Friday, April 30, 2010

Lean Roundup #11 – April, 2010

Selected highlights from the Lean Blog Community from the month of April, 2010.

Cats and Dogs in Manufacturing – Mike Wroblewski shares Ohno's advice on outsourcing those typically small volume, hard to make, mainly less profitable parts.

Fastest Way to De-motivate Employees: Don't Train – Ankit Patel explores the de-motivational effects from a lack of training and retraining employees.

Lean Leadership Soft Skills – Jeff Hajek lists some of the greatest challenges—and opportunities—for many Lean leaders.

Management Magical Mystery Tour – Mike Wroblewski talks about the wasted opportunity of executive level plant visits.

Ted Video: Dan Pink on Motivation – Mark Graban highlights a TED video on Motivation by Daniel Pink.

MBWA is not a Gemba Walk – Kevin Meyer explains why walking around (especially undercover) is a lost opportunity for executives to make real improvements.

Executive Engagement - The Lean Thinker's Approach – Adam Zak shares 3 steps to get leadership engagement in your business.

How a Simple Office Kanban System Works – Mark Graban explains a kanban system in the office that anyone could use in their organization.

Company Purpose and Shareholder Value – Gregg Stocker shares his thoughts on why a company's purpose matters and money isn't everything.

What Data Do you Need – Dragan Bosnjak talks about why we collect data and what makes a good metric.

Defining Corporate Culture – Pete Abilla defines a company's culture by what is present as well as what is missing.

Chasing Rabbits - Process Unimprovements – Bryan Zeiglar explains process control and process improvement with Demming's marble and funnel experiment.

The Remarkable Gift of "Start Over" – Evan Durant talks about why it is necessary to stop and start over again because of the importance of redefining value.

The Toyota Way - Two Pillars – John Hunter explains the two pillars of TPS being continuous improvement and respect for people.

Sugarcoat Pills, Not Communications! – Liz Guthridge shares her thoughts on why straight talk is the way to go and that is shows respect.

Think Outside the Box or Inside the Silo? – George Rathbun talks about silo organizations versus lean organizations and the importance on thinking outside the box.

Building Coaching Capabilities – Lee Fried discusses how and why purpose of coaching is to build capability into the leadership line.

5S ThinkingBryan from TWI shares thoughts on 5S from John Miller's post A Tracking Method for 5S Programs.

Standard Work is a Verb – Mark Hamel explains the importance of reviewing and revising standard work as part of continuous improvement not just kaizen events.

What to Do When Your Lean Implementation is like a Chicken – Jon Miller talks about a skill matrix and some things you need to consider before you start.

Undercover Lean – Tom Stoffel shares two truths from the show Undercover Boss that relates to Lean Healthcare.

Organizational Design Solves Lean Challenges – Jamie Flinchbaugh pens a great article on how organizational design can be used to solve problems or enhance lean methods.

Lean Quote of the Day, April 30, 2010

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

Feel free to share some of your favorites here as well.

"Continuous improvement is not about the things you do well - that's work. Continuous improvement is about removing the things that get in the way of your work. The headaches, the things that slow you down, that’s what continuous improvement is all about." ~ Bruce Hamilton


The things that get in the way of your work are those non-value added tasks or headaches.  These headaches can be characterized by eight wastes which make up the acronym DOWNTIME. 

Defects
Over-production
Waiting
Non-utilized Resources/Talent
Transportation
Inventory
Motion
Excess Processing

By focusing on reducing or eliminating the Eight Wastes associated with DOWNTIME we can make our work easier.  This gets us back to those things we do well.  That is the essence of continuous improvement.

If you enjoy this post you may want to connect with me on Linkedin or follow me on Twitter.  You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.  For those Facebook fans join A Lean Journey on our facebook fan page.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lean Blamed for Perils at John Deere

An article at Bloomberg Businessweek entitled low inventory angers John Deere customer caught my eye this week.  The article's author writes of the perils of running lean, claiming that lean is the cause of John Deere's customer service problem.  This strikes me as another unfortunate example of L.A.M.E. not Lean. Mark Graban coined the term "L.A.M.E." — Lean As Misguidedly Executed. L.A.M.E. includes stuff that people call "lean" but really isn't a good representation of true Lean mindsets and practices.

