Solving a True DAM Problem

It’s one thing to be a consultant where you don’t have to really do anything, but quite another to be accountable to solve a truly difficult DAM problem. Anybody who has been on the firing line of a tough problem knows the feeling of vulnerability that results. Will I fail? And if I do fail, will I survive or be crushed? When I feel that way, I reach for the quotation that my cross-country coach posted on my dorm room door at St. Olaf College.

The man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

                                                             —Theodore Roosevelt

There is something called DMAIC: Design, measure, analyze, improve, and control. It doesn’t really work on solving truly difficult DAM problems. Now many of you may criticize me on this point, but I offer a counterpoint. There are only a few shops in the United States today that have figured out how to thrive with the onslaught of foreign competition and the resultant relentless price pressure. If DMAIC worked, then I submit most of us would have solved this problem. DMAIC may work for a certain class of problems, but for truly complex problems, where an answer has to be creatively generated out of the thin rarified air of true human ingenuity and innovation, DMAIC isn’t enough.

Solving a truly difficult DAM problem requires, believe it or not, understanding humanity, and the quote by Theodore Roosevelt contains exactly the humanity required to solve any complex problem. You could write a book about it, and in fact a book has been written: Daring Greatly, by Brené Brown. In the book, Brené states, in essence, it is only when we can allow ourselves to be vulnerable that we discover innovative solutions.

Read the full column here.


Editor's Note: This column originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of The PCB Magazine.

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2014

Solving a True DAM Problem

12-22-2014

It's one thing to be a consultant where you don't have to really do anything, but quite another to be accountable to solve a truly difficult problem. Anybody who has been on the firing line of a tough problem knows the feeling of vulnerability that results. Will I fail? And if I do fail, will I survive or be crushed?

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Solving DAM Problems: Solving a True DAM Problem

12-22-2014

It's one thing to be a consultant where you don't have to really do anything, but quite another to be accountable to solve a truly difficult problem. Anybody who has been on the firing line of a tough problem knows the feeling of vulnerability that results. Will I fail? And if I do fail, will I survive or be crushed?

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Why Removing Your Bottleneck is a Bad Idea

08-20-2014

Columnist Gray McQuarrie writes, "Some years ago I got into a discussion with a CEO about process bottlenecks. He asked what happens if you don't have any bottlenecks, because his operation didn't have one. I was speechless."

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Solving Dam Problems: Why Removing Your Bottleneck is a Bad Idea

08-20-2014

Columnist Gray McQuarrie writes, "Some years ago I got into a discussion with a CEO about process bottlenecks. He asked what happens if you don't have any bottlenecks, because his operation didn't have one. I was speechless."

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Is Your DAM Job Killing You?

06-05-2014

"The first step in getting better is to admit to the root reality of the true problem. The reality is our jobs have become so demanding and complex that even if we had superhuman powers we would not be able to satisfy everyone all of the time. We likely fail in some way every single week (a multitude of times) or maybe even every single day (at least once)," writes columnist Gray McQuarrie.

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Do We Need to be More Innovative?

04-24-2014

There is a Latin saying, "castigat ridendo mores," which means, "one corrects customs by laughing at them." Should we laugh at those who practice the custom of not innovating while at the same time demanding higher sales?

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Change Your DAM Thinking: Do We Need to be More Innovative?

04-24-2014

There is a Latin saying, "castigat ridendo mores," which means, "one corrects customs by laughing at them." Should we laugh at those who practice the custom of not innovating while at the same time demanding higher sales?

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Are Boringly Predictable Operations Possible?

02-26-2014

We've excelled at developing new technologies, new materials, and new processes, and appreciate the statement, "variety is the spice of life." But, what we have grown to accept in our operations are the unpleasant surprises that too many of us describe as "burning platforms." Is there anything we can do with our operations to make them significantly more predictable?

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Can Scrap be Beaten? A Strategy for 2014 and Beyond

01-16-2014

Columnist Gray McQuarrie writes, "Is the key to beating scrap simply following process instructions and procedures? No! Scrap can't be beaten. Well, maybe, if we had really easy boards to build or very similar part numbers run at very high volumes or better equipment that was more up to date; maybe then we would have a lower scrap rate."

