February 2012

Editor's letter

It’s the little things

By Angela Hamlyn

Angela Hamlyn
“Insight is not a light bulb that goes off inside our heads. It is a flickering candle that can easily be snuffed out.” ~ Malcolm Gladwell

The challenge is not new: How do we – as individuals and organizations – strike a balance between well-defined processes conceived to effectively “get the job done” and the operational agility necessary to take advantage of new ideas that could lead to improvements? This becomes especially complex when one considers that those ideas might spring up from anywhere and everywhere along the operational chain.

In the February feature “Room for improvement,” writer Dan Zlotnikov examines how some organizations are looking at the time-honoured business practice of “optimization” through a new lens, focusing not on a defined end goal, but rather on the incremental, and often small, process improvements that can have some big impacts on mining operations: so-called continuous improvement.

The approach emphasizes the value to be found in incremental, continual steps and recognizes that everyone involved in the production process, including – or perhaps especially – those on the front line, are responsible for the identification and removal of suboptimal processes. You’ll read accounts about continuous improvement processes in action, including Barrick Gold managers, who serve two-year stints as “business improvement coaches,” and front-line personnel at Suncor, who make just such improvements in consultation with their supervisors, but without needing to ask permission from the managers.

Meanwhile, if inspiration from the latest developments in operational excellence is what you are looking for, then Edmonton is the place to be this May. Be sure to check out the preliminary programs for the CIM Conference & Exhibition 2012 on page 70 and RockEng12 on page 95. Both feature world-class technical programs, not-to-be missed workshops and short courses, as well as dynamic social programs.

We also hope that you enjoy some of the changes we have made to the CIM Magazine template for 2012. The strong support we receive from the CIM Council and national office has enabled us to reap the rewards of new perspectives from an expanded editorial team and a broader international reach, as we continue on our own journey of continuous improvement.

Angela Hamlyn,
Editor-in-chief
editor@cim.org

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