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Welcome to ProcessImprovement.Me.  Each week we will post between one and three blog posts on change, how to improve at something in life or business, or learning something new.  Please join us and participate in the comments.  We would really like to hear your thoughts.  You cannot post a comment on the home page (just the way they set up the site.) All the other pages do afford the ability to post comments. We recommend you use the Blog Page for this.

Please join us, have fun, and interact with others in the same kindness that you would like others to interact with you.

Finding Your Zest

It is essential to keep moving forward. Just as a shark needs to keep swimming to keep water flowing through the gills to live, we need to keep facing our challenges. Something new to learn, someplace new to go, and something to share with someone.

When we are young, learning, going places, and sharing. We find ourselves with a lot of energy and curiosity. Above all the younger we are the larger our imaginations. And, there are always others to share with and learn from.

As we age, we are given the task of discipline, we keep having to keep our imagination in check. We need to do what others expect from us, and we are supposed to settle down. And quite often as we do this, we lose the zest of life. In losing the zest, we often start to age.

Is there anything worse than a young brain screaming to get out of an old body?  Or,  at least fighting to get the body to work again. Yet, there are some things you can do. Set aside some time each week which is your time and then do what you like to do. Maybe you want to go fishing or possibly take a hike. You can go to a movie or go for a walk. If you go to a Museum, you might be surprised what you learn, and what you think of during the experience.

One of my favorite groups is the Moody Blues. And one of their favorite poems deals with breathing the gathering gloom. If I may suggest, breathe deep and ignore the gathering gloom. Do not do what you cannot handle, yet always be willing to stretch your boundaries a little. As you learn and do, you may find yourself starting to grow again. Maybe not taller, and maybe wiser with a bit more pep and a bit more energy.

I am no doctor I cannot tell you what is best for you. You must figure that out for yourself with the advice of your medical staff. Yet if you are able to stretch the boundaries just a little, you may be surprised at the results you get.

This is just something to think of from the mean old master Sergeant.

Thanks for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

What Are You Budgeting?

Many of us have to live by a budget. Some people go over their budget. If you are budgeting money, going over budget can be embarrassing. You may not have the money to pay for the bills when they come due. You may have to wait to buy something new, or you may have to negotiate for more payments of less money until the debts are paid.

There are other things you can budget. You can plan how many times you go out to eat in a month. You can estimate how often and how much you drive your car. And, you can budget how many times you bring your lunch from home, and how often you get to go out for lunch on work days. The most important thing to budget is time.

Budgeting time correctly is nothing less than an essential defensive operation and needs to be run like one. The things you have vying for your time are remarkably complex. You have television shows which are designed to be addictive so that you will watch the ads.

There are the books you want to read, and the ones you read while waiting for your favorite authors to write another sequel. Social media wants you to share with others on their site so that you can see the ads. Social media ads offer you the world for free if you give them your email address in exchange for a free PDF about whatever they’re trying to really sell you.

You want to go to some people’s parties, and other people want you to come to theirs. You would like to spend more time with your family, or your extended family is pressuring you to spend time with them. And, I won’t even get started about all the games on the internet!

Pretty soon you have 10,000 emails waiting to be read, your sleeping through the things you really want to watch, and your life is nowhere near that grand vision you once had. What are you going to do?

Well to start with, the realization and the questions have to be sated by your answers and plans and yours alone. To do what others tell you usually will not work because those answers are not yours. So somehow, you have to know, or figure out, what you want and what you have to use to get there.

Can you do everything at once? Probably not. Yet, if you figure out what’s important to you, and you map out a plan you can stick to, you might find some real relief and possibly overcome some of the demands others are pushing on you.

Very rarely are the things that are good, also the things that are smooth and easy to do. Those doing something vital for themselves or others often find the road bumpy and filled with potholes. The work comes in filling the potholes and making the way to where you want to be a smoother ride.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

 

Mindfulness

We find ourselves as creatures of habit. We can go to our kitchen and without thinking go to the silverware drawer or make a cup of coffee when we are still half asleep. Change the layout, and five years later, unless you’re really thinking about it, you will occasionally go back to the original place the silverware was initially kept. I know, it’s been nine years since we’ve rearranged the kitchen and I still occasionally go to the wrong drawer.

Many of us use the computer. And many do quite well using laptops or tablets. Even someone who can write in HTML 5, design courses and write blogs and write books might have problems when asked to do something simple that they don’t usually do. Exactly how do you copy and repost on Facebook? Yep, that was me also.

It seems as though I have two paths in front of me. I could go back to bed and go back to sleep hoping to awaken and start today over again. Or, I can wake up and do something about the problems.

