Though the practice of scrum is fairly new to Cambridge (has only been actively applied in three of our 56 year existence) it has already helped us formulate a new approach to goal setting and how we will ultimately achieve those goals. More importantly, we are using it to address safety practices and protocols within Cambridge, so that every one of our fellow employees makes it home at the end of the day.

After being introduced to the scrum concept (grouping agile thinkers together that stress constant communication to achieve complicated tasks and goals) in J.J. Sutherland’s book Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, a group of Cambridge engineers volunteered to be trained in the practice by Toyota scrum expert Nigel Thurlow and apply it within the Cambridge walls, thus becoming our first four certified Scrum Masters. See their story and how their daily work has changed over the past few years.

To catch a glimpse of Nigel Thurlow’s on-site scrum training at Cambridge - make sure to check out our blog on his visit!

This blog was guest-written by Meg Brown, Director of HR at Cambridge Engineering. 

The goal was 10 applicants for each opening. In a tight labor market? There’s no question: this is the most difficult time to build engaged teams in a generation. There are so many interests competing for attention. From finding workers, to upskilling them -- how can we make sure we attract the right people in the first place? We’d have to be crazy to attempt it!   

Then call us crazy because we have supersized our recruitment pipelines and enabled historically low turnover. Through a combination of people-centric leadership and innovative recruiting/development programs, we have redefined the employer/employee relationship. 

Allow me to explain. 

Cambridge doubles production in the 3rd and 4th quarter, especially on our S-Series HTHV heaters, which naturally coincide with the colder weather. For many years we have surged with seasonal employees who spend 4-6 months working for Cambridge through our busy season. A few years ago we began hiring for cultural fit over experience, believing we can provide thorough in-house training. While that helped, we were still struggling to find talent quickly enough using staffing agencies to help bridge the gap. In 2018 with the crazy goal of 10 applicants for every opening the message was clear - we had to find a new approach to attract and retain talent.     

Enter Cambridge Unleashed. 

We realized there is real value in spending time at Cambridge - even if it is only for a short period of time. So we created Cambridge Unleashed, a new concept which allowed us to start telling our story - describing the value working here can bring to each and every one of us. This program is intended for anyone interested in learning, leading and launching their manufacturing career. 

Reading 2-Second Lean by Paul Akers is a conscious step we require for all full-time and seasonal workers. This continuous improvement methodology reinforces autonomy for each person to make their work processes, and by extension, their jobs better and easier. 2-Second Lean, though, follows each person home and extends beyond the walls of Cambridge. We hear time and again how someone recognized waste or something that bugged them at home and exclaimed “Hey, that’s a lean improvement!” Exposure and practice of this mentality is quick and effective, and can help a person make their own experiences better for their rest of their lives.

We’ve found that when our 20 “Unleashers” dove into the given opportunities they end up unlocking their potential, feeling appreciated and in control of their own workspace. Here are some real life examples:

  • Many Unleashers found courage they didn’t know they had and volunteered to emcee the morning meeting. 
  • Our team reached a company record breaking production level of 13 units a day.  
  • All 20 Unleashers jumped into our lean system making videos showing highlights of their improvements. 
  • Zero lost-time accidents through the entire busy season.

You might be wondering what happens at the end of the program? Where do these seasonal employees go after Unleashed? 

We realized quickly that if Cambridge Unleashed is a program for anyone who wants to launch their manufacturing career, then we had better figure out how to do it.  Many of our Unleashers came into Cambridge having never worked in manufacturing, and after 4-6 months with us they had learned the daily habits necessary to be a dedicated lifelong continuous improvement/lean maniac. What company wouldn’t want to hire them?!? We just had to figure out a way to tell their story. So we used video – a well loved tool often used at Cambridge. 

We created a launching process which allowed us to work with our Unleashers to determine their best next step at the end of the program.  Did they want to apply for our open positions and launch internally or did they want to look for a job somewhere else launching externally? Either way we were in it with them every step of the way. Those interested in internal launch applied for those openings, completed an interview process and were considered for any openings available. Those interested in external launch worked closely with us to create an introduction and highlight video they could use when they applied to other companies. We helped them update their resumes, adding a link to their video so any recruiter could see the amazing work they had done at Cambridge. Then to help get the word out we blasted their videos to our entire network, letting them know we had some Unleashed graduates who were seeking employment. 

All in all, we launched all 20 Unleashers into positions they are excited to have, many here at Cambridge and a few elsewhere. We smashed the goal – achieving an average of 20 applicants for each opening!   We are beyond thrilled with the results of Cambridge Unleashed. Can’t wait to do it again in 2019!

 

Bringing #GloryandDignity back to manufacturing.

