Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Crazy Crow Kaizen

This is amazing that animals can be creative and improve their...in this case, fun! Any activity can be improved with Kaizen.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Personal Kaizen from the Book, "The Kaizen Way" - Part 2 & 3

Great interview with Dr. Robert Maurer (Part 2 & 3) on his book "The Kaizen Way." So many insights into personal growth and understanding physiological limits to change. Enjoy.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Personal Kaizen from the Book, "The Kaizen Way"

Great interview with Dr. Robert Maurer (Part 1) on his book the Kaizen Way. So many insights here on why Kaizen works and how it can be applied in your family, your life, and relationships. Great stuff.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Lightening strikes twice...

Using the same kaizen (continuous improvement) techniques as applied in the Serena Software Haiku contest, I wanted to see if I could achieve success a second time in a different competition. I did...

Apica Twitter Contest Winners
Published: 2012-01-04
Apica Announces Winners of Holiday e-Retail Twitter Contest

Grand prize of US $1,000 Amazon Gift Card Awarded to Kaizeneer

PALO ALTO, Calif. – January 4, 2012 – Apica, a leading load testing and performance-monitoring provider for cloud and mobile applications, today announced the winners of the Apica e-Retail Twitter Contest. Launched in late November 2011, Apica kicked off the holidays with a fun competition for consumers to share their best or worst e-Retail shopping experiences in the form of a rap or rhyme, via a 140-character tweet.

Reuters estimated this holiday season brought in over US $35B in online shopping sales worldwide, the highest amount ever recorded. Significant spikes in website traffic can bring serious consequences to unprepared e-Retailers. Slow page load times, performance issues and even downed sites, can effectively put e-Retailers out of business.

“Research shows 40 percent of online shoppers will abandon a site after waiting three seconds for a page to load. Frustration with online shopping due to performance issues was recounted first hand in many of the creative entries that were submitted for our Twitter contest. From the comical to the unusual, submissions spanned the spectrum, making selecting our winners a tough decision. A huge thank you to all who participated,” said Sven Hammar, CEO of Apica.

Winners were selected based on creativity, humor and also relevance. And the winners are…drum roll please…
Grand Prize ($1,000 Amazon Gift Card)

Kaizeneer Kaizeneer: 
Buying bling like Lil John/Check’n status-BAD log on/Order went 2 Kuala Lumpur/Mad like gunshots at Blk Friday store @apicasystems #apicarap

First Prize ($100 Amazon Gift Card)

jadenruby jadenruby: @apicasystems #apicarap Online Ease-I'll take it Please/No Bump and Grind-of the annoying kind/Next year all shopping thru computer queue!

Second Prize ($50 Amazon Gift Card)

JCris_08 Julius Cristobal:
Hate da long line so I jus hop online/ Nothin can beat shoppin from my computer seat #apicarap @apicasystems

What contest process have you improved today?

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Missing keys + Kaizen = Problem solved

Kaizen thinking proves to be so useful especially when plans go awry.  One Sunday morning, we encountered several problems right before church.  We had a guest staying with us with all his luggage, my daughter had all her items to take back home, her small car was trapped between my van and the garage door and no van key was to be found.  We were under time pressure to be there early to help out in the worship service that morning.  It would be easy to blow up and get mad at all the things that went wrong.  But using Kaizen thinking....well, here's our video of what we did using "spiritual" kaizen:

What have you improved today?

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The slideshow of how I used Kaizen to win a Haiku contest

Here is a slideshow demonstrating the iterative process of kaizen.  Continuous improvement will work in any field of endeavor.  Enjoy.

What have you improved today?