Although sleep always beckons like a good friend, soft pillows and warm blankets and rest for the weary, you know me, I have to wake up and do something about it. I need to work on my mindfulness. Mindfulness is making sure your mental acuity is there. You’re awake, you know what’s going on. Mindfulness is staying on top of your game and not running on preprogrammed memory.

I am just learning new ways mindfulness helps. Yet from what I see, this is really what I need. The Veterans Administration has an excellent app for the cell phone, and it is free. If you are of the mind, I highly suggest you try it out. There are also some excellent classes out there on mindfulness.

If you’re interested and cannot find the information you are looking for on mindfulness, please write me. I would be glad to help by sending you some materials. Also, write me if you’d like to talk about it. I can arrange to give you a 20-minute phone call to discuss mindfulness.  My email address is mikeb@reveille.rocks.

Thank you for being with me today.  I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

Passion

What drives us to do something? We see people who spend a lot of money for procuring things. Some collect old cars, others collect vintage aircraft. Others collect washing machines or sewing machines, toasters or toys or many other different things. And then, the owners spend a lot of time keeping the pieces of their collections in top shape.

The question soon becomes, “Why?” We have to think about the time and money involved and then try to understand why people would spend so much on relative wrecks from yesteryears. The truth of the matter is there is only one reason to do so. Passion!

Some people have a passion for giving back to others, whether it’s scouts or a civic group, or some other organization. Some people have a desire for a time in history or time in their life. And some people have a love for the machines of bygone eras which helped to move us forward. No matter what the thought or reason is, one thing is for sure, it is our passion for something which often drives us forward into action.

Passion held in control is a positive motivator. It can help teach and inspire others or preserve cultural history. It can save older thoughts and ideas that may not be as prevalent today. It helps to give our society diversity of what has come before.

Passion, though, must be kept in check. Passion run amuck can also be debilitating or disastrous to new ideas, and new ways of thinking. New groups with passion towards old hatreds, defeated warriors, or living with the values of archaic societies could have passions that might lead to potentially harmful interaction with today’s norms.

As we enjoy the thrill of seeing our passions come to life, we must always check and ensure not to protrude onto today’s norms of society, nor upon the rights of other individuals. The nice thing is that as we grow and evolve, we are always finding new and better ways to explore both the recent past and the old.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

 

 

 

A Scouting Lesson

Lessons come in all shapes and sizes. I remember a lesson that happened towards the end of a campout once. We had a campout to teach our younger scouts about camping techniques, and about the games, we were going to be playing at an upcoming Camporee. The older scouts were there to help teach the younger scouts.

It was just an overnight camp out, and towards early morning, the cars, driven by adults, happened to get toilet papered. When this was seen in the morning, the scoutmaster did a little investigating. He spoke with scouts both individually and in groups.

Although nobody would confess, he could tell that the younger scouts really had nothing to do with the prank. He knew from talking to everyone that the older scouts did, although they would not say so. The scoutmaster put a little wisdom into the mix and came up with a great solution that taught a lesson.

Talking only to the younger scouts, he got them to volunteer to remove the paper from the adult’s cars, and as a good scout deed wash the cars for the adults. By the time the vehicles were cleaned, the scoutmaster had pizzas delivered from a favorite pizza parlor. The young scouts who had done their good deeds and hard work were reworded and got to eat the pizza while the older scouts could only be there and watch.

I probably would not have thought about this action as a resolution. Although, I couldn’t think of a much better lesson to teach both good deeds, and also admitting to your own pranks. I guess this is a good thing about having wise scoutmasters.

Just something for you to think about this weekend and maybe sometimes when you have to teach younger people a wise lesson.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again soon.

Quality

Welcome to another Throwback Thursday.  Our blog today comes from 2016 and is on Quality

Quality goes hand and hand with reputation.  A person or company with good quality will usually have a good reputation.  A person or company without a quality product or output will still have a reputation, it just, most likely not be a good one. In many Pacific rim industrial centers, quality is related to morality.  A person who produces items of poor quality is looked at as someone with poor morals

Quality discussions and ideas are found online, in isles of books, and in billions of dollars’ worth of consulting and training that are sold each year.  TQM, 8-D, Six-Sigma, 5-S, just name a very few of the thousands of methods used in various industries and companies, ranging from electronic system technologies to healthcare and on to the service industry. 

Quality does not just naturally happen.  You have to work at quality to have a good quality.  Do you have to buy all those books, and experts, classes?  NO.  You should know a couple of things about quality and be willing to put a little time into quality.

I want to tell you of a study that took place in the very early 1900s.  Scientists were trying to find out the best environment for factory production.  They called all the workers together and explained what they were doing and why.  Then they started playing with the environment in the building.  They made the lights brighter for a while, and then dimmer for a time.  Then they made the factory colder, then warmer.  As they went through all these steps and more, the scientists explained to the workers what they were doing next and why.

