Apply Operations Science to Accelerate Success Now, with Ed Pound [Webinar Preview]

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I'm excited to be hosting and moderating a new webinar that's part of the KaiNexus Continuous Improvement webinar series, to be presented by Ed Pound, the managing director of the Operations Science Institute.

The free webinar is titled “Apply Operations Science to Accelerate Success Now.” Join us on February 6th at 1 pm ET. The session will also be recorded, so if you register and can't attend live, we'll send you a link to the recording.

Update: the recording is now available through that same registration page.

In this blog post, I'm sharing a short preview discussion that Ed and I had recently, sharing the video and transcript below. We discuss managing Work-in-Progress (WIP) to promote efficiency and address misconceptions surrounding the goal of 100% utilization. We also reflect on the need for a delicate balancing act that allows for variability and system buffers while maintaining optimum productivity levels.

He was also my guest on the Lean Blog Interviews podcast back in 2014.

Video of the Preview Discussion:


Preview Transcript:

Mark Graban:
You. Hi. Welcome to the KaiNexus Continuous Improvement podcast. I'm Mark Graban, and today we are doing a quick preview of an upcoming webinar. It's titled Apply Operations Science to Accelerate Success Now.

Mark Graban:
It's going to be presented on February 6, 01:00 Eastern. We hope you'll register to join us live. It's free as always, and you can ask questions if you join us in the live session. Otherwise, you'll be able to check out the recording, and if you register, we'll send you a link to that the next day. You can look for a link in the show notes or go to KaiNexus.com/webinars.

Mark Graban:
To register, we're joined today by Ed Pound. He is the presenter for that session. I've known Ed a long time. He's the managing director of the Operations Science Institute. He's the lead author of an excellent book, Factory Physics for Managers, and co-authored an upcoming book called Applied Operation Science.

Mark Graban:
So, Ed, thanks for joining us here today. How are you? Good to be here, Mark. I'm doing well. Trying to stay warm.

Mark Graban:
Yep, we all are here, especially in the Midwest. But I think you're going to, I don't know if this is physically true. Warm up people's brains with a lot of knowledge here. Absolutely.

Mark Graban:
That's absolutely right. Yeah. So again, February 6, and Operations Science is such an important topic. Before we dive into a little bit of a preview, Ed, tell us more about yourself and your background. Sure.

Mark Graban:
35 years in all sorts of operations. Started out, actually worked in Japan for a couple of years and then actually went to business school, which is where I met Mark Spearman and Wally Hopp, who wrote Factory Physics, which really opened my eyes to this idea of this basic science of operations, which seems to be not common knowledge, which is kind of interesting, and why the operations Science Institute exists and worked, like I said, for over 35 years. For about 16 years, I worked with Mark at Factory Physics Incorporated. We got acquired by a company called Strategic Project Solutions, expanded the whole idea of this basic science to construction engineering projects, giga projects, multi-billion dollar projects, and then recently started the Operations Science Institute with a focus on training. And coaching and as you mentioned, the Spearman and hop book.

Mark Graban:
I think at this point, a classic factory physics followed up by factory physics for managers. There's a little shift in the language to operations science, but I want to hear your thoughts on this. But in part, this isn't just about flow in factories. Absolutely right. And that's why we switched to operations science.

Mark Graban:
And it's kind of amazing without giving the long version of the story. The problem was you would walk into, for instance, emergency department and you talk about, oh, we're going to do factory physics. And the first thing you hear is, well, we're not a factory. Right. And that's a fair counterargument.

Mark Graban:
And so there's a lot of resistance just to overcoming that particular label. And then the thing about physics is, well, everybody loves physics. They think that's pretty cool. But everybody also thinks physics is kind of hard. And so they don't know that they necessarily want to expend the effort to understand physics.

Mark Graban:
And so the idea with operations is everybody has operations, whether you're in a hospital, whether you're at Burger King, whether you're in a manufacturing operation or you're developing designs for an offshore oil rig. And so there's that portion that's completely general. And then the idea of science-based, everybody really trusts the idea of having a science-based solution. Yeah. And this, I think, applies to software companies, whether it's Kinexis or others who are doing product development.

Mark Graban:
There's, let's say, a lot of features that people want development to work on. There might be a lot of customer service tickets. All of those things, I guess, would also count as whip. And there are others out there in different aspects of software and entrepreneurship spaces, my friend Jim Benson in particular, who really preaches about limiting whip because lots of whip leads to long cycle times. And that's a little bit more of a teaser of what you're going to talk about during the session, right?

Mark Graban:
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it applies everywhere. It wouldn't be very good science if it didn't. Right. And so for software development or some sort of project development like that, absolutely.

Mark Graban:
Your whip is not physical, it's virtual. But the same concepts apply. And so we've worked with all kinds of different operations. And you talk about agile. If you look where Agile started, it was basically just a set of concepts that people say, oh, this is what we think you ought to do.

Mark Graban:
And when you look at doing a sprint, a sprint is basically a batch size. Right. And so what's the right batch size to use? And what's the effect of selecting a particular batch size on how quickly you can get your work done so the concepts apply all over. It's a lot of fun.

Mark Graban:
Yeah. So I think the session on the 6th will be fun. And just one other thing to mention, I think as a teaser to get the fuller story. And there's more to be found in Ed's books. But why 100% utilization is a siren song, a misleading and sometimes counterproductive goal, right?

Mark Graban:
Yes, absolutely. It's a basic concept, and it kind of originates with a conflict. And I'll talk about it a little bit in the webinar, but this conflict between the accounting model and the financial model of how costs are allocated and the operations behavior model, and typically what happens is if the operations people can't explain scientifically and convincingly the behavior of operations, the accounting finance guys, them, what's got the money is them, what makes the rules. They use their model. And so it can cause all sorts of unintended consequences.

Mark Graban:
Well, I know we're going to learn more about that during the webinar. So again, we've been joined today by Ed Pound, who's going to be presenting live on February 6 at 01:00 Eastern time. Apply operations science to accelerate success. Now is the name of the session. So again, look for a link in the show notes or the YouTube video description, or you can go to kainexus.com/webinars.

Mark Graban:
Ed, thank you for doing the preview, and thanks in advance for doing the webinar.

Ed Pound:
Yes, sir. Looking forward to it.


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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

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