Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year.............

As 2011 winds down and I look back on all that's happened to me personally, I have to say that for me it was a very good year.  I had the opportunity to welcome two new granddaughters into the world, so that by itself would be a wonderful year even if nothing else took place in my life.  I now have five beautiful grandchildren and I love them all so much.

I had the opportunity to collaborate on a new book with one of my best friends, Bruce Nelson.  The new book, Epiphanized, will be published hopefully in January and both Bruce and I are excited about it.  It's my first business novel and I have to say it was much more fun to write than the two previous technical books I was fortunate enough to have published.

In 2011 I made a career change to a great consulting company, NOVACES.  My first two months with NOVACES have been wonderful and although I've worked for other companies, this company truly "gets it."  I have never worked for a company that was more focused on their employees than NOVACES is.  It's one of the best decisions I have ever made.  NOVACES thinks like I do in almost every way and rarely are most people able to say that about their company.  There are so few companies that recognize the power of integrating TOC, Lean and Six Sigma, but NOVACES clearly does.  If your company is struggling, I would encourage you to contact NOVACES for help.  The leadership is simply the best and although I haven't met everyone in the company, the people I have met are a cut above....... This is the company that I want to retire from in the future. 

Finally, my wife and I moved back to our home and friends in Kennesaw, GA and we're so happy to be back.  My wife is a wonderful woman and she supported my decision to take on this new role with NOVACES which gave us the opportunity to return to our home.  She supports everything I do and has been very patient while I sit for hours writing white papers, articles and I want to thank her publically for who and what she means to me.

I want to thank all of my loyal readers and followers for a wonderful year with my blog.  Everyone has been so very supportive.  In closing I want to wish everyone a very Happy and Prosperous New Year in 2012.

Bob Sproull

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Focus and Leverage Part 67

One of the most important teachings from the Theory of Constraints is the concept of constraints in general.  While many times the constraint is internal to companies in the form of a physical constraint, sometimes the constraints are in the marketplace.  That is, the company’s capacity is higher than the demand placed on the process.  This is the subject of this blog posting along with what can be done to break this type of constraint.

Marketplace constraints come about simply because the company has no competitive edge.  That is, they are unable to differentiate themselves from their competition.  So how can a company differentiate themselves?  Quite simply there are four primary factors associated with having or not having a competitive edge.

1.      Quality
            2.      On-time Delivery
            3.      Customer Service
            4.      Cost

Let’s explore each of these factors in a bit more detail.

Quality, in its most basic form, is a measure of how well a product conforms to design standards.  It’s clear that Japanese manufacturers like Toyota and Honda and yes, Ford, are the world’s recognized leaders when it comes to producing the highest quality products, but it’s also clear that this wasn’t always the case.  We all know the history here when Dr. Deming went to Japan and taught the Japanese how to become competitive.

The secret to becoming quality competitive is first, by designing quality into the products, second, the complete eradication of special cause variation, and third, developing processes that are in control and capable.  It’s not rocket science, but so few companies focus on these three success elements for creating products and services that differentiate them in the marketplace!  So if you want more orders, the first step is to distinguish yourselves from the competition from a quality perspective.

On-time delivery requires that you produce products to the rate at which customers expect to receive them.  This means that you must have product flow within your facility that is better than your competition.  We’ve discussed ways to accomplish this in previous blog postings, but the basics involve focusing on and improving the physical constraint that exists within your facility, removing wasted time within your processes (both physical and non-physical), eradicating things like down time, quality problems, variation and all of the other things that cause your processes to be inconsistent.  It also involves reducing unnecessary inventory that lengthens cycle times and hides defects.  You must create consistent, reliable processes that don’t impede your ability to produce and ship on time.

Customer service simply means that you are responsive to the needs of your customer base.  Customers must feel comfortable in the fact that if their market changes, their supply base will be able to change right along with them.  If the customer has an immediate need for more product, then the supplier that separates themselves in terms of response time will become the supplier of choice.  This means that your manufacturing lead times must be short enough to respond to the ever-changing demands of the market.  This only comes by creating processes with exceptional flow through constraint optimization and subordination of the other steps to the constraint.  It’s important to remember that the greater the amount of work-in-process inventory, the longer the lead time to produce.

