LEAN 101, free

FREE, 10 AM, SATURDAY 1/11/20

Leaders, I’m going to review LEAN 101 tomorrow for anyone interested.

You will learn what good looks like when you use LEAN. I’ll cover basics on human behavior, change, seeing waste, doing 6S for workspaces, making & standardizing improvements and if there’s time we’ll solve a problem together.

I’ll be in Roseville from 10am to Noon. Anyone can attend so share it with operators, office staff or leaders.

There is no charge and coffee and donuts will be provided. Cheers.

If you want to attend, text me a note and if there’s room I’ll respond with directions, 248-881-3310.

Don Watza

LEAN Is The Future of Management

Change is worth the effort of change, it is why I love LEAN. Change defines life, work, and all people. Ironically, we all want tomorrow to be predictable. The rate of change in business is advancing quickly. It means disruption in that daily predictable life. What is disruption you ask? Check out Industry 4.0 for that well-detailed answer. The article quoted here is a good one, the point is preparation will require Small Business Owners to see the change coming. And, if they do see it, the Small Business Owner should embrace LEAN. The author proposes the retraining of employees as the answer and should have been more clear with LEAN as the answer.

Small Business Owners should embrace LEAN

Have you heard the phrase, “boil the ocean?” While this is true, it’s hardly the end game. How do you pick what’s next, or where to focus? I like the metaphor to describe both the size of the problem and also the number of problems Small Business Owners face. Often owners feel overwhelmed because it seems like they must “boil the ocean” to achieve the future.

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Top 50 Start-ups

Great Linkedin article on top 50.

Why this list of companies is better than other lists of upcoming companies? Because the data Linkedin has available makes for a more clear sense of reality. At least, that’s what they say.

I’m building the office back-room for a Start-up on my current project and I’ve done Start-ups before. It’s fun to see what’s possible.

2018 Top 25 Startups


My favorite 3 companies and their industry disruption:
– Puls, Puls sends a technician to a customer’s door within an hour to fix a broken phone screen or hook up that Nest thermostat.
– InVision, focusing on gaps in the product design workflow, like reliance on tools and lack of real-time collaboration, it has garnered 4 million users.
– Coinbase, bitcoin frenzy catapulted 6 year old wallet and cryptocurrency has 500 employees and 20 million accounts.

My observation of the 2018 Top 25 Startups is the number of financial service and HR disrupters this year. Again, like last year, no healthcare disrupters in the list. A final thought, Industry 4.0 is here and this list is evidence that every company owner needs to pay attention to the rate of change and what it means for their business.

2017 Top 50


My favorite companies and their industry disruption:
– Aryaka Networks, your Verizon and Comcast bills will go down.
– Pinterest, gone hightech is tackling machine learning and AI. I didn’t see that coming.
– GRAIL, Bio-technology with $1 Billion of Bill Gates’ money, that has to be on the list.
– CourseRA, providing education to get underemployed back in the game. Nice.
– Uptake, using sensor data to make decisions, this is coming age of internet connectivity, everything and everyone will be connected.
– Wish, direct access to product manufacturers (many in China), if Americans are the low cost consumers they’ve proven to be this will do well.

There were no healthcare disrupters, hmmmmm.

What companies are your favorite?

Top 5 DOL Audit Corrections

Sales People Are Not Benefit Plan Experts

Sadly, information for owners almost exclusively comes from financial service salesmen or saleswomen. In most everything I post, I focus on filling the void of information to protect an owners ass_ets. So, the info below, an owner should know. But, your product salesperson won’t be providing.

The DOL recently focused on CPA Auditors and how their audit of benefit plans happen. They reviewed work processes, training, licensing, practice size. Then, they looked to improve CPA practices to fix the problems they found. The DOL wanted to know how well CPA’s understood employee benefit plans.

CPA’s Are Not Benefit Plan Experts

CPA’s are not well trained in benefit plans. That’s what the DOL discovered. They’re not prepared and do not have good processes to perform plan audits. This includes audits for retirement or welfare plans. Welfare is the technical name for plans that are not retirement, this includes health plans, dental, flexible spending accounts, COBRA and other plans.

Owners Are Responsible

Along with their correction to the CPA community, the DOL offered advice to fiduciaries. Fiduciaries are those responsible for the plan, including the auditor’s actions. One of all the hats owners wear includes fiduciary, they are responsible for what they setup for retirement and healthcare. No one else can be substituted in that role. Sorry Owner friends.

Top 5 Audit Failures Identified by the Department of Labor

1 The word “limited scope audits” poorly defines what should be happening.

2 CPA’s from any size firm who perform too few audits, should not be doing audits.

3 Training of CPA’s is insufficient.

4 CPA’s who do not have others audit their work, should not be doing audits.

5 Don’t assume large firms do enough audits

It Takes Time Owners Don’t Have

Benefit plans can burn up a lot of time for owners who aren’t familiar with their responsibilities to lead the audit. The DOL reminded owners that the audit responsibility ultimately is the owner/fiduciary/trustees responsibility. Your job is to look after the best interest of your employee benefits.

What’s the fix?

The best solution is to hire an outsider, not an employee, not a vendor, not a friend. Someone independent, and someone who can review what’s best for the employees with experience and training. That’s it.You can’t trust fiduciary to anyone, but you should not expect a financial advisor or anyone associated with the company or you personally to make recommendations for operating the plan.

It doesn’t have to be expensive.

This doesn’t have to be expensive, look for independence in an outsider, or look for a contractual agreement to assume fiduciary responsibilities, just remember, you can’t pass off your responsibility but you can hire trusted people to help.

I’m focused on helping small business owners by guiding them and not selling them. I can help owners by doing any of the following: preaudit plans reviewing frequently overlooked plan details, act as trustee or fiduciary, reduce HR costs and increase customer satisfaction by using LEAN efficiency techniques.

LEAN Is Catholic

How do you balance listening to employees needs and making time for all the other things to do as a manager?

LEAN says, go to the shop floor employee, go to the office worker, ask any employee about what exactly is going on, listen, understand, then ask them,

“What do you need right now, to do your job serving the customer?”

Catholic says, subsidiarity is a very Catholic notion, it says, the person closest to the work is the person who should influence change the most. That sounds pretty much like LEAN, don’t you think?

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