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Complete list of Help Desk Haikus

Here is the complete list of Help Desk Haikus I submitted for the Serena Software contest. Here's the original site for the contest: http://www.serena.com/solutions/itsm/help-desk-haiku-contest.html

These are not in alphabetical or chronlogical order of when I tweeted them but I wanted to share because most are based on true experiences I have had over the years. The format of these haikus is the first line is 5 syllables, the middle line is 7, and the last line is 5. Obviously, some are better than others, some work and some fall flat, and some even violate the syllable rule...but that is the point of making things better all the time. I made plenty of bad haikus but learned from them. Again, the whole point for me was to win the haiku contest through kaizen thinking and improving the poem generation process which I accomplished and in turn won an Ipad 2. I hope you enjoy them.

The grand prize winner:

Help Desk Horror Flick:
Rogue tech kills main router in:
"Silence of the LANS"

Other entries:

It’s Help Desk Hustle
callers “bump and grind” us We’re
Dancing with the Scars!

Help Desk Queue is full
tickets backing up…We need
support laxative

Call:”How do you type
a capital one?” Mission:
It’s impossible.

Little Help Desk Annie
”Tomorrow, tomorrow, We’ll
help ya, tomorrow!

"I’m typing my pass-
word but can’t see it." "What
do you see?" "Five stars"

Help Desk reality
Unapproved sys change again?
Annie, get your gun!

“Yes, the PC off
button. No, not Cisco box.
Not that one. Sir? SIR!”

The Users smiling
satisfaction is rising

User calling
Agent bawling;queue sprawling
Service appalling

Holy war: Firewall at
St. Ann’s drops St. John's machines
Help Desk under fire.

The wireless printer
is down" Agent: "What is wrong?" Need
wireless toner."

Sci-Fi show: Alien
ware virus attack!Battle

Reboot it again!
Nothing but Windows because
of Linux cynics.

Physician: “Help Desk
can’t help?” Doctor Jekyll
turns to Mister Hyde!

Help Desk predictors
they fix broke stuff before called
tech just got a kiss!

“PC is making
funny noise and flashing” Sounds
like midlife cri-sys.

When do you get all
nice doctor and lawyer calls?
On April Fools Day!

User:”My smart phone fell
in the toilet” Agent: “And
you expect me to…?

“I am sorry, we
are sorry” all day! Help Desk

Monty Python desk,
The nurses fight us in the
“Argument clinic”

Help desk book of work
rhymes: You scream, I scream, we all
scream when it blue screens!

Want stability?
Help Desk Agility? Go
Serena-ty now!

Endless ringing line
Fax machine with wrong number
Praying it will stop

Dumb Email user
“Nora Ply” is no reply
“Auto” not a car!

Nervous new agent
Trips up words-"do you have sex?"
“Every chance I get!”

On remote control
I move mouse and user freaks
Calls a priest for help

A bad mouse problem
Dead rodent inside PC
My job-pest control

All my haikus true
Based on my experience
Can’t make this stuff up

Lawyer on the phone
Can’t change password every time
Last in law school class

Finance person calls
Can’t find capital ‘1’ key
Bottom line we’re hosed

Machine zapping us
Send someone to fix it now
User cattle prod

What OS is it?
Seven, Vista ,or XP?
Dang! It’s 95?

Call Help Desk agent
Kids crying in the background
Think I heard a flush

Feels like Star Wars Desk
“not the ‘droid you’re looking for”
Get an iphone Luke!

Doc screams “saving lives!”
“Need my password changed right now!”
Calls from funeral home

Programming mistake
Cuts ticket closing down to
“Thank you for your ass.”

Agent amnesia
Asks for number several times
“What is it again?”

Gollum on the line
Old Tolkien ring network hung
“Lost my precious” file

Convent Help Desk call
Nun spills drink onto PC
Water into whine.

Conflicker Help Desk
Worm Flicks, Worm conns, Worm conflict
Bad conflicted worm!

User frustration!
Conversation, detection :)
Resolution! Done.

Kid at Help Desk bash
Powers off the server room
Party now a wake

Starbucks strikes again/
Laptop takes coffee bath needs/

Press1 for Help Desk,
Press 1, press 2, press 1 now,
Depressed pressing

Calling Doctor Jones
Agent saves pix file from purge
Raiders of lost art

Annoyed lawyer
Blames Help Desk for late file
Now it is my fault

Legal database
Makes mad laywer ride my case
Purge that darn FLAW base!

