Author Archive: Andy Wagner

Andy Wagner works for a major aerospace company. Andy blogged here from 2007 to 2010.

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America’s Oldest Bike Company Could Use Lean Manufacturing to Remain the Oldest?

America’s Oldest Bike Company Could Use Lean Manufacturing to Remain the Oldest?

Mark’s Note: Today’s post is by Andy Wagner, who contributed regularly to this blog from 2007 to 2010. This CNN video caught his eye and he couldn’t help blogging about it.

Recently, CNN ran a short piece on Worksman Cycles of New York City highlighting them as the last major bicycle manufacturer left in the United States: “Meet America’s oldest bike maker.”

Guest Post: What It Means

Mark’s Note: Here’s part 4 of a series by our guest blogger, Andy Wagner. Start reading with Part 1 here.

“What lies behind us and what lies in front of us pales in comparison to what lies within us.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Jamie Flinchbaugh recently hosted an interesting discussion on who is responsible for lean successes, and perhaps more tellingly, lean failures.   The last several days, I’ve shared my personal lean journey of the past six months.   I hope to continue to do so as I make progress, both personally and professionally.   For some eight years, I’ve read books, articles, blogs, and training packages on   this thing called “lean”.   Like most of us, I’ve seen and applied lean tools.   I’ve cheered the successes and jeered the the LAME imitations.

Guest Post: Lean Starts at Home

Guest Post: Lean Starts at Home

Mark’s Note: Here’s part 3 of a series by our guest blogger, Andy Wagner – a series that started here.

Many of us work in an environment that our host, Mark Graban, would characterize as “non-Deming”: LAME more often than lean.  After several months of long hours and work stress affecting home life, I made up my mind to do something about it.  The answer, following a very evolutionary, unintentional path, became my Standard Work, and I have to tell you, I’m thrilled with  progress to date, as described in posts one and two of this series.

I spent a weekend getting my personal email down to less than 5 messages, it’s been there since late December.   At work, my team and I are “green” on our Product Audits this quarter, and we’ve gone nearly thirty days without a gage out of calibration.   We used to be the worst in both categories.

Guest Post: Not Putting Out Fires

Mark’s note: One more guest post, Andy Wagner following up his recent guest post, “Being the Change.

Each morning at work the day starts with a production meeting.   That is where I get my list of fires to put out for the day.   When the staff gets up to leave the meeting, it reminds me of the opening sequence to the old “Hill Street Blues” television show.

We race out to the floor, to the gemba, eager to put in place the quick fixes, and too busy for real fixes.

It had to stop.

Guest Post: Being the Change

Guest Post: Being the Change

Mark’s note: Today, I’m happy to welcome back an old Lean Blog contributor, Andy Wagner. He takes a more personal turn here than most of my guest bloggers for the next two weeks, writing about the application of Lean thinking to his personal life in a very meaningful way. His post (the first in what will likely be a series here):

Perhaps Gandhi said it best, and most famously: “Be the change that you want to see in the world.”  This blog is the first in a short  series about my recent effort to develop Standard Work for myself as  quality manager  in a manufacturing organization. Although, I work in traditional manufacturing in a production machine shop environment, I’m in a management job that’s highly variable, mostly firefighting. The lessons I’ve learned should apply to a variety of folks,:  most people in fact, who balance work, home, family, friends, long-term dreams and short-term crisis-management.

Ford’s Resurgence Due to Less Blame-y Culture?

Mark’s note: It’s great to welcome Andy Wagner back to the blog. Read his older posts here.

General Motors, Chrysler, and Toyota have been dominating the headlines in recent months with their financial and, now, quality troubles, while some surprising things have been happening to the Detroit Three’s perpetual number two player: Ford.  The company posted profit in 2009 and expects to end 2010 with its second profit after three years of loss, despite an economy that’s still stuttering.  Lincoln claimed the top spot on JD Power’s Dependability Survey, sharing it with Porsche.  The  2010  Motor Trend Car of the Year  was the  Ford Fusion, a car quickly gaining on Accord and Camry in sales, boasting a hybrid version with best in class 41-mpg  fuel economy. Now Ford shares are at a five year high on Wall Street.

At the heart of the turnaround: Toyota fan and Ford CEO Alan Mulally.

Shop Class as Soulcraft

Shop Class as Soulcraft

By Andy Wagner:

The New York Times recently published an essay by Matthew Crawford, based on his new book “Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work“. In his inquiry into the value of work, Crawford takes on Taylorism’s separation of thinking from doing in a way that only a philosophy PhD with his own classic motorcycle repair shop can:

Saving the Most L.A.M.E Day Ever

By Andy Wagner:

This summer, I am supervising three interns. The first week one of them asked what “lean six sigma” was about. She had heard about it, and that our company was into it, but didn’t really know much about it. Would she get a chance to learn about it this summer?

Where Would I Be Without Lean?

