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Q2 2022

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Q4 2021

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Agile Strategizing to Optimize Results in an Erratic Business Environment

by John Gay, VP of Operations
& Martin Nazareth, President, OpEx Solutions, Inc.


Since March of 2020, the business environment has been extremely erratic. Some industries and organizations have been able to capitalize on the opportunities while others have had to overcome significant obstacles.

This business environment needs dynamic strategizing to adapt to the erratic swings. OpEx Solutions’ (OSI) CenTex OpEx Consortium (COC) conducted a Leader Strategy Session to discuss how to optimize results in 2022 and some of the common processes and key takeaways follow.

Rather than scramble to adapt, it is better to anticipate and plan. What we need is flexibility and adaptability to deal with risks as they present or take advantage of opportunities. With both, it is important to identify and monitor trigger points and establish action plans that can be launched quickly. Waiting until the problem fully presents will delay our best response until we can complete the planning and any preparation needed. The time for cross-training is not after our organization is decimated by disease or reorganization.

Q1 2022

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Endless Methodology Changes Wreak Havoc

by John Gay, VP of Operations
& Martin Nazareth, President, OpEx Solutions, Inc.


We see that most people and companies have too much on their plate and are not able to focus and do anything well; however, just a few have only one thing on their plate and are able to finish it well!!

There are a few basic approaches to visual planning, scheduling, leveling, and focusing on one task, job, or project at a time – organizing to have only one thing on their plate at a time. However, constant, and endless changes in methodologies have been, by far, the largest contributor in overflowing their plate and wreaking havoc.

Underneath the jargon, they are all very similar, and probably not too different from what you already know. Several foreign-named-old-exotic-sounding methodologies have been introduced in the last 30 years in America — unfortunately, after a new methodology has been sufficiently disruptive and unsuccessful, the academics introduce yet another one as the solution to the previous failed attempt.  

Q3 2021

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Leadership PECA Can Unleash Hidden Workforce 

by John Gay, VP of Operations
& Martin Nazareth, President, OpEx Solutions, Inc.


You hear a lot about Supply Chain related Materials Shortages. What about people shortages?

Most companies are struggling to hire new or replacement people. Many clients are having large backlogs and the teams performing the job are asking for more people. Recruiting, hiring, inducting, training, and getting them to be a performer takes time and effort, and during that period, the performance of the existing team actually takes a hit and drives chaos and instability. 

OpEx has several examples of unleashing hidden workforce by making work easier and more efficient. This improves capacity, reduces cost per unit, and improves morale, thus improving retention. An organization can do far more by harnessing the hidden workforce of already trained and experienced people covered up by waste and inefficiency. It is a lot quicker, less expensive, and more stable and capable.

The common theme in the following examples of OpEx unleashing the hidden workforce followed the PECA framework.

Q2 2021

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Industry 4.0 —The Journey

by Vivian Sullivan, Program Mgr., OpEx
Solutions, Inc.


Industry 4.0 (i4.0) comes from the term “Fourth Industrial Revolution”. The First and Second Industrial Revolutions focused on power generation to mechanize and create mass production. The Third Industrial Revolution has happened in our lifetime — using electronics and IT to automate production. Introduced in 2011, the Fourth Industrial revolution focuses on creating a synergy of the digital, physical, and biological areas (also called cyber/physical systems).

The first 2 Industrial Revolutions lasted 70+ years. The Third (Digital) Industrial Revolution began between the 1950s and 1970s. This “Information Age” led to a plethora of technologies that, in many cases, resulted in a myriad of systems within the same organization that did not communicate with each other and made it difficult for people to pull timely information from the different systems. Industry 4.0 began a lot faster on the timeline.

Q1 2021

Smart Dashboard — a COVID-19 Solution 

by Mike Turner, Program Mgr., Austin Energy — Corp. Quality Svcs.

In response to the COVID 19 pandemic, the City of Austin (COA) issued a Stay Home-Work Safe order in March of 2020, requiring COA departments to transition any employee who was not deemed mission-essential to a remote working environment. For most COA departments, the magnitude of this transition to remote working was unprecedented. As a result, Austin Energy (AE) the COA’s electric utility, initiated a series of actions to facilitate the urgency of this transition.

