Theory of Constraints helps face Economic Slowdown

Today’s DNA, Bombay carries a story by Tanvi Shukla  (s_tanvi@dnaindia.net)

based on an ineraction with my good friend Kiran Kothekar.  http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1204241&pageid=0

This is great stuff.  I encourage you to read it.  What Kiran has done is to study Eli Goldratt’s teachings in great depth.  In this he has had a wonderful opportunity to study at the Master’s feet.  He has then deployed that knowledge to Businessesses across the spectrum, learnt from that field experience and developed his knowledge further and sharpened his skills.


What he has done at Fleetguard is unique and attempted  for the firs time in India.  This knowledge is highly applicable and relevant to several businesses, specially for those who make for stock and sale and specifically to the Indian Book industry.   I hope the book trade fraternity will sit up and take note of it.


For further knowledge, I recommend Eli Goldratt’s books which can be found at:



Alignment Important for any improvement to succeed

In discussion with Dr U Chatterjee of Unilever the other day, he stressed the importance of Organisational Alignment for any Improvement initiaqive like TQM, TPM, Six Sigma and so on.  That’s when I realized there are very few books published on Alignment.  Raghu’s work, which has now been updated into a second edition and released recently is probably the best book on the topic and is a result of a lifetime’s work.  


Totally Aligned Organisation 
Aligning The Human Spirit to Organisational Endeavour
BY : Raghu Ananthanarayanan
Price: 600.00 

The Central mission of this book is to explore ways by which we can ensure a hundred percent deployment of human potential in organizations. This can be the only goal for organization culture that will support initiatives like “Zero defect”, “Zero waste”, Lean JIT, TPM & TQM. The author uses seminal ideas from the Indian tradition: Alignment of thought, feeling and action at a personal level and at a collective level. This fresh and original approach to organization building is illustrated through detailed case studies. The book offers many mental maps which have come out of the consulting practice of the author and is therefore both practical and powerful. This book advances a path breaking approach to culture building – A must for any manager serious about the human dimension of organizations. 

Raghu Ananthanarayanan is a postgraduate in Engineering from IIT Madras. After working in manufacturing and product design for a few years, he worked on long term assignments on designing manufacturing systems for various organizations. He became very interested in the cultural aspects of organizations since change of systems invariably meant a change in the hearts and minds of people-the creators and sustainers of change. He went into a deep study of human processes and qualified to become a process worker. He simultaneously undertook an intensive study of yoga and related texts to discover the uniqueness of Indian genius. He has published a well-received book on yoga. He is retained as a consultant with many leading organizations in India and abroad. 

I have found the concepts of Totally Aligned Organisation (TAO) Comprehensive and practical for creating effective teams and a vibrant organization. Implementation of the insights offered in the book would lead to overall organizational excellence based on deeper understanding of human processes. It provides idea on how to lead and build commitment thro dialogue and value based design of the organization.”
S. Ramadorai, MD Tata 

Consultancy Services 
Aligning The Human Spirit to Organisational Endeavour At Claris, we have been working on the ideas, propounded in the book, especially on alignment between individual, functional and organizational goals. This has resulted into synergy, shorter throughput time, optimum use of resources and thus improved organizational excellence. The alignment process, especially with individual goals has resulted into a deeper understanding of human processes and work-life balance. Overall, it has provided deep leadership insights into how to navigate the organization at a faster speed in the dynamic business environment of today. 

Handa, Claris Life Sciences 
The frameworks presented in the book form a very good backdrop to explore and interrelate many individual and collective experiences within the organization. I have regularly gone back to the book to understand the depths of the framework and appreciate in applicability within silicon valley organizational constraints. 
J Shankar, President, 

Golden-Gate Technologies 
“The transition of Shasun Chemicals & Drugs from a family managed organization to a systematized and professional organization has been facilitated greatly by the application of many of the concepts & practices contained in this book.”
Dr. Devendra MD, Shasun 

Chemicals & Drugs 
As a consulting partner and technical executive, he deals with business and technical issues every day. His recent experiences range from Managed Business Process Services to Maintenance and Technical Support Services. 

