Kristin McLane

Kristin McLane

Recent Posts

August 20, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Curiosity in Manufacturing

As people, we are inherently curious.  Even as we age, that yearning for something new causes us to travel, meet new people, maybe even wander a bit.  Curiosity is a part of human nature.  We all read studies (and see the evidence) of how curious children are when they are born.  We also see the results of traditional educational models in curiosity.  Driving children to conform to a single norm of sitting in straight-line desks and file in lines works for teachers in that in helps to control the chaos of the classroom, but if you were like me and many other entrepreneurs, conforming naturally bucked the curiosity you felt about issues that weren’t on the schedule for the teacher today. 

In a recent Harvard Business Review article on Why Curiosity Matters, Francesco Gina explores curiosity and its results on business specifically.  While most breakthroughs come from curiosity, she cites all the ways that business kill it in their workers.  Critical to this center of thinking is the notion that “it will increase risk and inefficiency.” 

Ms. Gina lays out the benefits of curiosity in work.  Confirmation bias is first on the list.  We’ve talked about this before.  Expecting what you’ll see and seeing it, whether it’s there or not.  This shows up in manufacturing all the time.  We hear it called “tribal knowledge.”  Many companies tell us that their workforce just “knows what to do.”   That only works if you never want to change how they do it. 

In training your workers to “just know,” you are eliminating the possibility of anything new.  My mind immediately goes back to the days of early automation.  Whether that conjures a picture of Lucy trying to wrap chocolates on an assembly line in “I Love Lucy” or assembly workers at the early days of Ford, this is not the way work is done today.  In the era of click and swipe, no one wants to do a job the same way all the time. 

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July 30, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Why Pictures Matter in Manufacturing

Pictures solidify messages.  Science tells us that we forget most of what we read.  (This doesn’t speak well to what you might remember about this blog, so be sure to come back and read it again.)  We remember context.  That could be the place you were when something happened.  Smells.  Visual elements of the world around you.  The writing on the page. 

The last time that you went to a bookstore (you have been to one recently, yes?), do you remember picking up a book because you liked its cover?  Maybe a magazine’s front picture drew you in?  These are images that recalled something in your mind.  They caused you to have an emotion which made you lean in.  If you opened the book, do you remember liking the text, the way it looked on the page?  Or not?

These emotions related to what you see help you to remember the content as well.  Without a connection between seeing something and an emotion, chances of you remembering it shrink drastically.  Studies (and Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience) show that 10% of people remember what they read but 90% of what they do. 

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March 12, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Assembling Your Production System Project Team

Part 1  |  Who Should Have a Seat at the Table?

You need to assemble the right team, both internally and externally, to select, implement and support your manufacturing system. Manufacturers can’t expect IT alone to understand the needs of production just as IT wouldn’t expect QA to understand integration connections to/from your ERP. That type of departmental decision-making leads to narrow systems that rarely make it to implementation.

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November 9, 2018 at 11:00 AM

No ERP Can Control Workflow

2018 Advanced Manufacturing Technology Show Series |  6 of 6

You’ve hired an ERP vendor. You should never say you bought an ERP. You hired a vendor. They’re going to be with you for a long time. Get to know them. You bought a system. You’re paying a lot of bills during the scoping process and you can’t yet use it to do anything. 

You’re exhausted. You’ve spent more money and time than you would like and certainly than you’d care to remember. You don’t have a system yet. But you have a new hire. A fabulous new hire.

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November 1, 2018 at 11:00 AM

The Real Gap in Your ERP

2018 Advanced Manufacturing Technology Show Series |  5 of 6

Nearly every company we talk to thinks that an MES fills a gap in their ERP. It seems logical from the outside, but a real MES is light years beyond a functionality bridge.

The ERP vendors would like you to think it’s true. It helps them win the argument that the ERP should do everything and even that the ERP can do everything (which it most certainly cannot).

An ERP is transactional. It handles things – a bill, a person, a customer, an order. If you’ve ever been around the implementation of an ERP, you understand the depth of pain it takes to install. That pain that you experience, and I do mean pain (have you ever seen an ERP implementation on-time or on-budget?) is the vendor building the system for you.

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October 29, 2018 at 11:00 AM

Turn the Tables on Software Vendors

2018 Advanced Manufacturing Technology Show Series |  4 of 6

We’ve spent the last few weeks talking about software vendors – what makes a good one, how to tell and how to know what questions to ask. Now let’s talk about what makes a great customer. In order to have the best customer experience, there are some things that you should know.

Remember, you are going to be in this relationship for a long time (unless you have a really crappy software vendor and rip it out quickly, which I hope you never have to do).

There are a few things that all companies (manufacturing or otherwise) can do to make their software-buying experience run as smoothly as possible. Everything that you do affects the way that you will experience the product, the service and the relationship with the vendor, so do what you can to make the most of it.

