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What is Moonshine and how can it be applied to your business?

Critical thinking is a skill today’s business climate demands from freshly minted MBA students. Practice makes perfect when I refer to critical thinking. There are many tools available to allow the learner to hone their critical thinking skills. Moonshine is one such tool.

Before I share my thoughts and experiences on this topic I will define the concept of Moonshine. This concept was formalized by Mr. Chihiro Nakao, founder of the Shingijutsu Consulting Company in Japan. Most of us are well aware of the traditional definition of Moonshine. For those of you that require a bit of clarification, during Prohibition in the United States, individuals illegally produced liquor most likely at night under the light of the moon (fact or fiction). . Raw materials used to make the liquor were varied, some poisonous, and the equipment was most likely constructed of re-used bits and pieces of copper and other metals. No two stills were identical and the moonshiners used a bit of creativity to create a working system. Mr. Nakao transformed this concept into a tool and method to innovate and create new ideas and solutions with a focus on production processes. This kaizen (continuous improvement) tool is a practical method to use your critical thinking skills to drive to a solution. Traditional methods, creating a project task force, analyzing/evaluating the problem is tedious and ineffective. Instead, pursue a “no excuse” attitude and create a solution to the problem. Moonshine enables the team to create prototypes through “trystorming” and as referred to by some as “cardboard engineering” using examples from nature as input.

It is best to share with a real world example. I was on a new product development team that required a new cardboard wrap for a container. Sounds easy enough! However, the bends and folds required to secure the container into the cardboard wrap would require a huge amount of labor. As a side note, the volume at the onset of this new product release was to be low, adding automation this early in the product life cycle was too expensive and countered another important rule of kaizen, “use your wits, and not reach for your wallet.” A kaizen team was formed, cross-functional comprised of management and working associates. The team with a bit of training used examples from nature to wrap, grab, compress, and hold. A fixture was designed within 48 hours using plywood! Yes, it failed! Yes there was debate on changes! Yes it was refined and reworked! Yes a better solution came from the revisions. Within 72 hours, a working model, still made out of wood, was finalized, and sent to our model shop to transform into a durable tool made from aluminum! This method of rapid prototyping created a working model, simple yet elegant! The Moonshine process enabled the team to create, evaluate, and solve a problem. Effective problem solving is what all current and future MBA’s will be required to become expert.

So now is the time to taste a bit of Moonshine the way Nakao intended!

Related Programs

Benedictine’s online MBA provides an environment to apply critical thought against real world situations. To learn more about how Benedictine’s online MBA can expose you to lessons on critical thought and advance your career click here or speak to one of our Program Advisors who can share more with you about the program and curriculum.

About the Author

Pete Papantos is an operations director at a Fortune 500 company. He is responsible for the global execution of their strategic plan and driving operational excellence using lean methods. In addition, Pete is a graduate instructor with emphasis in operations and strategic management — both in traditional and online settings.