SBK022 Everybody, Everyday is the true Continuous Improvement Way.

Today’s episode is a special one as I go back to my true Kaizen roots and speak with Bruce Hamilton, the President of the GBMP (Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership), a non-profit provider of lean technology.  Bruce has extensive experience in all forms of Continuous Improvement including TPS, Lean and Kaizen, having worked in manufacturing and administration roles for a number of organisations.

Bruce is an author and actor in the 2004 video, Toast Kaizen (recipient of 2005 Academic Shingo Prize), used world-wide to introduce the basics of lean manufacturing, as well as Toast VSM (recipient of the 2011 Academic Shingo Prize).

We talk about the book he co-authored, a comprehensive multimedia training package, e2 Continuous Improvement System, the famous Toast Kaizen DVD and how this has taken a life of its own.

Bruce acknowledges the importance of having the right environment within an organisation in which ideas can be put into practice and one in which employees are not afraid to take chances.

Check out Bruce’s blog at www.oldleandude.org that covers a wide range of TPS-related anecdotes.

Links :

GBMP

Toast Kaizen DVD

23rd Annual Shingo Prize Conference

Gallery Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

12 Is Your Website Up for the Speed Race?

Optimising your website for speed brings numerous benefits for an online business. An increase in conversions, customer satisfaction plus a reduction in operational costs all positively impacts the bottom line.   In terms of SEO, the faster your website, the higher it will rank in the natural or organic searches.

In this episode we focus on 10 ways to optimise your website and increase conversions. I speak to Kyle York , the VP in charge of Sales and Marketing for Dyn and Andy Piggott, the Managing Director of Incutio. We cover the main factors affecting the speed of a website and more importantly, the steps you can take today to make your website faster and reap the benefits of speed.

In true Kaizen style, we also cover ways in which you can measure some of the more critical metrics . The measurements you should really care about are:

1. TTFB – Time To First Byte. This is the measure of how long it takes for your browser to get data back from a web server after you’ve hit go. During this time the browser must ‘locate’ the website (convert name to number) and then ask the address its given for the relevant webpage. As soon as that webserver sends the first bit of data back, we have our TTFB. This is an important metric as browsers will often start showing the user to the page as soon as the first bytes come back. This test is the best indicator as to whether you have infrastructure problems (DNS, Hosting).

2. TTSR – Time To Start Render. This is the measure of when a site will start rendering the page, this may not be because of infrastructure problems but due to how your site is built, sites with a lot of images or with bad Javascript often experience poor render times.

The Ten Ways to Optimise Your Website :

1. Check your TTFB at: www.bytecheck.com, if it’s higher than say 500m/s, pursue your hosting company as it’s likely to be infrastructure related (eg: slow or overloaded servers).

2. Compress text components using gzip, check if it’s enabled on your site: http://www.whatsmyip.org/http_compression/ – if it isn’t, get your development company or hosting company to enable it.

3. Reduce number of HTTP requests – merge your stylesheets into one document, merge javascript filess together and think about using css sprites: http://css-tricks.com/css-sprites/

4. Use caching, it’s a good thing, read about what Google recommend: http://code.google.com/speed/page-speed/docs/caching.html

5. Optimise your images and use the right ones in the right place; For most logos and computer generated graphics you should be using 8-bit PNGs unless you require animation, when you should be using a GIF. Photographs should usually be saved as JPEGs, and optimised to balance quality and size.

6. Most browsers will download and execute any Javascript files referenced in the ‘head’ section of the page before attempting to render the page to the user, so move what you can to the end of the page. Some scripts (such as Google Analytics) can be loaded asynchronously, which means the browser will download them without delaying other resources.

7. Enable Keep Alive – this allows the browser to download multiple objects from the server without having to create a new connection for each one.  You can find out if Keep Alive is enabled via: www.webpagetest.org, once you test your site then you can see in the “Details” section whether the connections show “Keep Alive”.

8. Monitor everything – we monitor our internal application performance using RPM from newrelic.com and user experience via catchpoint.com, both offer a free trial, why not see how they can enable your business?

9. DNS – hosting companies DNS servers tend to perform inconsistently and slower than dedicated DNS services.  Incutio moved their DNS to the Dynect platform from Dyn.com and experienced improvements of 80 to 3000m/s in different areas of the world.

10. CDN – get your content onto a CDN.  Both Incutio and Dyn partner with Edgecast who have a fantastic network.  Using a CDN improves the performance of your site by delivering the content from locations nearer the user, it also means your servers have to do a lot less work and ultimately reduces costs as well as improving your performance and therefore your conversion.

This Top 10 list has been made possible by Incutio, a web development business that has been specialising in eCommerce Solutions and Content Management Systems for over 10 years.  They run two platforms – www.salesonrails.co.uk for eCommerce and Fabric their content management system.  Incutio does more than just build brilliant sites, the team produce and execute online marketing strategies to grow their clients businesses at a manageable rate.  This includes search engine optimisation, pay-per-click marketing and social media services.  If you’d like to find out how Incutio could help your online business grow, get in touch with them via www.incutio.com or reach out to Andy Piggott at andy@incutio.com

The A-Z of Kaizen Continuous Improvement.

