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Bank of Canada official says, 'It's time to break the glass'

Talk about a Call to Action, but will companies listen and respond? The following is some of the content from her recent speech ....

“You know those signs that say 'In an emergency, break the glass?' Well, it's time to break the glass,” Bank of Canada senior deputy governor Carolyn Rogers said in a speech Tuesday.

A senior Bank of Canada official says the need to improve productivity has reached an emergency level as the economy faces a future where inflation may be more of a threat than in the past few decades.

Rogers said Canadian labour productivity eked out a small gain at the end of last year, but that came after six straight quarters where productivity fell.

“In fact, the level of productivity in Canada's business sector is more or less unchanged from where it was seven years ago,” Rogers said.

The need to improve productivity comes as Rogers said many of the forces that helped create a benign environment for inflation in the past are going to fade away, or even reverse.

“You know those signs that say 'In an emergency, break the glass?' Well, it's time to break the glass,” Bank of Canada senior deputy governor Carolyn Rogers said in a speech Tuesday.

Canada's lagging productivity has been a chronic problem.

Rogers said when you compare Canada's recent productivity record with that of other countries, what sticks out is how much the country lags on investment in machinery, equipment and intellectual property.

She also said Canada needs to focus on making sure the training and education we provide teach the skills we need, while a more competitive business environment would help drive greater innovation and efficiency.

Improving productivity does not always require the investment of huge gobs of money but you can make significant improvements with simple incremental initiatives. A Kunst Solutions Corp. we are passionate and committed to helping those that want help and usually we can achieve significant improvements fairly quickly ... but we need those companies who want help to step forward. But you have several options ....


We see this often, a company has cornered a specific business niche and is capitalizing on the market. There is no need to improve because in their mind they have no competition. They blissfully journey down their path of current success increasing prices as they absorb price increases or drops in productivity to preserve or inflate their profits. This works until a dark horse competitor emerges and starts to steal the market share until they are no longer a viable organization.

Important that even when you are on top of your game that you constantly review your value proposition and maintain a cutting edge of constant improvement. When you are on the down-slop it is often too late to recover, but yes it can sometimes be done.

I worked for a company that had a state-of-the art CNC machine shop and I mean we had the best of the best and then coupled it with an awesome anodizing line. Unfortunately, we were focused on producing one type of product for that product one global customer was our major consumer, we failed to explore other opportunities where our equipment and technology could be utilized and yes you guessed it ... the technology changed so that our product was no longer required and we died.


Improving Quality will improve your Process. Improving your Process will improve your Productivity and YEAH !!! Improving Productivity increases profitability. As Profitability increases as an organization this allows you to invest in new technology for your processes or better yet invest in developing new products.

For example, Mariela worked with her team on a project to reduce the variability on a liquid filling line by just 1 drop (yes 1 drop) and the result was the ability to avoid a CAPEX investment of 15 million dollars for a new line.


Too often organizations stay committed to existing processes but demanding that the process and its people work harder in order to stay competitive. This may work for a very short time, but eventually you will die.

Here is where it becomes important to get "ON" your business and question every step of your process and even better your entire process and change the paradigm of your thinking to something brand new and innovative. In this case sometimes the 50% improvement target is not strong enough.

We have many examples but 2 come to mind.

In the first example, we realized that we just sold a series of holes drilled into a substrate so we coupled our web-site customer enabled modelling with our CNC machining center ... our customer's loved the ability to go from "Thought-to-Touch" within 24 hours of a potential prototype.

In the second example we eliminated technology islands within a factory and migrated to single-piece-flow cells. We managed to eliminate 42 miles of walk previously invested into each unit produced and we managed to reduce our internal lead-time from 14-16 weeks to 90% produced within 2 hours.


This is definitely a favorite survival strategy. And why not? it is much easier to go shopping than invest into hard work and some deep thinking on how to be competitive on your home turf.

Unfortunately embracing this strategy, you give up your Intellectual Property (IP) risking a lower-cost competitor emerging, you lose your grip on quality since in many cases they tend to use inferior materials and you definitely lose agility. It can take weeks to see if a corrective action has worked since your supply chain can be so long, and heaven forbid should you want to make a schedule change.

I once had to compete against a Low-Cost Country with domestic production. We finally managed to determine a way to produce a cost competitive product compared to the import ... so the challenge was set. They had to import a container of imported product while we waited for orders to arrive ... we are still waiting and after almost 20 years that container of product is still sitting on a shelf.


Of course I am a fan of employing this methodology. You need to start with a baseline of creating a culture and mind-set within your workforce that they have "Eyes for Flow" and "Eyes for Waste" ... yes this takes training, more training, facilitation and reinforcement while creating a no-blame environment.

Disturbances to Flow are quickly and constantly being identified, so now you need to add a generous dose of empowerment, so things start to change.

Of course, you should inject some BHO (Big Hairy Objectives) to stimulate those innovative juices.

Remember, Lean is not a cost cutting tool or a methodology to reduce head count, all it does is help you open capacity but with that additional capacity you can support additional sales without additional resources or capital investment. Sounds like a win to me !!!

Well, if you think it is time for you and your company to "Break the Glass" and improve productivity, give us a call at Kunst Solutions Corp. and we can build a plan together.



We do more than just blog. We're active Lean practitioners who would love to help you achieve your productivity goals.

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