Showing posts with label Productivity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Productivity. Show all posts

April 12, 2019

Gotta Love FANUC


I love FANUC industrial robots. 

They are made by a secretive company in Japan and they are #1 in workplace automation worldwide! 

They have over half a million installed industrial robots around the world.

Their robots are on assembly lines making everything from "cars and smartphones to beverages and drugs."  They also are in Tesla and Amazon...so you know they are pretty much everywhere. 

FANUC has customers in 108 countries supported by 263 service locations. 

Their robots are made by...that's right other robots...80% is automated

These robots are strong, fast, and precise, and they can do dangerous work. 

This company is the future of jobs, productivity, efficiency. 

But of course, people are still the brains behind the brawn.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 12, 2019

Daylight Saving Time S*cks

Daylight saving time makes NO sense. 

It does NOT save us a lot of energy as designed. 

Call it the wrong assumptions or bad science.

The law requiring daylight saving--switching the clocks ("Fall Back" and "Spring Forward") is archaic and needs to be repealed. 

We're messing with people's sleep cycles and their health. 

People waking up groggy all over the country, feeling crappy during the day, and losing much needed productivity.  

How about we repeal this stupid law NOW and not waste any more time on the squabbling politics of the day?  

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 11, 2018

You Can't Eat The Elephant

So there is a popular saying:

"You can't eat the elephant in one bite."

The idea is that you need to break things down in little pieces to get them down. 

If you try to eat the elephant in one bite, I assume that your mouth would easily split in half and your face would literally explode. 

Similarly with projects, if you try to get to the nirvana end state in one fell swoop , the project explodes with complexity and risk, and you will fail miserably.

Thus, managing requirements and phasing them in chunks is critical to projects' succeeding. 

Sure, customers want to get the Promised Land immediately--where the projects have all the "bells and whistles"--but you don't want to sacrifice getting the train on the tracks for the accouterments either. 

Think big, but act small--little by little, one step at a time, you can actually eat an elephant. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 8, 2018

Helmet Head

So happy Friday funday. 

We work hard during the week, right.

Today in the office, we replaced some old metal clunker garbage cans with some new clean plastic ones. 

The old ones, every time you threw a bottle or anything hard out, it made a crazy loud banging noise disrupting everyone. 

I started to joke with my colleagues that the dirty, heavy old cans were more useful as a helmet in case of emergency evacuation of something. 

So today the old metal junk cans got a happy face helmet head and a prestigious place next to the office plants.

Everyone had a good hearty laugh!

Honestly, it's wonderful to be incredibly productive and accomplish a lot for the people, the mission, and all the stakeholders, and at the same time know how to have some fun and make people happy. 

Good for morale and good for teamwork!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 10, 2018

The Essence of Time Management

So here are some quickies on the essence of time management.

1. Urgency vs Importance:

Don't sacrifice the important items for the urgent ones!

- Focus on the items that are important on the right side of the matrix--if they are urgent (upper-right), you need to do now; if they aren't urgent, but they are important (lower-right), you need to make time for them. 

- Deemphasize the items that aren't important on the left side of the matrix--if they are urgent and not important (upper-left), limit them or delegate them; if they aren't urgent or important (lower-left), delete them. 

There are two potential areas of dissonance that can cause you tension, stress, and anxiety.

- When the urgent top row items and the lower-left life necessities get in the way of your focusing on the quality life items that are of long-term importance to you (the lower-left).  For example, work and errands can crowd out your personal, family, community, and spiritual time. 

- When you have too many items in the lower-right quality time area and these are in competition with each other for your time and attention, and you don't know how to prioritize them and get it all done.  It's like there is never enough time. For example, we ignore our spouse, the kids, or closeness with G-d, because we just can't get to it all.

This is where our personal values and conscience come into play to drive what we do and how we spend our precious time in this world. 

We all only have 24 hours in a day, so our actions need to be purposeful and driven by our values!

2. Tasks vs Relationships

Imagine another matrix with focus on tasks on the vertical access and focus on relationships on the horizontal access. 

Again here, we want to ensure a healthy balance of focus on both task and relationships (upper-right corner). 

If we focus on tasks at the expense of relationships or relationships at the expense of tasks, we are going to have a problem.  Moreover, it makes no sense to focus on items that are neither task- nor relationship-focused (lower-left).  

We need to collaborate with others to accomplish great, complex tasks (we can only accomplish so much alone). 

Again, dissonance (tension, stress, anxiety) is caused when we are pulled off-balance to focus on work or people to the exclusion of the other.  

As they say,

"Mission first, people always!"

We've got to build meaningful relationships and work together to get the mission done and the mission can be helping people and building a better society in a variety of ways. 

