Processing Processes (and a little Global News)

Friday we finished up the compensation module. I’m not as pleased with my work there as I’d like but I learned a ton to apply later and I’m glad it’s done. Four classes to go.

Which brings us to Saturday, when we started the Managing Technology module. Dr. Ed Bond (“uncle Ed” of Marketing fame) will be the lead instructor on the course, but we had a new professor, Dr. Ross Fink (PhD from Alabama…roll tide!) for most of Saturday talking about process management. So very little about technology, at least in the narrow sense people take it.

It was a fun class. We spent quite a bit of time on the Toyota Production System (TPS/Lean), which I found extremely interesting and want to poke at some more, and watched a really cool PR video (was a “film” back then) from Ford in the late 1930s talking about their complete vertical integration. (A term I don’t think was in use back then) The rubber in a tire on a Ford came from a Ford owned rubber producer on the Amazon, and arrived in Detroit on a Ford owned ship and Ford owned trucks. They had their own steel refinery and they internally recycled EVERYTHING. Cool stuff…in 1937. Check out information on line about the River Rouge plant and you may geek out like I did.

I’ll have more on process later (I hope) but a few takeaways from Saturday:

  • “Do the way that you do things match your strategy?”
  • Generally (even in the Emergency Room) service improves by standardizing outputs. This is good, to a point.
  • In lean manufacturing the goal is to have inventory (especially work-in-progress inventory) approaching zero
  • The differences between a push production process and a pull production process
  • I took away some thoughts (for a later post) about how manufacturing processes could be applied to a service process like we operate
  • Waste is bad…but not all things we consider waste are actually waste. Be careful what you cut. Also, some waste can be repurposed into something with value (whether production materials or staff time)
  • Theory of Constraints: find the point of the greatest bottleneck and find a way to maximize that resource (whether a key person or an expensive machine)
  • Service Blueprints vs. Value Stream Maps (and process stream charts)

I’m still mulling over quite a bit of what I learned, and processing it…and will continue to do so as I work on the homework assignment.

Oh, and “global news”? We got some more information, via email, regarding the Global Issues course, for which the class days are all in late September and October. Our biggest assignment, a team presentation, has to be done in rough draft by September 1. That means we’ll be working on it during the technology module as well, which will add to the time needed. This is not completely unexpected. I knew we’d be accelerating into the end of the program with the capstone (comprehensive final exam) closing out the year. Just a little over 4 months to go, and two major classes plus the capstone, plus a two day module on change management.

I’m feeling overwhelmed from time to time, and there’s always a lot going on, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I just hope it’s not a train.

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