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Bottomless Chips

Author: Christine Schmitz
Published On: Oct 8, 2020 3:07:33 PM

I’ve got a big birthday coming up and, facing this milestone, I decided I’d try to shed a few of my “quarantine 15” pounds and get myself back into fighting shape. 

My good friend Google (do you know it?) had lots of advice for me in the form of links to experts ranging from doctors to psychologists to personal trainers. While the writers may have differed vastly in specialty, they all agreed on one thing: patterns produce pounds. 

Research ties both weight gain and weight loss to behavioral patterns and personal discipline (or lack thereof). It’s what makes one-liners, such as, “You didn’t gain it overnight, so you won’t lose it overnight”, annoyingly obvious. So, where do I start? The unanimous answer from my “team of Google experts” was to begin by collecting and analyzing the data. 

  • Track my steps. 
  • Log my workout. 
  • Use a sleep journal. 
  • Keep a food diary. 

You can’t imagine what I learned in just one day: walk more, sleep more, work out more, and for Pete’s sake, lay off the bottomless tortilla chips.


The Best Kind of Chips

One thing I really enjoyed about this week’s MakingChips podcast, hosted by Jim Carr and Nick Goellner, with guests Ryan Carr, and Paul Van Metre, was CARR Machine and Tool’s three-pronged process, including the incorporation of ProShop, to address the challenges of long setup times on their CNC machines. I think it can be simplified into three steps that can apply to many situations in our modern world.

Step 1: Collect the data

Step 2: Analyze the data

Step 3: Respond to the data

Hearing Jim talk about his super-efficient old school routine for programming, setting up, and cutting metal, was a great introduction to the discussion. It proved to me that long before we had all these digital tools and systems to utilize, we still had data to collect and processes to analyze it.

I’ll be super honest: I don’t exactly love that there is an icon on the home screen of my phone that I can tap to tell me how active I’ve been that day or how well I slept last night. Nor do I get very excited to open up my food logging app and scan a barcode that will tell me all the calories I’m about to eat. These tools are a little too accurate, if you know what I mean. For example, I like to think dessert has no calories. It’s a real joy-kill to have to face the facts. However, it sure is convenient to use these built-in tools, and that goes a long way towards me actually achieving my goal.

As it turns out, downtime is something that is both bad for a machine shop and bad for the waistline. The goal of a machine shop is to make chips. I loved when Mr. Van Metre said, “If you're not turning, you're not earning” - I am adding that to my list of fun manufacturing mottos.

The best kind of chips for a machine shop are the bottomless ones, which are produced from a quick and accurate set-up and very little downtime. The best kind of chips for me: kale chips, produced from baking kale in the oven. No thanks.


Constant Feedback Loop

Near the middle of the episode, Nick pointed out how the ERP system creates a constant feedback loop. Coincidentally, my Quarantine 15 Google search also encouraged constant feedback. 

All processes require a system of checks, feedback, and adjustment. My diet has a built in system of constant feedback: my jeans. But what about your machine shop or manufacturing company? How hard is it for machinists or managers to identify areas of improvement and offer potential solutions?

Without a built-in system for feedback it is very difficult to know if all the processes and procedures you’ve implemented are working properly. 


Measurable Improvements

The biggest question we have to answer when we are deciding whether or not to implement a change is: what’s the ROI? If I give up dessert, will my jeans fit better or not? The answer to this question will fully determine whether or not I follow this restriction.

Being a leader of industry requires constant improvement. Fortunately there are comprehensive resources, such as ProShop, to help. But just as downloading a diet app won’t automatically cause me to drop the pounds, neither will installing a management system software automatically improve your processes and output. 

As you probably already know, ERM is a plan-based business strategy that stands for “Enterprise Risk Management”. A great leader seeks to identify, assess, and prepare for any potential disasters, no matter the scope, that may interfere with their company’s operations and objectives, and ERM’s are designed to assist. This would be a great week to evaluate your current ERM or implement a new one. 

One thing I’ve found funny about dieting is how hard it is despite the fact that, realistically there is nothing to object to - if I eat less and move more I will see the change I want. So tell me, then, why do I resist?

Well, going back to what I wrote above about the three-pronged process to use data collection to make a change (collect, analyze, respond), it turns out it’s not that hard to collect and analyze our processes, but responding to the results (actually changing) is where the real work comes in.

For now, I will be using all my will power to lay down that dessert fork.

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