The article states that while lower inventories have helped the company meet short term financial results it has led to shortages in the supply chain.
In recent years, Deere has been focusing on becoming a build-to-order company. That bolstered prices and profit because keeping smaller stockpiles on hand reduces the amount of materials and working capital a company needs. But production cuts and the tightest inventories in the industry have led to a shortage of Deere equipment as the farm economy is strengthening. And that's pushing customers ….toward competitors.
Unfortunately the lower inventory levels will result in lost profits and market share.
Deere shrank its inventory 28% in the 12 months ended on Jan. 31. As a percentage of sales in the most recent reported 12 months, Deere's inventory was just 12.3%, the lowest among 15 farm and construction equipment makers, including Agco and Caterpillar. Fewer products have big implications for the company's dealers. "It means I am losing market share," says Larry Southard, co-owner of a central Iowa dealership that gets 90% of its sales from Deere gear. He figures his dealership's sales would be up to 20% higher this year if it had enough inventory to meet customer demand and products were shipped more quickly. "I suspect we can lose at least half a dozen deals a month," Southard says.
It appears the company has used their resources to focus on innovation.
Ken Golden, a spokesman for Moline (Ill.)-based Deere, says the manufacturer's "intense focus" on managing inventory has improved its financial performance and has allowed it to design better products for customers.
The company seems to have misjudged the market by not understanding the voice of the customer.
Deere Chief Financial Officer James M. Field said on a Feb. 18 conference call that the company had been too pessimistic about the effect of the global recession on North American farmers. In November, Deere predicted its net sales would decline about 1% in the year ahead after dropping 19% in the 12 months ended Oct. 31. Deere expected production tonnage to decrease 3%. In February the company revised its outlook upward, forecasting sales to increase up to 8% in 2010 as gains in farm cash receipts rise far more than expected.
It is not clear whether the author only or whether the author and John Deere doesn't understand Lean.  Lean is often mistakenly to blame for poor performance.  Low inventories are commonly linked to Lean because many organizations are able to reduce inventory level due to practicing Lean Thinking.  But "true" Lean Thinkers understand lower inventories are a resultant of a process improvement not a solution to a problem.

Now, we all understand that high inventory levels hide problems.  The same is true in this case.  While higher inventories might have met some short term demand at a higher cost, the real issue is related to poor understanding of the market.  John Deere did not fully understand what they needed to produce.  I think it would also be safe to say that the cycle time to produce their product is too long compared to the level of inventory and changes in market demand.  They simply can't keep up.  This is not a failure of Lean but rather a failure on not using Lean.  Lean is about understanding the customer demand, building to that demand efficiently via binary connections in your supply chain, and recognizing abnormalities so you can quickly react and solve problems.

Time will tell whether John Deere understands Lean and how they choose to react to this opportunity for them to exceed their customer's expectations.  For now, this can serve as a lesson for all of us to learn from.  Low inventory levels are not Lean.  Making your customers happy by meeting their demands is Lean.

If you enjoy this post you may want to connect with me on Linkedin or follow me on Twitter.  You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.  For those Facebook fans join A Lean Journey on our facebook fan page.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

10 Tips for Good Listening

The first step in becoming a good communicator is to learn how to listen.  You think that you already know how to listen, but many people have more trouble with this seemingly simple activity than you realize.  They may hear the words, but that isn't the same as listening.

Here are ten useful tips that can help you become a good listener:

1. Take time to listen.  Obviously there are times when you're busy for extended discussions.  But you need to set aside times when you can listen carefully to employee's problems, reactions, concerns, and suggestions.

2.  Let employees know that you're approachable.  Adopt an "open door" policy.  That is, communicate your willingness to hear what employees have to say.  Demonstrate that it's safe to talk to you.

3.  Put the other person at ease. Give them space and time and "permission" to speak their peace.   Watch how you look at them, how you stand or sit, it makes a huge difference. Relax, and let them relax as well.

4.  If people don't come to you, go to them.  Some employees may take advantage of your "open door" by approaching you with their concerns.  Others will be reluctant to do so, for any of f variety of reasons (shyness, fear of being judged, unwillingness to complain about others, and so on).

5. Set-up multiple means, both formal and informal, for communicating with employees.  Some employees are comfortable talking face to face.  Others would rather send a note by email.  Some will speak up during a formal team meeting.  Others will reveal their concerns only in casual conversations around the snack machine.  Make multiple possibilities available so that you hear from everyone.

6.  Pay attention to nonverbal signals: tone, vocalizations (such as "um," "uh," laughs, and sighs), body postures, and gestures.  Often a person will say one thing but signal nonverbally that the true meaning is different.  For instance, "okay" said with a deep sigh does not really mean "okay."

