This blog was guest written by Meg Brown, Director of Human Resources at Cambridge Engineering.

At Cambridge we behave with unconditional love and high expectations while demonstrating care, courage, integrity and respect.  It isn’t always easy and sometimes can seem downright confusing!  As our CEO, John Kramer Jr., often reminds us – it is a journey and not a destination.  In my role as Human Resources Director I was curious what my department could do to help clarify what unconditional love and high expectations really means. 

Enter the Dale Carnegie course. 

I was invited to take the public Dale Carnegie Course last winter.  It wasn’t long before I began to see deep personal transformation - there’s magic in the simplicity of the Carnegie principles! We picked a principle or two to work on each week, giving it a try and reporting back on our progress.  That level of accountability and experimentation lead to bursts of growth for me and my classmates.   The simple and clear Carnegie principles and system of practice and accountability were exactly what we had been seeking to help us explain unconditional love and high expectations.   It didn’t take me long to find a way to bring it to my Cambridge teammates. 

We engaged Elizabeth Haberberger from Dale Carnegie St. Louis to help us create a custom course for 28 of our managers and team members.  The course took place over 2 months ending with a phenomenal graduation experience that I will remember for the rest of my career. 

In this course I witnessed my fellow Cambridge family members take risks, push past their fears and try something new.  And you know what – they knocked it out of the park every time!  It was amazing to hear them articulate their visions for their life – their WHOLE life – not just their work life.  The level of courage and openness in the class was unlike any training course I’ve ever experienced.

I’d encourage you to learn the Carnegie principles so that you can unlock your relationships and experience explosive personal growth.

We'd also like to extend our deepest thanks to the Dean Team of Ballwin for allowing us to use their amazing conference room for our off-site training!

The first stop on the International Lean tour leading up to the Global Lean Leadership Summit was at Seating Matters in Northern Ireland. Just an hour and a half drive from Belfast in Limavardy, this company is transforming the future of healthcare seating for elderly and disabled persons.

We could go on and on describing what we saw – from their Lean improvements to their company culture – but we figured we would show you instead!

Everyone is Measuring to Target

To make sure that the daily throughput is met – Seating Matters has implemented a series of checkpoints and signage to keep a live tabulation of progress to goal.

They Made the Morning Meeting their Own

One of the best approaches to Lean is making it your own – building on what you’ve seen work at other companies and adjusting it to meet your goals and to inspire your team members. Seating Matters does an incredible job of being transparent in their progress and giving everyone an opportunity to discuss any struggles or successes they are encountering.

Their Lean Improvements are Everywhere!

Why didn’t we think of these?

The Video Cameras turned on us!

We had such high praise to give to the Seating Matters team – make sure to check out the observations video that they made while we were there!

 

As Cambridge progresses in using the Scrum framework across different projects and teams, we are always looking for opportunities for continued learning. When the chance came to travel to Dallas, Texas, to learn Scrum - The Toyota Way, from Nigel Thurlow, the Chief of Agile of Toyota Connected, we couldn’t pass it up!

Though Nigel Thurlow still stresses the importance of quality improvement and waste reduction - he is now focused on building and coaching high-performing teams and spreading the impact of Lean & Agile Leadership (reference: LinkedIn).

Watch the highlight reel to feel the passion of Nigel and our fellow seminar attendees! 

 

 

This blog was guest-written by Conner LaLonde, M-Series Electrician. It is adapted from his intro given as the Morning Meeting Emcee.

Imagine you are running the length of a football field while a game of professional football players are playing. That’s a pretty intense and frightening scenario, right? Players who are two or three times your size, running and charging as fast and as hard as they can, all around you. They nearly collide into you and you can hardly dodge in time. You do your best to stay out of the way in order to make it to your destination. Now imagine doing the same thing, but this time you are blindfolded. Insane, right? We know that would be dangerous and crazy to attempt, in fear of almost certain serious bodily injury. So why are people still driving their cars while blinded by distractions like eating, doing make-up, or most commonly, their phones?

The results of a survey from The American Automobile Association (AAA) says that 84% of drivers recognize that distracted driving is dangerous, however, 36% of those people surveyed admit to using their phones while driving within the month prior to the survey.

A studies have shown that drivers distracted by a phone are as cognitively impaired as a driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08%. In other words, driving while your mind is on your device and not on the task of driving is similar to driving while intoxicated.