To address the Stay Home-Work Safe requirement, AE formed a Workplace Readiness group comprised of process developers led by AE’s Corporate Quality Services (CQS) team. Workplace Readiness was assembled to create a plan that enabled managers and supervisors to safely transition AE employees from working in-office to a remote work location. It also provided safety requirements for mission-essential employees who could not work remotely. Workplace Readiness also serves as a framework for managers and executives to identify where employees are working during the pandemic.

Q2-4 2020

Implementing vs Using Lean

by John Gay, Principal Consultant

Most Lean implementations fail because they take too long, cost too much, and generate more problems than they solve due to the distraction, detraction, and disruption of their new toy or tools. Most Lean consultants will encourage a client to implement the consultant’s favorite lean system. This requires analyzing the entire business, training everyone multiple times, and incurring a vast number of consulting hours. Everyone has to change their work system. Meanwhile, the problem(s) that required solutions still remain or get worse. 

There have been too many articles researching why Lean fails and most of them point to lack of leadership support, improper application of tools, wrong sequence of applying tools, and more Japanese jargon that people don’t understand.

Q1 2020

Restore Flow & Emerge Stronger after COVID-19

by John Gay, Principal Consultant

In the 4Q newsletter, we discussed the economics of on-shoring made possible by productivity improvement. This quarter, we look at rebounding from supply chain disruption with case studies from OpEx experts.

If you heard this as a child, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” someone was trying to teach you about risk management. 

Offshoring, while reducing per-piece costs, generally requires more inventory and reduces your responsiveness to demand. It also brings new risks to you and your customers. Typically, we think of risk in terms of our local situation. But what do you know about your extended supply chain and the risks there? Risks originate anywhere and may impact any or all parts of the supply chain.

Q4 2019

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Can Productivity Improvement Enable Reshoring?

by John Gay, Principal Consultant

Many companies have moved their manufacturing to lower-cost countries and continue to move to different low-cost countries as the economic situation changes. Is this the best approach, or is it better to improve productivity to offset the price disadvantage?

Organizations decide on the country for manufacturing or procurement primarily based on direct labor, material, and shipping costs. However, they don’t consider all the tangible indirect costs such as cost of establishing manufacturing; developing a vendor; logistics; holding excess inventory to cover for longer shipping periods and forecasting inaccuracies; tariffs; procurement management; and quality. 

Q3 2019

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Finding the Right Balance

by John Gay, Principal Consultant

Twenty-four hours in a day, and I still can’t get it all done!!

We start meetings late, we talk about things, we add to the list, and everybody leaves to go to their next meeting. These meetings are terrible, we don’t accomplish anything. 

At this time of the year, most organizations are spending a good portion of their work-day in meetings, either focusing on maximizing 2020 planning and neglecting the remainder of 2019; or focusing on maximizing 2019 and neglecting 2020 planning, sacrificing a good start.

Q2 2019

Lean 800-lb. Gorilla

Even baby gorillas are cute for a while.

I thought Lean would reduce waste quickly. Instead, I see my organization struggling to fit in all the Lean meetings and the “Lean boards” are neglected. I don’t have time for all the meetings, and my people don’t either. I’m not sure we can afford to keep doing this. ...

Q1 2019

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It Gets Done When It Gets Done

In a recent conversation, an executive from a large corporation was waxing poetic on how his organization had implemented standardized work almost two years prior and had it down pat — they were coasting!

When asked about the time it took to produce at the rate required to meet customer demand, the executive didn’t miss a beat — “We don’t take that into account. Our tasks are standardized!” ...

Q4 2018

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A Ten-Year Journey of Excellence

Defining excellence for a company’s growth is the key to achieving it. Studies by management research groups show that a very small fraction of companies have a sustained journey of excellence and most of these have some common characteristics. Here is one of our own case studies that has had a ten-year journey of excellence and is poised to continue that journey for another ten years. 

What exactly are some of the characteristics that make this company a company of excellence? ...

Q3 2018

Getting in Front of the Pack
w/Contingency & Recovery Plans

While the media is relishing a new news item to tout, are we allowing high anxiety to take hold, or, do we have a plan in place to allow us to circumvent the impact to our business? The situation may just be a tempest in a teapot. Solid Contingency and Recovery & Response Plans that form part of the Strategic Plan can help us not just weather the storm, but actually come out ahead! In this article, I will address a Contingency Plan for manufacturing in the U.S. ...

