Category Archives: Change

IIPP Innovative Techniques Get Employees Attention for Safety

Part II of Injury and Illness Prevention Programs (IIPP), following announcement of OSHA’s pending standard.  

Safety is not the most exciting subject to speak about that will hold an audience’s attention. But to get your employees’ attention, take a look at these innovative techniques for safety program implementation.

You can think of injecting the element of surprise or unexpected humor to help deliver the message. These persuasive examples will illustrate how to take proactive steps for safety in your workplace.

Example 1 – Don’t Walk on By

The Safety music video, Don’t Walk on By produced by Nick James Productions is cleverly done, showing how easily we get accustomed to our surroundings. Consequently, we start overlooking important safety clues that could prevent serious injuries.

How can you utilize the Don’t Walk on By theme?

  • Add your spin on the theme, using a statistic of workplace injuries and illnesses, as well as costs associated with people not doing anything about it (walking on by).
  • Segue into performing your safety audit.
  • Demonstrate how your organization protects employees from workplace injuries and illnesses as well as saves costs through a workplace safety program.

Example 2 – Horror Movies: Workplace Safety Videos Pack a Punch

The recent EHStoday article, titled Horror Movies: Workplace Safety Videos That Pack a Punch consists of a set of impactful commercials produced by the Ontario Worker Safety and Insurance Board called Prevent It.

These short and brutally honest vignettes may be seen as disturbing by some, because of the dramatic way in which accidents are depicted. In a split second an employee’s life can be turned upside down.

How can you utilize this theme?

  • Always be on guard to potential hazards in the workplace and at home. The point is made that “there really are no accidents.”
  • Every accident can be prevented if the employee (or employer) had done something different.

QMA will address your specific injury prevention training and consulting needs, whether you are a large or small employer. Together, we will develop a strategy and a program that fits your industry and organization. For a free consultation, please complete the contact form and we will contact you.

ISO 9001 Implementation: Should You Wait Until Your Customer Asks?

I often hear from clients and prospects that they would consider implementing an ISO Quality System only after “my customers start asking for it.” Is this a wise strategy?

In reality, by the time customers ask for your certification, it is often too late. Let’s examine why that “waiting” strategy frequently results in huge lost opportunities.

Your customer may not have flexibility to wait for your ISO certification.

Several months are required to develop the documentation and prepare for a certification audit even when a mature quality system is already in place.Your prospect may not have the patience or the flexibility to wait for you to become certified.

For instance, a marine parts manufacturer lost several large contracts due to the lack of ISO certification. After registering to ISO 9001:2008, the company was able to bid and secure a multi-year five million dollar contract with a Middle Eastern luxury yacht manufacturer only a few weeks after passing the certification audit. The bid request specifically stated that ISO9001 registration was a pre-requisite for participation.

Similarly, a Miami medical device distributor failed to qualify for bidding on several large contracts with South American hospitals due to the lack of ISO registration. After becoming certified, he was accepted as an approved vendor by many of these hospitals and was invited to participate on numerous solicitations.

Supply chain partners are required to be ISO certified.

Globally, more than one million organizations have become registered to the basic ISO 9001 international standard ( One reason for this high number is that many large companies today require their supply chains to be certified to the standard as well. The certification validates that the supplier has developed a compliant Quality System that has been recognized by an accredited and independent third party.

Dealing solely with ISO certified suppliers, the customer eliminates or reduces the need to conduct its own supplier audits. ISO registered companies, large and small, normally seek other certified companies and include the registration as an element of its vendor selection criteria.

ISO registration reduces the necessity for the customer to conduct on-site audits at the suppliers’ facilities.

As companies supply chains spread over the globe, the need to conduct supplier audits is a drain of resources for both customer and supplier. Registration to the standard provides assurance that the supplier has implemented a Quality System that will meet the customer’s primary expectations for product and service quality and on-time delivery.

Lack of certification serves as an early screening criterion on deciding what suppliers to consider.

It is very likely that some of your competitors have already registered and thereby attained a competitive edge over your organization. Of course, many customers will ask for your ISO certification. Unfortunately, others will not even ask. Like a skill that is missing from a job candidate’s resume, a lack of certification serves as an early screening criterion on deciding what suppliers to consider. The ISO certified companies will gravitate towards those suppliers that have already been registered.

