Business associates reviewing notes together in a meeting.


A Story of Business in 6 Parts
April 8, 2019

By George Strodtbeck The following story told in this 6-part series is based on actual events observed over time.  The names are fictional and the company is an amalgam. Part 1 – The Problem MJ and BB had just arrived at work as they do every morning; BB brought donuts and MJ arrived with two

Why is it that 68% of CEO’s admit they weren’t fully prepared for the job?
March 8, 2019

By Bob Jeske The process for organizations to evaluate, challenge and prepare future leaders. This series of blogs (this is number 4) has already commented on personal attributes and leadership competencies of individual high potential future executive leaders.  This blog lists stretch assignment types to help them strengthen and prepare for the C-Suite.  Stretch assignment

A SIPOC by any other name… is still a SIPOC
March 1, 2019

By Al Landers “When do you use a SIPOC?” I asked the room.  The lighthearted answer came back in unison …”Always”.  Absolutely, the Black Belt class was right…after all, this was the about the 20th time I’d asked the question that week.  Each time you have a project regardless of how big it is do a SIPOC.  I don’t

The Woodcraft Story
February 14, 2019

John Gledhill, VP of Continuous Improvement at Woodcraft, speaks about his team’s implementation of Lean principles to achieve significant productivity improvements over a six-month time period. QUESTION: Can you summarize the recent history of the Woodcraft / Quanex relationship? ANSWER: Yes, in November 2015 Quanex acquired Woodcraft as an operating investor. As Vice President of

Where are future leaders strong and where do they need more development?
January 23, 2019

By Bob Jeske “Survey: 68% of CEO’s admit they were weren’t fully prepared for the job.” – HBR July 2018 headline. So how can the gap between the competencies of potential senior leaders and their future responsibilities be closed? Results orientation, strategic orientation, collaboration and influence, team leadership, development of organizational capabilities, change leadership, market

Repairing Your Smartphone With A Butter Knife
October 12, 2018

By George Strodtbeck A good leader should focus on making sure everyone is being given the tools to do their job, not just expecting – poof! – that they’re going to produce great work. — Anne Sweeney, formerly the co-chair of Disney Media I was recently asked a question that I have been thinking about

Message To Leaders: You Are Missing The Point!
October 5, 2018

By George Strodtbeck Three things leaders don’t understand about the value of six sigma.  This is intended for leaders of organizations. It is meant to make you stop and think about three points that I have observed you are missing when it comes to committing to deploying Six Sigma (or any continuous improvement system) into your

Six Sigma is Dead. The Next Big Thing.
September 25, 2018

How many improvement philosophies can there be? We had: Plan Do Check Act Lean Toyota Production System Kaizen 5s Six Sigma And many more… Six Sigma is a few decades old—surely it must be on its last legs? Many companies want to utilize the most effective tool and want to stamp their own cultural legacy.

July 18, 2018

By Ray Young HOW DO WE COMPETE IN TODAY’S LOWEST COST-PROVIDER WORLD? One mile down a mining shaft. Every day. A 24-hour/365-day operation. Capacity constrained. And an underutilized workforce. A major manufacturer of fertilizer products faced a dilemma: a widely variable, time-consuming process of digging through dirt and rock using a very expensive piece of

Why training doesn’t work, but building competence does
June 15, 2018

By Al Landers What makes SBTI training different from the rest? SBTI gets many calls about training Lean Sigma. The usual question that comes up is “what makes your training different from all the others”. Our training program is not about teaching a skill, but developing a competency.  It’s geared towards producing results. We can

How to Use Personal Attributes to Select Future Leaders and Strengthen Management Teams
June 6, 2018

By Bob Jeske What personal attributes are part of the criteria for selecting senior managers? Curiosity, Insight, Engagement and Determination are personal attributes that can be predictors of individual managerial success and can be measured, according to executive search firm Egon Zehnder. That’s great news but only part of the story, especially when managerial team

May 22, 2018

By Ray Young HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED WHY A ROUTINE PROCESS SUCH AS INVOICING CAN BECOME SO COMPLICATED, ERROR PRONE AND TIME-CONSUMING? A major distributor of fertilizer products faced a dilemma: a widely-variable, time-consuming invoicing process that was vastly different from one location to another. The amount of time to process an invoice and send

April 18, 2018

By Bob Jeske Does your soon-to-retire leadership have confidence in its successors? Today’s complex business environment demands the targeted development of personal attributes in relation to your needed leadership competencies along with fundamental skills. These do not happen by chance. They are developed within the context of the unique issues your business faces. Our leadership

Why do great plans turn into chaotic execution?
March 8, 2018

You probably went through an exhausting process carefully crafting your 2018 annual operating plan. The question is how confident are you that the performance improvement goals you have built into it will turn into a reality? If you are like most of the 700 clients we have worked with last 20 years, you will have