7. Remove distractions. Good listening means being willing to stop working computer, close a door, stop reading your email, or only answer emergency calls.. Give the speaker your full attention, and let them know they are getting your full attention.

8.  Avoid anticipation.  Don't jump to conclusions or assume that you understand a person's comment before he or she has finished talking.  You may misunderstand, or you may discourage people from saying what they truly mean.

9.  Suspend judgment.  Don't decide on the spot whether the speaker is right or wrong.  Wait until you have a chance to think the matter over.

10. Use active listening techniques.  Active listening mean taking an active part in the conversation to make sure you are grasping fully what the speaker is trying to say.  Active listening involves techniques such as these:

  • Attending. Focusing closely on the speaker and maintaining eye contact.
  • Paraphrasing. Repeating what the speaker has said in your own words, giving him or her an opportunity to correct you if you have misunderstood: "You're saying that the procedure seems too complicated, is that it?"
  • Summarizing.  Offering an occasional summary of the main points made so far: "Let's see, you've mentioned three problems…"
  • Interpretation checking.  Stating your interpretation of what the speaker is conveying – both ideas and feelings – and asking if you're correct: "It sounds like you're upset that you didn't get earlier feedback on you handling of this project, is that right?"
  • Using clarifying questions.  Asking questions that attempt to make a point clearer or more explicit:  "Are your suggesting we change our procedures?"
  • Using probing questions.  Asking questions that encourage the other person to expand or elaborate on what was said: "I think I see the problem, but why do you think it happened?"
Probably the best advice I could anyone who wants to be a good listened is to 'Stop Talking".  It is difficult to listen and speak at the same time.  God gave us two ears and only one tongue, which is a gentle hint that we should listen twice as much as we talk.


If you enjoy this post you may want to connect with me on Linkedin or follow me on Twitter.  You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.  For those Facebook fans join A Lean Journey on our facebook fan page.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Lean Quote of the Day, April 23, 2010

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

Feel free to share some of your favorites here as well.

"The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year." — John Foster Dulles, Former Secretary of State

The power of lean manufacturing resides in the philosophy that all employees should be involved in solving problems. Toyota recognizing this philosophy developed a system called Jidoka, which gives all workers the power to stop the line and all other employees from working until the problem is resolved.

When it comes to problem solving, how and when do you train your personnel?  I like to use the phrase “You, Me, Now, at the Source.” This has been refered to as On-Error-Training (OET).  This post details 5 rules for effective problem solving everyone should learn.


If you enjoy this post you may want to connect with me on Linkedin or follow me on Twitter.  You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.  For those Facebook fans join A Lean Journey on our facebook fan page.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Laws of Manufacturing

Manufacturing operations are governed by a series of laws.  Wallace J. Hopp and Mark L. Spearman, developed and mathematically proved a series of fundamental relationships in manufacturing.  These were captured in their book Factory Physics.  The "laws" of Factory Physics describe the underlying logistical behavior of manufacturing systems, including the fundamental relationships between basic performance measures such as throughput, Work-In-Process, manufacturing cycle time, and process variability. By understanding these relationships, and using the powerful analytical tools described in the text, managers can diagnose their manufacturing systems and make major improvements in throughput, cycle time, customer service, and quality.

In particular, these laws of manufacturing give managers a way to identify the largest sources of waste and variability and to compute the effect of alternative improvements before implementing them. 

Here, the top ten laws of manufacturing by Hopp and Spearman are summarized:

  1. Little's Law: Work in progress = Throughput X Lead Time.  This is the basis of Factory Physics.  So if the throughput is 100 units per week and the lead time is 2 weeks, then the WIP is 200 units.
  2. Law of Capacity: In steady state, all plants will release work at an average rate that is strictly less than the average capacity.
  3. Law of Inventory: In an unconstrained system, inventory builds relentlessly.
  4. Law of Bottleneck: Accumulation of inventory is not necessarily an indication of a bottleneck (or a constraint).
  5. Law of Variability: Increasing variability always degrades the performance of production system.
  6. Law of Corollary: In a line where releases are independent of completions, variability early in a routing increases cycle time more than equivalent variability later in the routing.
  7. Law of Conservation of Material: In a stable system, over the long run, the rate out of a system will equal the rate in, less any yield loss plus any parts production within the system.
  8. Law of Utilization: If a workstation increases utilization without making any other changes, average WIP and lead time will increase in a highly non-linear fashion.
  9. Law of Move Batching: Cycle times over a segment of a routing are roughly proportional to the transfer batch sizes used over that segment, provided there is no waiting for the conveyance device.
  10. Law of Variability Buffering: Variability in a production system will be buffered by some combination of inventory, capacity, or time.
For Lean, the implications of these laws are profound.  Variation is the enemy of planning and control systems must recognize these laws.  The laws of manufacturing are of prime importance for a deeper understanding of scheduling.

