Bernie Rushe


70 years of IDA Support – A Reflection on Ireland’s Global Trade Success

My mother, Mary Rushe, was born in 1927, the year in which the state-owned Electricity Supply Board (ESB) was established. A farmer’s daughter, she witnessed technical and economic upheaval such as rural electrification and the arrival of the motor car and farm mechanisation; bade farewell to many cousins who immigrated to the United States out of dire economic necessity; experienced rationing during the WWII years or ‘the emergency’; and left her post as a secondary school teacher, without question, when she married my father in 1955, because of the ban on married women in the civil service. The decade when the marriage ban was lifted (1973), and my mother returned to work 6 children later, the social profile and ethical belief system in Ireland had begun to change dramatically. At 92 years of age she has witnessed a level of change in all aspects of life, the scale of which generations before her could not have countenanced.

As we are an island nation on the western seaboard of Europe, it is only natural (if short sighted) that the economy, in the early years of the Irish Republic, was inward-looking, with high tariffs on imported goods, and limited export trade. Political leaders such as Sean Lemass (TD, Minister for Industry and Commerce and Taoiseach, in the years 1924 to 1969) and T K Whitaker (Secretary to the Department of Finance, Governor of the Central Bank and Senator, in the years 1956 to 1982), heralded a new era of forward-thinking economic strategy in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s.  Since its foundation by government in 1949, the mission of IDA Ireland has been constant, that is to promote the growth and development of industry in Ireland. It has not been all plain sailing, far from it, but what a glorious success story the IDA has been in our tiny open island economy.  IDA Ireland representatives have worked hard across the world, challenging the perception of Ireland as a backward rural country, and promoting its educated workforce and business-friendly tax incentives, with the added benefit of access to the common market when Ireland secured EEC (now EU) membership in 1973.

From the mid-1970s onwards IDA Ireland focused on attracting pharmaceutical and electronics manufacturers, two sectors pinpointed as having significant growth potential in global terms. The first wave was purely components manufacturing, but later R&D and higher value work followed. By 1982, some 130 of the world’s leading electronics companies had manufacturing facilities located in Ireland. This is the Ireland into which I was born, and my adult life story has been very much moulded by the success story that is foreign direct investment in Ireland. For over 30 years I have worked as an employee and consultant with over 40 companies who are operating successfully on this island. I am only one of the 229,000 people employed in jobs in foreign industry in Ireland.

The IDA now has a network of 30 offices globally (nine in Ireland) and a total staff of 340. Year-on-year it continues to promote investment in Ireland in the face of continuing challenges, threats and opportunities, from Brexit to global tax reform and beyond. However well it does its job, neither the IDA nor any development authority, can compensate for national fiscal recklessness. Ireland is lying in 24th place in the World Economic Forum global competitiveness index, and the level of debt per capita the highest in the Euro zone, so we have no room for complacency in the current wave of economic stability. We can only be grateful to IDA policy and practice that has ably supported Ireland in weathering the post Celtic Tiger economic crisis.

Last April, The American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland helped to celebrate the IDA’s 70 years in business by presenting the IDA with a Special Recognition Award. CEO Martin Shanahan received the award on behalf of the IDA. I am sure we all join with AmCham in recognising this incredible organisation for a major contribution made to transforming Ireland into an inclusive home of talent and innovation with global impact.

To view the current IDA policy and strategy, see “Winning: Foreign Direct Investment 2015-2019”

https://www.idaireland.com/about-ida/winning-fdi

 

 

Acknowledgement: The author is grateful to content authors of the following sites, on whom she drew for this blog.

https://www.idaireland.com/newsroom/blog/january-2019/marking-70-years-of-ida-ireland

https://www.idaireland.com/about-ida/winning-fdi

https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-competitiveness-report-2017-2018


Is your organisation living Lean Values?

For many years now we have been supplied with a rich volume of literature, much of it originating in the United States, on lean practices and principles as exemplified by the Toyota organisation. From ‘Lean Thinking’ the seminal lean textbook published by Womack and Jones back in 1996, to ‘The Toyota Way’ published by Liker in 2004, there has been no shortage of literature to guide us along the lean path. The former gave us 5 lean values to live by, and the latter gave us 14 management principles to implement.

So far so good in terms of academic analysis, but what does the Toyota organisation itself espouse as guiding principles or values? A visit to their global website reveals Toyota’s current guiding principles. These form the foundation of the company’s vision and philosophy.

Principle 1: Dedicate our business to providing clean and safe products and to enhancing the quality of life everywhere through all of our activities. Generating value for the customer, society and the economy.

Principle 2: Create and develop advanced technologies and provide outstanding products and services that fulfil the needs of customers worldwide. In doing so base your management decisions on the long term, even at the expense of short-term financial goals.

