Takt Time: Let’s Do Somebody’s Homework

On the back end of this site, I see the search terms that landed people here. This one showed up yesterday:

"a packaging process works two, 8 hour shifts per day. there are two 15 minutes breaks per shift. daily production requirements are 240 packed units, with a planned machine down time of 30 mins per shift, team has to work 60 mins overtime per shift, it is a 4 member team – calculate takt time"

OK, readers, let’s help him out. What’s the answer?

Why is this phrasing ambiguous if the author of the question is looking for a “right” answer?

The Market Sets Prices, Not The Supplier

Murdoch says papers should charge on Web – Yahoo! News

Robert Murdoch believes that newspapers will have to start charging people for access to their online editions. That’s well and good, so long as the laws of demand and supply balance at a point where that works.

But so far, that isn’t working. In today’s web 2.0 world, news and quality commentary is available pretty much anywhere.

In the words of a famous folk singer from Hibbing, Minnesota, “The times they are a’changin.”

Still, in times of shifting paradigms, people cling to what they know, and that includes business models that have worked in the past.

I predict we will see the traditional publishers concede more and more of the “everyday” news to the “free” online model, and retreat into what they perceive as more and more specialty premium content.

At some point they will be very good at delivering a product that over-delivers the needs of their customers.

The “flip” described by Clayton Christensen in “The Innovator’s Dilemma” is already occurring in news delivery. This is just part of the story.

Behind The Scenes Of An Outlier

Yesterday when I published Gipsie Ranney’s white paper “Remembering Nummi” I did so because I thought she made some points that others would be interested in.

Let me take you behind the scenes of WordPress. One of the things this little program makes available is a stats tracker. This is the graph of daily “Site Views” over the last month. I think the graph speaks for itself:

graph1Needless to say “Remembering Nummi” got some legs under it.

Looking at the graph, you can see that this site has a pretty steady pulse to it. The dips are weekends. The little (second highest) spike you see correlates with a link back from a site in Europe. Looking at this, and other information, I can reasonably conclude that I have a couple of dozen regular readers, probably from feeds, and the difference is click through traffic from other sites and search engine traffic.

Something different obviously was going on today.

I also see the regular sources of click-throughs to this site. This is a pretty typical list:


But here is today’s:


So I conclude that “Remembering NUMMI” got picked up by a couple of news clipping services and fed into Toyota and Ford.

First, then, is a “Welcome” to any new readers from these great companies. Please feel free to peruse, comment, and even offer to write a guest post.

Though I cannot attribute to anything other than who does, or does not, subscribe to a particular clipping service, I did find it ironic that this article, really taking a critical look at the need for government guaranteed “bailout” loans to the automotive industry, was read exclusively by people in two companies who (so far) have not asked for any help. (I speak primarily of Ford here – they conspicuously said “We can get by for right now, thank you.

To this I offer a personal comment – as a former Boeing employee I have met (though certainly did not know) Alan Mullaly (now CEO of Ford). While no leader is perfect, I believe he is certainly capable of helping the Ford culture to “confront the brutal facts” of their business. My main question about Ford is whether they had already hit the iceberg when they brought him on board.

To GM and Chrysler, though, I guess I would offer: Gipsie Ranney seems to be talking to you guys. It would behoove you to listen to her. Yes there are devestating external factors at work, but guys… your boat was leaking faster than the bilge pumps were pumping long before the storm. Stop blaming the weather and take a look inside. That is where your issues are.

Adapt, Evolve

I encountered a new level of sophistication in comment spam engines today. This one actually hosts a “blog” of its own. The engine parses quotes from other blogs, posts them as comments in those blogs and links back to itself. On its host site, it looks like a “blog” but, in reality, it is nothing more than a link farm and host for Google ads.

I wrote a note to Google regarding a possible policy violation. In reality, I suppose I wouldn’t mind so much if it just posted things on its own site, but to make me deal with it, and have Google financing it, was a little much.

In an odd ironic twist, the spam filters are the dumb, but automated guardians and the spambots’ algorithms are created by clever people. In this war, people still win pretty much every time.

I suppose I can tie this back to my topic:

In spite of what some would want to believe, the Toyota Production System is not about blind execution of algorithmic standards. It is about continuous evaluation of those standards against a standard of perfection. It is shaped by people, but in ways which are unpredictable except in the macro sense.

As conditions change, the system adapts. As things break, it fixes itself. But all of this only happens if the organization actively works, every day, to ensure that people’s minds are fully engaged doing the right things, the right way.