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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lean Tips Edition #7

For my Facebook fans you already know about this great feature. But for those of you that are not connected to A Lean Journey on Facebook or Twitter I post daily a feature I call Lean Tips.  It is meant to be advice, things I learned from experience, and some knowledge tidbits about Lean to help you along your journey.  Another great reason to like A Lean Journey on Facebook.

Click this link for A Lean Journey's Facebook Page Notes Feed.

Here is the next addition of tips from the Facebook page:

Lean Tip #91 - Milk runs can reduce the waste of transport, improve fast, flexible flow, and reduce lead times.

Like in a plant the idea behind the milk run is that a vehicle travels frequently around a set route starting and ending at the plant, and visiting several suppliers en route. At each supplier a small batch of parts is collected in a particular time window.

Lean Tip #92 - There are three sources of unstable Lean supply chain resulting in more inventory.

In simple terms, there are three enemies of a stable Lean supply chain:

1. Inventory and delays that worsen any 'swing' of amplification. The longer the response time to a change, the worse the swing upstream.

2. Unreliability or uncertainty - Any kind of uncertainty needs to be covered with inventory. Unreliable processes cause unreliable delivery and ultimately uncertainty.

3. Hand-offs or decision points - Every hand-off or tier in the system bears the danger of distorting the demand signal.

These all result in more buffers or inventory to cover the supply chain.

Lean Tip #93 - Build a strong supply chain by conducting joint improvement activities.

A collaborative supplier relationship model is essential for supporting a Lean supply chain. Conduct joint improvement acitivities with the following emphasis:

1. Exchange best practices with suppliers.

2. Initiate kaizen projects at supplier's facilities.

3. Set-up supplier study or work groups.

Lean Tip #94 - Strengthen your supply chain by sharing information.

Within your supply chain share information intensively but selectively. Focus on these principles:

1. Set specific times, places, and agendas for productive meetings.

2. Use rigid formats for sharing information.

3. Insist on accurate data collection.

4. Share information in a structured fashion.

Remember sharing information is all about shared learning.

Lean Tip #95 - Develop a suppliers' technical capabilities to strengthen your supply chain.

It is important to understand and develop your suppliers' technical capabilities. Start with the following elements:

1. Build the suppliers' problem-solving skills.

2. Educate them in Lean thinking and teach them to see waste.

3. Develop a common lexicon.

4. Hone core suppliers' innovation capabilities.

If your suppliers are not technically proficient your supply chain will be your weak link.

Lean Tip #96 - Don't forget to manage your suppliers within your supply chain.

Managing your supply chain is really about managing your suppliers. Here are couple things you can do to make this effective:

1. Send monthly report cards to core suppliers.

2. Provide immediate and constant feedback.

3. Get senior managers involved in solving problems.

4. Turn supplier rivalry into opportunity.

5. Source each component from two or three vendors.

Direct and timely communication with your suppliers is essential collaboration.

Lean Tip #97 - Support your suppliers by creating compatible production philosophies and systems.

For a supplier and vendor to want to together long term there must be a win-win proposition. Create compatible production philosophies and methods. This can be done by:

1. Set up joint ventures with existing suppliers to transfer knowledge and maintain control.

2. Understand how your suppliers work.

3. Learn about suppliers' businesses.

4. Go see how your suppliers work.

5. Respect suppliers' capabilities.

6. Commit to co-prosperity.

Lean Tip #98 - An effective measurement system is one of the most powerful tools for change.

Measurement should:

•Provide short-term indicators of problems - and no problems.
•Be part of a feedback or capability of the process or people.
•Focus on improving performance.
•Be capable of being acted upon.

Lean Tip # 99 - A good measurement system has four keys for sucess - first is Context.

First key of a successful measurement system is Context. Effective measurement can only occur in a positive, supportive context. This is the culture that surrounds the measurement - informational or punishment, process not person. The attitude of the boss. An unfavorable measure is an opportunity not a threat. We want to surface issues, not suppress them.

Lean Tip #100 - A good measurement sytem has four keys for success - Focus is second.

The second key for a successful measurement system is Focus. Measure the right thing. Be aware of measuring too much. Derive many of the measures from participative policy deployment, not sucked out of the air.

Lean Tip #101 - A good measurement system has four keys for success - Third is Integration.

The third key for a successful measurement system is Integration. There must be an integrated system for measurement. Maybe a balanced scorecard or policy deployment, although better in a Lean context would create flow, maintain flow, and organize flow. In any case measures need to be aligned, balanced, and adaptive.

Lean Tip #102 - A good measurement system has four keys for success - Fourth is Interactivity.

The fourth key for a successful measurement system is Interactivity. Measures need to be acted on in real time. Two-way interaction. Actually setting up the measures is only a small part - how they are used and reviewd is at least as important. Perhaps a daily meeting around the communications board. This is social process, not a technical process.

Lean Tip #103 - You must be focused when you decide which project to pick.

People always ask where to start. Which project should be pick to work on?

You must be focused:

•Focus on the Porcess
•Focus on the Product or Service
•Focus on Cost Savings
•Focus on Problems
•Focus on Internal processes
•Focus on supplier processes

Lean Tip #104 - Question each review, approval and status report to make sure they will make the project better.

Question each review, approval and status report to make sure they will make the project better. Consider the following:

•List the interim and final deliverables that need review and approval.
•Who will provide the review?
•Who will provide the approval?
•What is the reason for the review?
•What is the deliverable of the the review?

Lean Tip #105 - Simple strategies for evaluating possible solutions

Try these strategies when evaluating possible solutions:

Be creative with generating solutions.
Look for combinations of solutions to optimize outcome.
Generate the evaluation criteria BEFORE discussions.
Use data to review strengths and weaknesses of each option.
Consistently evaluate the potential options against the criteria.

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