By Andy Wagner:

I’ve been in industry for a little over ten years now, reading and thinking about lean for at least seven. Thanks to Mark, I’ve been writing about lean for about two years. I’ve read about first-time-yield, customer value, eliminating waste, and respect for people and it’s trulyaffected, or perhaps infected, the way I think about and react to things around me. However, until two months ago, I was never on the pointy end of the manufacturing spear. For most of my career, I was a design engineer, first in automotive, then aerospace. Feeling the pull of operational excellence, I scored a job as a process engineer about 18 months ago, working to improve producibility and cost, acting as a liaison between engineering and the shop. Now I’m in a new role as Quality Leader for one of the business units in my plant.

Lean or LAME at Boeing?

Lean or LAME at Boeing?

By Andrew Wagner:

My wife, the resident space geek, turned me in the direction of this Boeing Press Release on their new lean “pulse line” for building GPS satellites, and presumably other satellites.

By September 16, 2008 5 Comments Read More →

The "LAME" Cargo Cult and Lean

By Andrew Wagner:

I stumbled across a piece Richard Feynman spoke some time ago about “Cargo Cult Science” and couldn’t help but extend the analogy to “Cargo Cult Lean”, or as Mark’s named it,LAME: Lean as Mistakenly Executed.” First off, what is a cargo cult? From Feynman:

By September 9, 2008 1 Comments Read More →
Everyday Lean: Lean and Kleenex

Everyday Lean: Lean and Kleenex

By Andy Wagner:

I know how much Mark dislikes headlines that rhyme with lean, but perhaps he’ll make an exception for this example of everyday lean:

At a hotel this weekend, somewhere between my first and second Kleenex, I realized, just barely, that something had changed. It was so subtle that at first I thought I was imagining things, but I wasn’t. The first tissue was white. The second was yellow. (See below–the difference is subtle and hard to see).

By August 28, 2008 3 Comments Read More →

John Boyd, Lean Fighter Pilot Part II

By: Andy Wagner

Harry Hillaker–Father of the F-16

Toyota’s Value Innovation: The Art of Tension

Mark has written before about “Everyday Lean“, those little examples of error-proofing or kanban or flow that we see in our day-to-day lives. In a similar vein, one of my enduring lean fascinations is all the places where lean thinking exists in big ways without people having called it “lean” or associated it with the Toyota Production System. As I said in Part I of this post, the work of Colonel John Boyd is a great example of this kind of undercover lean thinking.

John Boyd, Lean Fighter Pilot Part I

By: Andy Wagner

The OODA Loop & You

I love examples of lean thinking that come from unexpected angles. Mike Gardner at the TPM Log recently brought up one of my favorite figures from the world of folks who embody lean without knowing it, the late US Air Force Colonel John R. Boyd.Boyd is most known for being the father of the F-15 and F-16 fighter aircraft, butthe most likely connection to the lean world would be, as Mike points out, the similarity of his “OODA loop”, Observe-Orient-Decide-Act, to the Deming Cycle, Plan-Do-Check-Act:

Southwest Airlines and the Flying Big Three

By: Andy Wagner

Southwest. Way Southwest. – NY Times

Jeff Bailey at the New York Times wrote a great article about Southwest Airlines and their legendary approach to the key lean principle of respect for people. After talking about Southwest’s propensity for cross-dressing CEOs and other ‘fun at work’, the author brings up a popular topic in the lean blogosphere these days, direct labor costs:

By February 21, 2008 10 Comments Read More →

FAA and Airlines Improving Where It Counts

By Andy Wagner:

Lean bloggers tend to be hard on the commercial airline industry. It’s not unjustified considering how they’ve treated their own employees and their customers in recent years, and the lack of profitability that goes with that poor treatment. I suspect some of the criticism is due to the fact that so many bloggers are lean consultants stuck in airports during business travel.

By October 18, 2007 2 Comments Read More →

The Same Kind of Different Car Company

By Andy Wagner:

A poignant story showed up in the Washington Post during the recent GM strike that hits at the heart of the principle of respect for people. It came from the Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Management, required to work during the strike, gave their friends, their union hourly workers, rides to the picket line. They delivered hot coffee and donuts. They showed that respect for people is alive in well at the real Saturn, despite the fact that Spring Hill, home of the “different kind of car company” doesn’t even assemble cars any more.

By October 16, 2007 0 Comments Read More →
Book Review: Boeing Versus Airbus

Book Review: Boeing Versus Airbus

Review by Andy Wagner:

Name of the Book: Boeing Versus Airbus: The Inside Story of the Greatest International Competition in Business

Author: John Newhouse

Publication Date: 2007

Book Description:

Boeing Versus Airbus is not exactly a lean book, but it focuses on two manufacturers that are frequently at the center of discussions here at the Lean Blog, as well as those of our friends across the web at Evolving Excellence. The book by John Newhouse, a foreign policy expert, tells the story of Airbus’s rise from an upstart, government-sponsored, international partnership to full competitor in the large commercial aircraft industry. That story is inevitably paralleled by Boeing’s fall from holding a dominant 70% market share to today’s continuing struggle for number one.

By August 30, 2007 0 Comments Read More →