Fix it or build it

Six Sigma is widely known for its ability to improve. The process, often coupled with Lean methodologies, uses a systematic approach to addressing issues within a company to arrive at a cleaner, better oiled machine. There are however two very distinct approaches to Six Sigma.

DMAIC – This process is used when you already have something in place and are looking to improve upon it. The acronym stands for; Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. After a team looks at a problem objectively, they will then use a statistical analysis to find ways for improvement. This approach is what most people think of when they hear Six Sigma.

DMADV – This is the approach you would use if you were looking to develop a new product or service. The Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, and Verify process is based in identifying customer needs and transforming them into a product that satisfies the customer.

Whether your fixing something or building something new, having the right approach is of the utmost importance.

Yellow water – 5 reasons to drink lemon juice

Growing up there was a rule in the winter months that every parent drilled into their kids head, don’t eat the yellow snow! There is however another rule that may have been just as important (albeit not as gross if it wasn’t followed) – drink yellow water.

Squeezing about half a lemon in your water will not only add some flavor to your 8 cups a day but it also has a long list of health benefits. Believe it or not, many people have been able to eliminate that morning coffee by having a warm cup of lemon juice instead. Here are five of those benefits in no particular order:

  • Lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C. This essential nutrient is partly responsible for protecting your body via boosting your immune system. The level of vitamin C also happens to be one of the first things that suffer during periods of stress. So having a steady supply of it will prepare your body for when it finds itself in a stressful situation.
  • Lemon water encourages the production of bile. Bile, produced in the gall bladder, is needed to digest fatty foods. Drinking lemon water doesn’t give you free range to eat a diet high in fat, but it will help you digest fats on those rare occasions when you splurge.
  • Going along with the production of bile, lemon water also aids in digestion by relieving symptoms of heartburn, burping, and bloating.
  • The stimulating effect lemon water has on the liver will enhance enzyme function and help flush out toxins with your body. This natural detoxifying property of lemon water is my favorite of all the benefits.
  • Having the super powers to dissolve uric acid means that lemon water will reduce pain and inflammation in the joints. Decreasing the acidity of your body and aiding in maintaining a healthy ph. will keep those knees more limber allowing you to keep moving and enjoy the added benefits of exercise. Not to mention the disease prevention benefit of reduced acidity.

Weight loss – I kept this one off the list because I am not certain of is truthfulness. There was however a study in 2008 that was published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition that showed lemons contributed to weight loss in mice. This along with the antidotal evidence plastered all over message boards online is what persuaded me to include weight loss in this post – just not in my list of five. If you have any experience with lemon water and weight loss I’d love to hear about it.

And there you have  it – five reasons to drink yellow water.

OSHA Top Ten

In December of 2012 I wrote about a Top Ten list that OSHA publishes each year on the violations that were most cited (Learning Organizations). Since then OSHA has published the list 2 additional times and if you take a quick look at the table below you’ll see not much has changed.OSHA Top Ten

Although the top 10 offenders have changed places over the years, the actual names have not altered. To assess the level of movement each violation has undergone over the last 5 years, I decided to a more visual approach instead of just looking at the placing’s. Starting with the 10th most violated area in 2010, I worked my way up to number 1, highlighting each placing in the other 4 years.

At number 10 we have Machine Guarding. With the exception of 2012, Machine Guarding has remained fairly steady throughout the years as a number 9 or a number 10 offender.OSHA Top Ten Machine Guarding

Even more consistent has been General Electrical violations.OSHA Top Ten Electrical General

The number 8 ranked violation in 2010 was Powered Industrial Trucks. Although the total change from 8th place to 6th in the 5 years looked at in this table is anything but drastic, there does seem to a trend here with more violations occurring each year compared to the other offenders. Whether this is because industry is becoming less safe in this area, regulations have become stricter and industry hasn’t kept up, OSHA has gotten better at identifying this violation, or some combination of all three is unknown, but this seemingly upward trend is interesting either way.OSHA Top Ten Powered Industrial Trucks

Getting a bit more specific in the electrical world is Electrical-Wiring Methods at number 7. This violation has had a bit of a roller coaster 5 years, yet despite the movement has maintained a somewhat middle ground status on the Top Ten.OSHA Top Ten Electrical Wiring Methods

Control of Hazardous Energy appeared to be headed in the right direction in 2012 when it almost fell off the list after making top 5 in 2011. But it has climbed its way back to the top 5 for 2014. Identifying hazardous energy is fine and dandy, but if they aren’t controlled the only the game is won.OSHA Top Ten Control of Hazardous Energy