Principle 3: Create continuous process flow to bring problems to the surface. Essentially you need to completely remove the amount of the time that any work project is sitting idle or waiting for someone to work on it.

Principle 4: Support individual creativity and value teamwork through harmony. Eliminate overburdening people in the production schedule. Work to level out the workload of all manufacturing and service processes.

Principle 5: Honor the language and spirit of the law of every country and region, and undertake open and fair business activities to be a strong corporate citizen of the world.

Principle 6: Contribute to economic and social development through corporate activities in your respective communities. Understand your place in history and bring value.

Principle 7: Eliminating waste is just one-third of the equation for making lean successful. Build a culture of stopping to fix problems. Again it’s about thinking long-term. Ensure your company culture aims to quickly solve problems and put in place countermeasures to enhance quality productivity in the long run.

Principle 8: Use technology to support people not to replace people. Remove or modify technologies that conflict with your culture or that might disrupt stability, reliability and predictability.

Principle 9: Grow leaders. Grow leaders from within your organisation. Leaders must be role models and teachers for the company’s philosophy.

Principle 10: Work with business partners in research and manufacturing to achieve stable, long-term growth and mutual benefits, while remaining open to new partnerships. Have respect for them and treat them as an extension of your business.

The above principles were established in 1992, and revised in 1997 (translated from the original Japanese).

Those of us looking for concrete guidelines and tools for lean implementation may be disappointed with the above list. However they provide more insight into Toyota’s living values, and the secrets of their success, than any workshop on leader standard work or value stream mapping.

How do they compare with the values in your organisation? Is there an opportunity for modification? Is the management team in your organisation leading by example and living its values? This blog has led me to cross-reference our own Mission and Values which you can download from our website here. There is always room for improvement and I hope this article has given you some insight into how respect for the individual and teamwork have contributed to Toyota’s success.


Examination Tips

Six Sigma Certification is important for those aspiring to advance their career in the quality management sector and who want to implement Six Sigma Methodologies in their organisation to make the projects successful.

However the most daunting part of many of us doing such a course, is preparing ourselves both mentally and physically for the exam.

Here are some essential tips we at Lean Ireland have put together for you…

 

  1. PREPARTION

Check out the exact location of your exam venue on Google Maps. Know exactly where it is and how long it is expected to take you to get there.

Make sure you understand the nature of the examination in terms of how it will be conducted, and what you can and cannot bring to the exam with you.

Check out restrictions regarding text books, sample questions sheets and calculators. Most examinations will not allow any devices that can connect to the internet.

Ensure all your notes, prompt cards and text books are clearly annotated with your subject headings. Use coloured markers to highlight key topics and formulae. Only ring bound or spine bound notes are allowed. Stapled notes and index cards are NOT allowed.

 

  1. ARRIVAL

Arrive in plenty of time to register, at least 40 minutes in advance of the start time.

Be prepared for strict security inspections regarding before being granted access into the exam room.

 

  1. THE EXAM PLAN

Acknowledge that you will not know the answer to every question on the paper. Be comfortable in that knowledge.

Develop an examination timing plan, like the one below.

 

Breathe into your abdomen three times, slowly. Do not look up notes in the last few minutes. Breathe.

 

  1. READING & ANSWERING

Read through each question individually, slowly and carefully. When answering, keep referring back to the question to ensure you are on the right track.

Skip the question if the answer is not obvious, and move on to the next one. Do not worry if you don’t know the answer. Sometimes a later question will prompt an answer an earlier one.

Following first pass completion of the questions go back re-read the unanswered questions slowly and carefully.

The best of luck!

 

A more complete guideline listing of tips for the online ASQ examinations, is available by clicking the button below.

 


The Continuous Improvement Funding Menu

Time and again when visiting prospective clients, we hear the refrain “We’re too busy at the moment to start a lean programme” or, just as likely “It’s not in this year’s training budget”. These responses are true, because personnel in every dynamic company, working in a challenging marketplace, will always be busy. But this is the problem – if you have process efficiency issues, you are busier than you need to be, addressing failure demand. Failure demand is defined as work that has to be done because something that should have worked, didn’t.

The availability of funding, to invest in information systems, or boost the training budget, is a great incentive to step back from the business ‘busyness’ and re-charge your continuous improvement programme. If you are eligible, an external resource will support and coach personnel as they learn smarter and more customer friendly ways of delivering value to customers. This impacts significantly and positively on customer service and the bottom line. Check out the following funding avenues. The list is not exhaustive, and you are advised to contact your local funding body representative to discuss options and eligibility.

