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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Daily Lean Tips Edition #33

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.

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

Lean Tip #481 – Customers always have a choice, listen to what they want.

Customers want:
  • A high quality product that meets their requirements
  • Delivered when they want it
  • In the quantities they asked for
  • At a price that they are willing to pay
Lean Tip #482 – Optimize the plant layout for Lean Improvement.

Optimizing the plant layout can:
  • Reduce movement of people and materials
  • Reduce work in process
  • Allow better flow of production
  • Support better communication
  • Maximize capacity of machines, floor space and material handling systems
Lean Tip #483 – Use simple visual signals that give the operator the information to make the right decision.

Visual controls should be efficient, self-regulating, and worker-managed:
  • Kanban (cards, containers, squares, racks)
  • Color-coded dies, tools, pallets
  • Delineation of storage areas, walkways, work areas
  • Lights
Lean Tip #484 – Standardized work is the combination of three elements resulting in repeatable and reliable operations.

Standardized work is repeatable and reliable operations, safely carried out, with all tasks organized in the best known sequence using the most effective combination of people, material, machines, and methods.

The three elements of standardized work:
1. Work Sequences: well understood and documented, separating cyclic and non-cyclic elements and including quality standards.
2. Standard in-process stock: minimum quantity of material needed for processing
3. Demand: good understanding of how much to produce in a given period of time

Lean Tip #485 - Inspect at the source to prevent defects being passed.

Operators inspect product before passing it to the next workstation. Operators must be enabled to perform inspection:

Visual Tools: samples or established standards
Supporting documentation/standardization: clear checklists and established quality disciplines.
Effective training: quality standards and inspection process.

Lean Tip #486 - Test your 5 Whys chain with the ‘therefore’ test.

Start at the bottom of the chain and say Last Why occurred, therefore the second to last why occurred. Carry on until you reach the first why. If it isn’t true, revise the why chain until you can pass the ‘therefore test’.

Lean Tip #487 – Learn to question to find the answer you need.

If you don't ask the right questions, you don't get the right answers. A question asked in the right way often points to its own answer.

Lean Tip #488 – Don’t jump to solving the problem too quickly if you want to find the root cause.

Moving into 'fix-it' mode too quickly might mean dealing with symptoms but leaving the problem unresolved, so use the five whys to ensure that the cause of the problem is being addressed.

Lean Tip #489 - Data collection through questioning establishes what happened.

The most time-consuming part of root cause analysis, data collection must have a scope and depth sufficient to answer any question the team rises. Usually a quality improvement team gathers data, using blameless, open-ended questions when interviewing, refraining from value judgments.

Lean Tip #490 - When it comes to looking for failures for causes during a Root Cause Analysis investigation, ‘Listen to your operators’.

They are the eyes and ears of your production facility. It doesn’t matter if you are running a chocolate factory, bottling beer, or drilling for oil, they all have one thing in common – operators on the front line. These valuable members of your team are often the first to notice problems occurring.

Lean Tip #491 – When coaching follow the 5 step process from the acronym COACH for the most success.

C.O.A.C.H. stands for these five steps:

Connecting with the coachee.
Observing his or her job performance.
Assessing the performance to select a high-ROI area for coaching.
Conversing with the coachee about performance-improvement ideas.
Honing the coachee's competencies.

Your job as a coach is not complete until you have completed all these steps.

Lean Tips #492 - The most useful coaching is situational.

Consider the difficulty of the task being coached, the skills and experience of the person you are coaching and their preferences in terms of how much 'help' should be given. Sometimes people don't want/need 'the answer', they need a little assistance in finding out how to get the answer themselves.

Lean Tip #493 – Coaching must be part of business processes if you want the most benefit.

Coaching is related to several other organizational processes including change management, team building, facilitation, performance management, and strategic planning. You can acquire many coaching tips from these other processes. You should position your coaching session as a part of these other processes for the most benefit.

Lean Tip #494 – When coaching for performance improvement, make failure acceptable and necessary.

When coaching an employee or team for some type of performance improvement, make failure less threatening and success more personal by taking Peter Drucker's advice (roughly paraphrased): "Don't concentrate on polishing your skills. That will take care of itself if you seek to eliminate the constraints that impede you from achieving your stated goal. Using this approach, the focus of your effort becomes external to yourself, reducing the notion of a "personal shortcoming."

Lean Tip #495 – Coaching is not telling them what to do, help them understand what they should do.

During coaching sessions, you are advised to make suggestions or ask questions instead of telling the coachee what to do. Help them understand for themselves what is to be done. Sometimes this is not a good idea. Your coachee may get confused and wonder, "Now what exactly did my coach want me to do?" Don't feel guilty about providing unambiguous, no-nonsense instructions--when it is appropriate.

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