Yesterday while speaking with a friend of mine he shared with me something interesting that I had seen time and time again. He pointed out to me that the production rates of his shop had been increased by nearly 20%, I said "wow, that's fantastic how did you do it?" His reply caught me off guard a bit when he said, "well the shop wasn't running the machines at full speed so we cranked them up." I pondered his response for a second and then pointed to a gentleman on an old bridgeport and asked "Can you tell me what that gentleman is doing over their?" without going to deep into my conversation I will say that what he was doing was adding Value to a product for a customer.
You see it is much easier to understand when you see the drill bits transforming the raw material into a valve stem and ask in the context of a customer....... "would I be willing to pay for that?" the answer most likely will be yes because the activity is producing the product.
After the Value added concept was made clear we walked by some material sitting in queue, I pointed to the material and asked "Can you tell me what this is doing here?" he said "It's waiting to be put on a machine." Again without driving to deep into our conversation he began to realize that his description "waiting" identified a form of muda.
Often times we may press on the Value added portion of a value stream not completely realizing that this only makes up between 5% to 15% of the entire activities. But the portion that the customer is not willing to pay for get's no attention. The point is the next time you find yourself pushing a machines pace be aware that without a TPM program in place you may just break down the part of the Value Stream the customer really wants and leave the real opportunities for improvement just hanging around.
Last year while at a plant in California a comment was made to a worker that sounded something like this "We are really starting to gain buy in, people love this Lean thing." Of course for any Lean Practitioner who hears this sort of conversation they will probably stop and listen for a bit. The conversation went on with another question; "That's great, can I ask you something?" "Of Course!" The other gentlemen replied, "Do you see people going and doing or do you hear people Saying?"
What the Sensei was referring to with his somewhat pessimistic questioning was a great point that often times can be seen in Organizations. He was asking are people recognizing and removing waste, is there a feeling of calmness and yet production presses on at the same rate or faster or are they justing saying Lean is great?
Often times this is a common struggle in the beginning of a Lean Journey, what you are dealing with is a behavior change or a shift in Culture. As you may already know shifting behaviors is not always the easiest thing to do. Here are Three basic principles why people do things that may help you begin to shift your Organization's Culture;
1. Often times people do things because they have to.
2. People then do things because they feel Obligated to.
3. People begin to Love what they do.
As vague as these three statements are we would ask that you sit and ponder these three items for a bit. Then ask yourself How can I help somebody to love what they are doing today? Be aware that whatever tactics you may use to help someone could shift a behavior, however you want to make sure your driving the right behavior, so paying someone $50 or giving them a TV may not drive the right behavior. After you have completed your task we would love to hear from each of you, What did you do to help someone Love what they do?
At the beginning of the New Year many people are making New Year’s resolutions or setting new Targets. As one of the guilty parties in a past life it was not uncommon for me to make a resolution myself. One day while reflecting over the amount of resolutions that have been made over the traditions history I thought to myself, “Why is it that we make resolutions, but so often fail to keep them?” I thought about this for quite some time before the answer came to me.
I was sitting at my desk reviewing an A3 document and for the first time had realized that this A3 thinking the world had been speaking of, was no longer thinking at all for me. Now I don’t mean to say that thinking is not sometimes required when reviewing A3’s but rather that I had looked at so many of them that the process had become very simple for me.
If you’re not familiar with what an A3 report is, I have attached one for you to view and please feel free to print it out and use it as a template if you would like, this one will be based on a PDCA A3.
As you can tell this A3 follows the PDCA method of Problem solving, but if you look a little deeper you can see that it reveals a story about the project or problem. Much like New Year’s resolutions at one time for me, I realized that to keep them we must change the way we think. The A3 thought process has become so powerful because it works like a standard operating procedure through consistent repetition our minds begin to memorize the Stories told and more importantly the methods used.
Let me give you one last example, Sometimes my children will come to me with a problem, after I hear the problem I sometimes will ask them, “What should we do first?” Since the DMAIC method of Six Sigma is more familiar to them they will sometimes say “Tell you the problem” or in other words define what is happening. As the adult I will often Measure how serious the matter is or if anything can be done but every now and again my two beautiful girls pull out their black belts and measure too. Then as a family we “Analyze” what can be done. Once we have come to a logical decision and everyone agrees with the solutions, we begin the Improve phase. Of course the Sustain is on mom and me to change behaviors but often times there is not much to Sustain.
This may sound a bit crazy to you, Kaizen at home? But what is being done is actually creating a method for the mind to solve problems. It can be done anywhere, on a soccer field in an office or on the shop floor. The more and more we repeat the more and more our mind begins to engrain what we are repeating and thus we advance our A3 thinking.
Although there are many reasons for the failure of resolution’s it may help us to keep them if we made the thought or activity we resolve to change part of our normal thought process. Then just like an A3 Story we may have a better chance at losing that 20 lbs. we have been talking about.