Composing, reading, or sending a text message or email takes your mind and eyes off the road for about five seconds. While traveling 55 miles per hour, a vehicle and its occupants cover an entire football field in about five seconds. You wouldn’t run through that football game blind, so why would you drive on the streets with your head and hands focused on anything else?

Be safe and don’t drive distracted.

When Mr. Ritsuo Shingo - whose father developed the process of SMED (Single Minutes Exchange of Die; a literal translation) - visited Cambridge last week, we were treated to an overview of how the process was implemented to be part of the famed Toyota Production System. To watch a brief summary of his presentation to Cambridge employees and Lean tour guests, click here. The operational engineers at Cambridge, having been familiar with SMED through their Lean training, found the first two opportunities to perform our own SMED events in the M-Series and S-Series lines.   First, the facts. Our S-Series testing process was clocking in at 2 hours and 13 minutes from start to finish. To be able to review the whole process, we set up a tripod equipped with an iPhone to record the tester and equipment as they would naturally unfold. Then, a group of engineers, team leads and testers watched the footage to identify areas of improvement, leading to some easily obtainable adjustments such as moving one test to another line and using battery powered tools rather than hand tools for adjustment. Five minutes have been shaved off so far in this SMED event, though other opportunities for improvement were noted and are in differing stages of implementation. Similarly, the M-Series SMED event was able to cut 9 minutes from their testing time - from 2 hours and 48 minutes to 2 hours and 39 minutes. All in all, we’d call these first two SMED events for Cambridge a success as total process time was cut down. We are looking forward to conducting a Kaizen event to improve the process of Design through Cutting.

For the second time in the past year, Cambridge has had the honor of hosting Mr. Ritsuo Shingo on his tour of a few American companies who are on their Lean journey of continuous improvement. Not only did he spend time speaking to Cambridge employees and our Lean tour guests, Mr. Shingo was able to “Go and Watch” (his advice to be an engaged observer, rather than “Go and See”) several companies around the St. Louis area including World Wide Technology, Koller-Craft, Ameren and The Gund Company. Hailing from the first family of SMED (Single Minutes Exchange of Die; a literal translation), Mr.Shingo and his father, Shigeo Shingo, have literally written the book(s) on how to dramatically reduce the amount of time needed to change a die system in manufacturing. SMED is proven to lower production costs because of less down time and to increase the ability to meet customer demand. Stay tuned for a follow-up blog on how Cambridge has started to utilize this practice to reduce overall testing time on a product line! The video below contains highlights of Mr. Shingo’s presentation at Cambridge, including the importance of GEMBA, what it actually means to “Go and Watch” and the simple process to apply SMED.

 

If you are interested in joining us for a Lean tour, visit our website to learn more about what you can expect and the process for signing up!

Cambridge is on Day 2 of OSHA training, so safety practices and risks are top of mind. We’d like to believe that safety is always the top of everyone’s mind, but the reality is that there is definite room for improvement.

Ergonomics (er·go·nom·ics) according to OSHA:

Adapting tasks, work stations, tools, and equipment to fit the worker can help reduce physical stress on a worker’s body and eliminate many potentially serious, disabling work- related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). An often overlooked aspect of safety is the practice of stretching to enhance Ergonomics. This can involve the arrangement of equipment, which we address with continuous lean improvements, but also extends to the practice of how the work is done. Our shop workers are always bending over, lifting heavy equipment and pushing items into place. Our office workers generally experience the opposite- where they have minimal change of position. In both instances, our employees are at risk of injury and health problems.

Stretching at the Morning Meeting

To help us minimize this risk, we asked the help of the SSM Physical Therapy department to assess our risks and create a stretching program that we can implement at the beginning of every morning meeting. And we mean every morning. Though stretching may seem unnecessary as a way to start the work day, the practice has already shown not only to get our bodies adjusted to what they will be up for during the day, but also to break the ice for the day. There’s something about seeing the CFO  do the “lunge stretch” to remind us that we’re all in this together. People who come to visit Cambridge and experience the morning meeting often provide the feedback that they were surprised that everyone participated in the stretching exercises and that they wish their company could do something similar. We are including a quick video below of the program that we utilize (modeled by some limber Cambridge employees) so that you may realize that it’s not a huge undertaking, and that encouraging your employees to incorporate safe health habits within their workday is not only fun, but necessary for their safety. 