If you enjoy this post you may want to connect with me on Linkedin or follow me on Twitter.  You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.  For those Facebook fans join A Lean Journey on our facebook fan page.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Lean and the Rhode Island Experience

This past week I had an amazing trip to Rhode Island.  It started with visit to VIBCO, who manufactures high-quality, low maintenance industrial vibrators, construction vibrators and other vibratory equipment.  VIBCO practices lean manufacturing and is committed to True North which they characterize as quality, throughput, innovation and same day, next day service.

During my visit to VIBCO I met some really great people including Karl Wadensten, president; Linda Kleineberg, marketing manger; and Paul Cary, Lean Sensei.  VIBCO truly understands the people aspect of Lean manufacturing.  While walking the plant, their friendly and outgoing team was more than happy to tell me about all the ways they are improving their job.  There was an enormous sense of pride in the work they do to service the customer.  Yes, they relate all activities in terms of value to the customer.

Karl and the team had been successful in breaking down the walls of the traditional organization physically and literally.  There isn't a typical management hierarchy to stifle improvement.  The culture is open and so are the work spaces.  It creates an environment of collaboration and team work.

Mark Graban just wrote about a recent trip to VIBCO where he learned what makes you want to do better.  I would recommend any lean practitioner taking the time to visit or learn more about VIBCO.  They are probably the best example of employee engagement I have seen.

Later in the day Karl, the VIBCO Team, and I went to the Rhode Island State House to broadcast The Lean Nation Radio Show live from inside the rotunda with a Tax Day Tea Party in the background.  As the guest on the show we discussed Lean leadership, government waste, and the call for engaging those within the system to work on improvement.  If you missed the radio show you can listen or download here to listen to the Lean revolution, complete with a visit by RI State Governor Carcieri.

One last story really speaks volumes to the VIBCO teams' lean culture.  During the preparation for the radio show there was trouble with Karl's microphone.  It kept dropping down because of a lose clip.  With only a few minutes to air the VIBCO team stopped what they were doing and jumped in to help Karl fix the microphone.  They tried some impromptu solutions in a trial and error fashion.  Working together they were able to tighten the microphone with only seconds to spare.  After the fix the team went back to what they were previously doing.  It was natural and in the moment but nonetheless a great example of Lean, where working together to solve problems is common place.

I had a great visit to Rhode Island where I experienced lean the VIBCO Way.  I am looking forward to my next visit to learn more about workforce engagement. 

Friday, April 16, 2010

Lean Quote of the Day, April 16, 2010

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

Feel free to share some of your favorites here as well.

"Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them."  —Paul Hawken, Natural Capitalism

This quote reminds me of a recent post on what it takes to be a lean manager. The challenge of Lean managers is to lead as if they have no power. In other words, shape the organization not through the power of will or dictate, but rather through example, through coaching and through understanding and helping others to achieve their goals.

If you enjoy this post you may want to connect with me on Linkedin or follow me on Twitter.  You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.  For those Facebook fans join A Lean Journey on our facebook fan page.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Exciting News from A Lean Journey!

I will be a guest on the world famous The Lean Nation radio show Thursday, April 15 from 4-5pm (ET) on 790 AM Talk and Business, hosted by Karl Wadensten.  We're going to discuss what it means to lead in a lean environment, specifically frontline leadership.  This is an important topic and I'm looking forward to sharing my insights on air to a wide audience of business leaders and change agents.

You can listen to my appearance live on 790AM (Citadel Broadcasting, ABC Affiliate) in Providence, RI.  The show is also globally available via a live audio stream at 790business.com.    I would love to hear your opinions and answer your questions, so feel free to call in to the show.  The call-in number is 401-437-5000 or toll free at 888-345-0790.

Can't tune in live?  The podcast will be available after the show!

The Lean Nation is the hottest new show on 790AM and airs from 4-5pm, weekdays and streams online at 790business.com.  The Lean Nation features real world examples and actionable advice from local and national business leaders on how to reinvent yourself into a lean operation in business and in life.  The show's host, Karl Wadensten, is the president of VIBCO, a Rhode Island manufacturing company. Over the last 3 years VIBCO has created a Lean Revolution, using lean methodologies (based on the Toyota Production System).  I am looking forward to the opportunity to visit the Gemba at VIBCO prior to the show.

