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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Single Point Lessons: An Educational Tool

It is often said that lean is 90% people and 10% tools. Knowledge is the factor which determines the rate of change in organizations. How do we learn and teach this knowledge within our organization? Many organizations use a “train the trainer” method where knowledge is handed down from one individual to the next. This is like the school age game “telephone” where one person tells a story to someone who tells someone else and so on till the end of the line where the final result is a variant of the original. The variation from this type of training can result in confusion, longer cycle times, rework, and defects.

A lean tool that can be employed for teaching is a Single Point Lesson, SPL (or One Point Lesson). Single point lessons originated from TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) as a method to teach knowledge and skills necessary for autonomous maintenance.

Keeping in mind this mantra:
Teaching occurs when an opportunity for Learning is presented.
Learning occurs when there is a change in behavior.
Teaching is only VALUABLE when there is a subsequent change in behavior

The single point lesson is used to communicate single idea effectively in five to ten minutes on one page. An effective single point lesson has the following characteristics:
· Visual supported pictures, diagrams, or drawings
· Short and focused
· Self initiated and self taught
· Generated and used at the point of need

As an aid for spreading best practices company-wide, single point lessons can support and enhance improvement efforts. The purpose of single point lessons include:
· Communicating knowledge and skill about the asset amongst members of the team.
· Raising the knowledge and skills of the team in a very short period of time.
· Eliminating problems and for making improvements to the way of working.
· Making sure that everyone knows about a better way of doing something.
· Making sure that next time a problem is encountered everyone knows the way to solve it.

A single point lesson is a learning tool for communicating standards, problems, and improvements across a wide range of processes and work environments. Thus, single point lessons may contain information on a number of topics.

Types of Single Point Lessons
• Basic Skill - Fill in knowledge and skill gaps
• Countermeasure - Identify root cause, recognize, and prevent future occurrences
• Safety - Spread knowledge and share root cause/mistaking proofing ideas
• Poka Yoke - Communicate solutions and importance of mistake proofing
• Productivity - Spread successful improvement ideas
• TPM - Equip team members for safe, effective, efficient use of equipment, tools and methods

Single point lessons should not replace work instructions or standard operation procedures but they can support and simplify instructions and procedures. Single point lessons are an effective training tool because:
• They are easy for shop floor people to develop – anyone can make one!
• They are easy for shop floor people to deliver – anyone can be a trainer!
• They don’t take long to develop or deliver.
• They facilitate discussion between team members.
• People want to share their skills and knowledge rather than hoarding it.

There are endless opportunities for single point lessons as a learning tool in your organization. How can you apply single point lessons?

If you are looking for some examples, Fuss & O’Neill understands sharing best practices and have created a section on there website with over 100 SPLs from various parties. You can access this great resource from this link:

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