An ISO certified company adds value and competitive advantage.

ISO certified companies also want suppliers that speak the same “language” and are more responsive to their Quality requirements. ISO registered suppliers understand the standard’s requirements for controlling and measuring processes and will generally be more cooperative with corrective action investigations to resolve problems promptly. To maintain registration, the ISO registered supplier must demonstrate that he has consistently met product requirements and continually improved its processes to attain full customer satisfaction.

Once registered, a company can announce its achievement to the world and use the new prestige and added value to gain competitive advantage.  Your marketing media is used to publicize the accomplishment including: web site and blogs, press releases, email signatures, email campaigns, stationery letterheads, directory listings, and so on.

The waiting strategy can result in lost business and some of these losses may never be revealed because of early disqualifications. The costs of implementation and maintaining registration are nominal compared to the potential loss of revenues and profits.

Sharing your ISO certification experiences can help others understand the sales and marketing rationale for attaining registration.

This article has covered the sales and marketing rationale for attaining registration. My next article will discuss how ISO 9001 implementation will help improve the way you do business.

Have you experienced any incidents where ISO certification helped you get business that you would not have been able to obtain without it? Please share your experiences in the comments.

QMA specializes in leading companies in the implementation of Quality systems, such as, ISO 9001:2008, AS9100, ISO13485 and FDA GMPs.

But Mommy, You Said…

by Enrique Bekerman

When my son Randy was 4 years old he invited a neighborhood friend to play. My wife admonished the boys to take “only one toy out at a time”. My son agreed, but when my wife returned, to her dismay all of Randy’s toys were scattered all over the room.

Randy, noticing my wife’s obvious displeasure, quickly protested his innocence by proclaiming “but mommy, you said to ‘take one toy out at a time’, and that’s what we did!”

Clearly, my wife was disarmed by this remark, since the boys had followed her instructions literally and taken every toy out one at a time! She had neglected to instruct the boys to replace each toy before taking the next one out

Doesn’t this story ring a bell with you? How often do you encounter that your spouse, colleague or employee totally misconstrues what you are saying? Unfortunately, often this “crossing of wires” is only discovered after the damage is done. We tend to leave the obvious out, as in the story above, assuming that it is equally obvious to the listener; but that is not always the case.


Getting Back to Basics in Quality Improvement


Essential for survival, a strategy of getting your organization back to basics can make the difference in obtaining significant bottom line results.

How do you build quality in your company?

By applying 5 basic principles, your company can experience significant improvements in a short period of time.  At Quality Manufacturing Associates, we train and consult on continuous quality improvements methods. Our clients have seen rapid improvements even before their initiative is fully implemented.

To help you take the first step, we would like to give you our abridged version of the presentation we have given to hundreds of clients – “5 Keys to Building Quality.”  It outlines the principles that are essential to build Quality in any organization.  Find out what other clients have said.  Contact us to help you accomplish important quality initiatives.

Your competition is improving their systems on a daily basis; so don’t wait, before it’s too late.

Request your free copy now5 Keys to Building Quality.

Zippy is Back!


In case you missed us last time – check out our introductory video of the Zippy Car Workshop!

Public Workshop 

This dynamic four hour workshop enables participants to learn the basic principles of Lean Manufacturing in a no-risk environment. Principles are taught in the classroom and then practiced in a hands-on factory simulation.

In three successive factory simulation rounds the participants convert a traditional factory to a Lean factory environment. Facilitators track the quality and financial metrics from round to round to show the benefits to be derived from a Lean Transformation.

The Lean principles are explained so that its benefits can also be applied to office, service and other non-manufacturing environments.

For a more detailed description you can visit our events page  or watch the brief introductory video.

In-House Workshop

Zippy is available for in-house delivery at your site. For a quote, email Enrique Bekerman,

Learning Lean by Live Simulations

Why bother with the extra expense of a Lean live factory or office simulation?