Under Karl's leadership, VIBCO is now a high performing business culture where lead times for over 1,300 SKUs have dropped from 4-6 weeks to "same day, next day", inventory has been reduced by more than 50%, over 10,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing floor space is now freed up to accept future growth, and sales are well above industry trends.  These impressive improvements are the result of a workforce that is empowered to improve every day and understands the power of Lean Thinking. 

Listen to The Lean Nation to learn how you can get similar results in your business and learn about lean leadership!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

How to Deal with Low Performers

The other day while in the Gemba a production lead asked for some advice.  As we were talking about the performance of a new work cell the lead expressed some concerns about an individual’s performance.  At first I thought this was a question in how to discipline employees but upon further questioning of the situation I realized this was really about dealing with a low performer on the production line.

As we create cells and learn to balance the work content in the cell the flow of the line becomes dependent on everyone meeting their expected outcomes.  Low performers tend to stand out and can become a bottleneck in the cell.  Most employees want to do a good job at work and experience shows that our systems general dictate performance.  A production lead should use this simple 5 step checklist to determine what to focus on when trying to improve an individual’s performance. 

1) Are the tools and equipment the person is using calibrated and working properly?

2) Are the parts and materials they are using within specifications?

3) Has the person been trained?

4) Have the expectations for performance been made clear?

5) Has there been regular feedback on performance?

An answer of “no” to any of these questions will indicate an area for which focused improvement is needed.  If you find you can rule out all these questions then your options are limited.  You must now consider an important distinction between those individuals who “can’t” do the work and those who ”won’t” do the work.  If you can find another area for the individual who can’t keep up in the cell then you should do so.  In the other case you will need to consider a formal progressive discipline system for the “won’t” workers.  With this formal discipline system you may find that many of those in the “won’t” group find a way to meet the expectations.

Many times our discipline systems don’t include dealing with low performers in this manner.  This leaves a tremendous burden for our production leads to deal with.  If we are committed to lean production, management must provide a system to support disciplined adherence to the standard that applies to all.  I am reminded of a saying from a fellow lean practitioner, “You deserve what you tolerate.”


If you enjoy this post you may want to connect with me on Linkedin or follow me on Twitter.  You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.  For those Facebook fans join A Lean Journey on our facebook fan page.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Lean Quote of the Day - April 9, 2010

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

Feel free to share some of your favorites here as well.

“Safety isn't just a slogan, it's a way of life.” ~Author Unknown

When it comes to business the priorities must safety, quality, and then productivity.  There can be no compromise on the first two.  If you do safety and quality well then everything will be easier to accomplish.  Safety must be ingrained into the culture of the organization through daily habits. The best model for daily one-on-one observation and feedback is coaching. The letters of COACH represent five fundamental steps of safety coaching: Care, Observe, Analyze, Communication, and Help.  Review this post for the details of each step of the Coaching for Safety Model.


If you enjoy this post you may want to connect with me on Linkedin or follow me on Twitter.  You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.  For those Facebook fans join A Lean Journey on our facebook fan page.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Top 10 Lean Facebook Pages

With 450 million users globally (and millions more being added each week) Facebook is dominating the web in unparalleled ways. Facebook has eclipsed Amazon, Walmart, Netflix and even Google as the foremost brand name in web searches from U.S. users, according to research from Hitwise.  It was the most visited site on the web for the week ending on March 13, 2010, surpassing even Google in week-long stats for the first time in history.  Facebook claims that half of its user login each day and the average user spends about an hour on Facebook.

In honor of these recent achievements I thought I would highlight my top 10 Lean Facebook fan pages, in alphabetical order: 

A Lean Journey – This is the facebook site of A Lean Journey Blog, published by yours truly. This site is dedicated to sharing lessons and experiences along the lean journey in the Quest for True North. The blog also serves as the source for learning and reflection which are critical elements in Lean Thinking. 

AME Connect - AMEConnect is the official fan page for the Association of Manufacturing Excellence.  The website is designed to provide members with the ability to find industry experts, distribute topic-based information in a collaborative format, and empower online communities to work more effectively together. 

K-Dub's Lean Nation Radio Show – This is the fan site for The Lean Nation Radio show hosted by Karl Wadensten on 790 AM in Providence, RI. Get real world examples and actionable advice from local and national business leaders on how to reinvent yourself into a lean operation (in business and in life). This collaborative, interactive show will share best practices and tips to remove waste and cost from your work and life.  

