What Bill Dettmer will teach in his Logical Thinking Process 6-Day European training, June 2015 in Paris?

Bill Dettmer, renowned world expert and author of the bestseller “The Logical Thinking Process” (ASQ Quality Press, 2007) will host a 6-Day executive training session designed to enable participants to use the Logical Thinking Process (LTP) to build their own strategic plan and its associated implementation road-map. The course is in central Paris from 10th to 17th June 2015 with a weekend break.

Logical Thinking Process (LTP), as the name suggests, uses sound logic and a set of tools or processes to provide executives and system managers an effective method for designing organizational strategy, planning its deployment, evaluating its effectiveness, and making corrections as needed in the shortest possible time.

The associated tools, usually called Thinking Processes (TP), are:

The LTP can typically produce a completed strategy within a matter of weeks, including the required deployment tasks and activities. It provides an easy way for executives to monitor progress of strategy deployment. In the problem-solving mode, resolution of complex system problems has been designed in as short as a few days and no more than several weeks (the time required for solution implementation varies with the nature of the situation).

The two most significant challenges leaders and senior managers face are creating and deploying an effective organizational strategy and solving complex system problems:

  • Where do we stand today?
  • What will be needed for tomorrow?
  • What is holding us back from achieving new levels of success?
  • What should we do about it?
  • How can we change direction?

These are all questions that traditional methods of continuous improvement are ill-equipped to address. Strategy development and complex problem solving represent opposite sides of the same coin.

The Logical Thinking Process (LTP) is an integrated set of logic trees intended specifically to answer four essential questions crucial for both strategy development and problem solving:

  • What is the benchmark of desired system performance?
  • Why is the system not already achieving that benchmark?
  • What should be done differently to achieve the benchmark?
  • How should changes be effected?

Bill Dettmer himself explains and invites:

Bill Dettmer, who I was fortunate to meet in November 2014, has applied the Strategic Navigation and thinking process in both manufacturing and services with Fortune 500 and other companies, government agencies, and not-for-profit organizations around the world.

The June 2015 course will be hosted by Marris Consulting in it’s offices in central Paris. More information here: http://tinyurl.com/ng7n7rf 

I will attend the course.


The Quick Beginner’s Guide to 5S – Seiso or Sweep, Shine, scrub


Chris HOHMANN – Author

The third S of the series of 5 stands for Seiso, which can be translated as ‘cleaning’ or for the sake of verbs starting with an S: Shine, Scrub, Sweep, Sanitize and the like.

In the introduction post to this series, I summarized 5S as a philosophy, approach or methodology to provide simple, effective rules for tidiness, maintaining workplace in good, safe condition and fostering a continuous improvement of the standards, rules and discipline.

Good quality as well as safety is easier to ensure in a clean and tidy place. But cleanliness is not only for the good aspect of the place, it is also a helpful to notice damages on machines and equipment such as leaks, breakage and misalignments.

These minor damages, if left unattended, could lead to equipment failure and loss of production and/or quality issues. Regular cleaning is a type of inspection. Seiso is an important part of basic TPM; Total Productive Maintenance

Daily cleaning is an opportunity to assess machines’ condition and to detect the forerunning signs of potential trouble. While sweeping a machine, an operator may notice abnormal heat or uncommon smell, vibrations, leaks or hear unknown sound.

Some early warning signs may remain unnoticed if covered with grease, lubricant or scrap.

In a clean, tidy environment, any abnormal condition is noticed much easier and faster. Again, a leak of lubricant would be noticed immediately on a clean machine, while it would not if the machine was constantly oily.

In the example of this picture, the lubricant was not that easy to see (at least from some distance) on the green paint, I therefore took a white wipe to make it visible.

Fallen-off nuts and bolts from equipment or product get noticed in a clean environment, not in a dirty one.

A clean workplace is also important to quality. I remember my early years as production manager of the French Yamaha Hi-Fi plant, and the care we took to prevent the front face from our high-end CD players or Receiver to get any scratch.

Cleanliness of the workplace, the jigs and even sweeping cloths was crucial to prevent the sensitive surface to be scratched. Would the apparatus later be rejected on inspection for front panel scratch, it had to go through a long costly exchange process.

Seiso is often mistaken as plain cleaning, but there is more about it. Once the machine or the workplace has been cleaned up to a satisfactory, nominal state, the next objective is to work on preventing it to get dirty or degraded again. It is smarter to avoid the need of cleaning / repair than to clean / repair over and over again!