In a sense, it's people helping people. Love thy neighbor to help thy neighbor.  

Time is of the essence--we have so little of it--it is precious--we can't get it back--it goes so fast--we need to manage it like gold. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 11, 2018

Teambuilding S-Cubed

Awesome day today with my team at work. 

We had a half-day team building. 

Started off with a Play-Doh exercise where we had to answer things like what we'd like to accomplish as a team in the new year. 

This was my representation with a S-cubed for the new program implementing process improvements and enterprise service management using:

- Strategy

- Structure

- (Customer) Service

We followed up with a great team luncheon and then a game of Monster Mini Golf.

We broke into two teams and one team came in "first place" and the other team were the "winners."

I suppose whenever we genuinely come together as a team to appreciate each other and work collaboratively as a unified whole--greater than the sum of our parts--then we truly all come out as first place winners! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 10, 2018

On Time Is Late

Smart saying I heard today on time management:
Early is on time.
On time is late.
Late is unacceptable.
Having grown up in a very precise environment,  I can certainly appreciate this. 

Seriously, from a Yekke (Jewish German background), we were taught to be 15 to 30 minutes early--i.e. on time--for everything. 

I remember starting to get "little" reminders to get ready and get out the door well in advance and numerous times before the clock struck. 

Fashionably late or any other type is not in the vocabulary and frankly is a complete f*ckin insult. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 5, 2018

Ergonomics Ah!

So today I went for an ergonomic training and assessment. 

Never did this before. 

It was pretty awesome. 

The person had 4 degrees in ergonomics and really seemed to know what they were talking about. 

They got me set up in a special ergonomic chair with a footrest, bio-design mouse, and task lighting.

I tell you that I never sat so straight, perfectly contoured, and completely comfortable. 

They almost had to pry my butt out of that chair after I test drove it for over an hour in training. 

OMG, there is a difference. 

Don't need carpal tunnel.

Don't need sciatica. 

Don't need neck, shoulder, and back pain. 

I even learned that the standing desks can be BAD for you--they put undue stress on your musculature and may actually result in a notable DECREASE in concentration and productivity. 

Anyway, from the stupid chairs that I've seen most people have--and the lousy posture they sit with--I'd recommend seeing the ergonomist. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 4, 2018

Living Your Values

So I had this great conversation today with someone about values.

Thinking about what I really value and whether I am living consistently with these...

For me, I was able to clarify for myself these critical values:

1) Being a good person and influence in the world (having a positive impact on people and ideas)

2) Being a good family man (a loving husband, father, and previously son)

3) Being spiritual and serving G-d (living selflessly for my Maker and not selfishly for myself)

4) Being a hard worker (living productively and not as a laggard or sloth)

5) Being a balanced person (living along the "golden path" or "middle of the road"--not an extremist)

6) Being a generally healthy person (living a lifestyle that includes activity, exercise, good nutrition, and no smoking, drugs, or excessive drinking)

What I realized is that when I need to let my values guide me every moment of every day. 

This ultimately means my success and happiness! 

Being what I think that I am supposed to be or what others would want me to be, just doesn't work--it's a strategy for failure. 

My father used to tell me:
"Let your conscience be your guide"  (that and the Torah, of course)

This is the answer to a lot of questions that I have in my life--about what to do with my life and what decisions to make.

Values--driven by conscience and integrity--that's where I want to go next and next. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 26, 2017

Supervisors vs. Team Leaders

Here is a comparison of the roles and responsibilities of supervisors and team leaders. 

Often there can be confusion over who is supposed to do what. 

This table should help clarify what supervisors and team leaders do in terms of strategic planning, work assignments, resource management, employee training, and performance management. 

I hope you find this a helpful resource, and that you can organize your staff more efficiently and productively ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 7, 2017

Flower 4 Monday

Just wanted to share this beautiful flower that I came across on the hiking trail yesterday. 

I have never seen a flower with pedals of pink and white candy stripes like this. 

Like a candy cane or perhaps the outfits that volunteers helping people at some hospitals wear. 

It also has these yellow buds in the center, which add to it's eloquence.

What magnificent creations that G-d has bestowed on us to enjoy. 

Hope this is a little something to cheer up your Monday and make you even more productive this week. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 9, 2017

Third-World Office

So hooray for paper towels. 

A good workspace is definitely conducive to productivity and morale. 

That means cleanliness, open collaborative spaces, quiet work areas/offices, ample supplies, and obviously good technology. 

I've been in world-class institutions in terms of their mission, but that were third-world in terms of their work conditions. 

In one place, the bathroom toilets kept getting clogged with paper towels, so they got rid of them altogether, which forced the employees to use toilet seat covers for hand towels--yes, believe it!

