Friday, August 21, 2015

Lean Quote: Power of Observation

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.

"Take the facts into your own hands; look, and see for yourself! Louis Agassiz

No matter what your position is or what you are working on you can not underestimate the importance of going to the Gemba. Gemba is the Japanese word for “actual place.” You can’t solve problems at your desk. Going to the Gemba is a great way to get the entire team involved in identifying and solving problems. It is grounded in fact finding using actual conditions from the actual workers who perform the work. This activity creates energy within the team solving the problem leading to experimentation, ideas, and discussion on improvements.

There is no better way to experience the flow of value (or lack thereof) than taking the same journey that an order, new product, patient or other takes through your processes. Start where the order, product or person enters your value stream and "go see" all the places they go from start to finish. Look for all forms of the 7 wastes and when you see them, think about "why" they exist. Do this often in order to gain a true understanding of your processes. What happens on Monday is not necessarily what happens on Friday. See if you can discover why on your Gemba walks.

Supervisors and managers must continually walk through the factory to see that standards are being followed and to practice seeing waste. Operators need to continually examine their own operations to stay alert for new problems and new ideas for solving them that may come to mind as they do their jobs.

All too often, attempts are made to solve problems without knowing anything about or are not being familiar with a particular area or process -- resulting in a misdiagnosis or failed solution. Answers come from the floor, from the 'gemba,' where the condition occurs. You need to go to the real place and experience these conditions for yourself before being able to take the next steps.



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