Using Six Sigma to Support Customer Success
December 3, 2017

A company wanted to improve its bottom line.  After many discussions and benchmarking visits, the CEO decided that Six Sigma was the most effective approach available.  The company began to deploy Six Sigma the following year.  Initially, measuring Six Sigma project results in cost savings was the outcome that drew the most attention.  But, it

Good to Great: Increasing the Craftiness of Woodcraft
October 24, 2017

John Gledhill seemingly had a good problem on his hands. As VP of Continuous Improvement at Quanex, a leading supplier of window and door components, he was to increase EBITDA for its recent acquisition: Woodcraft, a top supplier of doors and components to Original Equipment Manufacturers (“OEMs”) in the kitchen and bathroom cabinet industry. An

How Al Landers is Integrating HBDI with Six Sigma
August 25, 2017

SBTI Vice President Al Landers was recently invited to interview for The Debrief, a newsletter for HBDI (Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument) Certified Practitioners. Herrmann helps organizations adapt to today’s technological advances and economic changes through Transformative Thinking. In the interview, Al Landers shares details about the executive presence programs SBTI offers to help professionals learn how to

SBTI Celebrates 20 Years of Successful Business Improvement
June 19, 2017

SBTI is proud to announce that on June 19, 2017, we celebrate our 20th anniversary, which translates to 20 years of successful client engagement, leadership development, and financial improvement. With over 400 client companies under our belt, SBTI continues to drive culture change in the world’s leading companies. In 1997, SBTI was founded with a

In Memoriam: Dr. Mikel J. Harry
May 12, 2017

Dr. Mikel Harry made his mark in business and had an impact on everyone he met. He was a force to be reckoned with, and I was fortunate to have known him and to have worked with him. That’s not to say, however, that we always agreed or got along. Like many trailblazers, Mikel’s personality

An SBTI Success Story – ATW
February 7, 2017

The ATW Story TRACY MACNEAL, COO   This document summarizes an interview with Tracy McNeal, COO of ATW, and her team’s implementation of the right Lean tools to improve from 30% to over 90% on-time delivery.   Question: What were the circumstances that led to your Six Sigma deployment? Answer: We had recently acquired an

Beware the One-Trick Pony
January 11, 2017

Al Landers had just put his career on the line. As Director of R&D at Huber Engineered Woods, he was under constant pressure from top management to develop new and diverse products – the CEO often reminding him with equal parts advice and warning the pitfalls of becoming a one-trick pony. Al’s team was relatively

Using Six Sigma to Solve a Serious Design Challenge
January 3, 2017

A company had been deploying Process Six Sigma (DMAIC) and Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) for a few years.  The company was showing many benefits from this deployment.  Most important among these benefits was a significant improvement in cost performance which was showing up in the Net Earnings of the company, several complex problems had

Using Six Sigma to Solve Complex Product Problems
December 3, 2016

From the very beginning of this company’s Six Sigma effort the goal was to use the process to address the most important business problems.  This meant that everything from scrap reduction to strategy problems to working for the company’s customers to improve their performance was fair game for the application of the processes and tools

Training vs Building Competence
November 30, 2016

SBTI gets many calls about training Lean Sigma. The usual question that comes up is “what makes your training different from all the others”. Our training program is not simply a matter of teaching a skill, but rather in developing a competency on multiple levels that is geared towards producing specific results. We can do

Comfortable With Your Performance?
November 21, 2016

“Comfortable is a word I would choose to describe an old sofa. Sadly, many people in business see it as a destination.” I decided I needed to improve my writing skills and joined a writing class. One of the exercises we were given was to write about something we disliked (the goal was to help

Can Continuous Improvement Protect Your Economic Moat?
November 9, 2016

The term, “economic moat” was coined by Warren Buffett. Morningstar have taken this term and developed an economic moat assessment to help it rate companies. Their definition is: In a free-market economy, capital seeks the areas of highest return. Whenever a company develops a profitable product or service, it doesn’t take long before competitive forces

The Importance of Leadership in Company Transformation
November 1, 2016

A leader had just been picked to be the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company.  This leader’s decades long career had been spent entirely in this one company creating a unique emotional attachment to the company and its people that went far beyond the normal financial and operational concerns that vie for a

Using Lean Six Sigma with Suppliers
October 15, 2016

A company had been deploying Lean Six Sigma (LSS) into its business for a few years.  The company was showing increasing success in both individual project improvements and investment returns that were showing up in the company’s bottom line performance. Because of this success senior leadership asked “How can we use LSS with our suppliers

Six Sigma’s Biggest Surprise
October 3, 2016

A company began deploying Six Sigma for all of the standard reasons: Six Sigma projects produce real results measured in real money to the bottom line. Six Sigma was used by other companies with startling results. Six Sigma tackles the most difficult problems and solves them. Six Sigma is a key element is company cultural