  1. IDA GRANTS

1.1 Research and Development (R&D): Companies can avail of financial incentives to carry out in-house R&D projects and collaborative projects with third-level institutes and industrial partners. There is also a 25% tax credit available for companies engaging in R&D.

1.2 Capital Grant: The level and availability of support is dependent on location and size of the company. This grant also covers investment in software applications.

1.3 Training Grants: Available across the country to develop the competitive capabilities of companies already located in Ireland.

1.4 Lean/Green: This is designed to encourage clients to adopt Lean business principles to increase performance and competitiveness that will sustain and grow its operations in Ireland. Support is also available to client companies to introduce good Environmental management practices through its Lean/Green business offer. This offer is aimed particularly at IDA SMEs (fewer than 200 employees)

Cordatus Consulting Limited, trading as Lean Ireland is a registered Lean consulting advisor with the IDA. For details see www.idaireland.com/how-we-help, and to check your eligibility for any of the above, please contact your local IDA representative.

 

  1. ENTERPRISE IRELAND GRANTS

2.1       High potential Start-up: The High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) team provides hands-on support and advice to entrepreneurs and early stage companies that are considered by Enterprise Ireland to have an innovative product, service or technology, and have the potential to achieve international sales and create employment. for support and investment.

2.2 Operational Excellence Offer: This latest funding scheme is designed to aid Irish companies (both SMEs and large) looking to evolve and expand, and become more competitive in the global market. The application of the funding is broad. There are 3 categories – Capital Assets (Equipment, Software Licenses), Business Innovation (Salaries, Overheads, Consultancy, Testing, Materials, etc.) and Training (including travel & subsistence).

2.2 Lean Business Offer: Similar to the IDA programme this suite of initiatives is designed to encourage clients to adopt Lean business principles to increase performance and competitiveness that will sustain and grow its operations in Ireland and exports abroad. Support is also available to client companies to introduce good Environmental management practices through its Lean/Green business offer.

2.4 Established SME funding: A variety of grants are available include Market Research and Internationalisation Supports, Supports for Product, Process or Services, Development including RD&I Funding, Supports to Enhance and Develop your Management Team, Productivity and Business Process Improvement Supports and Company Expansion Packages.

For details see www.enterprise-ireland.com/en/Productivity/Lean-Business-Offer/, and to check your eligibility for any of the above, please contact your local Enterprise Ireland representative (https://www.localenterprise.ie/Find-Your-Local-Enterprise-Office/).

 

  1. UDARAS NA GAELTACHTA GRANTS

For companies in Gaeltacht areas, Údarás can provide a range of financial incentives in the form of grant assistance to assist varied business needs. Support incentives include:

3.1       Feasibility Study Grant

3.2       Research and Development Grant

3.3       Capital Grant

3.4       Training Grant

3.5       Consultancy Services Grant

3.6       Development of Market Research Skills

3.7       Innovation Voucher Initiative

3.8       Online Trading Scheme

3.9       Lean/Green service offer, similar to Enterprise Ireland and the IDA.

For details see www.udaras.ie/en/forbairt-fiontraiochta/cunamh-airgid/,  and to check your eligibility for any of the above, please contact your local Údarás representative.

 

 

  1. LOCAL ENTERPRISE OFFICE (LEO) GRANTS

Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) provide a range of financial supports designed to assist with the establishment and/or growth of enterprises (limited company, individuals/sole trader, cooperatives and partnerships) employing up to ten people.

4.1       Feasibility Study Grants

4.2       Priming Grants

4.3       Business Expansion Grants

4.4       Technical Assistance for Micro Exporters

4.5       European Globalisation Fund

4.6       New Agile Innovation Fund

4.7       Lean/Green service offer, similar to Enterprise Ireland and the IDA.

For details see www.localenterprise.ie/Discover-Business-Supports/Financial-Supports/,   and to check your eligibility for any of the above, please contact your local LEO representative

Cordatus Consulting Limited, trading as Lean Ireland is a registered Lean consulting advisor with Enterprise Ireland, the IDA, Údarás na Gaeltachta and LEO. .

 

  1. SKILLNETS

The Skillnets network around the country has been a wonderful source of supplementary funding for lean six sigma and supply chain training and development.  These include, and are not limited to

  • BioPharmaChem Skillnet
  • CILT Skillnet
  • First Polymer Training Skillnet
  • ICBE Advanced Productivity Skillnet
  • Irish Medtech Skillnet
  • ITAG Skillnet
  • Lean and Green Skillnet

Please see https://www.skillnetireland.ie/all-networks/ for a complete listing of Skillnet networks.