“The inputs on Alignment and Productivity that Raghu brought in helped us turnaround the organization and create a sound foundation for growth”. 
P. Rama Babu, MD, EID

Evaluating Ideas

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Our brain keeps working all day. Even when we are sleeping. Thoughts waft in and out of our consciousness. There is always an inner voice babbling something about everything. There is a constant nagging in our minds, whether we choose to act on it or not is a different discussion. There are a thousand ideas that we get throughout the day- ideas that are silly, stupid, crazy, impossible, ambitious and a host of other varieties. All these ideas may be great as such. But in reality, not all can grow into something more than just an idea. There are other external and internal factors that influence and the situations that one is in lets only certain ideas to grow and thrive.

Spending a great deal of energy on an idea that is bound to fail due to the various conditions surrounding it is not an intelligent thing to do. True that “Nothing is Impossible”, but practically somethings are impossible. For example, for all the climate change that’s going on, you still cannot make it snow naturally in South India. As of now, that’s impossible. So, if your idea is to ice ski in Chennai, it’s not going to work. You might instead want to settle for ice skating in Chennai on an artificial ice rink, or get ready to go to a place where you can ice ski. In totality, you should be ready to alter your idea to fit in with other worldly and practical factors, simultaneously making sure that you don’t change the basic idea itself.

Well, so the first step to achieving great actions out of great ideas is to evaluate the plethora of ideas that your brain brings up all through the day, and pick the right ones that can become great. To simply put it, you have to evaluate your ideas.

For example, in the book “The Value Strategy” by G. Jagannathan, there is a chapter titled “Evaluation Phase: Weighing the Options”. This chapter basically talks about how ideas that have been taken from all the sources in a business meeting have to evaluated later for the “best alternative idea that will equally satisfy the basic function, at an overall reduced cost”. So, here we can see that the practical factor that would be key to the selection of the final idea is based on this. Some of the factors as identified in the book for the business that they discussed are safety, durability, reliability, cost, availability, acceptability by the user, etc.

Generally ideas can be evaluated by sorting out priorities. One should ask questions to oneself before they start implementing or working on an idea. Is the subject of the idea in itself most important to them? Or is it the end result that the idea can achieve more important? If the end result is more important, then is there any other idea that they have in mind that can lead to the result with lesser investment and better productivity?

What must be invested to carry out the idea? Is the subject of investment available (eg. money, time, land, etc.)? How sure does the result look? Is it a stand-alone idea or inter-dependent one?

The nature and type of questions will be different for different ideas. In fact, not all questions can be answered at the beginning. But these questions must be revisited every now and then to stay on track. As a final note, humans are passionate creatures with a powerful brain and our actions are driven by intuitions. So, on the pursuit of answering such questions and methodically sculpting ideas, one should not ignore the gut feeling that prompts us to do something even when the odds are against it. The evaluation phase is just to be statistically and cognitively informed. A balance is what we require for success.


Gemba Walks & IPS

“What is Lean?”, is a question many people ask me. The conventional answer is, ‘ lean means systematic identification and elimination of waste’.  But, Dr. Jim Womack, who coined the term Lean has revised his definition of lean as “a daily practice of conducting experiments and accumulating knowledge”.  Over the past three decades, Womack has been travelling round the world conducting his own experiments as well as observing the experiments conducted by others in their Gemba, their workplace.

“As C. Narasimhan, the former head of the operation (at Wabco-TVS) and the force behind the transformation, remarked during my tour, ‘Why do ‘catalogue’ engineers fancy machines that immediately need kaizen in order to work properly in their context? Why not just build them right from the beginning?’ And this facility has just done this, with many examples across the operation”. So writes Jim Womack in the 2nd expanded edition of GEMBA WALKS

Published in India by us at Productivity & Quality Publishing Pvt. Ltd., for the Lean Management Institute of India, Gemba Walks offers insights, thoughts, and inspiration for every lean practitioner.

What Womack encountered at Wabco-TVS (now Wabco India Limited) with Narasimhan, wasn’t just an adoption of an efficient production system, but an adaption of the system to best suit the culture and context. In Made in India for Make in India: Indian Production System, also published by us, Narsimhan discusses the challenges of adopting the global systems in India, and shares strategies that can help turn these challenges into successes.