Everybody likes to be thanked for a great idea or save, right? That’s just human nature. Plant Manager Greg Sitton has been championing the Good Catch award at Cambridge in the new year. Inspired by a similar award system at Keeley Companies- the Good Catch award was implemented to give supervisors in the shop an opportunity to call out a good “catch” or action made by someone on the fly – and to give them a chance to win $50 for it as well! “I was always bad at remembering to say ‘thanks’ towards my guys. They would do something really cool, and I would think it was really cool, but I would forget to tell them that,” he explains when asked why the award is a positive move for Cambridge. “I wanted to put something in place that is easy for me to remember to show my gratitude.” “Catches” can be something as simple as reminding someone to lower their safety glasses or finding a mis-step along production before it becomes a quality error. Supervisors keep the Good Catch chips in their pockets so they can distribute them as needed, without having to remember to thank them retroactively. And when all is said and done, the person who earns the Good Catch chip earns a change in a monthly raffle to get a $50 gift card - not bad for an action that is performed so instinctively by the guys in our shop! In this video clip, Greg Sitton chooses the winner of the February Good Catch award! 

At Cambridge, we speak of having love for our fellow employees often. This isn’t the romantic love, though today is Valentine’s Day, but rather, the sort of love that is built upon mutual respect, admiration, and encouragement to learn and grow personally. Our playbook even includes the phrase “We express unconditional love and high expectations while behaving with care, courage, integrity and respect.” It might not be instinctive to recognize love in the workplace, but when you are aware of it, we’d bet that it is, in fact, surrounding you. We are going to share some examples of how love manifests itself into everyday life in our workplace, so that anyone reading this blog may start to recognize and appreciate simple acts around them, or simply start to institute the simple acts themselves.

  • Colleagues clappingto show appreciation for each lean video– the 2 second improvements and the ones that took much, much longer.
  • The men and women on the activities committee getting here 2-3 hours early on the days they cook breakfast to welcome new hires and celebrate birthdays.
  • The workers looking out for safety hazards in the shop, recognizing that sending people home safe to their families is more important than an on-time shipment.
  • Those who voice a Grateful Appreciation in the morning meeting– shoutouts to coworkers who helped with a task, gratitude for their spouse’s hard work/children’s health/parents’ help, appreciation for an incredible event they were able to experience.
  • The volunteers that take out the trash, wipe down counters and clean the toilets so that their colleagues can have a clean and comfortable place to work.
Love in the workplace can also present itself when a working relationship has reached its end. There are thousands of examples of employees and employers who have acted without love at this moment, throwing accusations or reducing the other party to a singular act. However, when you choose to act with love, you can figure out how the parting of ways can be mutually beneficial, and leave room for both parties to take what they’ve accomplished, recognize their growth and move forward. When it comes times for an employee to be released from Cambridge’s employment, we try to arm them with a portfolio of the improvement videos they’ve created, along with guidance and/or recommendations on where their strengths could take them. When an employee chooses to take a position outside of Cambridge, we conduct exit interviews to gain insight on how to continuously improve. Either way, with these actions, we strive to speak compassionately and give the person the respect and dignity they deserve. These are just a few examples of how love can manifest itself. It starts with each individual knowing that they are treated with care and respect and grows organically with those actions until loving acts surround the organization.

One might consider labeling the items you use in your everyday workspace part of the low-hanging fruit when starting in your lean journey.  As simple as it seems, it could also be one of the most important. It’s easy to underestimate the time spent looking for a tool, or referencing it against a process checklist to make sure it’s correct. But, imagine you have been assigned a task that should take about 20 minutes to complete. Your workspace has the equipment necessary, but there are also extra tools, scattered around the workstation. The task should be easy, but you haven’t performed this exact task in the past few months. A good portion of this 20 minutes could be spent just trying to figure out what you need, and what might be missing. A clearly labeled workspace and tool outline in your area would immediately cut down on preparation time and the possibility of rework needed due to the use of an incorrect tool. In the video below, Reggie Niesler shows how the labelling of the tool bin helps to “give everything a home” to keep the number of tools in the area at a minimum and provide clear outline of necessary tools needed for that process. https://youtu.be/hpHJmF7DaCQ There are also safety and cost aspects associated. With a clear tool outline, you won't have tools that could drop off easily or have sharp edges exposed, assuming they were put back into their tool outline with care. You can prevent unnecessary reordering of parts thought to have gone missing because you know exactly where each tool is. Lastly, imagine the headache you can avoid by having to track everything down. That alone is worth the few minutes with the labeling machine. This blog discusses the principles brought up in Lean Manufacturing and 2 Second Lean. Make sure to check back often to get tips and Cambridge's POV on lean implementation and its effects on our company and culture.