Cost is perhaps the greatest differentiator of all in a down market.  But having said this, low cost without the other three factors in place will not guarantee you more orders.  Low costs are only achieved by removing waste and unecessary operating expense within the company.  In order to be the lowest cost provider in the marketplace, companies must clearly manage all parts of the business.  The quality of the products must be superior with little scrap and rework.  The quantity of raw materials must be low enough to minimize the carrying costs.  The amount of labor required to produce the product must be optimal with little or no overtime.  The cost of expedited shipments must be minimized.  All of these factors and more make up the cost of the product or service.  If the costs are less than the competition, then cost can be a differentiator, but not without the other three factors, quality, on-time delivery, and customer service.

Before we leave cost as a differentiator, let’s talk about how cost can be used as a differentiator from a different perspective.  In one of my blog posting I talked about Throughput Accounting and in that discussion we talked about how we can use reduced profits to enter new markets.  We defined Throughput as Revenue minus Operating Expense which is the definition of profit and as long as the result is a positive number, then there is profit.  So then, one way to use this concept, especially when trying to enter new markets, is to reduce the revenue portion of this equation by lowering the sales cost.  Some will argue that this may create a price war with the competition, but in most cases it will generate new orders to utilize the excess capacity.  Think about it, if you have excellent Quality, On-Time Delivery and Customer Service and now you have the lowest cost, then more sales will come your way.

Bob Sproull

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Holidays

I want to thank all of my readers for a very, very good year with many, many page views.  I also want to thank my good friend, Bruce Nelson for his contribution to my blog, but more importantly for his friendship.  Please everyone have a very Happy Holiday season and a prosperous New Year.  And at the risk of being politically incorrect, Merry Christmas.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Focus and Leverage Part 66

I’ve been reading a wonderful book entitled, Focused Operations Management For Health Service Organizations by Boaz Ronen, Joseph Pliskin and Shimeon Pass and I want to recommend it to all of my readers.  In this book the authors introduce the difference between being an Optimizer versus being a Satisficer.  If you’re like me, you may not have ever heard of these two terms, so I thought it might be a good topic to share on my blog.

Nobel laureate H. A. Simon recognized many years ago (1957) a management situation that according to Simon, caused decision-making hardship.  Simon claimed that decision makers like executives, managers, engineers, etc. were trying to become optimizers while making decisions.  Optimizers are decision makers who are always in search of the best possible decision without considering time or resource constraints.  To achieve the best possible decision, the optimizer gathers all of the information needed to build a model that will allow them to choose the best alternative.  The problem with being an optimizer is that this approach requires significant amounts of time, effort and money.  In reality there is probably no limit to the number of different alternatives that can be evaluated, so optimizers will never really have all of the needed information on hand to effectively evaluate all of the alternatives.  As I said, this approach is very time consuming and sometimes very costly.  The hard reality is that while the perfect solution might result in a better solution, it may simply come too late, rendering some products obsolete.  Optimizers are often guilty of analysis paralysis and typically demonstrate a “failure to launch” type of behavior.
Satisficers are decision makers who are satisfied with a reasonable solution resulting in significant improvement to the system rather than waiting for the perfect solution.  The satisficer sets a level of aspiration, a threshold or objective to be achieved.  The satisficer’s objective is not to maximize or minimize some performance measure but to achieve a solution that will improve the measure beyond their predefined level that they had set.  When this level has been achieved the satisficer sets a new target to surpass and the process repeats itself.  This sort of stair-step approach to improvement keeps the organization moving in a positive direction without waiting to achieve perfection.

The satisficer’s road to excellence is based upon complying with two simple principles:

1.    Set a high enough level of aspiration that is compatible with market conditions, competition, or investor expectations.

2.    Adopt an approach of continuous improvement rather than optimization.
The optimizer uses optimization tools and techniques while the satisficer uses heuristics, decision rules that result in improvement, but not necessarily optimal improvement.  In other words, when an exhaustive search for perfection is impractical, heuristic methods are used to speed up the process of finding a satisfactory solution.

Without having the label of “satisficer” I have been using this approach to process improvement for years.  One of the problems I often see with Six Sigma initiatives is this maniacal focus on data collection and analysis even when the solution is obvious.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating the elimination of statistical analysis, but what I am saying is, don’t wait for that sometimes elusive optimal solution when a simple solution is staring you in the face.  By becoming a satisficer, you will move your organization forward in a stepwise fashion.