It’s an aspirational concept, one that you might not associate with manufacturing. We see it every day, though, through the companies that share their stories with us when they visit our facility or our colleagues at trade events. The goal of lifting our industry to a higher standard by giving back to the community and to employees might not be intrinsic to all leaders - yet, more and more, we see shining examples of our friends in this business doing just that.

  • The Seating Matters team is generating tools and resources to save lives before and after pressure injuries through an Injury Prevention Program aimed at correct seating, training, maintenance and education of staff.
  • BCI is providing high-quality packaging solutions to their customers through a system of creating meaningful employment and skills training for 250 adults with disabilities.
  • A structure of independent and interdependent teams at Vibco allows individuals valued for their strengths to complement and grow with each other while working toward the same mission.
  • FastCap continues to share their own manufacturing improvement ideas through 2 Second Lean to inspire other organizations or to even just provide a simple solution to a problem they might be facing.

We see it every day, though some might not associate these amazing achievements with what they are ultimately doing for manufacturing. At Cambridge, we’ve found that one of the easiest ways to recognize both glory and dignity within our own organization is through celebration.

Remembering to fête the lines’ extraordinary output when we hit a 13 unit/day output (up from 8-9 units/day) while maintaining quality standards was essential. The service team is constantly praised by our contractor partners for their diligence and assistance through any issue in the field.  The engineering department’s behind-the-scenes work designing custom, yet simple, solutions for our end users deserves its own standing ovation. Each Cambridge employee embodies the dignity factor, and as a whole, they bring glory to their work, our company, and the manufacturing industry. 

Watch John’s speech from 2017 that helped us realize the #gloryanddignity mission!

We had the privilege of welcoming Nigel Thurlow, Chief of Agile at Toyota Connected to Cambridge to train us on the fundamentals of how Scrum, Lean and Agile all work together in a beautiful equilibrium. As many of our Scrum teams are off and running, this was a great opportunity to review and realign to keep the momentum going. Watch the video below to see how we took advantage of having Nigel onsite for 8 hours!

To find out more about the initial Scrum training that Cambridge sought out from Nigel, make sure to see our previous blog post on Learning Scrum - The Toyota Way!

 

 

This post was guest-written by our friend in lean and life, Martin Tierney, from Seating Matters in Northern Ireland. In case you missed it, you can experience the amazing things Martin and his team are doing with lean in our blog post.

 

I recently visited Cambridge engineering to learn from their awesome team following their visit to Seating Matters in Ireland. We, too, are in manufacturing and wished to visit Cambridge to learn how they’ve implemented lean, developed their culture of respect and care for their colleagues and grown a successful business as a result. 

This video only gives 5% (or less!) of the lessons I took away from visiting Cambridge. Their unique blend of hard work, creativity, respect for people, clever project management and an impressive drive for growth is something that cannot be bottled into a 5 minute clip. 

They are truly bringing glory and dignity back to manufacturing. Their people and their leadership have created something truly special.

 

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!

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! 

 

 

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. 

We hit a milestone recently where our company, mostly the folks in manufacturing, made our 5000th lean improvement video in just 3 short years. These simple 1-minute videos show individual improvements to our daily processes that each and every one of discover on our own. By themselves the videos show individual improvements. Combined together they represent dramatic improvements in reducing the time it takes to manufacture our products, in building employee morale and most importantly just growing people. As part of our lean journey we try to recognize waste…. over production, excess inventory, unnecessary motion….. just to name three of the 8 wastes we focus on. One of the wastes, and the one I'm most passionate about, is "Unused Employee Genius". It is this genius that drives the individual improvements that we see on a daily basis and trust me when I say this…..that particular genius is in each and every one of us. You just need an environment where that genius is nurtured and encouraged. When that happens, the results are dramatic.

Tommy's Lean Videos

 

That's why as the leader of the marketing department I enjoy nurturing, and watching, that genius in the marketing team come to life. My continued growth as a leader has helped me nurture this unused genius in everyone on the MKT team. A year ago, or so, we read the book Change Your Questions, Change Your Life. Before reading that book I thought I had to always have the answer to every question, task, project…you get the idea. But after reading the book I learned that as a leader it isn't my job to have all the answer but instead, listen to my team. Their expertise in their particular area, and oh by the way which is why they are part of the team, makes them more qualified to provide those answers than I am…. that's their unused employee genius. Who knows better about how to accomplish, or improve, a task or project than someone who does that particular task everyday…and that would be each and every one of the members on the MKT team. So now I try and challenge them to tap into that unused employee genius to solve those tasks at hand that are needed to accomplish our strategic goals. I'm no longer the answer man but the guy who removes obstacles so that they can implement their genius which is by far more fulfilling than to always try and have the answer. To learn more about our lean journey search for #leanleadership on facebook. To learn more about Cambridge Engineering visit us at www.cambridge-eng.com.