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Lean Tip #1306 – Learn From Your Past Changes
Unless your organization is brand new, it’s unlikely it has not rolled out a change (big or small) before. You should use the lessons learned from rolling out these changes to form and inform your new change management approach. This is the easiest and probably most valuable piece of information to shape your tactics and build an even stronger approach.
Key questions to ask about the previous change are: what worked and what didn’t work? Why or why not? If you can get more details, ask for more! Find out which communication mechanisms had the most impact, which champions were the strongest and which resources were the most helpful.
Lean Tip #1307 – Avoid the Rumor Mill
People talk. Given a chance and an inkling of change approaching, people will fill in the blanks if you don’t. Get ahead of the rumor mill by preparing your communications before rumors leak to the media and throughout your organization.
Your change management approach does not have to be fully pulled together to announce change is coming. Key elements of the initial communications would be the why, when and how. Be sure to note that feedback will be solicited, FAQs will be coming and many more resources to learn more.
Lean Tip #1308 – Get Buy-in for Your Change
So, it’s not just the resistors. Everyone likes to be involved. Soliciting feedback early in your change management process is key to understanding what could go wrong, tweaking it and correcting it. If it’s a new system, this buy-in should involve employee input, pilot testing and demos.
Lean Tip #1309 – Select the Right Change Agent and Strategy
One of the most common mistakes we see is an insufficient number of Change Agents—coupled with Change Agents who lack the interpersonal skills or credibility to be successful. Subject matter expertise and availability are not the primary characteristics of a good Change Agent. The key role mapping process can help identify where you will need Change Agents (and Sponsors). You must invest in building capacity at the local level to get the change.
Lean Tip #1310 – Invest Time Up-front to Ensure There is a Common Definition of the Change and Alignment
We are continually amazed at organizations’ willingness to invest large sums of money and resources for changes that are not clearly defined. Without a clear definition, Change Agents and Sponsors are likely to head off in whatever direction suits their own frames of reference. You may get change, but not the change that was intended!
Lean Tip #1311 – Avoid Self Imposed Inflexibility, Especially For Job Shops
Job shops, make-to-order shops and engineer-to-order operations need to maintain a level of flexibility that OEM's (Original Equipment Manufacturer) like Toyota seldom have to deal with. Being able to turn on a dime, make a product from scratch, prototype or fabricate an item never to be made again takes a special attitude, a unique set of skills and a nimble and flexible manufacturing system. One-Piece-Flow through hardwired machines is not a viable an option for Job Shops. Does this rule out 'Lean' for Job Shops? No! Many 'Make-to-Order' shops have applied tools from the 'Toyota Production System' Toolbox to dramatically improve their performance while still maintaining flexibility.
Lean Tip #1312 – Don’t Ignore Lean Fundamentals When Improving.
Arranging machines together before they are capable and reliable is one of the most common mistakes. Moving the furniture is not the first thing you do, in fact it may be one of the last steps. Departmentalization can hide problems for years. Yet two wrongs do not make a right. Make sure that you are not increasing your chances for downtime and excessive set-up time by welding machines together in a premature effort to achieve one-piece-flow. It is tempting and very romantic to show your customer a cellular manufacturing arrangement, but if you are in a breakdown or set-up mode 47% of the time as in one of the examples we use in our workshop, you will cripple your ability to meet your customer needs. Focus on the fundamentals: Set-up reduction, 5-S, use of Takt Time, standard work, line balancing, TPM, and cross training.
Lean Tip #1313 – Stop Trying to Change Things Rather Than Focusing on Behavior.
Dupont's famous safety program known as the STOP system teaches us that 96% of all accidents are behavior related. Having Lean initiatives come "undone" can similarly be tracked back to behaviors. Many companies fail to apply enough effort to changing the standard-work or behavior when implementing change. Modification of the work process is necessary so that it is hard to go back to the old way of doing things. The new process then has a chance to become a habit. If on the other hand, you only change "things", then the "things" will get lost or broken or replaced when no one is looking. In no time you'll be back to the old condition.