Every time the scientists changed something the production output kept going up.  It took a little time, and then the scientists began to understand what was happening.  Production kept going up because the scientists kept meeting with the production crew and talking with them.  Thus the first rule of communication:

Good quality requires good communication.  And, to have good communications, there must be trust.  So, remember the notebook and writing implement I mentioned in the preface of the book?  If you have not started yet, it is time to make some notes, we are about to get hands on because this is important.

Time to make a Quality Tree.  The main Trunk of the tree needs to be trust

Without a full trust of everyone involved, good information will be shared and bad information will be hidden.  Without trust fingers point, blame grows, hidden factories and lower quality quickly become the norm. 

So start to draw your tree.

The largest of the branches is communication.  Communication keeps everyone in the loop.  Quality communications ensure no surprises either up or down the line.

Accountability – Accountability is not finger pointing or punishment when things go wrong.  Accountability is and needs to stay positive and rewarding as virtue is bestowed upon all who are part of an organization.  With accountability comes pride in a job well done, a feeling of accomplishment, and a sense of being part of something important.

Too many companies treat their people as throw away items.  Making outrageous time demands, threatening, and not properly training or motivating their workers.  These are the companies that do not have a structure of Accountability; and quite often do not have a history of quality because of a breakdown in Trust and accountability.

To help communications flow smoother, there is a flow to follow.  First, listen and then speak.  Too often management and supervisors come into a problem, talk a little, shout a little, pass around a few threats, along with an insult or two and then consider the possibility of maybe listening to someone.  The problem is by the time they are done, no one wants to talk to them anymore, and the only question is, “Who does this person think they are?”

Keep in mind the rule of thumb.  Two ears and one mouth means listen two thirds and talk one third.  To talk more usually means talking out of both sides of your mouth.

Measurement – Knowing what is good and bad about the product and how long it takes to make the product is very important.  Hiding or camouflaging any problems or longer assembly times causes hidden factories.  Hidden factories become very expensive and very costly.

When I was a process engineer, I had several people come and tell me about a recurring problem on an assembly line.  Knowing how errors get blown out of Proportion, I checked the Shop Floor Data Collector to see what it would tell me.  I only saw one error, not several.  I did notice the line was running slower than it should, and was behind on the total number of units built.

I went out to the floor to investigate and see for myself.  When I got to the Quality Control Inspection Station, I found the answer.  The Quality Technician was trying to help the line.  Any of the various types of errors she found were only scanned once for that day. She set all of the units with errors to the side and fixed them herself so the build line would look better on paper.

I appreciate anyone who wants to help a line do better. However, this action did not help.  Engineers hear all types of stories, both good and bad most of the time.  To make sure they see the right good and bad points, engineers rely on data.  If the data is wrong or being manipulated it works against the workers and not for them.  Anytime an engineer sees a problem as shown in the data, that engineer is working on a root cause analysis and a permanent fix to the process. 

The person who caused the problem was working with a sense of fear for her fellow workers because the factory was undergoing layoffs.  It is important to remove fear by replacing it with accountability, trust, and communications.  She let her fears, flamed by rumors cause a set of quality failures on the line because she had no one she trusted to tell there was a problem and ask for help in getting it fixed. 

Maybe the real trick is to take out the fear?

Thank you for being with me during this Throwback Thursday.  I hope you liked it.  I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

The Holiday Spirit

This time of year, many major religions celebrate the feasts of giving. It is in our nature to share what we have with others. It helps us to share our joy with others and allows them to take part in our bounty.

When we share what we have, we do honor to them, and we honor ourselves. We can always give a present, exchange a couple of kind words, and be on our way. Yet there is actually much more we can do.

We can share the gift of time and understanding with others we know. We can take time to this it with them, talk with them, and learn new things about them. In exchange, they get to do the same with us. In this type of holiday gift, everyone involved finds positive energy and uplifting joy.

Sharing this gift with those in your circle, the people you know and care for, is a great gift. And yet there is an even greater side to this. When you step out and share this with others whom you don’t know, maybe some who were a little less fortunate than yourself, then, everything you offer seems to come back to you. And, you will find it shaken down and flowing over.

I know that sharing with others you are not acquainted with is something that sounds hard, and yet these actions can be some of the most rewarding to both yourself and the others involved. One thing I would recommend is the fact that we do not have to do this only during certain times of the year. We can take any time to reach out and share with another. True, it is more expected during the holidays, yet it is something that is appreciated and cherished any time.

Like everything else I suggest start off with small doses and test it out. This is something you have to try for yourself, not just take my word on. If you do so, please let me know how it went.

Thanks for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.