Bob Sproull

Friday, December 16, 2011

Focus and Leverage Part 65

Yesterday Bruce and I received a draft copy of the cover of our new book Epiphanized and we thought our loyal readers might want to see what it looks like.  Bruce and I are getting very excited for this book to finally get published and we want to thank everyone for the wonderful comments we've received on it.  We also want to wish everyone a very happy holiday season and a properous new year.  We'd love to get feedback on your impressions of this cover.

Bob and Bruce

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Focus and Leverage Part 65

In this final part of Chapter 1, Joe meets a very unlikely bartender named Connor Jackson and as Joe will learn throughout this book, he is so much more than just a ‘bartender.”
Bob and Bruce

CHAPTER 1 Part 5 for Epiphanized©
A book by Bob Sproull and Bruce Nelson
“Yes,” Joe replied. “Just tell me where and when, and I’ll be there.”

Ten minutes before Joe was to meet the VP of Ops, Judy got a call from the VP asking if Joe could meet him for breakfast instead in his office.  Joe actually liked this idea better because he could also get to see the production layout firsthand. 

“Tell him yes, Judy,” said Joe, and then told Judy that he was leaving for lunch.  He said  he would be back in a couple of hours. 

It was clear to Joe that one of the things he had to do was to get everyone on the same page and that page was different than the one they were on.  He decided to skip lunch because he had something more pressing that he needed to do today.

Joe brought up his search engine to find the nearest bookstore and dialed the number.  “Well, how many copies do you have?” asked Joe. “Twenty-one? I’ll take all of them . . . hold them for me . . . I’ll be there in about twenty minutes,”

And so off Joe went to the bookstore to pick up twenty-one copies of The Goal.  He decided that since reading The Goal together had worked so well when he was appointed general manager of a turnaround, why reinvent the wheel?  Joe picked up his books and then decided that he was hungry after all and needed to grab a quick bite to eat.  Joe really didn’t know where to go in this new city for lunch, so he just drove around until he spotted a small, out-of-the-way bar.  He decided to take a copy of the book in with him and brush up on some of the key concepts.  He sat at the bar, laid down his copy of The Goal and put on his reading glasses.

It didn’t take long for the bartender to ask Joe what he wanted to drink.  Joe told him he was working and that he’d better just have a soft drink.  Joe asked the bartender what kind of food they served for lunch, and he told Joe that all they had were sandwiches and chips.  Joe ordered a ham sandwich and settled down to read his book.  His sandwich appeared shortly thereafter, and the bartender asked Joe what he was reading. Joe held up the book and to his surprise the bartender said, “Great book—one of my favorites.” 

“You’ve read The Goal?” Joe was stunned. 

“I sure have,” the bartender replied. 

“I’m Joe Pecci, the new continuous improvement manager at Barton,” said Joe as he shook the bartender’s hand. 

“Nice to meet you, Joe, I’m Connor Jackson.”. 

“So how do you know about The Goal, Connor?” Joe asked.  “I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever met a bartender who knew anything about the Theory of Constraints.” 

Connor replied, “It’s a long story . . . so sometime when you have more time, come back in and I’ll tell you.”

“I’ll just do that Connor . . . and by the way, this is the best ham sandwich I’ve ever tasted.”

Joe finished his lunch and drove back to the office, only to find it empty.  “Where is my team?” Joe thought.  Then he realized that it was almost five o’clock.  Joe had gotten lost in his book and read about 200 pages while he was at the bar.  “Oh well,” Joe thought to himself,” I guess I might as well go back to my hotel and call my wife to let her know how my first day on the job went.”

