All Articles

Control Chart Applications for Non-Manufacturing Processes

If you are applying statistical process control to a non-manufacturing process, this is the post for you! This article is a short primer on the topic with loads of examples of using control charts in service, administrative, or government processes.

Continue reading →

The PICK Chart: A Simple Tool for Prioritizing Improvement Projects

A PICK chart is a simple, implementable tool for prioritizing projects based on difficulty and pay-off. This short post describes the tool and gives actionable tips for implementing it at your next process improvement event.

Continue reading →

Two Brainstorming Techniques for Writing

This blog post shares two techniques I've used in the past to get thoughts out of my head and onto paper. Mindmapping and freewriting are two different styles of brainstorming methods and are explained in detail for this week's blog post.

Continue reading →

What I've So Far Learned with Deep Work by Cal Newport

Like Tim Ferriss's book The Four-Hour Work Week, I should have picked up Cal Newport's Deep Work book years ago. Although I'm only part-way through reading Deep Work, this post is about two major concepts in the book: shallow work vs. deep work and the four kinds of deep work.

Continue reading →

Video: 5 Lessons on Value Stream Mapping

I had the opportunity to speak at my first webinar to the Colorado Chapter of APICS, a supply and operations management professional organization. I was excited to give it and now I share it with you in this blog post.

Continue reading →

Brainstorming with Teams

Leading teams in idea generation (and organizing those ideas) can be challenging if the only method you know of is brainstorming. This blog post details five different tools for team idea generation and organizing those ideas.

Continue reading →

Do a Braindump to Help with Stress

Brain dumps are a way for dealing with things on your mind and getting them out of your head. Carrying around too many of these "open loops" causes stress and anxiety and this blog post shares how to do a brain dump to get relief from that stress and anxiety.

Continue reading →

A Not-So-Free Resource for Lean Six Sigma Certification

In one of my first blog posts on this website, I had recommended you check out The Council for Six Sigma Certification's free resources if you are studying for certification. Maybe it could save you money. Unfortunately, I uncover three problems with this supposed "free" resource and no longer recommend it for your use in achieving a six sigma certification.

Continue reading →

Three Things I've Learned Using the Zettlekasten Method

This is my first foray with a knowledge management system called the zettelkasten method. After two weekends working with it, I'm excited to have discovered the note-taking and and storage system. This post is about three things I've learned working with the system for the very first time.

Continue reading →

MECE - Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive

This is a third on a series of post about frameworks. MECE is a way of structuring your thinking and communication so that there are no overlaps in the issues and every issue together completely describes the problem.

Continue reading →

Six Sigma Frameworks ... So Many Acronyms

I try to provide a little bit of clarity for three six sigma improvement frameworks: DMAIC, DAMDV, and IDOV. I was surprised with how this post turned out because, at the root of it all, these frameworks are all essentially the same. So why bother studying them? Understanding these models will make you a better communicator to your process improvement teams.

Continue reading →

Eight Wastes and Five Principles of Lean

Two foundational concepts of lean thinking: waste and the principles of lean. Once you understand waste and how to apply lean principles, you'll be on your way to being a lean thinker and transforming your company to being efficient and effective in delivering value to all of your customers.

Continue reading →

Five Mistakes to Avoid in Value Stream Mapping

Five things to avoid when leading a team of people through value stream mapping. These are lessons learned from leading my own VSM improvement projects.

Continue reading →

The Best Value Stream Mapping Facilitators Think About the Team

Five tips for you to being the best value stream mapping facilitator you can be. Keep the team top of mind and you'll increase their chance of success.

Continue reading →

Resources for Shortcut Keys to Increase Your Productivity

Knowing and using shortcut keys is a skill that takes a little bit of time to develop because, if you've always used your mouse, there's a bit of learning you need to do. But ruling your technology is a key principle in becoming a better time manager and more productive in your knowledge work. This post walks you through the why of using shortcut keys, how to go about building your repertoire of shortcut keys, my favorites, and (as always) resources for you to use.

Continue reading →

Facilitative Leadership

As a process improver, you'll be interested to learn about facilitative leadership, a special blend of skills that takes a team through collaborative problem solving. Facilitative leadership is different from other kinds of leadership because it encourages you, the leader, to involve and engage everyone throughout the process improvement project.

Continue reading →

Three Myths in Improving the Government

I discovered a book titled "We Don't Make Widgets" about how to overcome the myths of process improvement in the government. This is a short blog post about the three general myths the author finds.

Continue reading →

Skills for Project Managers

I dust off my old thesis from 2007 and write about the knowledge, skills, and abilities I think are important for process improvers for success in completing their improvement projects. Back then, I found seven key traits, describe them here, and talk a little bit about the most important one (organizational ability).

Continue reading →

Finding Time to Write

One thing that many writers struggle with is making the time to write (I'm one of them). Over the years, I've gotten much better and here I write about four strategies anyone can use to get themselves to write.

Continue reading →

Tips for Your Success on ASQ's Six Sigma Green Belt Exam

Prepping for your ASQ Certified Six Sigma Green Belt exam? These are the most useful tips to help get you through your test.

Continue reading →

Annual Planning for 2021

Here are twelve questions to help you with an annual review going into 2021. A little bit more work than the traditional New Year's resolutions, but the questions will help you reflect on the lessons from 2020 (both the good and the bad).

Continue reading →

An Email Workflow: Part 1

I've found that email used to be a huge source of stress for me. This post explains my email workflow which has helped me achieve inbox zero daily and eliminate a major source of stress.

Continue reading →

Certification Programs in Lean, Six Sigma, and Lean Six Sigma

For this post, I'm writing about my first steps in my lean six sigma journey. I spent a weekend researching certification programs in Lean, Six Sigma, and Lean Six Sigma, and here is what I found.

Continue reading →

Protip to Increasing Your Productivity: The Habit Loop

Duhigg's book, "The Power of Habit," was a powerful read for me and helped in transforming the way I lived. The habit loop is a simple model in how to form good habits and I've used it again and again over the years to change the way I live for the better.

Continue reading →

The Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix is a simple model that all productivity geeks should know about. It's one of the very first things I learned when I started my productivity journey in earnest.

Continue reading →

Getting Started With the Levenger Notebook System

I'm a prolific notetaker. I discovered the Levenger system just a couple of years ago and here's and explanation of why I think it's so great (and a pros and cons list).

Continue reading →