Jaws on help desk line
Talks so much my rear is sore
Need a bigger butt

“Help me recall note!”
Exec pay info to all
Whoops! There is it! Doh!

Elmer Fudd on phone
Weally need more PC Wam
Trying not to laugh!

Lisper on the line
O Thufferin Thuccotash!
Tweety next in queue

Psych unit calling
“Printer ‘dummy’ error here”
Need a smart phone now!

The lab is calling
Specimen test down-O poop!

System engineer
“Help Desk has no clue!” then he
Reboots wrong server.

Lawyer plays Help Desk
to peer. “YOU’RE DUMB!” Peer: “They knew
That when I started.” ;)

Drug dispenser call,
“Problems with my purple drawers…”
Oh no -TMI!

One ring to find them,
Auto answer binds them, your calls
no one minds them.

Users ballistic
Agents antagonistic
Bad day statistic!

It is Hell desk day
Abandon all hope ye who
enter call queue here

Dual Docs yelling! Team:
“We took two ‘pills’ but don’t call
us in the morning!”

Help Desk was so swell
till the data circuit fell
call queue went to…pot. ;)

Darth Vader call here
Breathes so loud-hurts my ear
halitosis fear

Help Desk: Star Trek Fan
hogs bandwidth on clinic lan
”No Hulu Sulu!”

“Why change my password?
Why reboot? Why now? Why me?”
Users are WHY-red!

Backhoe on Road One
Gave Help Desk Queue lots of fun
fiber cut-dig it?

Mary just got a
little spam-replied to all
What was she thinking?

Report Writer call
”My job dropped the server?”
One shot, all killed!

Doctor Folgers call
”Laptop had a fall.” Wasn’t
good to the last drop

“Bad printer! Every
page is blank!” “Change the toner?”
Silence on the line.

“PC is dog slow!”
snaps user. Help Desk wearing
Milkbone underwear.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Best of Post: A winning pinewood derby car through continuous improvement: Part 3

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A winning pinewood derby car through continuous improvement: Part 3

Wheels: Take the burrs off the tire surface from the stamping process...we used a 1500 grit sandpaper to smooth the wheels as much as possible. Be very careful or you can create damage to the wheels. We tested the smoothness with the 'close eye-touch finger-spin wheel' test to feel any bumps or leftover irregularities on the surface as we sanded it to measure our progress. Also, we had an additional regulation pinewood derby kit and we picked out the best looking and straightest wheels. Not all pinewood parts are created equal.

Next, we waxed the wheel surfaces with car wax several times for a smooth uniform surfaces. I guess my son did it at least 10 times to build up a nice coat of smooth wax. It was smooth and good looking to boot. We used Johnson Car wax that I had for my car. We even tried waxing the inside the wheel where the axle goes...apparently, it didn't hurt. Lastly, test your wheels and axle out and true them up as best you can. I used a small level and checked to see if everything was trued up and straight with the wheels on. Also, leave a space the width of the pinewood cardboard stock thickness between the wheel and the car body. Friction against the body is bad and will slow performance.

Axles: There is a ton of information about the axle prep on the net-read it and follow it. It's better explained with pictures so do your homework. Here's my two cents-have your son polish, polish, and polish some more til he is sick of it. Then it will be ready. Here's my order of abrasives (that I had around my workshop) for axle polishing:

40 grit sandpaper

60 grit sandpaper

100 grit sandpaper

140 grit sandpaper

500 grit sandpaper

1500 grit sandpaper

00 steel wool

000 steel wool

0000 steel wool

By the time you are done, those axles should be shiny and bright. Be sure to do the same on the underside of the nail head too-it has burrs there that will slow down your car. We used a high speed Dremel like tool for the polishing which improved the process over the 3/8" variable speed drill I used in previous years.