Q2 2018

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Uncovering Hidden Capacity

It never ceases to amaze me how the “80-20 Rule” applies in all aspects of business and life.

I love to fish, and when I go with my neighbor — we are usually successful. A few weeks ago, the two of us were nearing our limit of 25 crappie (white perch) each and I looked around to see nine other jealous fishermen close by not catching anything. One of them shouted at me: "I want your spot when you leave!" — to which I replied, “Why? They are all under your boat as well!” What we knew, that he didn’t, was that the fish were at least four feet deeper than most of them were fishing. ...

Q1 2018

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Distractions Impede Transformation

Effective leadership engagement has been a primary cause of success or failure to transform. I have seen both engaged and disengaged transformations. Almost all have sponsorship, but there is a degree of engagement needed beyond merely allocating money to show support.

I led a strategic project to improve the metrics dashboard for company-wide operations leadership. The old one was universally disliked. People spent far more time arguing why the dashboard was wrong than they spent making decisions on what to do differently. ...

Q4 2017

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Make 2018 a Great Year!

The economy is expected to bounce back strongly in 2018 — are we ready?

There are two important statistics that should alert you to not waste any time:


  • 80% of the organizations do not accomplish even 20% of their strategic plan

  • 80% of organizational effort and resources are not directly connected to the organizational goal

The number of organizations doing ... 

Q3 2017

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Running Start — 2018 Strategy

Strategic planning for the next year, formal or informal, is what most people are busy with right now and it is sad to see that most organizations do not execute to achieve their strategic plans — 2017 is not over yet and a good push in the last quarter can enable a great finish.

So, it begs the question, “Running start or great finish?”

We have found that less than 50% of the organizations have formal annual strategic plans and less than 10% of those have tied their... 

Q2 2017

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Do your projects align with your strategic needs?

Front-end process of new products is a critical part of the business that often causes rippling effects to operations’ key metrics like quality, delivery, cost and profitability.

Front-end process is the part of your business that determines organizations’ new products, new markets, improvement projects, supplier development and people development. It makes it clear what is important, and what the organization values. ...

Q1 2017

The Second Weakest Link

Many organizations in the U.S. have implemented operational excellence methodologies, but only a few have claimed sustained success beyond a three-year period. American manufacturing organizations tried implementing Lean manufacturing in the 1990s — based on Toyota’s success — but American productivity remained stagnant. A few other operational excellence systems were also initiated around the same time: Theory of Constraints, Six Sigma, … However, Lean became more popular than the others because its simplicity was so attractive.  ...

Q4 2016

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Rapid Ramp-up Essentials

And it’s off! The economy seems like it’s going to take off in 2017 with an unheard-of velocity!

The signs are in the news — Dow Jones breaking records, U.S.-based companies deciding to keep their manufacturing in the country, deregulation promises for the energy industry, OPEC lowering production to raise oil prices…and more. BUT, is your company poised to ramp up rapidly with the economy or your industry? When well planned, four major factors, fundamental to Lean ...

Q3 2016

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Supply Chain Win-Win-Win

WIN-WIN Strategy has been used to describe customer-supplier relationships for several years with the assumption that both achieve their desired outcome. In reality, there may be two basic flaws in this supposition.

Flaw #1:
A true WIN-WIN relationship is essential for a long-term relationship between customers and suppliers with the foundation of trust, mutual respect, and commitment. In reality, many negotiations take place with ...  

Q2 2016

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Training Your Competition

Looking back at more than one hundred companies we have worked for and coached — over ninety percent of these organizations train their competitors’ key resources. Unfortunately, this trend is not improving.

The core process and business knowledge — especially the knowledge of “how and why” — resides in experienced people rather than in procedures and processes. When these people leave or are let go, they often go to  competitors and fortify the competition. ...

Q1 2016

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Supply Chain Win-Win-Win

The daily work of supply chain leaders is to coach their teams to address the same factors that league champions do — focus on a shared goal, measure and identify gaps, develop fixes, and practice the routines to perfection. Without a good coach, it is quite likely that we will not even recognize the magnitude of what is lacking and what we are leaving on the table.

Supply chain performance is critical to the health of any business. In most organizations, the critical success factors, time, quality and cost, are heavily impacted by the supply chain. ...

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