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Training Log Archive: cedarcreek

In the 1 days ending Apr 11, 2007:

activity # timemileskm+m
  Running1 30:42 2.21(13:55) 3.55(8:39) 55
  Total1 30:42 2.21(13:55) 3.55(8:39) 55

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Wednesday Apr 11, 2007 #

Running 30:42 [3] 3.55 km (8:39 / km) +55m 8:02 / km
shoes: Brooks

Dropped off a rental car and ran home. Spent three full days in Myrtle Beach, SC, which was fun, but had to spend about 26 hours in the car, which wasn't fun. I finished one book and started two more. I sat through three hours of timeshare presentation and salesmanship (in exchange for a free room and $75 in gift cards), and I'm really glad I left without buying. You really need to think these things over for a few days. What sounded really watertight during the presentation just keeps sprouting more holes the more I think about it.

I finished "The Machine That Changed the World: The Story of Lean Production", by Womack et al (1990). Someone recommended it to me in the early 90s because it was required reading in his office, and I bought it and never read it. A few months ago, I took a neat little course that mentioned it, so I dug it out. I'm really glad I read this, although I think a newer book by the same people might be better. It starts out light and quick, but about about 2/3 of the way through it bogs down and goes into a lot of detail about the specific situation when the book was written (which one presumably might skip today). It's about the Toyota system of making cars, which the authors call "Lean Production", and which they distinguish from Henry Ford's "Mass Production". The most surprising thing was the analogies my brain kept inserting regarding Democrats v. Republicans and Capitalism from an adversarial short-term perspective v. a long-term cooperative teaming arrangement perspective (between the big company and suppliers, in this case). This book made me question a lot of what I thought I knew about manufacturing, politics, capitalism, and economics. One interesting thought I had, based on recent events (which the authors do not discuss), was the idea that oversight from governments and trade unions is considered a form of waste: If a company acts responsibly and does things like protect the environment and treats its employees fairly, then how necessary is government oversight and unionization? I have a hard time believing a large corporation can be trusted to "always do right." Repeat after me: "Checks and Balances are GOOD."


Just so I don't give the wrong idea here: One of the ideas that jumps out at me from this book was that Ford wanted the worker to be a cog in the machine---To have a simple job that anyone could do, and he wanted that worker to just do that job and primarily make sure the line didn't stop---If a part went on wrong, then just keep your mouth shut and move on to the next car. Toyota's method was much more humanist. The idea that the line should never stop is a wasteful idea---You're making bad cars. Toyota wanted every employee to improve the process, so if a part went on wrong, the worker would stop the line and everyone would gather around and figure out what was wrong. Say the part being bolted on was manufactured with misdrilled holes. Toyota and the supplier would figure out the fix, implement it immediately (since there was a very small inventory of bad components), and start the line, which would then make better cars. The idea of any worker stopping the line gives quota-seeking line managers night sweats, but the fact of Toyota's system is that initially the line stops a lot. Later, when the bugs get worked out, although anyone can stop the line, it almost never stops. Henry Ford wanted cogs in the machine, and Toyota wanted everyone's best ideas. Where would you rather work?

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