Bruce and I hope you have enjoyed this first chapter of our book, Epiphanized.  We both wish you luck in your quest to improve your processes, systems and your company and we believe that if you apply the principle and use the tools we present in this book, your improvement results will not only improve, they will accelerate more than you ever imagined.
Happy Holidays from both of us....
Bob and Bruce

Monday, December 12, 2011

Focus and Leverage Part 64

In this posting, Joe describes to the Finance Director an early career experience he had with a plant turn-around that changed his whole outlook on manufacturing and continuous improvement and then explains a very new type of Accounting.
Bob and Bruce

CHAPTER 1 Part 4 for Epiphanized©
A book by Bob Sproull and Bruce Nelson
For the next hour Joe and Paul talked about the role of Finance on the team, and everything was going well until Joe told Paul that, in his opinion, the method they were using to capture cost saving was flawed.  Paul was clearly taken back by this statement, reacting as though it were a personal attack on him.  Joe explained that when he first started his career, he was taught the same cost-accounting methods that Barton was using, but that about twenty years ago, Joe had had a personal epiphany of sorts.  Joe explained that he had been hired as general manager of a company that was being considered for closure, and Joe’s job was either to turn the company around or oversee its closing.  Joe’s background had been all quality and engineering, so he was surprised that he was selected to lead this effort.

Since Joe had no real experience in operations management, he knew he had to rely on his two operations managers, whom he hadn’t met yet.  When he did meet them, he soon realized that they had no idea of how to effectuate a business turnaround.  Joe remembered going to a library (there was no internet back then) to read about operations management, and he stumbled upon a book called The Goal by Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt.  Joe took it home and stayed up all night reading it.  He explained to Paul that this book changed his entire approach to manufacturing.  Joe bought extra copies and had his entire staff read the book. His team had daily discussions about the content, and to make a long story short, by applying the lessons in the book, they not only saved the plant from shutting down, their plant became the model for the rest of the company.

Joe explained to Paul how within every organization, constraints existed, and that unless and until a constraint was exploited and the rest of the organization was subordinated to it, no real improvement would take place.  Joe opened his briefcase and handed Paul his very own tattered and worn copy of The Goal, and made Paul promise that he would read it.  Joe continued their discussion about how he thought Barton was misreporting cost savings.  He asked Paul why he thought it was OK to report localized labor-hour reductions as a cost savings, since they did not remove the labor from the company. 

Paul’s response floored Joe: ”Because the customers accept it as a reduction.” 

“But do you, Paul?” asked Joe. “Do you believe in your heart that these things you’re reporting are actually cost savings?” Joe asked.  “What if later on the customers come back to us and tell us that we must reduce our prices based upon the reported cost savings?” Joe added.  “What will we tell them Paul?” asked Joe. 

Their conversation continued on, and Joe explained the concepts associated with the Theory of Constraints and Throughput Accounting (TA) and how TA is much better for daily decision-making than traditional cost accounting.  When Joe left Paul’s office, he reminded him to read The Goal, and Paul promised Joe that he would, but he also made Joe promise to tell him more about how he had led the turnaround of the manufacturing facility he had described to him earlier in their conversation.

Joe left Paul’s office and headed back to his own office.  Joe knew that if Barton was going to be successful at improving on-time deliveries, there had to be a radical shift in organizational thinking on how to approach this effort.  Joe also knew that he could not do this by himself; he needed to develop his team and teach them a better way.  When Joe arrived at his office, he could see that his team was still struggling to come up with cost savings for the past quarter.  Joe asked them to come into his office so they could talk.  One by one, they came in and took a seat.  Joe’s first question to them centered around how they selected their improvement projects.  

“We generally are told by the quality director what our projects will be,” Bill explained. 

“And how does he select them? Has he ever explained that to you?” Joe asked.

“N-n-n-no . . . h-h-e-e just tells us that the VP of Operations w-wants us t-to w-work on th-th-this or th-that,” explained Manuel. 

Joe turned to Judy to ask her to contact the VP of Ops, but she was one step ahead of him.  “Can you meet him for lunch, boss?” says Judy. 

In our next posting, Joe meets one of the central characters in our book……a bartender who is so much more than your typical bartender. 
Bob and Bruce

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Focus and Leverage Part 63

In these two parts of Chapter 1, Joe meets his direct reports and gets an idea of how his new boss works….or doesn’t work and how his new company calculates savings.
Bob and Bruce

CHAPTER 1 Parts 2 and 3 for Epiphanized©

A book by Bob Sproull and Bruce Nelson


Joe smiled back and introduced himself.  “I’m Joe Pecci (pronounced Peecee), the new Continuous Improvement Manager . . . and you are?” 

“I’m Judy Godfrey and I had no idea we were getting a new manager! She turned toward the group. “Guys,” Judy said, "Did you know we were getting a new manager today?” 

They all said, “Nope, but that’s normal around here. No one ever tells us anything!”  One by one they all introduced themselves and shook Joe’s hand. 

