blog posts are both worth a read as he makes some comparisons with OODA and Demings PDCA and PDCA's applicability to decision making. He also makes comparison between development of F-16 and Toyotas product development. Part I, Part II.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Belisarius merging with Certain to Win blog

Chet Richards is merging content from his blog Certain to Win with New site can be found from address