There is hope for the 2010 and 2012 top 5 finisher Ladders as it has been working its way down and made it to the number8 spot for 2014. Let’s hope we don’t see another Control of hazardous Energy for this one in 2015.OSHA Top Ten Ladders

Consistency, consistency, consistency; things may not be getting any worst for Respiratory Protection, but at number 4 for the last 5 years, things aren’t getting any better either.OSHA Top Ten Respiratory Protection

Entering the 2010 top 3 we start with Hazard communication. I think this one highlights the important role an active Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee can play in helping to secure a safe workplace.OSHA Top Ten Hazard Communication

Coming in at number 2 for 2010 is Fall Protection. This offender has managed to gain top honors since 2011. Holding the top spot for so long when so many regulations are quite clear on how to mitigate its hazards associated with working at heights is a bit discouraging.OSHA Top Ten Fall Protection

And our final violator is Scaffolding. I’m holding on to a bit of hope that we will see this guy drop out of the top 3 in 2015.OSHA Top Ten Scaffolding

To help illustrate what we have just gone over, I color coded 2010 from a light blue to a darker blue and then applied those colors to each violations. What resulted were a fairly distinct lighter zone on top and a darker zone on the bottom. OSHA Top Ten 2010 - 2014

Although the reasons for each of these items showing up on OSHA’s Top Ten are complex, and we haven’t even looked at the actual number of violations, the lesson I am taking from these illustrations is that getting cited for a violation or knowing that you could get cited, is not reason enough for many companies to change. Without an internal responsibility system to develop a safety culture that strives to exceed regulations and not merely meet them or not get caught breaking them, we will see the same top ten in 2015.

 OSHA Top Ten 2010 - 2014 Groupings

Murder in our schools

There was a little girl who was drawing a picture in school. The teacher asked her what she was drawing and the little girl replied that she was drawing God. The teacher replied by telling her that no one knew what God looked like. The little girl told her she would tell her in a minute.

(My apologies for the less than perfect account of this section of Sir Ken Robinson’s talk – Do schools kill creativity?)

Mirror, mirror on the wall

Hiring a group of diverse and talented people is a sure way to improve your business.

Soooo, are you really diverse? When you look around the room and listen to everyone’s ideas is it like looking into a mirror? When is the last time the team got together to solve a problem and a heated debate occurred over not just two different ways to solve the problem but over several different ways?

Often, once a couple of people have voiced their ideal solution others will ritualistically decide who they agree with. The problem solver in them goes to sleep and the advocate wakes up in an attempt to explain (or argue) why they agree with their colleague and why you should too.

Not only do you want to have a team that arrives at multiple legitimate solutions to a problem, but you also want a team that can identify multiple problems to the same situation. “Sure we can fix that problem, but have you considered that this might be even more of a concern?” – FANTASTIC.

Hiring people with different cultures, backgrounds, personalities, experiences, education (and so on), will help ensure that the people in the room are thinking differently – diversity of thought. With different thoughts come different solutions. The higher the number of potential solutions, the higher the chances of success.

If when you look around the meeting table you only see your own reflection, it may be time to break the mirror and hire someone ‘different’.



Best in class

To be the best you to have work hard.

You have to look at all those in your class and decide you will be better than them.

You have to learn what all of your competitors are doing and then find a way to be better (and not just better than some of them; all of them).

You have to reach the highest performance standard set by industry and often times exceed it.

In order to be the best in your class, you have to be better than everyone else in that class.

Or you need to create a class, and then be your best.

Customer service at its best

Ordered a pizza and after making a special request for half cheese to accommodate everyone’s tastes who would be eating the pizza, ended up an hour later with more cheese than I knew what to do with.

A quick ride back to the pizza shop with the expectation of an argument about the amount of cheese and what we were going to do about it turned me into another satisfied customer. There was no argument, no delay, just a quick apology, a quick fix, and an offer to keep the original pizza plus a new pizza.

There is a reason some small businesses flourish while others fail. A terrific product and taking care of their customers is a wonderful business plan. No attempt at mass production, no attempt at being in the right – just a quality pizza and a happy customer.

It may have taken 90 minutes from the time I placed the order to when I sat down to eat, but the only thing I am thinking about is how easy it was to get the pizza I originally wanted – plus the refund they gave me for the delivery charge.