May 16, 2020

How to introduce a culture of continuous improvement to your organisation

Continuous Improvement
Leam Manufacturing
Best Pract
4 min
Joakim Ahlström talks about developing a culture of continuous improvement.
Have you ever watched a child learning to ride a bike? Who (or rather what) gets the blame when things dont go the way the child wants? The bike! The ch...

Have you ever watched a child learning to ride a bike? Who (or rather what) gets the blame when things don’t go the way the child wants? The bike! The child might even argue that it’s a stupid bike and it’s impossible to ride.

But what has this to do with organizations wanting to succeed with continuous improvement? Grownups at work don’t behave like that, do they? No, there is a crucial difference. The child will have to learn riding the bike he or she has, while many organizations chose to invest in a new bike with more features, in the naive belief that it will make their employees better cyclists. The child eventually realizes that the problem has not to do with the bike but the child's own attitude and ability, while the people of the organization continue to live in denial. In the end the child learns to ride the bike – the approach leads to the desired outcome. The organization will soon be cluttered with lots of old and "useless" bikes and for each new bike it becomes more difficult to learn how to ride it – the approach leads away from the desired outcome.

What does the child have that the organization lacks? A person, who in a loving way and though it might hurt, lets the child know that there is nothing wrong with the bike. In many organizations, on the other hand, we are often quick to agree when someone blames the bike. When the bike is targeted, we don’t have to approach the real reasons for the undesired results: our own shortcomings. The child however, in spite of the initial reluctance, will have to confront his or her fear and inadequacy. That's when the miracle of learning, increased self-confidence and improved ability happens.

So, what can you do to reclaim the "passion for riding a bike" in an organization with a distorted self-image and a bike that feels too big? First, throw out all fancy and advanced racing bikes and dust off the tricycle. In other words, get back to the very basics of continuous improvement. Question every single method, routine, meeting and tool, and get rid of everything that does not serve a purpose. "We’ve always done it this way" is no longer a valid excuse for holding on to old junk!

It is equally important to rid your collective self-image of historical debris. It has taken a lot of damage from all failed attempts. Each time a new bike has been rolled in, instead of the real problems being addressed, the subconscious conviction that you will never succeed has been strengthened. It’s time to stop running away from that conviction in search of better bikes. Instead, you need to process your failures and get rid of your unproductive and distorted convictions about yourselves. Otherwise you will never dare to jump on the tricycle. Your fear of failure will make you stand on the side claiming it’s beneath you to ride on one of those.

When you’re back at the starting point, your improvement journey can truly begin. To make the most of it, you as a leader and coach should continuously modify your approach based on where you are on the journey. Someone who is learning to ride the bike is motivated by easy-to-reach targets and the highlighting of their progress and improved ability. A professional, on the other hand, is motivated by bigger challenges and wants the coach to visualize the improvement potential and point out the details he or she needs to correct. If you were to approach a beginner the way an experienced person wants you to, or vice versa, you would completely ruin the fun and kill the desire to learn.

Finally, a repetition of the most important point: Never solely blame the bike! Always look both outwards and inwards. As often as you question the method, you should ask what more you need to understand about yourselves to get the results you want. When you do, you truly begin to build the people that will build your business!

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May 12, 2021

Ultium Cells LLC/Li-Cycle: Sustainable Battery Manufacturing

2 min
Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing

Ultium Cells LLC - a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions - has announced its latest collaboration with Li-Cycle. Joining forces the two have set ambitions to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing


What is Ultium Cells LLC?

Announcing their partnership in December 2019, General Motors (GM) and LG Energy Solutions established Ultium Cells LLC with a mission to “ensure excellence of Battery Cell Manufacturing through implementation of best practices from each company to contribute [to the] expansion of a Zero Emission propulsion on a global scale.”

Who is Li-Cycle?

Founded in 2016, Li-Cycle leverages innovative solutions to address emerging and urgent challenges around the world.

As the use of Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in automotive, industrial energy storage, and consumer electronic applications rises, Li-Cycle believes that “the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better recycle these batteries, while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.”

Why are Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces?

By joining forces to expand the recycling of scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing in North America, the new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells LLC to recycle cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum.

“95% of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries,” says GM, who explains that the new hydrometallurgical process emits 30% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than traditional processes, minimising the environmental impact. Use of this process will begin later in the year (2021).

"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain. This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, " said Ajay Kochhar, President, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.

"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025. Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials,” added Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, GM.

Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100% of the battery packs it has received from customers, with most current GM EVs repaired with refurbished packs.

"We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended. This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes,” concluded Thomas Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer, Ultium Cells LLC.

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5

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