For the axle lubricant, it's graphite all the way. I tried the white teflon stuff for several years and graphite made his car go fast. Another tip: Buy your graphite a month in advance-the day of the derby, the store I went to get it at was sold out...fortunately, a kind soul at the derby let me have some. I believe that the greatest improvement for me was to apply the graphite just before the car was weight certified and impounded until race time. We waited until the last possible moment before "graphiting up" the wheels and attaching the axles in a just in time fashion to improve lubricant retention. Several of the other cars had been finished a few days before and it was very difficult to add more lubricant because the axles were glued on or the car was impounded and moved and jostled around in the competition setup. In our "flow", we planned to have the car completely assembled and ready just minutes before the tournament started and it seems that helped as well. One piece flow is a lean concept...so Google it.

Paint - Our cars was painted and sat in front of a fan for 3.5 days before the race. The local derby master had told past participants that vehicle paint should be dry at least 24-48 hours before the race to reduce friction. Fresh paint reduces speed-remember that one! There are some really fancy paint jobs and cool looking cars...but if not planned for, it can hurt the speed at racing time.

The results? My son entered his call in a field of 32 competitors and he finished first! Even racing against the adults, there was only one adult car that beat his by a whisker. My older son's best showing was 7th and he was on hand to watch his younger sibling win it all. As for me, we tried several kaizens that seems to work but the greatest joy was watching my boy beam with pride knowing that he had contributed a large part to the win. Victory is sweet.

What have you improved today?


Friday, January 13, 2012

Best of Post: A winning pinewood derby car through continous improvement: Part 2

More on the pinewood derby stuff.  We didn't buy any books or spend any extra money on a "champion package" to get a winning entry-we simply kept relentlessly improving the car and reducing all possible friction.  Isn't the whole point to learn by doing with your son?

A winning pinewood derby car through continous improvement: Part 2

Ok, here is the brain dump of what my son and I did to get a winning pinewood derby car:

First steps:

Get the car kit a month of two before the derby. Start working on the car early to give your son and yourself time to learn and overcome production obstacles. Beginning the work on the car a few days before the race will cause stress and frustration and lead to a poor outcome.

Create a work area for the car kit with all the tools so you and your son can work on the car and have everything in one place.  Have your son organize the tools and layout of the work area-he will take more ownership in the car and the process.

If you can, buy a second kit and pick the best wheels and nail axles out of the two kits.

Some choose to buy the books about how to make a winning car. My advice is to check out the library and see what it has on the pinewood derby. Also, networking with other dads will give you 90% of the knowledge you need for a great car.

Car Design

Have your son draw designs for the car on paper first 1 to 2 months before the competition. This will engage his mind and create excitement about the process of creating the car.

Look at pictures on the Internet to get ideas of designs. Really cool stuff out there.

Make it as close as possible to your son's design-this will create more ownership from the boy.

Tools I recommend for this project to speed the production process:



Variable speed drill

High speed drill tool(Dremel)

Wood chisels


Jigsaw or ban saw

Belt sander

Car body

I believe the more aerodynamic the better. He chose a smooth curved shape this year and got good results. However, I do not believe that the greatest speed return will be in this area so don't go crazy with it.

Cut the car body with a ban saw or jigsaw.

Teach your son workshop safety tips as you go.

Sand the body down with a power sander or belt sander.

Make it an inter generation project and include grandpa if possible!

Sand the body nice and smooth to prepare for painting.

Start with a coarse grit and then use finer and finer grit sandpaper for final preparation.

Pencil on the bottom of the car "F" for front and "R" for rear - this applies to some designs that are hard to tell front from rear.

Do a "axle" test and see if the axles are level by placing the nails in the body axle slots and checking them with a level.

We would travel to my dad's workshop and do all this work. I imagine that we spent about 1-2 hours out in the shop teaching, cutting, sanding, truing, and cleaning up the shop. My goal was that both my sons remember working with Grandpa and Dad on their cars.