A is for Action Plan, without this, everything you say in those meetings is just hot air.

B is for Best Practice, a technique, process or activity in your business known to bring the most effective solution or outcome than any other applied in a similar situation.

C is for Coaching, being a mentor to someone and taking them on a personal journey in self-fulfilment and discovery

D is for DMAIC a well-documented problem solving technique based on six-sigma principles and 5 specific: Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and control.

E is for Efficiency is a doing things in the most economical way, and if those things are the right things to be done then this becomes a measure of effectiveness.

F is for FMEA, Failure Mode & Effects Analysis, a fancy term for a tool, typically used in new product development, to identify potential failure modes based on past experience with similar products or processes.

G is for Gantt Chart, the project scheduling tool of choice for managing improvement projects, milestones and responsibilities.

H is for Histogram, also known as skyscraper diagram, or bar chart. It’s a series of data plotted on a bar chart representing frequency or quantity against different intervals.

I is for the Inspiration to Improve – the heart and soul of Continuous Improvement

J is for the Japanese pioneers in Continuous Improvement, Sakichi Toyoda and Ishikawa amongst them, who at the heart of the Japanese industrial revolution were instrumental in embracing the principles of continuous improvement.

K is for Kaizen, the Japanese word that simply means “Change for the Better”. So now you know where we get our name SmallBizKaizen from!

L is for Learning, a continuous need to “sharpen the saw” to ensure your knowledge thirst is never quenched.

M is for Motivation necessary to support improvement efforts. Top Management plays a vital role in motivating everyone in Kaizen.

N is for Novel Ideas, typically the birth of most Continuous Improvement successes.

O is for Opportunity, any gap between a customer expectation and what your business currently delivers. This is the very source of Continuous Improvement

P is for Problem Solving, a discipline and approach to remove obstacles and barriers preventing your organisation from fulfilling customer obligations and expectations.

Q is for Quality as defined in the eyes of the customers. Are your products and services fit for purpose?

R is for Reward and Recognition an essential part of the CI loop. Recognise the stars and the players in your team and always celebrate successes.

S is for Sustainability – The art of ensuring your hard earned improvements don’t slip back to old habits.

T is for Tracking the impact of Actions to check whether the CI has been delivered.

U is for Upper Control Limit, the upper most control limit set in a Statistical Process Control chart to trigger corrective and preventive action.

V is for Value Addition – Efforts put into any product and/or service to improve attributes and is appreciated by your customers is deemed to have added value.

W is for Waste Elimination, basically any non-value adding activities along the value chain are considered to be Waste and ought to be eliminated.

X is a difficult letter to find a word beginning with it so we’ll settle for eXcellence in eXecution wich is the art of ruthless and flawless delivery of agreed objectives.

Y is for Yoke, part of Poka Yoke the Japanese word meaning “fool proofing”, designing a product in such a way it’s virtually impossible to make a mistake using the product.

Z is for Zero Defect, the quest for perfection in everything you and your organisation does.

Photo Credit

SmallBiz Kaizen Podcast now listed on iTunes

smallbizkaizen podcast logo 600x

a Small Business Podcast is born

SmallBizKaizen podcast has made a smashing debut on the iTunes Store with exactly, well one subscriber on day 1 ! Not bad for day one.  This is really exciting for us as it makes it so much easier for all listeners to subscribe freely to the podcast RSS feed by simply clicking the subscribe button in i Tunes.

It’s really simple to find the listing, simply search for “SmallBizKaizen” or “Kaizen”  or “Brian Venge” in the search field and you’ll find a logo that looks similar to the one in this post. Hit the subscribe button (gently),  sit back and enjoy as every new episode gets automatically delivered straight to your ear buds.

Oh and one last thing, spread the love…

Continuous Improvement Principles Always hold True.

Kaizen Continuous Improvement

Principles is the subject of this very first episode of the SmallBizKaizen Podcast hosted by Brian Venge. The podcast is targeted at entrepreneurs and small business as an inspiration and motivation to adopt the Continuous Improvement principles as a central part of any business strategy. If your business is struggling to find ways to get out of the recession, or seeking to make improvements to drive growth and profits then this podcast is for you.  Brian has spent the last 20 years working for 4 multinational corporations, Nestle, Unilever, CMB & Vodafone in the fields  of quality management, change management , strategy deployment  and continuous improvement.He draws attention to a reality check by concluding that the secret to success in Continuous Improvement boils down to 3 factors: simplicity, principles and a good business sense.

As mentioned in the cast, if you want to learn more about podcasting, check out the Andy White website.

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Take a listen and enjoy.