Of course, at least we had running water, but there was also often flooding in the cubicle areas and the windows were nailed shut--high-tech security, not. 

In another place, in the private sector, I remember a new CFO coming in and being so cheap that he actually got rid of the milk and creamer from people's coffee. 

Talking about pennywise and dollar foolish. 

Don't these institutions get that the way you treat people impacts the way they respond to their work.

How can we be the Superpower of the planet and can't provide decent, normal work conditions to our workers. 

It goes without saying that treating people with respect, dignity, and value should be happening all the time, but doesn't.

We're not even talking six-figure bonuses and stock options either--just treat people like human beings and not indentured slaves or cattle. 

Wake up America--you're people are worth working plumbing, paper towels, and some milk and creamer for their coffees and really a heck of a lot more than that. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 10, 2017

Whose Throat Do You Choke

So this was an interesting term that I heard about getting people to take responsibility for their actions.

"Whose throat do I choke for this?"

Sounds a little severe, no?

I think this is partially an adverse reaction to "analysis paralysis" and "death by committee" -- where no decisions can ever get made. 

And organizations where lack of accountability runs rampant and it's more about finger pointing at each other, rather than owning up to your responsibilities, decisions, and actions.

So with dysfunctional  organizations, the pendulum swings aimlessly being no accountability and the ultimate chopping block. 

But choking off the life blood of our human capital certainly isn't conducive to innovation, exploration, and discovery or to productivity, employee morale and retention.

So when it's simple human error with our best effort and no bad intentions, how about we say a simple "Who done it this time," do a post-action, figure out the valuable lessons learned, and resolve how we do better going forward. 

No throats or heads necessary (most of time). :-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 8, 2016

Hold On To Your Jobs

These statistics are dismal for manufacturing in the U.S. 

Today, public sector (government) employment is 22.2 million vs. just 12.2 million manufacturing jobs. 

In other words, there are 10 million or 80% more people employed by the government than making things in this country. 

This is the complete opposite from 1979 when government employed 16 million people and manufacturing had 19.6 million workers.

So just 37 years ago, manufacturing employment was 22% more than our public sector employment.

Manufacturing lost 37% of it jobs, while government grew 39%.

It hasn't been since 1989 that there was parity at 18 million between the two sectors. 

Lest you think that the loss in manufacturing jobs is due to automation and technology, the Economic Policy Institute states unequivocally:

"Trade, not productivity, is the culprit."

In the U.S. the annual trade deficit is over half a trillion dollars--we are hemorrhaging and no one has been even trying to stop the bleeding.  

If we send all our manufacturing prowess and capacity abroad eventually we are not only going to lose our capability to make things, our ingenuity to invent things, but our finances to pay for anything. 

Trade is a great thing when it is mutual and equal, not when it is one-sided and damaging to our economy and jobs. 

Bad political decisions mean a poorer future for our economy and our nation. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 19, 2016

Standing Down

So there is a funny term used in government, which is to "Stand down."

Basically, it comes from the military where it has traditionally been used to denote relaxing (or "at ease") after a prior state of alert or readiness.

Since then it has become more broadly adopted to mean abruptly ceasing activity--and usually even all further discussion--on something. 

For example, if someone is working on a project, task, or issue, but you want them to completely halt all activities on this, you may tell them to stand down.

This happens when something, usually significant, has changed or the activity has become OBE (another military term for Overcome By Events).

Basically, something has unexpectedly transpired and the strategy and orders have now changed (maybe a complete 180). 

Often, someone up the chain has put the kabbash on whatever it was.

Either way, you go from a full-on sprint to a complete halt and you might as well stand on your head for all anyone cares, because the run to the finish line, on this matter at least, is over now. 

Standing down is very different from standing up--but you aren't sitting down either. 

Sitting would imply doing nothing at all, while standing down implies you do something else instead--like move on in the meantime to your next order of priority business. 

Still standing down, because of it's abruptness and completeness is a big deal--and when everything and everyone was prior in motion like a moving freight train--and someone now stands in front of it and yells "All stop!"--the rest of the train cars, all the way to caboose, can essentially ram right up into the butt of the engine causing a real mess of things (productivity-wise and from a morale perspective). 

So now everyone untangle yourself and "calm the h*ll down"--there's a new sheriff in town or new way ahead and you better get your standing down under control and stop doing whatever it is you were doing, okay there sonny boy? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 18, 2016

When It Comes To Education, We're Just Playing Around

So I overhead a conversation of 2 young women in Starbucks talking about their college education. 

One of them while acknowledging that she enjoys her classes, says, "But I still don't feel that I am learning anything practical!"

He friends responds saying, "Yeah, all we learn is X+Y, but what does that do for us in real life?"

