Monday, October 24, 2011

The World Didn't Even Notice

It has been several months since my last post. I guess you could say that I have had an extended problem with writer's block. Actually, I'm still not sure if it has lifted, but I have been writing some as an alumni blogger for SJC.

Some significant developments have occurred since my last post. First, in August, I started teaching Core One for St. Joseph's at St. Elizabeth School of Nursing in Lafayette. Second, in September, I completed the final requirements for the MBA with an accounting specialization from Indiana Wesleyan University. Perhaps, I will write more about these developments in the future.

Last night, I was reading from John in The Message:

The Life-Light was the real thing:
Every person entering Life
he brings into Light.
He was in the world,
the world was there through him,
and yet the world didn't even notice.
He came to his own people,
but they didn't want him.
But whoever did want him,
who believed he was who he claimed
and would do what he said,
He made to be their true selves,
their child-of-God selves.
These are the God-begotten,
not blood-begotten,
not flesh-begotten,
not sex-begotten. (1:9-13)

We have experienced and continue to experience exponential changes in communication and technology. Society continues to focus on "more." The only measure of the economic success seems to involve growth.

In the midst of our current environment, "the world didn't even notice" popped out of the page. Could it be the world didn't even notice that the Light was present because the world was distracted? How much do Facebook, Twitter, the latest advancement in TV size, and a focus on economic growth actually distract us from what is really important? In my case, I struggled inside through much of the MBA because I sensed that it was distracting me from a deeper purpose. Hopefully, I will remember that sense of struggle in the future and keep what is truly important at the forefront.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Joy of Failure

On Friday, I spent much of the day with one of our supervisors and a production associate. We were attempting to produce a new product. The key word here is "attempt" because, after several hours, we ended up pulling off the trial and switching the machine over to a new product.

Faced with this failure, I smiled.

Sure, we failed to meet our intended objective for the day.

However, in many ways, the day was also a success.

In the process of working on the product, we had the chance to interact and learn about each other. For example, I learned that the production associate used to run and play soccer. This naturally progressed to me sharing my interest in running and that I had been out on the road running at 5 AM that day. I then told him that another one of our associates had also been an avid runner. In other words, we created connections.

This day was a also a bit of a rude awakening for me.

I realized that, in the process of focusing on cost reductions and scrap reductions, I had started to lose focus on our people.

And, dang it, setting up this product was hard work - both physically and mentally. By the end of the day, I was extremely impressed by the efforts of the supervisor and the production associate.

And, sure, we may have failed, but maybe, just maybe, we also succeeded.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Over the last few days, I've been thinking a great deal about eggs.

Okay, so I like eggs.

Scrambled eggs.

Deviled eggs.

Egg salad.

Eggs sliced in salad.

Easter eggs.


If you too enjoy eggs, I'm sure that you get the point.

On Saturday, Jenn made eggs sunny side up. Well, even after searching Google images, I'm not sure if they were sunny side up or over easy. Maybe they were over easy.

At any rate, these eggs were perfect. The yellow yolk was completely encased in a while film of, well, egg white. Actually, as my eyes gazed longingly at these eggs, I wondered if Jenn had actually removed the yolks.

I picked up my knife and carefully poked the perfect white film. The yellow yolk burst through the white film. I happily dipped my toast in the yolk enjoyed a pleasant breakfast with Jenn.

However, this breakfast left me challenged.

We live in a world of mores.

More money.

More success.

More vacation time.

More retirement funds.

More fitness.

More... fill in the blank.

I wonder, though, if there is more to what we already have. Are there more yolks hiding just under the surface waiting to burst forth?

Sunday, January 9, 2011


This past weekend included several exciting experiences.

Jenn and I played hind and seek in our house.

We built a tent out of blankets in the living room.

I had the chance to catch some rays.

Creating an Infrastructure for Change

In my last post, I briefly discussed fire-fighting and foundation-building. Over the last six months, my coworker, Niles, and I have have been on a journey in the development of an infrastructure for change. We started on this journey by moving our process guides from Excel to Access. However, it has not stopped there and nearly each week Niles adds additional features to our database.

Now, each process guide includes a trend chart of gram weights and a quality log. This week, we will be launching a verification process that will close feedback loops between the production floor and engineering. This will allow for continuous improvement in the context of the historical trends and current processing conditions. Additionally, I have found the quality log to be an outstanding tool for keeping improvements organized. We have a pull-down menu with categories including material, tooling, and scrap. We are able to keep track of incremental improvements of individual products and quickly pull all changes within the category for a broader overview of improvements.

This week, Niles is going to add bill of material to the category list because cleaning up the bills is one project for this year. I'll be able to quantify each change and document this in the database by part. At the end of the project, I will simply need to print out the changes and be able to show our boss the impact of the project.

In addition, Niles is developing flags in the system. He has an automatic schedule checker that ensures we have a process guide for every product on the schedule. Products without process guides are listed in an email that automatically gets sent to the necessary email addresses.

We have described our program as an infrastructure for change and are continuously thinking about how to improve the infrastructure and how to use it to improve the processing of our products.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Foundation-Building Versus Fire-Fighting

Each day, we only have so many hours available to us.

We are able to choose how to spend those hours.

My experience in business over the last decade (yeah, that is hard to believe) has led me to conclude that too much time is spent on fire-fighting and not enough time is spent on foundation-building.

What are some examples of fire-fighting? Perhaps, it is the quality issue that reoccurs every few months (or years). Some quick fire-fighting fixes the problem for the moment but it comes back again. Or maybe it is dealing with the latest, super-hot quote that requires rummaging through packets of data and using various calculators to determine the necessary inputs for the costing system.

So why is fire-fighting so attractive? It offers the opportunity to be heroic - to save the day. In the midst of many fires, sometimes the only possible reaction is to fire-fight. And of course, it requires a fire-fighter.

I wonder if the time spent on fire-fighting would be better spent on foundation-building. Sure, results might not be immediate. The return on investment might be a month, year, or decade (gasp). However, eventually, that reoccurring quality problem would no longer be a problem. The customer would input his or her own design parameters on a website and obtain a quote immediately. Eventually, the time spent on putting out fires would be used to continuously improve.

Sounds like a pretty sweet deal.