One Step at a Time

The Weekly Report – February 14, 2022
Our consultant Ally Johnston emphasizes the power of incremental daily improvements in continuous improvement.

One effect of the COVID economy on Enterprise Minnesota is that attendance at our workshops has grown considerably as manufacturers seek ways to balance the twin challenges of workforce shortages and increased demand for products. Those efforts always include company-wide attention to continuous improvement.

Ally Johnston, one of our top business growth consultants, will explain her expert viewpoint of some of those solutions with “Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement,” at an in-person workshop 9:30-11:30 a.m. on February 24 in North Branch (Lakes Region EMS, 40245 Fletcher Ave. N.). It’s worth your time.

Ally Johnston is an industrial engineer who helps manufacturers improve productivity, eliminate waste and build a culture of continuous improvement. She’ll show how a culture of engagement and lean thinking can improve your company. You’ll find out why big CI events can be important tools, but incremental daily improvements can also yield big results to give your next kaizen or 5S enduring power.

You will leave the workshop understanding how:

  • Small improvements can add significant value by compounding over time
  • To incorporate lean thinking into all areas of your organization
  • Employee engagement is key to CI and overall retention
  • Improved productivity starts at the top

Also watch for her article, “The Value of Engaged Employees” in the next issue of Enterprise Minnesota® magazine.

Managers will meaningfully engage employees only after they’ve given them “the skills and authority to recognize and initiate process improvement,” Ally writes in the article.

“Highly engaged employees contribute to a thriving company atmosphere. A Gallup survey recently reported that companies in the top 25 percent for high employee engagement perform much better in measures ranging from quality defects to profitability.

“Leaders who embrace manageable, daily process improvements in short time will see happier employees as well as quality improvements and waste reduction. Notably, they don’t have to dedicate one staff person to the effort, or funnel substantial time and resources to a big one-time event.”

She emphasizes how employees must understand the goals and processes of lean and continuous improvement. “Lean is essentially a dynamic way to produce more product using the fewest resources. Continuous improvement, on the other hand, means ongoing positive change to all phases of an operation.

“Continuous improvement done well is a constant effort that changes the way people work, the way people think, the processes they use, and the capability of an operation. Lean companies always have continuous improvement, but companies need not be lean to practice continuous improvement.”

Manufacturers can register for Ally’s workshop on our website. 

Industry News

U of M plans $220M agricultural research center near Austin, MN
The University of Minnesota is planning a sprawling research complex in Mower county that will put the state on the cutting edge of farm and food technology. February 10, Star Tribune  Read more

Seagate plans bigger Bloomington facility
The global data storage manufacturer plans to add 45 jobs to the Bloomington facility while scrapping plans to sell its Shakopee location. February 7, MSP Business Journal  Read more

Growth in EVs to spearhead manufacturing demand for nickel
As more people make the sustainable switch to electric vehicles, manufacturing demand for nickel and aluminum is rising, causing another supply chain challenge. February 12,  Read more

Ransomware gangs now arbitrate disputes
Cyber criminals are getting increasingly adept at hacking and are becoming more professional, even setting up an arbitration system to resolve payment disputes. February 11, Manufacturing Business Technology  Read more

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