< Previous: Seiton or Setting in order

Related: Just posted: Why 5s’s Scrub & Shine is not (only) about cleaning

Next >Seiketsu or Standardizing

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Gemba walk: go for the why, not the who (don’t look for someone to blame)


Chris HOHMANN – Author

Gemba walks got increasingly popular over time but so went the misunderstanding of its purpose.

One of the worst misuse of the Gemba walk is going to spot deviations and wastes, and then instead of trying to understand the causes which led to those deviations or wastes (the why), managers go for someone to blame (the who).

Looking for the seven, eight or more types of waste is looking for symptoms, which is relatively easy. The more difficult part is to find the root cause(s) and eradicate them in order to improve significantly and hopefully, permanently.

Gemba walkers should remember that mistakes or deviations happen because the system or process is tolerant to them.

The second thing they should remember is that most systems and processes are broken and require extraordinary people to run them.

Alas, as extraordinary people are few, the organization has to do with ordinary people.

As it is easier to improve broken processes than to turn ordinary people into superheroes, Gemba walker should go for the why, not the who.

They’ve done well if after Gemba walk and improvement, the processes can be run with ordinary people and fewer opportunities to do wrong or generate waste.


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The Quick Beginner’s Guide to 5S – Seiton or Setting in order

The 5S philosophy is a way of thinking focusing on organizing workplace in order to simplify the work environment and strive to reduce wastes while improving quality and safety.

5S‘ second S stands for Seiton. Seiton is usually translated into “systematic arrangement” or “set in order” and summarized in the saying “a place for everything and everything on its place.” The goal of Seiton is to arrange all necessary items in order to prevent loss and waste of times looking and searching for what is needed. Through “systematic arrangement” the tools, materials, documents can be easily spotted, selected and picked up.

A good example of systematic arrangement (Seiton) is the shadow board for tools. The general idea behind Seiton is to ease the selection, prevent losing time searching for something and make presence/absence as well as readiness visible.

Thus a missing tool on a shadow board or a missing file on a shelf can be seen from some distance, saving the way to storage place and the search for a tool/file that isn’t available.

One smart way to ‘force’ files to be placed in right order is to have a slant color line going across them.

If all files are in place and in the right order, the line is a straight line. If one file is missing, the line is interrupted, if one file is in wrong place, the line is broken.

Seiton can be cutting silhouettes out of foam in order to let only the appropriate object fit into the foam cutout. This is currently done to protect some fragile items in cases, but can be done to keep order in drawers.

Floor marking to identify machine, equipment and other needed items’ location is part of Seiton. The purpose of these markings is to distinguish safe aisleways from working or traffic areas and make abnormalities visible, such as items not located where they should be, items not available and so on.

< Previous: Introduction to 5S < Sorting >Next: Seiso or Shine

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How much non-added value can 3D printing add?


Chris HOHMANN – Author

3D printing is no doubt hype. No day without another breakthrough announced or stunning news about materials, or extraordinary achievements with the help of this new technology.

I am convinced 3D printing and Additive Manufacturing at large will completely change manufacturing and consumer experience in near future, and posted several blogs about it.

One of my posts was titled “Creativity breaks loose from constraints with additive manufacturing” and an other “How much non-added value additive manufacturing can take out of actual processes?”. The latter being a sweet and sour description about the benefits of this technology and the flip side of the coin, but in my view an encouraging perspective for future manufacturing in western countries.

Yet I came to see a proud announcement about the PancakeBot – The world’s first pancake printer! on kickstarter.com that echoes both the above mentioned posts.

3D printing as one of the additive manufacturing technique does indeed boost creativity, allowing for example to 3D print pancakes at will. On the other hand this creativity bursts question the added value of the extraordinary possibilities offered by 3D printing.

  • Who needs a customized 3D printed pancake?
  • How many trials does it take to have a Eiffel Tower pancake correctly cooked and delivered in one piece still looking like the Eiffel Tower?

(by the way, thank you for flattering my French pride with such an example).

Back to industry, the extraordinary possibilities offered by Additive Manufacturing should not lead to just buy more expensive toys for big boys to have some temporary fun or because it is hype, an aspect management must be aware of and before agreeing the investment, ask how much non-added value can 3D printing add?

