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Jul 13, 2019

In our 5th interview podcast of 2019, Alan Winlow, MBE, former Managing Director of Yorkshire Brick Company, Continuous Improvement Director at Marshalls PLC, and 2019 ASQ Deming Medal Recipient, offers insights on his efforts to lead a Deming transformation.

(This is Tripp's first interview with Alan)

Highlights include:

  • Opening quote from Myron Tribus, “If you continue to do what you’ve always done, you will continue to get what you’ve always got”
  • In the late 1980s, while serving as Managing Director of the Yorkshire Brick Company (YBC), employment in the UK brick industry plunged from 14K to 8K employees and plants were closing
  • Question at hand, "How to survive in a labor-intensive business?"
  • How had the Japanese captured critical UK business segments?
  • Started to read about Dr. Deming and attend British Deming Association conferences
  • Discovered sources of variation and PDSA, plus the importance of data
  • Found the majority of variation came from manufacturing equipment and raw materials for the bricks
  • Discovered how to change the brick manufacturing process to improve brick uniformity
  • Began to meet regularly with YBC's production team to continue to improve brick uniformity, savings in water use, energy use, and discarded bricks
  • Discovered mental models, including the Taguchi Loss Function
  • Explored how to remove barriers within workforce, everyone came on staff
  • Began to understand what his job was, including reading books and seeking new learning
  • Alan led consulting visits to China in 1987 to assist in developing the Land Fill Gas business.  The Chinese were extremely interested in the landfill gas abstraction at YBC and sent no less than 8 delegations to visit the Yorkshire site. Alan was invited to visit by the Mayor of the city of Anshan.
  • Teaming with local schools and universities, a local jail, and a county council to share lessons learned within YBC, including environmental projects
  • Yorkshire Brick was honored in 1991 for contributions to environmental causes
  • In 2000, Alan was honored by Queen Elizabeth as a Member of the British Empire for his leadership within YBC
  • Never met Dr. Deming at BDA events; met Myron Tribus on many occasions
  • Comments on challenges in implementing the Deming Philosophy
  • Continued relevance of the Deming Philosophy today