Lean Tip #1314 - Better to go an Inch Deep Instead of a Mile wide
Some teams take a "shot-gun" approach to Leaning-out their organization. The result? Slow progress. Getting the "low-hanging-fruit" is fine, especially if there is financial "bleeding" going on somewhere in the organization. However, teams need to realize that running from one end of the shop to the other with Kamikaze Kaizen tools can actually add to the time necessary to transform a company. It has been said that you cannot Kaizen your way to lean. Kaizen is a tool much like any other tool in the World-Class Manufacturers toolbox. Of course the techniques of Kaizen should be used where appropriate, but this is not a one-size-fits-all tool. A better approach is to drill to the bedrock, preferably within a model-line (selected as a major value stream within the organization). Apply as many of the tools as possible in a controlled atmosphere. Then you will have a meaningful model upon which you can build, while training other teams within your organization.
Lean Tip #1315 – Don’t Accept Set-up Times as a “Fixed” Number
Toyota focuses on SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Dies) and they have taught us by example to never accept our set-up times as a 'fixed' number. However, in a job shop it could be very expensive to try to match Toyota's level of success in set-up reduction. How about cutting all your set-ups in half as a first year goal. SDED (Single Digit Exchange of Die) is not too lofty a goal for the second year. Having all machine set-ups average 10 minutes or less, is a goal many Job Shops have set for themselves. Pretending to be a small lot manufacturer while spending more than 10% of the day in a set-up mode can eat-your-lunch (financially speaking).
Lean Tip #1316 – Avoid Backsliding By Monitoring and Rewarding the Right Behavior
Backsliding is an age-old condition that can often apply to many aspects of life. It would be presumptuous of us to hope to offer a cure for one of mankind's oldest maladies in a two-page newsletter. Suffice it to say that we tend to improve only that to which we pay attention and measure. If a management team rewards the wrong behavior (old behavior), then that's what you can expect to get.
Lean Tip #1317 - Focus on “Flow” Rather Than Machine Optimization.
Way back in 1926, Henry Ford acknowledged that the longer a product was in the manufacturing cycle, the more it cost. Keeping the material flowing is the most important message that we try to transmit at our workshops. Ford fledged, and Toyota mastered the principles of FLOW. Flow might look different in a Make-to-Order shop because the flow might take the form of one-unit-flow, or one-pallet-flow, or one-truckload-flow instead of a perfectionist idea of One-Piece-Flow. Nothing wrong with perfection you understand, we just need to recognize that there is no reason to wait for absolute perfection before we get started. Make the problem visible to everybody. Tie a red ribbon to any pallet of material that sets still for more than ½ hour. Make sure that everyone knows that the goal is not to have a machine operate just to keep it busy or making noise. The goal is to do whatever helps keep parts moving through the shop.
Lean Tip #1318 - Think Outside the Box.
Job shops are often owned by entrepreneurs. Free thinkers who started their business in a garage or rented warehouse. Once becoming successful these same free thinkers often become their own enemy. They are so good at what they do that they ignore the fact that others may have discovered a better approach. Just like Tiger Woods might hire a golf-pro to help him improve his short game, recognizing a need for coaching does not diminish or call into question a person's ability. On the contrary, it shows intuitiveness and wisdom. It can help move your company to the next level of performance.
Lean Tip #1319 – Teams Need Training and A Coach
Providing teams a clear vision of where the company is going is all-important. Of equal import is educating teams in the use of skills they'll need to get the job done. No amount of cheerleading will improve a football team's skill set or chances of winning. They need a coach to teach them the fundamentals. They also need a playbook that can help transform their individual efforts into a winning team result; the same can be said for work teams. They need structured and experienced coaching from someone who knows the game. While it's nice to have the cheerleaders on the sidelines, they would be a poor replacement for a skillful coach.
Lean Tip #1320 - Change Requires Constant Support and Attention.
To get better every day takes knowledge, diligence, effort, focus and resources. It will not work to simply give a team a book about Lean Manufacturing, turn on your heels and walk away, ordering them to implement the process. The result will be 'short-term-improvement' and 'long-term-frustration'. Company leadership must take an active role in steering the efforts of the team. Direction and discipline to keep working on the Model-Line must come from the top. Otherwise sub-optimization and shot gunning will occur. The short-term needs of the manufacturing managers and the finance team will overshadow the long term needs to establish something more than a brittle veneer.