 

6.  R&D FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES & TAX CREDITS

There is a variety of funding opportunities and structures available to companies be thesaech and process improvement training. y small or large, including:

6.1       In-Company R&D

6.2       Collaborative R&D

6.3       Start-up Company R&D

6.4       EU R&D Funding Programmes

6.5       R&D Tax Incentives. R&D Tax Credits are worth approximately €700m per annum to 1,500 companies in Ireland. The credit is calculated at 25% of qualifying expenditure and is used to reduce a company’s Corporation Tax. Revenue provides guidance here: www.revenue.ie/en/companies-and-charities/reliefs-and-exemptions/research-and-development-rd-tax-credit/index.aspx

6.6       Knowledge Development Box

6.7       Manunet is a network of development agencies whereby each agency uses its own funding programmes to support international collaborative projects performed by companies in the manufacturing sector. MANUNET supports innovation-driven, close-to-market research and development projects in manufacturing. It aims to encourage cross-border value chains that emerge from advancing technologies. Contact the IRDG at http://www.irdg.ie/funding-support/ for advice on R&D funding.

 

7.   INTERTRADE IRELAND

InterTradeIreland has been helping small businesses in Ireland and Northern Ireland explore new cross-border markets, develop new products, processes and services and become investor ready over the last 20 years.

7.1 Acumen sales and marketing programme

7.2 Elevate, specifically aimed at Micro-Enterprises

7.3 FUSION provides financial support to help you get the specialist skills

7.4 Seedcorn competition

7.5 Business Angel investment

For details see www. intertradeireland.com/corporate-information/about-us/ and to check your eligibility for any of the above, please contact your local InterTrade Ireland representative.

 

8. INVEST NI

As the regional business development agency, Invest NI’s role is to grow the economy of Northern Ireland, by helping new and existing businesses to compete internationally. Some funding programmes include:

8.1 Capability development

8.2  Innovation and R&D

8.3 Start ups with export potential

For details see www.investni.com/ and to check your eligibility for any of the above, please contact your local Invest NI representative.

 

So, the big question – “Am I eligible?” All of the funding opportunities come with terms and conditions. There’s no magic wand, and the application process can sometimes be off-putting (who likes paperwork?), however it is well worthwhile. The funding typically gives a scaled percentage of your actual investment, in redesigning your business model to increase competitiveness, and enhance your market position so you grow further in new markets. Also, there is typically a cap on the amount of funding that can be claimed from the agencies over a defined period of time. Your local representative will be able to help you out.

The above is only a sampling of funding and is not designed to be exhaustive. If you know of any other sources that may help companies, please post in the comments section below. I wish you well with your funding research and application process.

 


The role of the contract Lean Six Sigma Black Belt

Black Belt

The Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt (BB) is a professional who is well versed in the Lean Six Sigma methodology, who leads improvement projects, typically in a full-time role. A Lean Six Sigma Black Belt possesses a thorough understanding of all approaches and tools within the phases of lean six sigma project. They understand how to perform and interpret Six Sigma tools and how to use standard principles of Lean.

A BB is results driven, trained in advanced project management and statistical analysis tools. He/She is expected to contribute between €250K and €1M to the company’s operating profit each year by undertaking process improvement projects that lead to enhanced customer satisfaction, and lower cost to the company.

Why use contract Black Belt support?

Employing contract BBs has become popular for every employer type, ranging from multinationals to SMEs and even start-ups. One of the reasons why it’s beneficial for companies to employ a BB contractor to work on specific projects, is the specialised expertise that they can bring to that role. They can also adapt quickly to the organisation’s processes and culture, and deliver measured value on a quick return basis.

The contract black belt service compliments existing operational excellence department resources, or can act as a stand-alone professional support to the management team and project teams on site. The advantages to the organisation are many, and include:

  1. Senior project manager with cross-sector experience;
  2. Access to a wide and deep knowledge store of programme management approaches, and lean six sigma data analysis and problem-solving tools;
  3. The support of a professional who is senior enough to influence management thinking, without having the natural hesitation that might inhibit a more junior permanent employee;
  4. Use of support days in line with the organisation’s needs, and
  5. The freedom to wind-up the contract when it best suits the organisation.

Black belt duties

Duties of the black belt will vary from company to company, however will most likely include the following. In consultation with the management team and others:

  • Development and maintenance of the continuous improvement roadmap;
  • Project selection and team selection;
  • Project planning, team mentoring and individual team lead mentoring;
  • Process problem-solving with teams in manufacturing, laboratory, warehouse and office areas;
  • Data analysis and report writing, with recommendations and project plan

Support days & duration

The range of support days varies typically, from 3 days per month to full time 20 days per month.

Funding  

The organisation may be eligible for IDA or Enterprise Ireland lean funding, under the Lean Business Offer suite of programmes. Talk to us about it today.