“Oh boy,” thought Joe, “No one even knew that I was coming.  Is there a communications problem here?”

One man stepped forward. “I’m Bill Cody, one of the Lean Six Sigma black belts . . . pleased to meet you.”  Bill was perhaps the shortest man Joe had ever met in his life.  At best he was maybe five feet one inches tall. But he was also one of the bulkiest men Joe had ever met.  Not a whole lot of difference between Bill’s height and width, and he had a noticeable waddle when he walked. 

“Nice to meet you too, Bill,” said Joe. 

Another man introduced himself. “Manuel Gonzalez, s-sir, nice to meet you s-s-sir.  I’m also one of the b-b-black b-b-belts here,” he stuttered. Manuel was noticeably trembling as he shook Joe’s hand. 

“Calm down Manuel, I don’t bite,” Joe said.

Judy said, “Manuel is like this all of the time . . .  early stages of Parkinson’s disease.” 

“Sorry, Manuel, I didn’t know,” Joe responded in a feeble attempt at an apology. 

A third man stepped up. “Stan Wilson, Joe, good to meet you. And I’m a black belt here too, but I’m studying to become a master black belt.”  Stan appeared to be a very confident person. 

Joe asked Judy what her role in the office was, and she said jokingly, “My primary role is to keep these guys in line.”  Everyone laughed. Then she explained that her role as lean assistant was to prepare all of the graphs and charts and Power Point presentations for the quality director and to perform statistical calculations that everyone requested.  “I love my job,” said Judy, “but I just wish I’d get more advanced notice on things from the quality director. Everything I do is a last-minute adventure, and it’s frustrating to say the least.”

During his interviews Joe had met the quality director, his new boss.  The director seemed like a man in chaos and disarray, and he offered Joe a job on the spot.  The director explained that although the operator efficiencies were high, and the quality levels met the customer requirements, Barton was late on virtually every order and they had received threatening letters from their customer base.  He explained that one of Joe’s functions would be to find out why orders were late and to fix this problem. In fact, he told Joe that was to be his primary role—in addition to generating significant cost savings.  Since Joe’s background was manufacturing, and he had an excellent track record and references, the quality director told Joe that he expected rapid improvement in on-time delivery and cost savings. 

The quality director was nowhere to be found, and when Joe asked his team if anyone had seen the director today, Judy explained, “He isn’t here on Mondays . . . he’s on the golf course.”

Joe meets the Finance Director for the first time and as he will find out, he is totally into traditional cost accounting practices.  Joe discovers just how uninvolved the Finance team is in continuous improvement.
With the introductions complete, Joe asks, “What are you guys working on?”

Bill replied, “You don’t want to know.” He added, “Every quarter we have this mad scramble to come up with cost savings that we have to report to the government, and every quarter we have to dig deep into our projects to calculate how we’re doing.”

“Where’s the finance member of your team,” asked Joe.  Why aren’t they helping you?”

“Finance?” said Stan.  “There’s no member of Finance on our teams!”

“Why not?” Joe asked. 

“W-we’ve just n-n-never included them,” Manuel explained.  “W-we prepare our “b-best g-guess” on s-savings and s-s-submit it to them for review.  S-s-sometimes they accept it and s-s-sometimes they don’t,” he said. 

“You mean when you write your project charter, you don’t get advance agreement from Finance on the project and how you’re going to calculate savings?” asked Joe. 

“No way,” said Stan.  “They don’t understand the nature of our business.” 

Joe reviewed one of the project charters, and sure enough there was no sign-off from Finance at all.  Joe thought, “This explains why they’re in a state of chaos every quarter trying their best to justify cost savings.”  Joe knew he had to change this right away, so he asked Judy to set up a meeting with the finance director.  “Can you meet him in an hour, boss?” Judy asked.  “Tell him I’ll be there.” Joe responded.

For the next forty-five minutes Joe’s team discussed some of their old cost saving submissions.  In each case the savings were tied to cycle-time reductions and/or efficiency improvements.  In one project, the team reduced the cycle time in one of the process steps by one hour and claimed the cycle-time reduction as an annual cost savings. 

Joe asked, “Was the headcount reduced based upon the cycle-time reduction?” 

Stan replied, “No, they just moved two operators to other production lines.” 