Lean Blog – The fan page of Lean Blog, published by Mark Graban.  Check out this site for discussion about the lean methodology in factories, hospitals, and the world around us.

Lean Enterprise Institute - The Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI) is the official Facebook page of LEI.  It helps companies transform themselves into lean enterprises, based on the principles of the Toyota Business System.  

Lean For Everyone: Simplify your business and your life! - Lean For Everyone is the fan page published by blogger John Wetzel.  Lean for Everyone is about making your business, work and life easier by finding simpler ways to accomplish your daily tasks. 

Lean Learning Center Jamie Flinchbaugh of The Lean Learning Center manages this Facebook page.  The Lean Learning Center helps individuals and companies with successful lean transformation through education, coaching, strategy, application, and products. 

The Lean Way Consulting – This site is the creation of Ankit Patel from The Lean Way Consulting Blog.  The focus is on improving companies by changing the culture and the processes. 

The Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence – This is the official Facebook site of The Shingo Prize.  The mission of The Shingo Prize is to create excellence in organizations through the application of universal, self-evident principles of operational excellence and the alignment of management systems and improvement techniques throughout an entire organization. 

Value Stream Leadership - This is Facebook fan page of the Value Stream Leadership by Jim Baran and Kristi Boyer. VSL is the first firm to create a solution that fuses the hiring of Lean talent to lean engagement.  

So if you are one of the over 225 Million on Facebook daily you may want to spend part of your hour online staying informed of all things Lean by becoming a fan to these great sites.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Visual Controls: Simple or Sophisticated

When it comes to visual controls in the workplace the most common line of questioning is related to manual visuals versus computerized visuals.  Many people prefer the look of a more sophisticated information technology solution over a simple hand written solution.  There are a number of things to consider when deciding which visual method to use.


Manual Visual
Computerized Visual
Timeliness
Manual visuals are current as of the last recording and reviewed by frequency of the pitch.
Computerized visuals are current as of the last data entry and last time the report was run.
Proximity
Hand written visuals are usually close to the process whose performance they reflect.  This also makes it difficult to disperse the information to other locations.
Computerized systems encourage managing the production process from a computer screen in an office somewhere removed from the actual production area.  A computer aided solution is definitely advantageous for computational accuracy as well as ease of distributing information.
Accuracy
Manual visuals are usually near or at the Gemba and can be physically verified but humans do make mistakes.


Computerized visuals are usually a long way from the source, often require judgment and execution of data, which can make accuracy difficult to assess.
Precision
Manual methods are not always precise, notes sometimes vague, and reporting periods can occasionally be missed.
Computerized visuals are highly precise regardless of accuracy.


Flexibility
Questions prompted by manual visuals can be addressed at least initially where it is posted and can be easily modified or new visuals created.
Computerized solutions are powerful analytical tools, but usually only designed to address the questions programmed and not easily changed or customized.
Expense
Manual visuals require little to no expense to implement and maintain.
Computers and network equipment are expensive to purchase, require continuing maintenance costs, and technical expertise.
Responsi-veness
Manual visuals are easy to use, owned by production floor, and draws people to the information whom helped create it.
Computers can be intimidating; the data is removed from shop floor to be transformed into impersonal computer-generated report.

Visuals are a means connect people to their processes.  They also reflect the adherence to the process and are the basis for comparing actual versus expected performance. Visual controls help transform the abstract concept of discipline in lean management into directly observable, concrete practices.  It is important to choose the right visual format for each process.  Due to the immediate, accessible, flexible, inexpensive, and responsive nature of manual visual controls they are my preferred method.

If you enjoy this post you may want to connect with me on Linkedin or follow me on Twitter.  You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.  For those Facebook fans join A Lean Journey on our facebook fan page.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Lean Quote of the Day, April 2, 2010

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

Feel free to share some of your favorites here as well.

“Create your own visual style... let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others.”  - Orson Welles

The goal within a Visual Factory is to create a “status at a glance” in the workplace. This refers to an operating environment where anyone can enter the workplace and:
     See the current situation (Self-explaining)
     See the work process (Self-ordering)
     See if you are ahead, behind or on schedule (Self-regulating) and
     See when there is an abnormality (Self-improving)

This post entitled "You Won't Get Lean, Until You Get Visualwill remind you of the importance of creating a visual factory.  A visual factory is the language of the Lean production system.

If you enjoy this post you may want to connect with me on Linkedin or follow me on Twitter.  You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.  For those Facebook fans join A Lean Journey on our facebook fan page.