The close of another year is a good time to look back and reflect. While 2021 has not had the drama and extremes experienced in 2020, I think it still qualifies as a roller coaster ride. The major business challenges experienced over the year include supply chain issues, inflation, labor shortages, and – oh yes – dealing with the pandemic.
Despite these issues I heard from some companies who were experiencing record sales and profits. The biggest challenge for some firms seemed to be getting materials to produce goods or provide services. For other companies the biggest roadblock was a shortage of skilled employees. In other words, at the enterprise level the bottleneck operations were in purchasing and human resources.
In looking back I’d like to begin by thanking our customers for another great year. Every year we are impressed with your ability to successfully navigate business peaks and valleys. The proof of your abilities is in the results reported by the GBs, BBs, and MBBs when they submit their projects for certification.
In terms of TMAC LSS activities, we got started in February with not one but two different LSS Black Belt classes. The first was an Open Enrollment BBcourse with eight students from six firms. That class began using an online format due to COVID-19. You will recall vaccines were just becoming available to certain groups at this time. We switched to in-person training starting in May, when vaccines became widely available.
Although we had delivered online LSS training in 2020 we initiated a new schedule for this class: Half-day sessions. The feedback from our students was overwhelmingly positive. We used this format for all other online classes in 2021. My colleague Alberto Yanez and I taught this BB course.
Our second BB class – which also began in February – was an onsite, dedicated course for Knauf Insulation in Indiana. This was an in-person class with 11 students. We took many precautions to limit risk of the virus for both students and instructors. This class was delivered in partnership with Chris Lawson and Pedro Menendez of Exactus.
When TMAC delivers a dedicated LSS class, we provide a special 2-hour, Pre-class Kickoff Session/Overview for all students, their project sponsors, and other stakeholders. In addition, one of our MBBs provides 1-on-1 project coaching with each student. We have used this deployment model for years. It has been proven to greatly increase student success. The purpose of the pre-class coaching session is to give belts a jump-start on their projects before class begins. We also emphasize how to measure the success of the project “Y”, and that the project should be properly scoped.
During March we provided this Pre-class Kickoff Session support for two different companies in conjunction with their LSS Green Belt training. One GB was taught at Knauf Insulation. That class had 18 students and was taught by Alberto Yanez and Diana Martinez. The second GB class was for Dallas County. It had 11 students and was taught by Diana, Chris Meeks, and Mike Boyte. Both classes began in April.
We also kicked off a Master Black Belt course in April. This was an online class, and student locations made daily training sessions a real challenge. We had seven students from two companies and six countries: Two in the US, one in Poland, one in Greece, one in Belgium, one in Scotland, and one in Russia. There was a total of 11 hours (!) between students in the easternmost and westernmost locations. Despite those challenges we had a great class, and I greatly enjoyed working once again with our partners at Firefly Consulting, Kimberly Watson-Hemphill and Chuck Cox.
The month of April also brought a new opportunity: We delivered an Applied Statistics Workshop for Interstate Batteries at their headquarters in Dallas. This was a class we put together at the request of Will McDade who is the CFO there. The students seemed to enjoy the class which was taught by Satya Kudapa and myself. We taught this 2-day workshop a second time in July.
In May we finished both the Black Belt and Green Belt classes for Knauf in Indiana. We also wrapped up the Green Belt course for Dallas County that month. In June we finished the Open Enrollment Black Belt which began in February.
The combination of both online and onsite training meant we had to ship course binders, posters, textbooks, and other supplies to students. Our Events Coordinator, Rebecca Holmes, did a great job of staying on top of these tasks.
One service TMAC offers which has been shown to have a big impact on belt success is project coaching. Informal project coaching was provided to various GB and BB students by TMAC staff throughout the year. A formal coaching arrangement was set up for the belts at Knauf. Throughout 2021 Alberto and Diana provided hundreds of hours of project coaching to the 37 different GBs and BBs there. These coaching sessions typically lasted about 45 minutes and were scheduled about once every three weeks.
By the summer we felt in-person training was safe to do again. We delivered a LSS Green Belt for seven students from two companies in June and July. Chris Meeks and Mike Boyte teamed up for this class.
The month of August brought an incredibly sad event with the sudden passing of TMAC Director Mark Sessumes. Mark was a LSS Black Belt and Master Black Belt. He had a passion for continuous improvement and had worked with dozens of companies over the years. He was in the group that founded TMAC 26 years ago and helped grow the organization from its inception. All of us at TMAC miss Mark and his leadership.
In September we delivered a Champion & Sponsor Workshop for Alexandria Industries, a metal extruder and fabricator with operations in the Dallas area. This 2-day workshop is for senior management and their direct reports. It helps the leadership team understand their roles and responsibilities for a successful LSS Program.
We kicked off our Fall LSS Black Belt course in October. It has eight students from five companies. That class began online, but switched to in-person training starting in November. It will wrap up in January.
In November Chris Meeks and Mike Boyte taught a LSS Yellow Belt for Setpoint Industries at their headquarters in Baton Rouge. This 2-day workshop is a great way to educate staff who will serve as team members for GB and BB project teams.
During the month of December our TMAC colleagues based in Houston are teaching a LSS Green Belt course. This class has 11 students from four different companies and will be taught by Esteban Pedraza and Monica Cortez.
Special recognition to all the belts who completed their requirements for certification in 2021. These individuals found a way to complete their project work despite the many challenges they faced. Total certifications for the year were 19 Green Belts, 12 Black Belts, and 1 Master Black Belt. The median and mean GB financial impact for 2021 was $139,000 and $159,913 respectively. Similarly, for BB the median and mean financial impact were $225,760 and $1,007,839 respectively. These are very impressive figures, especially during a pandemic year. At the bottom of this newsletter is the list of certifications for the second half of the year.
In closing, I would like to again thank each of our customers. Everyone at TMAC appreciates your hard work, feedback, and support. Without our customers TMAC would not exist. Your perseverance and commitment to excellence are why we look forward to working with you every day.
All of us at TMAC wish you a Safe and Happy Holiday Season, and much success in the New Year!