Using Six Sigma to Improve Supplier to a Customer
September 30, 2016

Two companies were mature practitioners of Six Sigma.  One was a supplier to the other.  It was written into the suppliers contract that the supplier was expected to work on Six Sigma projects with the customer.  The customer’s expectation was that doing projects together was a reliable way to keep supplier costs down and, therefore,

The Secret of Harnessing the Power of Tribal Knowledge
August 3, 2016

SUMMARY All organizations are constantly seeking ways to drive continuous improvement. The speed and magnitude of these improvements can be increased if we can tap into the reservoir of creativity that exists within your organization and harness the best practices that are sporadically scattered. This paper discusses the concept of tribal knowledge—what it is, how

Using Your Financial Statements to Drive Operational Performance
July 3, 2016

Let’s Go On A Treasure Hunt! Everyday companies create and file mandatory financial statements. They are the ultimate arbiters of performance. They are the scorecard that evaluates the quality of all decisions and actions taken in the reporting period. The startling fact is barely anyone can read them and fewer understand them. Most people in

Enhancing Material Utilization
June 29, 2016

Background Our client is a North American rigid packaging manufacturer of plastic bottles and containers. Operational Excellence is a principle tenet of the executive leadership team specifically raw material utilization to drive improved bottom line net income. The Challenge Balancing footprint consolidation with ongoing manufacturing efficiency efforts possessed significant challenges in resource allocations. Management has

Improving Inbound Supplier Quality
June 20, 2016

CLIENT’S BACKGROUND Our client is a global power systems company. During a twenty-year period beginning in the 1990’s the company experienced 300% growth emerging as the sole independent producer of diesel power systems and components in the world. In addition to rapid expansion the company saw the complexity of its products increase in a totally

A Little Push Is All We Need Sometimes
May 20, 2016

Relatively speaking, it was a good problem for Naveen to have – as of fall 2014, customer demand had skyrocketed at this leading global maker of suspension systems for semi-trailers. And as Manufacturing Engineering Manager, a key responsibility was to address this gap.   The Current Situation Internally, no unrelenting pressure from the C-suite or

With Common Language All Shall Flow…
May 5, 2016

Fred Stone’s grimace told it all. He was straight-shooting, no-nonsense plant manager at a leading automation company in the American Midwest, where poor third quarter numbers had worsened his already bad mood — the disappointing year was continuing… The Company Story It had become abundantly clear to him in-house measures were not solving problems of

Closing the Execution Gap
May 3, 2016

Execution has to be a part of a company’s strategy and its goals. It is the missing link between aspirations and results. – Larry Bossidy, Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done SBTI has helped over 700 companies achieve higher results. This was achieved by creating a concrete link between strategy and execution. We catalogued common behaviors

Real World Experience Makes A Human Difference
April 7, 2016

At the corporate level, this consolidation process meant the purchase and merger of a handful of companies under one umbrella, with Jay’s facility itself being a $70 million business pumping out 18,000 bumpers a day for some of the largest automakers in the world. More specifically, Jay’s facility provided bumpers to a sequencing facility which

Sythetic Fabric Manufacturer: Reestablishing continuity of supply
April 3, 2016

Background Our client is an innovator and manufacturer of specialty materials. A key part of their product portfolio is engineered specialty fabrics used in healthcare including gowns used in hospitals and operating rooms. Persisting Challenge The end customer noticed discolorations in their surgical gowns. Analysis showed they were black fibers that had become impregnated into

Reducing Cycle Times and Speed of Batch Processing in Automotive Coatings Process
March 3, 2016

BASF is a global corporation with a very diversified portfolio that ranges from chemicals, plastics, performance products, agricultural products, fine chemicals, crude oil and natural gas. Approximately 95,000 employees on five continents are the key to their success. BASF Automotive Coatings is a $1.2 billion (2004) chemical division focused on developing and manufacturing innovative coatings

“Mission Breakthrough”: Apparel Retailer Returns Five Times Investment in Two Years
February 3, 2016

Bob’s Stores sells men, women and children’s discounted name-brand clothing, including casual and activewear, and footwear. The company operates about 35 locations, averaging 45,000 sq. ft., in six northeastern states that target moderate to upper-middle incomes. Bob’s Stores was established in 1954 by Bob Lapidus and acquired out of bankruptcy by off-price retail giant TJX

Improving Profitability and Performance
December 3, 2015

Project Background The Affordable Care Act generated significant strategic uncertainty for this independent hospital system in the Southern United States. Patient quality metrics showed an exemplary level of care indicative of strong, consistent leadership, and high employee morale. However, the mix of patients (inpatient versus outpatient; level of Medicaid and Medicare) was changing. Profitability and