Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lean Improvement the FastCap Way

In Lean we strive for a culture in which everyone in the company makes small improvements to their work environment everyday.  Many organizations start with large activities with titles like Kaizen or improvement events.  This is necessary in the beginning to create the conditions for change.  You need to teach people how and why to improve.  The Kaizened area then serves as a powerful example for the rest of the organization to learn from.  But as we strive for "True North" we want to create an environment where continuous improvement occurs regularly as part of the work.  Now, there is an example of this from FastCap.

FastCap produces a vast array of woodworking products and tools to accommodate the professional cabinet maker and woodworker needs. FastCap was founded in 1997 by Paul Akers, 20-year veteran in cabinet-making/ woodworking industry. One day, while Paul was building some cabinets, he got an idea for a self-adhesive screw cap cover and the Fastcap was born.

I learned of FastCap from bloggers Ron Pereira and Jon Miller about 6 months ago.  In fact Gemba Consulting helped FastCap start their Lean transformation around 2002. You can hear from Paul himself on how they started their Lean journey from a talk at the Northwest Business Club (video: Part 1 & Part 2) earlier this year.

This video serves as a great example of how powerful an engaged and empowered workforce can be.  It is really only possible from the involved leadership and coaching at the Gemba.  By reinforcing improvement at the source daily you are changing behaviors and establishing an environment where this kind of improvement is expected.  If you do this well then it is common place to solve problems as they occur and find ways to improve your work.  I hope this serves as an example for all.  Share this with the leaders of your organization to start a change in thinking about improvement today.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing that video. It is interesting to see what other companies are doing and seeing smaller companies use lean is fantastic.

    Most companies do use the bigger events to start employee engagement (I have done it myself). The key is to remember that is a great way to kick start engagement but to move towards the daily improvements. Most companies seem to lose that focus and start counting the number of events they did that year. Before you know it, everything is an "event".

    FastCap just re-enforces the daily improvements with the daily walk.