Live factory simulations have been used  for the last several decades to demonstrate the Lean concepts.  Electronics, clocks, cars, toys, boats, airplanes, electrical connectors,  pens, flashlights have all been popular.  Office simulations to eliminate waste in paperwork/information have also been used. Materials used range from actual products (pens, switches) to more whimsical demonstrations  (Lego assemblies, wooden toys, paper airplanes).

The idea behind all these simulations is to combine classroom learning, through lectures or Power Point presentations, with an actual demonstration of the Lean concepts.  Typically, the workshops are broken into several sections or rounds to represent shifts or days at an assembly operation.

The first round starts  by intentionally demonstrating some of the wastes commonly found in a traditional manufacturing environment.  These inefficiencies are used as talking points for the classroom session.  During the classroom sessions the Lean principles are gradually introduced and practiced during a simulation round.  Quality rejects, amount of product shipped, on-time delivery, and profit/loss are tracked and reviewed after each round.  Subsequent rounds gradually introduce the Lean tools and concepts until the final round representing a Lean Enterprise.

The benefits of Lean including customer satisfaction, waste elimination are demonstrated physically and financially in a way that can be easily understood and applied.  A good facilitator will encourage the students to make the connection between the simulation exercise and their workplace environment.  The workshops are typically presented in skit form to add some levity to the experience.

Because a Lean transformation involves a cultural change, it is essential that everyone in the organization participate in the simulations.  Teamwork and the need for Continuous Improvement are emphasized in the classroom and simulation exercise.

I have participated and facilitated many of these workshops.  I have also, at the client’s request limited the introduction to to Lean to a one or two hour classroom presentation.  In my experience, the latter do not generate the same level of  learning or enthusiasm as in the simulation workshops.  The hands-on experience obtained in the simulation, the facilitator’s ability to relate the simulation to the “real world” experience and the round-to-round factual comparison of the benefits of Lean, in my opinion,  make  simulations a superior method of  preparing an organization for a successful Lean transformation.

Have you had experience in a Lean simulation?  Do you think it is worth the extra time and investment?

It should be noted that workshops typically take a full day. QMA as developed the Zippy Toy Car simulation, a dynamic 4 hour workshop that  in 3 rounds covers the  most important concepts covered in the longer workshops. It is far less disruptive and cost effective. It is designed for in-house delivery, but a Public Workshop is offered periodically.

Enrique Bekerman



Developing a Listening Culture


In a previous post Leadership and a Trusting Culture   I talked about the importance of developing trust as a critical component of  managing change in any organization.

To build trust, leaders must first develop listening skills.

Team members must know that their ideas will be heard and given proper consideration. The synergies to be derived from team participation will never be realized if team members don’t trust that their leadership will listen and have a capacity to understand them.

Well intentioned leaders often “kill” ideas without even realizing that they are doing it. A large number of phrases have crept into our daily speech that result in immediate freezing of the desire to openly share ideas.  “We have tried that before”, ” that will never work”  are some examples of  idea killing phrases that will halt any creative cooperation. Being careful  to refrain from providing “knee jerk” negative feedback is an important skill to be acquired by all leaders.

It is a well established method in all types of brainstorming exercises to withhold criticism while ideas are being gathered.  The absence of criticism provides an atmosphere where creativity is uninhibited.  Once all ideas are vented, the leader and the team may engage in the critical evaluation of the benefits, costs, and general practicality of each solution to the problem at hand.

The “wild and crazy” ideas that appear impractical at first, often become the real problem solvers.  If  team members are free to think and express themselves they can often put a different “spin” on an impractical idea that overcomes the initial objections.  One idea may be the initial spark of creativity that can be used as a “springboard” by other team members.

When a leader criticizes prematurely, or places too many limits on the types of ideas that are welcomed, the results are predictably unproductive.  In a recent Dilbert comic strip, Scott Adams makes this point.

Tom Feltenstein  offers a hilarious and powerful video, titled “99 Idea Killers.”

Paul Williams advises teams to “pause before you pounce” on an idea.  He has developed  “Idea Killer Bingo Card” to help teams recognize their own use of reactive negative feedback.