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Solving DAM Problems: Can Scrap be Beaten? A Strategy for 2014 and Beyond

01-16-2014

Columnist Gray McQuarrie writes, "Is the key to beating scrap simply following process instructions and procedures? No! Scrap can't be beaten. Well, maybe, if we had really easy boards to build or very similar part numbers run at very high volumes or better equipment that was more up to date; maybe then we would have a lower scrap rate."

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2013

Solving Dam Problems: How to Compute Your Plant's DAM Capacity

12-18-2013

Columnist Gray McQuarrie writes, "We have all been obsessed with global labor costs in this industry, but what is hidden in terms of the cost of not understanding our plant's true capacity could make our plants so DAM profitable that we would not have to worry about global labor costs ever again."

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Solving DAM Problems: Standards are DAM Important!

09-30-2013

"Letting your customers set your standards is a dangerous game, because the race to the bottom is pretty easy to win. Setting your own standards, and living up to them, is a better way to profit. Not to mention a better way to make your day worth all the effort you put into it." - Seth Godin

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Solving DAM Problems: What's the DAM Problem with Scheduling?

08-15-2013

Just as with the fog of war, in the fog of production, trying to figure out what's happening with the customer orders can be, at best, frustrating. We often find our master schedule is hardly that! It can cause any one of us to say, "What is the DAM problem with scheduling?"

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Solving Your DAM Problems: Examine Your DAM WIP

06-07-2013

Do you think you have the best Lean program in the world? If you aren't taking vital information and comparing it to the correct benchmarks, you might be killing your business. Yes, you can be too Lean! Gray McQuarrie challenges you to think differently by understanding and examining your WIP.

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The Rules of SCRUM Break All DAM Problems!

05-29-2013

The Scrum process, first developed nearly 30 years ago, has come a long way. Gray McQuarrie explains a few common misconceptions and how companies can maximize its benefits.

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Change Your DAM Thinking: DAM Registration

05-16-2013

According to Gray McQuarrie, by precisely understanding the three different registration error modes encountered, you have a huge opportunity to reduce plant costs and improve your competitive position.

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Solving Your DAM Problems: How Can You Predict Your Company's DAM Future?

02-14-2013

If you really want to steer your company in the right direction, you'd better take a look inside your soul and examine your own DAM behaviors. The solution to all of your DAM problems is much closer than you think.

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Solving Your DAM Problems: Bringing U.S. Manufacturing Back Home

01-23-2013

Looking back over the past year, we don't see jobs in the U.S. PCB industry coming back. Why is this? More importantly, is it important enough for us to act now, and if so, how? Columnist Gray McQuarrie finds it strange that nobody seems to be standing up for manufacturing jobs.

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2012

Bringing U.S. Manufacturing Back Home

12-20-2012

Looking back over the past year, we don't see jobs in the U.S. PCB industry coming back. Why is this? More importantly, is it important enough for us to act now, and if so, how?

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Solve Your DAM Problems: No DAM Extras…Like, Ever!

11-12-2012

Columnist Gray McQuarrie explains that you have two choices regarding how you manage scrap events in your shop. Be advised: Your choice could be the difference between your company thriving or dying.

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Solving Your DAM Problems: Little Things Have the Power to Break Big DAMs

10-17-2012

Does it really make sense to roll the dice with an important customer order, just because of the inherent unreliability of your metal finishing operation? If so, it may be time for you to change the game—today.

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Solving Your DAM Problems: Remove Variation & Your Company Wins

10-09-2012

If you can set your watch to your factory you have no DAM problems. Stop reading my column! If you can’t set your watch to your factory, then read on, because opportunities to improve your business operation are so great that you may end up with a pot of gold.

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Solving Your DAM Problems: Those DAM Laminate Suppliers

07-19-2012

Escaping the commodity mindset and becoming more competitive and valuable begins with how we choose to treat our suppliers. We must stop treating them like a commodity and start treating them like true collaborative partners, paying them fairly, based on performance. This is how we all win.

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