The first young women says, "They need to emphasize the practical things and teach us personal finances, fitness, healthy cooking, and so on."

The second young women starts repeating, "X+Y, X+Y, that's all they teach us!"
I couldn't help but chuckle at this point, even though it was sort of sad. 

The education system is known to be so bad in this country, especially until you get to college. 

We've gone from No Child Left Behind to Every Student Succeeds, but no matter what you call it--it's still a big C-R-I-S-I-S. 

According to Ranking America, the US ranks 14 out of 40 countries in education--behind Netherlands and Poland.

Moreover, we rank 2nd in ignorance about social statistics like teen pregnancy, unemployment rates, and voting patterns. 

Moreover, we are falling behind in our competitiveness ranking in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and are now 27th in math and 20th in science out of 34 countries.

We can't innovate, improve productivity, and effectively compete if we are just playing around with our education system. 

If we don't change, X+Y may soon equal the bottom of the education barrel. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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July 14, 2016

Got Mic

My daughter went to a cool work seminar yesterday on emotional intelligence and she told me five important takeaways for creating EI health:

1. Self-awareness

2. Self-regulation

3. Self-motivation

4. Effective relationships

5. Empathy

Certainly, exerting self-control and working effectively with others is sort of obvious.

But it is not necessarily easy for everyone to do. 

Reflecting on this, some people seem to need no microphone or megaphone. 

They can't get off the elevating soapbox and behave instead is as if they are the whole show onto themselves. 

Enjoying to talk alone or above everyone else, maneuvering with drama and theatrics, and being cemented squarely in that center stage.

Perhaps highly intelligent about the subject matter, but often quite low on emotional intelligence. 

Seeing neither the objective nor the team, unable to recognize and respect others or to listen to alternate points of view, it may go on for quite some time before they come up for air. 

Overly extroverted, oblivious, uncaring, or perhaps needy or narcissistic.

Seeming to say, "I was created and stand in the center of the universe and all revolves around me!"

Chasing honor and dismissive as to their way or the highway--threats lurk, right or wrong. 

This is definitely a job for self-improvement and to personal advancement. 

Can EI be learned? 

Perhaps if the person can stop for a sec and just listen and be humbly part of the human race. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 6, 2016

Agile Processes As An Enabler

So something that I've learned is that processes can be an enabler or a hinderance to progress depending on how it's used.

On one hand, without a standardized and clear process where people know what they are supposed to do and when, we are likely to end up with a lot of chaos and not much getting done for the customer or organization.  

This is especially the case where tasks are complex and numerous people are involved requiring there to be solid coordination of team members, sync of activities, and clear communications.  

On the other hand, rigid processes that are so prescriptive that no one will get out of step for any rhyme or reason can be counter-productive, since this can hinder productivity, time to resolution, and customer service. 

For example, we all understand the importance of a help desk ticketing system in IT to document issues and deploy resources for resolution and measure performance. However, when customers, especially VIPs are in a bind and need help ASAP, it may not make sense to tell them to go open up a ticket first and foremost, instead of helping them to quickly get back online, and even opening the ticket for them and in parallel or as we get to it afterwards. 

Process should be an enabler and not obstacle to progress. Process should be followed under normal circumstances, but rigidly adhering to processes without adapting to conditions on the ground risks being out of step with the needs of the organization and a customer service model. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 23, 2016

Work Is For Work

So when I saw 2 awesome colleagues bright and early in the morning standing in the hallway on the way into the office already talking about work--I said, "You guys are already talking shop?"

Now it happens that these 2 actually carpool in together...

So I asked, "Didn't you have enough time in the car to talk about this [business]?"

To which one person replied, "Oh no, we don't talk about our work in the car!"

At first it seemed funny that you would wait an hour's drive and not say what you have to about work and hold it until you just get in the door.

And then after a split second--well of course, that's their time!

Work is for work. and free time is your personal time (for personal care, health, G-d, family, extra-curricular activities and interests, travel, etc.)

It's good to have some healthy separation--to mentally box them out and to keep each sacrosanct. 

We can live and work (not just "live to work") each in it's own rightful time and place and get the most done for our jobs, ourselves, and our families. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attributio to AmatuerX)
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November 9, 2015

Sit-Stand Computer Desk 1-2-3


This adjustable computer desk stand from Veridesk for sitting and standing is awesome. 

Someone got this in the office, and it is the talk of the town. 

It comes as one piece, no assembly required and you just place it under your computer--simple, easy!

Just push the handles on either side and the desk height adjusts variably up or down. 

I found it on Amazon for just $325-$400 depending on the size and whether you have a double monitor. 

My colleague at work said just try it and you will feel so good--this seems like a good healthy deal. ;-)
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