Hoping for an Augustinian Turnabout

It seems a gang of rampaging ruffians has brought Trouble (with a capital T) SMUG’s global headquarters. Don’t let the chirping birds fool you:

When I spoke with the police officer who arrived on the scene, he told me this had been the fifth report of such vandalism overnight in Northwest Austin. It seems a group of young lads had been out joyriding with a pellet gun, and shooting out windows in vehicles parked on the street.

Not that we know who they are…or that they are even lads. Maybe they’re lasses.

I realized after shooting this video that our situation was worse than I thought, because it wasn’t just the one window that was affected. Two other windows had been shot, but just hadn’t shattered. So I guess the hoodlums kept going until they got satisfaction.

These two would actually be interesting looking, if they weren’t dangerous…and if they didn’t cost several hundred dollars to fix. Click to enlarge:

St. Augustine said he discovered the evil in his heart when he stole his neighbor’s pears, even though he didn’t like pears. He just stole for the sake of stealing. He became the greatest theologian in the first millennium of the Christian church.

For their sake, I hope these young lads will come to a similar realization and turnabout.

RAQ: Video Editing Software for Windows?

The following question comes from Rachel Labas in Massachusetts, who attended one of my recent presentations:

Q: My colleague and I really enjoyed your presentation and got some great ideas from it.  I was the one who asked the question about what type of software you use to edit your Flip videos.  We don’t have Macs here, and are a small dept, so I’d love to hear what you use to edit the video on a PC.  Thanks!

Answer: If you’re using a standard definition Flip video camera, Windows Movie Maker works fine. But it doesn’t handle HD, so you need to look elsewhere. Moravi Video Suite is a versatile and inexpensive option.

For Macintosh, as I mentioned in my presentation, Quicktime Pro is a good option if you’re just pulling out a single sound bite. For more complex edits, iMovie, Final Cut Express or Final Cut Pro are good choices.

What do you use for editing HD video?

Apple Neutralizing Windows Advertising

I saw this great new Mac ad during the baseball playoffs last night, with Apple counter-punching on the Windows $300 million ad campaign:


It was interesting that recent Windows ads used a PC look-alike to complain about stereotypes in the Mac ads.

Continue reading “Apple Neutralizing Windows Advertising”

Truth Hardware’s Lean Journey

The second speaker at the Lean seminar I described here was Jim Wheeler from Truth Hardware, a company with 1,000 employees in Owatonna, Minn. They make parts for window manufacurers like Andersen, Marvin and others.

They didn’t think Lean could work for them because they have 10,000 saleable part numbers, adding 10 new ones each day. How could they possibly do just-in-time manufacturing with that many unique part numbers?

Jim says Lean is not a cost-cutting strategy … it’s a growth strategy. In the current housing downturn, the productivity gains they have made have enabled Truth to maintain and even grow market share, even against competitors that have moved their manufacturing to China. When the housing market comes back, Truth will be poised for significant growth. And because they have eliminated waste, they will be able to add capacity without huge investments in additional facilities or equipment.

Truth holds one week-long Kaizen event per month. Instead of analyzing to death, they say getting things 60 percent right is good enough. They develop prototypes, then make the changes and continually iterate. Jim says “Don’t just think about it, do it and then find out what the problems are, so you can fix them.”

My kind of guy.

Jim also described a literal breakthrough Truth achieved through one of its Kaizen events. I may be getting some of the details wrong, but in essence they had one big piece of equipment that was used for metal fabrication, and after that step the parts would be loaded into bins and put on a fork lift to be hauled through the plant to the painting and finishing area. As they looked at the process, they realized that the finishing area was just on the other side of the wall from the fabrication equipment…so they cut a hole in the wall to enable the parts to flow through to be painted.

This saved hours from the start-to-finish process, and also eliminated the need for storage bins to hold the half-done parts waiting to be painted.

Through Jim’s presentation, I learned something else about system engineering that I thought was really interesting: in the airplane cockpit all of the instruments are arranged so that if all of the indicators point straight up, it’s normal. Then you can tell at a glance when something is wrong, because the abnormal readings really stand out.

Jim Wheeler is a Lean evangelist in much the same way as I’m a social media evangelist. Here was his list of recommended reading:

If you want to reach Jim, based on what I heard in this seminar, I’m sure he’d be glad to share his experience.

How about you? Have you looked at your work to see what delays are introduced into your processes, that don’t add value from your customers’ perspectives? What prototypes can you develop easily (perhaps using free social media tools) to eliminate both wasted effort and wasted time?