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The Quick Beginner’s Guide to 5S – Seiri or Sorting

The first S stands for Seiri or Sorting, which means keep only the necessary items within work area, and dispose or keep in a distant storage area the less frequently used items. Unneeded items may be returned to for sharing with others, e.g. tools no longer required or even discarded. Eliminate old broken tools, obsolete jigs and fixtures, scrap and excess raw material.

Seiri fights the habit to keep things because they may be of some use someday, which seldom happens. Seiri helps to keep work area tidy, improves finding and fetching and efficiency at large.

Sorting makes work easier and more efficient by eliminating hindrances and disturbances. Clutter can lead to lengthy searches and ultimately forgetting something because of the distraction caused by unnecessary items.

Sorting generally clears much space and is therefore an excellent way to gain valuable floor space.

< Previous: Introduction to 5S  >Next: Seiton or Set in order


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The Quick Beginner’s Guide to 5S – Introduction

5S are as well an approach, philosophy and methodology to better workplace organization, foundations for efficient and safe work, as well as insuring quality and continuous improvement.

In a nutshell, 5S provide simple, effective rules for tidiness, maintaining workplace in good, safe condition and fostering a continuous improvement of the standards, rules and discipline in order to get further.

The 5S philosophy is a way of thinking, focusing on organizing workplace in order to simplify the work environment and strive to reduce wastes while improving quality and safety.

There is no way to work efficiently and ensure quality within dirty messy workplace where one wastes time searching for tools, material or information and takes chances with safety and quality with all the scrap.

5S are often presented as ‘housekeeping rules’, which like all other short definitions is over simplistic and potentially misleading while being correct in essence.

Acronym and mnemotechnics

5S is an acronym made of five Japanese words: seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke transliterated and translated into other languages among which English. The transliteration allows the common explanation “the five words all starting with the letter S”, which you now understand is not fully true.

While in Japanese culture the number five bears a special signification, a list of five items is generally admitted as fairly easy to remember. Add a convenient way to link those five items to a common reminder, here letter “S”, and you’ll get an acronym and mnemotechnics in one. Besides, the order in which the five words are taught is the logical sequence of deployment.

5S Meaning

Seiri Sorting Out
Seiton Systematic Arrangement / Set in order
Seiso “Sweep”, “Sanitize”, “Shine”, “Scrub” or “Spic and Span”
Seiketsu Standardizing
Shitsuke Sustain of Self-discipline

As 5S is now a common name in industry and many businesses, the translations in other languages generally try to find the local equivalent starting with “S”.

It once was fashionable in the West – in some countries / businesses it still is – to “speak” japanese, but shop floor people generally rejected the japanese words trying to escape the effort learning them and to camouflage their resistance to the coming change.

It also happened that some companies invented their own suite of five words, without “S”, crafting acronyms that just cut themselves off the rest of the community who would not understand what they mean when mentioning their ORDRE program,  ROUND efforts or SOBRE initiative.

ORDRE (French) means orderliness, ROUND was an approximate acronym to remember with 5S everything should go smoothly round, while SOBRE (French) means sober and was a kind of incentive to use the only necessary resources and keep workplace tidy. These acronyms and names are ununderstandable for anyone not involved.

Nowadays, for what I have seen in many companies and businesses, 5S as a common name and shared expression is widespread and well accepted, even so the people mentioning 5S would rarely be able to name the original japanese words.

The translation into words starting with “S” is not even mandatory.

>Next: Seiri or Sorting


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Six differences that distinguish cost cuttings from cost reductions


Chris HOHMANN – Author

1. Arbitrary vs. Rational

Cost cutting is an arbitrary decision to suspend some expenses or drastically reduce budgets. It comes quick and unexpected. The often arbitrary, brutal and sudden non-negotiable stop of expenses deserves the name ‘cut’.

Cost reduction is a rational decision to drive some costs down, usually through a structured and timely phased program.

2. Reaction vs. analysis

Cost cutting is an answer to some emergency to save money in order to overcome a crisis or to please investors / stock exchange.

Cost reduction comes as an answer to a situation assessment, an improvement plan, a benchmarking study. The purpose is usually to improve competitiveness for the mid/long-term.

3. Blanket vs. focused

Cost cutting is pretty arbitrary as it focuses on some expenses judged as non-priority or hits equally any expenses with an overall target, e.g. saving x million € or y % of budget. Thus cost cutting is not virtuous, it just reduces the total cost (value and waste) instead of getting rid of wastage.