Joe asked, “Then how was that seen as a cost savings?” 

His question was met with blank stares.  “W-w-we’ve always done it that way s-s-s…ir,” replied Manuel.  Joe could see that he had his work cut out for himself.

When Joe arrived at the finance director’s office, the director was on the phone but motioned for Joe to come in and have a seat.  It was apparent that he was talking to someone outside of Barton, probably someone at the corporate office.  He was talking in the usual cost-accounting gibberish, using expressions like operator efficiency, purchase price variance and other cost accounting nonsense. 

Finally, after ten minutes of conversation, the finance director finished his call and introduced himself.  “I’m Paul Johnson, the director of finance at Barton.” 

Joe replied, “I’m Joe Pecci, the new manager for the Continuous Improvement office.” 

After exchanging a few pleasantries, Joe broke the proverbial ice by saying, “Paul, I want to talk to you about why Finance isn’t a part of Barton’s continuous improvement projects.” 

“We have never been asked to be a part!” exclaimed Paul.  “I would love to have my folks be a part of your teams,” Paul said. 

“They’re our teams Paul,” Joe retorted. “So let’s get together, starting today.”

“Works for me,” said Paul.

In our next posting, Joe continues his discussion with the Finance Director and begins painting a different way of approaching the business.

Bob and Bruce

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Focus and Leverage Part 62

As promised, here is the first part of Chapter 1, Joe Pecci’s arrival at his new job.  What Joe finds is not atypical of so many improvement initiatives found in the world today.  This is the story of a new way….a different approach, if you will, that if followed will result in significant bottom line improvement.

Bob and Bruce

CHAPTER 1 Part 1 for Epiphanized©

A book by Bob Sproull and Bruce Nelson


“I sure am glad I’m finished with my ‘check in’ through Human Resources so I can finally get to work and meet the people I’ll be working with,” thought Joe.  “I’ve been anticipating this new job for the last month, and I hope it goes better than my first half-day. 

“I mean when I checked in this morning through Human Resources,” he thought to himself, “I never imagined I would have spent most of my time just sitting and waiting to fill out my next batch of paperwork or waiting thirty minutes to have my photo taken for my badge. I certainly hope that there is a lot less waste and better flow in their manufacturing area than there is in this transactional area.”

Joe Pecci (pronounced PeeCee) had been hired as the new Manager of the Office of  Continuous Improvement (CI) at Barton Enterprises. Joe brought a wealth of experience to Barton Enterprises and, as he would soon learn, he’d need to dig deep into his experience and know-how to help turn Barton into something better than it was.

Barton Enterprises, located in Waterford, Mississippi, was a multimillion dollar producer of flexible fuel tanks for the aviation industry and had actually fared pretty well in this dreadful economy, at least compared to many other companies.  Of course any industry that was directly connected with the U. S Department of Defense had a leg up on industries that weren’t.  We all know how easily money got appropriated and distributed from the federal government, and Barton received their fare share of stimulus dollars.  Barton had been around for about fifty years, and just by driving through their manufacturing complex Joe noticed that the buildings appeared old and somewhat dilapidated.  Joe remembered from his interview that the construction of these fuel tanks was an extremely manually intensive process, and he saw very little evidence of any Lean or Six Sigma activities within the facility he toured, but he’d reserve judgment until he made more observations.

When Joe finally arrived at the building he’d be calling home, he saw that all of the parking spaces were filled, so he ended up having to park and walk a considerable distance.  Joe finally found the door he was supposed to enter and walked up two flights of stairs to a very dimly lit hallway.  There were no signs to indicate which way to turn to go to the CI office, so he guessed which direction to go and, of course, he guessed wrong.  When he finally arrived there, he found four people, his apparent co-workers, huddled together in a rather heated discussion. No one noticed Joe entering the office. He paused and listened, and discovered that the discussion was centered around how they were going to calculate and report required quarterly cost savings dollars to the federal government.  Apparently because Barton received stimulus money, there was a requirement to report dollar savings each quarter.

Joe cleared his throat to get their attention, and the discussion stopped.  A rather petite and very attractive woman asked, “Can I help you?”

In our next posting, Joe discovers one of the issues facing Barton and many other companies……their approach to continuous improvement project selection and interpretation/calculation of cost savings.

Bob and Bruce