In the chapter on Total Lean Manufacturing ⁃ Lean Machines, Narsimhan writes:

“Machines have been the most neglected resource … as far as improving cost efficiency is concerned.  The focus has been how to eliminate waste and poor efficiencies through process re-engineering and save money.  As far as machines are concerned, we have focused on its output only in terms of productivity, quality and downtime.  We rarely consider the following questions:

  • Is the machines’ design optimally suiting our purpose?
  • Are all peripherals useful for us?
  • Is there an alternate solution available for the same?
  • Is it operator friendly?
  • Is it TPM friendly?
  • What will be the running cost?
  • Are we paying the right price?

Traditionally, a machine manufacturer sells a standard or a catalogue machine that has many unwanted elements not really required. They do not make build and design all peripherals in a machine; instead, assemble standard systems that are available outside.  They use such systems or components keeping high buffer safety margins, resulting in over capacity peripherals….  Term such machines as FAT Machines. These add to the cost of the machine. In addition, these machines run at a higher operating cost, as they consume more energy and consumables. The cost of maintenance is also high.”

Narasimhan advocates a company design its own peripherals:

  • Lean Electrical System
  • Lean Hydraulic system
  • Lean Coolant System
  • Lean Lubrication System
  • Lean Pneumatic System

He describes each of these peripherals in detail along with the benefits of lean machines such as reduced energy, oil, coolant, lubrication consumption; space saving; easy maintenance, etc. Narasimhan also provides a useful checklist for factors to be considered while buying a new machine.

 That we struggle with the applications of recommendations from global instances to our manufacturing industries, should not deter us from adopting these systems but push us to adapt them into home-grown systems that are tailor made for India.

Do we need Forklifts at all?

 Forklifts in Manufacturing: Less is More to Eliminating  Buy None 

When one talks of productivity, it is important to carefully consider how to define productivity, then how to measure it, and finally, how to achieve it. Productivity does not simply mean to produce but to produce in abundance.  In the manufacturing sector, one of the key elements is material handling. Whether the material movement is done manually or through an automated process, it presents challenges to workers and management. Forklift management, is one such challenge.

With forklifts, it is hard to know if you have too few or too many or just the right number. Irrespective of the number, it is important to keep track of what each forklift is doing always. Especially, because the operational cost of a single forklift is much higher than its cost price. For example, if a forklift costs Rs. X, the operational cost can be as high as Rs. 1.5X per year. And despite this excessive cost, it is common that managers are not aware of how many forklifts are being used simultaneously, or if the forklifts are being used at capacity.

In, “How Many Forklifts Is Too Many?” (published in MHLNews), Dave Blanchard writes how everybody seem enamoured by the latest material handling equipment. He refers to the ProMat Show 2017, which may result in nearly $5 billion worth of material being purchased by end of 2018. This purchase includes forklifts, one of the most popular displays. But what remains unanswered is whether the company knows how exactly the workforce is going to use the forklift. For some reason, forklifts attract less scrutiny than other heavy equipment. It seems like one would figure it out before buying one, but it is hard to accurately calculate the expected usage. And this ends up costing companies, a lot of money.

Typically, the Operations team and the Finance team approach things differently. Operations teams don’t like to work overtime, for example, and Finance teams focus on negotiation lowest monthly costs. It is pertinent that companies get a better handle on leveraging data to maximise utilisation. Getting rid of just a single underutilised forklift, and all the related costs with it, can result in huge savings that can be used elsewhere. A good guideline, when it comes to forklifts, is, ‘Less is More’.

This high-costing forklift management holds true for India, too. The Indian government’s ‘Make in India’ campaign aims to facilitate investment and build the best in manufacturing infrastructure. But adopting production systems from other countries and implementing them in the Indian environment, does not easily translate to success. Many are still struggling. Applying recommendations from global instances in India, brings a new set of challenges. What India needs is a home-grown system that is tailor made for India.

In his book, ‘Made in India for Make in India’ (published by Productivity and Quality Publishing Private Limited) the author C. Narasimhan takes the ‘less is more’ strategy a step further to recommend that the use of forklift be eliminated. Talking of Integrated Inventory Management, he says, ‘forklift is an enemy of flow and it is essential to eliminate fork trick in production’.