Cost reduction is based on rational search for lasting improvements, targeting unnecessary expenses, excessive spending or trying to find cheaper alternatives. Cost reduction programs are opportunities to revise designs of products and services, reconsider the supply base and sourcing and any other opportunities. Cost reduction is an invitation to reconsider value, to be creative.

4. One shot vs. sustainable

Cost cutting is generally not sustainable as some expenses are necessary, as for example buying spare parts and maintaining machines in operating condition. Once the savings made, cost cutting gives top management the feeling of big achievement but the savings are short-termed and are usually made at the expense (so to say) of future budget.

It is not unusual to see a surge of expenses afterwards, in order to recover from the negative side effects of arbitrary cost cutting.

Cost reduction do not only last but the new practices, alternative sourcing or solutions may be applied to other departments, businesses or products.

5. Limited vs. infinite

Cost cutting is always limited. Cost cutting will always reach a technical and/or operational limit beneath which no more business can be done safely, achieving the targets e.g. quality, reliability, timely deliveries, and so on.
Paradoxically cost reduction can lead to increased incomes when offers are made more competitive. Increasing incomes can literally be infinite while cost cutting has an absolute limit.

As we see, compared to cost cutting, cost reduction can be a good thing and is not necessarily stressful. It can even be fun.

6. Quick vs. slow

The weak point of cost reduction is the required time to yield results, making it unfit to deal quickly with a crisis. Cost cutting can be seen as a necessary evil to overcome a temporary hard time, but might not be sufficient without trying in the same time to increase revenue.

As a conclusion, Cost reduction is simply not cost cutting, but confusing them, people fear both.

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March 2015 review of February


Chris HOHMANN – Author

February is the shortest month of the year. It’s a poor excuse for my few February postings I know, but lack of time is nevertheless the primary cause of this historical low number of posts on my blog. Not that February wasn’t rich of experiences and inspiration, but turn ideas into written lines requires some time and the state of mind you may call inspiration.
Among things I heard or saw in this short month:

  • the fallacy of what they call Six Sigma
  • 3D printing, the unknown threat
  • a kick in the a*s as energizer (?)

The fallacy of what they call Six Sigma

How many organization pretend to go the Six Sigma or Lean Six Sigma way and in reality are not?

I came across one more displaying explanatory posters and having Six Sigma terms in their jargon, yet the most buoyant promoter did not understand my question about standard deviation and was suddenly uneasy when I asked him about his mastery of basics of statistics.

In fact, as so many times, what is called Six Sigma is just about using DMAIC as a structuring framework. In this plant, local managers admitted that the Measurement phase, which could make good use of some true Six Sigma tools, is the least mastered.

Another company with a Lean-Sigma dedicated bureaucracy uses ‘IPO’ instead of SIPOC, obviously not feeling necessary to care about Suppliers nor Customers.

Indeed, this bureaucracy does not seem to care much about its internal customers and focuses mainly on its own occupation, consistently with its focus on ‘IPO’; Input, Process and Output.

I have seen numerous others using Six Sigma lingo but in reality going for lean tools, generally nothing more than some partial 5S to clean up the initial mess and a fashionable VSM as wall ornament.

3D printing, the unknown threat

Visiting an aerospace equipment maker, it was a real pleasure to see the manufacturing of high-tech art pieces. It takes a great deal of top-notch machinery and machining time to go from the raw chunks of metal to the finished parts. As usually in this industry I try to guess the weight of the parts knowing there is no correlation between their size and volume and keep being amazed by the geometric complexity of the designs.

I asked the proud line manager if additive manufacturing (‘3D printing’) was on its way into his workshops. He did not understand my question, obviously not knowing what I was talking about.

The new techniques threatening his beloved business of cutting away metal with costly machines are unknown to him. He worries about training a new generation of turners, unaware that he’d better look for young techs at ease with CAD-CAM and programming.

A kick in the a*s as energizer

I am no promoter of old fashioned “management” methods consisting of bullying or even physically abusing people, but from time to time a (virtual) kick in the a*s is indeed an energizer.

Alas, the energizing effect is not long lasting. One team member laughed about sore bottoms and all resumed as usual.

Considering the resilient properties of the human bottom regarding kicking (all this being figurative), I let top management keep kicking and chose to go for rational demonstration of the necessity to improve faster, selecting the proper metrics as KPIs, the first improvement step.


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