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October 26, 2018 at 11:00 AM

What’s worrisome about software vendors

2018 Advanced Manufacturing Technology Show Series |  3 of 6

I could give you all the advice I have to help you pick just the right software vendor and it still wouldn’t be enough to get you the right choice right away. In the age of consultative selling, software sales people are very good at telling you and showing you exactly what they want you to see which always happens to be what they’re great at. They’re also good at covering up their weaknesses. 

So how can you tell what they are not telling you?

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October 23, 2018 at 11:00 AM

What Matters Long-term in Software

2018 Advanced Manufacturing Technology Show Series |  2 of 6

Software is like a roommate. It is part of your life, your processes and your work. It should make your life easier. It’s a long-term choice that you don’t make lightly. With that said, what should you care about when selecting software and taking the long view?

We talked last time about ensuring that the software that you select works for you into the future. How can you test that? How would you even know what you’re going to do in the future? Here are a few things to consider and an easy test for any product that you’re reviewing.

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October 19, 2018 at 11:00 AM

The Best Software Experience

2018 Advanced Manufacturing Technology Show Series |  1 of 6

What is the best experience you’ve had with software? How about with a software vendor? I pause when I ask that question because I know what’s coming – silence or anger. People that I speak to either haven’t had a good experience with a software vendor or it’s been so long that they can’t remember one.

Having spent the last 25 years in software, I am deeply saddened by this, in manufacturing especially, but I feel for the entire industry. People don’t make choices for software lightly, no matter the purpose. Software invades your life. You can’t even leave your house without something electronic making your coffee or protecting your house.

You want it to be easy. You want it to work right “out of the box” and for an expensive coffee maker or kitchen appliance that might be true. For the rest of you, there’s radio silence.

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February 22, 2018 at 7:00 AM

Where’d the money go? – How to turn Manufacturing Assets into Profit

If you don’t know where your materials are and how many you have, you don’t know where your money is. The purchase and storing of assets (materials, tools, parts) for manufacturing is one of your largest expenses, so why don’t you have complete control of it?

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August 1, 2017 at 7:00 AM

Manufacturer’s Guide to Software Implementation

In a recent survey, Automation World and ARC Advisory found that MES systems were critical to compliance, cost reduction and profitability. They go on to talk about the importance of implementation. While that seems obvious, implementation is sometimes the last thing that prospects talk to us about. Implementation should be discussed early in the vendor selection process as it may be the single most over-looked and critical project requirement.

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June 6, 2017 at 9:08 AM

Bridging the Gap between Your PLM and Manufacturing

Manufacturing and engineering are both symbiotic and disjointed. While manufacturing relies on engineering to do their work, engineers are not trained to provide manufacturing exactly what they need at the design phase; that’s further downstream.  

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January 10, 2017 at 9:25 AM

Manufacturing Software and Paperless Manufacturing in 2017

We regularly review the manufacturing software market.  Last year, we were twice caught off-guard by references to the “death of Manufacturing Execution Software” (MES) by both a major analyst firm and a competitor.  

Manufacturing software isn’t dying.  With the changes to our industry, the growth of technology, and the need for companies to better manage resources and production, there has never been more need for strong software tools to support production.  Paper, a modified spreadsheet, or an ERP modified with some shop floor functionality, simply can’t provide the capability manufacturers need.  There is no magic bullet, super-system to solve all your enterprise problems and replace manufacturing software.  Predicting the “death of MES” flies directly in the face of what we see every day. 

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December 14, 2016 at 11:22 AM

Manage Change on the Shop Floor with Manufacturing Software

With any software system, there’s a balancing act between flexibility and standardization.  Where flexible solutions give you agility, standardization is sustainably repeatable.  You need both in a system for your shop floor. 

Manufacturing utilizes negotiable and non-negotiable rules to manage work and deliver repeatable processes.  Enterprise software solutions need to support these processes and change the “negotiable” rules where it is necessary.

A recent visit to a small airport showed the importance of accommodating change.

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December 7, 2016 at 12:12 PM

Overcoming Failure: Simple Steps to Improve Manufacturing Software

Not long ago, I wrote about a concept known as “sunk cost.”  The Sunk Cost Fallacy is a cognitive bias that compels us to cling to an investment even after there is little to no chance of a beneficial return. We feel an unnecessary commitment to decisions of the past, even where we’ve lost our initial investment, and so we keep pouring more resources into it.  For example, continuing to invest in a failed business or clinging to a relationship even after it's gone bad.

I’ve heard Annie Duke, a World champion poker player, discuss the Sunk Cost Fallacy, and I’m fascinated by her lessons on sunk cost, loss aversion and Decision Science. She recently wrote a blog about supermarket lines and sunk cost.  There are valuable lessons for manufacturers in her blog when you consider the amount of money you spend on infrastructure.

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