Next post will cover things to do for the wheels and axles.

What have you improved today?

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Best of Post - A winning pinewood derby car through continuous improvement: Part 1

Every year around this time, I get lot of hits on my past posts on pinewood derby cars and kaizen.  So I'll make this a little easier for folks to find...first posted in 2009.

A winning pinewood derby car through continous improvement: Part 1

On Friday night, my youngest son had his last every pinewood derby race for cub scouts. Both of my boys raced in the local pack race and enjoyed this activity. My oldest sons highest placing was 7th out of 28 cars and my youngest best finish ever was 5th in 2008. This year, we determined to use the kaizen approach and pull out all the stops since this was the final race that we would participate in. I will tell you that this was the best race we ever had in our family! Before I reveal our secrets and how we finished, here is what we decided to do in the final derby of our family:

1) My son had to do over 50% of the work on his car- In my opinion, Dad doing all the work defeats the purpose and spirit of the pinewood derby. Some of the cars that race are obviously built by an adult...my goal was that by doing over half the work he would take interest and ownership in the car.

2) Inter generational project - My dad, myself, and my son all took time to work on the car. My father is a fabulous woodworker with a primo workshop and he helped his grandson cut and sand the body of the car. Our goal is that he remember working with his grandpa and his dad and how much fun it is to do projects with his family.

3) Check listing all the things I learned previously - in all the past races, I learned a few tips here and there. This year, I went back to all the techniques I had heard over the years and followed them in the building of the car.

4) Add my own improvement - this year I added some of my own kaizens of which most I believe helped the cars performance in the race. One didn't work at all...not all kaizens work but don't get discouraged.

5) Focusing on the process instead of the outcome - the time that I any son spent was building and working on the car to do all the things we knew to make it go fast. We focused on the fundamentals and process of reducing friction in every place possible instead of thinking about winning the competition. If you work on the fundamentals, the results will take care of themselves.

In my next post, I tell all the secrets we learned over the years and how we used them. Unlike so many others charging for pinewood derby car information, we share what we learned for free to benefit everyone that wants to read it.

What have you improved today?

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How to win an Ipad using kaizen...

Kaizen and Lean can be used in anything even improving haiku writing!  Check out the video about winning this "Help Desk Haiku" contest sponsored by Serena Software...

Here is the explanantion of the contest...

I challenged myself to use the same kaizen thinking I use at work and home to convince myself that these principles will work in any endeavor. They do!

What have you improved today?

Dan Lafever

Thursday, January 5, 2012

One crazy idea can make a difference

My kaizen for Waterman's Farm extra pumpkin inventory has now become a charity event in its second year.  Great to see how a crazy idea can help sick children and orphaned pets. Originally, I noticed the farm has a lot of pumpkin inventory waste and they just plowed them under after Halloween. I approached them about an event to smash pumpkins and gave my 17 year old son a party where we obliterated the orange orbs, played baseball with green tomatoes, and had a very fun time. Instead of plowing the excess pumpkins under as a total waste, we used them for a smashing good time. Waterman's took the idea and has now made it an annual charity event to raise money. Cool.

What farm have you improved today?

Dan Lafever

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Church kaizen

I have become known at church for kaizen activity so I wanted to share a couple of things I have done. The little by little principle is in the Bible found in Proverbs 13:11 in regards to saving money. Oddly enough, my first church kaizen has to do with giving. As a past volunteer contribution counter, people fold their checks to keep their gift confidential which is fine but unfolding these adds no value and just wastes time. My kaizen has been to not fold my check but to place it in the offering basket face down. This keeps my gift secret as well as reducing motion waste especially when unfolding double folded checks!  I am starting to see a few checks now unfolded and face down since I have evangelized this idea so I am spreading the word.

What have you improved in church today?

Dan Lafever

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 Resolutions

1)To post more in 2012
2)More pictures to see
3)More kaizen work to help others

Happy New Year