Letters to The Editor For November 2007

Oct. 15, 2007
Chinese Supplier Dilemma; Lean in the Classroom

Time to Get Our Heads Out of the Sand

Re: "Just In Time -- Kid Stuff," October 2007

You missed two important points. One is the tight operating margins American companies have forced on small Chinese companies for the sake of the shareholder. Chinese suppliers are then forced to make operating (profit) decisions, and material substitutions (i.e., cheaper materials) are a common way to return to profitability.

The other issue is the American consumer taking the ostrich mentality and sticking our collective heads into the sand. Do we really think that anyone can police themselves? Do we really think the Chinese suppliers can and always will work to the specifications and regulations without oversight? Do they do that here?

These are two of several pillars required to give American companies the chance of being competitive again.

Scott MacDonald
Maryland Thermoform Corp.
Baltimore, Md.

When You Can't Improve the System, Improve Yourself

Re: "How to Make an Office Lean," (Web exclusive)

As a retired educator who implemented lean principles in my professional practice, I have observed and experienced the same challenges of lost time and overwhelmed workers in schools as Dan Markowitz described in this article.

The time saved in applying 5S to my own classroom as well as teaching my students to do the same allowed us to operate more efficiently and effectively and with positive results.

Interruptions happen frequently in education. I tracked instructional time invasions in my class for one year and was astounded at the resulting total of over 120 hours. While I could not control a good number of those invasions, I did take command of informal interruptions and simply did not allow them. Students appreciated that move because they too prefer to keep focused and get their work done.

As Mr. Markowitz states, an individual may not be able to change the system itself, but applying lean principles to personal work processes can improve the efficiency and effectiveness at the student learning, teacher instructional and administrative support levels in any school.

Betty Ziskovsky
Lean Education Enterprises Inc.
Shoreview, Minn.

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