I heard one of  QMA clients express disappointment with the results of their “suggestion box” recommendations.  In facilitating some of their team efforts it became evident to us that leaders, at all levels, were quick to criticize the ideas of others and find reasons why the solutions wouldn’t work.  They often assumed they knew the answers to the problems.

After privately confronting them with their negative attitudes towards the ideas of others, they made genuine efforts to improve the way they interacted with team members.  It turned out that many of their inefficiencies were easily eliminated once team members trusted their leaders to listen to them and became fully engaged in the organization’s continual improvement efforts.

What is the worst idea killing criticism you’ve witnessed?  Do you have a special technique to deal with negativity of  “idea killers”?  Please share your comments below.

Lean: Is It All or Nothing?

Lean: Is It All or Nothing? – Manufacturing Executive Community- Question posted originally on:

Enrique’s answer:

A company can often obtain small gains by utilizing the Lean tools.  For instance, using 5S to organize the shop floor results in immediate gains in productivity and accident prevention.  However, sustainability of the improvements depends on the last two steps “standardize” and “sustain”. This is where most organizations fail and where the development of a Lean culture is necessary.

The development of a Lean culture takes time, as Matt mentioned above.  As people start seeing the benefits of Lean, they will start getting involved in improvement efforts.  Lean is all about incremental improvements that add up over time.  If large gains are obtained initially, that is icing on the cake.

The emphasis should be on Continuous Improvement and waste elimination, not on cost savings (these will come soon enough).  Training, education and empowerment at all levels are also essential to developing a culture where waste elimination is an integral part of the organization.

Manufacturing and Innovation

There is no doubt that the key to long-term success in manufacturing is innovation in every facet of the business, from developing unique products, like the iPod, to finding new ways of getting products into people hands, like

Pharmaceutical and consumer products companies, among others, have historically shifted their mature products overseas, while maintaining at least some of their domestic operations for the development and early production of new products and line extensions. US based manufacturing has heavily relied on the rate of innovation of the organization. This trend continues and is the key to our manufacturing base.

High margin products, such as medical devices, are less sensitive to relative production costs as long as they have a unique product. Even in those cases, as volume increases the financial pressures to migrate production to locations with lower labor costs also increase. Such high margin industries continue to be significant to our manufacturing base.

In South Florida, manufacturing is not considered by local governments as a target sector for expansion. No effort is made to attract new manufacturing plants. Municipalities and county governments are more interested in attracting and retaining “cleaner” industries, such as, tourism and entertainment. On a national scale, manufacturing has not been recognized as the significant sector that it is.

The role of government at every level is to provide the conditions needed for innovative manufacturing to flourish and to prevent other countries from establishing barriers to the entry of our products while our doors are wide open to the world’s products.

To summarize, I agree that innovation is the key to continued success combined with forward thinking leadership at every level of government.

Leadership and a Trusting Culture

In a previous blog, I mentioned that the main ingredient of cultural change is trust.  I would like to examine here how trust is built and nurtured.  Restoring or establishing trust starts and ends with the leadership. Trust must be built incrementally and must be clearly established before attempting any transformational change.

In his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni has identified a lack of trust as one of the most common reasons why teamwork fails in an organization. Since teamwork is an essential ingredient for building a continuous improvement culture, it follows that leadership must understand that people will not work towards a common goal until they trust each other and their leadership.

W. Edwards Deming, thought leader in quality management, provides the essential elements for establishing this mutual trust in,  “14 Points for Management”, the basis for transformation.  One of these points, to create constancy of purpose is indispensable for developing trust.  Employees will often snicker at the first introduction of yet another improvement initiative,  the “program of the month”.  Trust must be built by showing that you “say what you mean and mean what you say.”

Deming also stressed the importance of creating trusting collaborative relationships with customers and vendors by warning us to “stop doing business by price tag alone”.  Most of his other points actually dealt with developing trust internally.  Leadership is about “facilitating”, that is, providing the resources, training and education, tools, and systems required to get the job done correctly.

Your role as a leader is to “drive out fear” and to eliminate goals, measurements, and rewards that divide rather than unite members of your organization.  By doing this, you start eliminating barriers and building bridges that enable trusting relationships to develop that make the transformation everyone’s job.