Made in India for Make in IndiaThe book suggests that in the course of eliminating forklifts, we can implement other creative ideas for material handling. This doesn’t mean we simply eliminate forklifts from some parts of the shop floor, but we must study all the places where they are used. An integrated approach to this is necessary, where forklifts can be replaced with other material handling principles such as gravity flow, pneumatically activated pick and place devices, rollercoasters, and re-engineering layouts to avoid lifting.

Material handling is an importance section in any manufacturing unit. We, in India, have been traditionally weak in parts handling and logistics, and it’s time, to revamp this. The sweeping idea of eliminating forklifts may seem ‘too radical’; however, it is capable of bringing a sea of changes that will go a long way for ‘Make in India.

Daily Management

A group of us,  which included Mr Mohanakrishnan, author of THE WAY TO THE PRACTICE OF  TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT were chatting over a cup of coffee the other day. The talk turned to the subject of how important leadership  is in the next of manufacturing enterprises.  And Mr Mohanakrishnan observed effective use of Daily Management can help the leader to lead better.  He went on to say that many people stayed on in an organisation happily accepting a lower pay because thy were very happy working under good leader.  In his experience those leaders who effectively used the principles of Daily Management were successful in nt only retaining talented employees but also loyal, committed team members.

Mr Mohanakrishnan has elaborated on this discussion in his new started blog: http://smkrish.com/2015/10/17/daily-management/.  In this blog he says: “Daily Management, if in place, ably supports strategic breakthrough efforts of the company. How? It is the clear understanding of roles and responsibilities enables everyone to “own up” the actions required for making the strategic dreams to come true.The changes are managed with least “side effects” without arguments and acrimony! He went on to say that people stay on happily in an organisation, if they are provided stress-free working environment. Even higher pay may not entice them to leave the organisation.Companies that practice Daily Management offer clarity to employees in terms of their roles and responsibilities and such clarity effectively dispels stress.

Thus Daily Management is the mid-way link between standardised work practices at the operating level and breakthrough efforts of long term implications. Daily Management is the meeting point of bottom-up improvements and top down challenges.”

In his path-breaking book, THE WAY TO THE PRACTICE OF  TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT, Mr Mohanakrishnan defines Daily Management  as ‘the process of accomplishing one’s roles and responsibilities – efficiently and effectively.’

He has devoted an entire chapter to Daily Management in his book.  He has also explained concepts like Managing Points and Checking Points daily PDCA and rotating PDCA and related the to the work of the Top management, middle management and down the line people elaborately.

A few years back, we at PQP published an entire book on the subject of Daily Management.  Written by Prof Yukihiro Ando, a Japanese TQM Cosecant and Pankaj Kumar, Head of TQM at Tata Steel, DAILY MANAGEMENT THE TQM WAY  as name makes it abundantly clear addresses the topic of Daily Management thoroughly.  This book is based on a “Daily Management Workbook” prepared by Pankaj and his team  to help in the deployment of Daily Management all the functions and locations of a mammoth company like Tata Steel.

Together, the two books will provide you with the know what,know why, and know how of DM, if implemented with rigour and focus will help ever leader achieve success along with happy and loyal team members.

Leadership Dharma

Raghu’s New book

We’ve recently released Raghu’s latest book, Leadership Dharma: Arjuna The Timeless Metaphor.  

Wonderfully written by Raghu its beautifully designed and illustrated by Manu and Divya.  A lot of work has gone into it’s publication.  Apart from Raghu, Manu and Divya, others who contributed are Prasad Kaipa and N Gopalkrishnan who helped in giving the book a shape.  Gopal helped Raghu rework the book improved the flow and made it more readable.  Davila Khazvini contributed a lot editing the copy..


In his foreword Prasad Kaipa writes, “…… our ancient wisdom – recorded through stories in the Upanishads, Jataka kathas, Puranas and Itihasas have to be retold in way that the modern young people cause use those stories to reflect on themselves and gain self knowledge.  That is how smart people become wise.


Raghu is one such story-teller who knows more than enough about Indian wisdom and is sufficiently deeply interested in the modern IT and entrepreneurial India.  He lives with the latest while reflecting on the oldest, at the sae time.  I have seen it first hand.”


Now Raghu has retold the story of the five Pandavas in the context of modern organisation.

A truly well written and beautifully designed book which will give you a deep insight into people and organisations.