Some time ago while visiting an old friend of mine, we decided to go to a gym and train a bit of jiu jitsu. While we were training it became rather apparent that he was in shape and I was not. Afterwards we sat and reflected on a few of the reasons that became quite apparent during our training. Over the course of the conversation my friend mentioned to me "It's all about the basics." He followed this up by saying that sometimes people try to master the advanced stuff before they have really learned the basics or the foundation. Similar to jiu jitsu the basics of lean are more important than we may understand. Today we will discuss a few different ways that everyone can strengthen even basic concepts of Lean and there may be a free course for everyone too.
One of the fundamental thoughts of staying strong in basics is that the basic skill, art or technique that you are engaging in is used every single day. You know, the age old saying "repetition creates mastery." Interestingly enough we sometimes fail to just observe the Gemba in order to identify new opportunities for improvements. In our latest updates on the 8 forms of waste course we continue to utilize the "Ohno activity" more appropriately referred to as "stand in the circle." Very few can say that there was a better sensei than Mr. Taiichi Ohno.
When was the last time you stood in the circle?
Although there literally was a circle drawn at times by Mr. Ohno I personally see the "circle" as a place that goes with us anywhere. What I mean is that we don't need a yellow chalk circle to actively go to the Gemba and understand, rather the circle can be anywhere. This as many of you know is one of the reasons there is such an excitement with Gemba walks. It not only allows the person walking the Gemba to Go and See, but at one point or another they will almost certainly be "standing in Mr. Ohno's circle." While going to the gemba is a fundamental concept of a Lean strategy we must also ensure that there is time to "stand in the circle" while at the gemba. While we often times are seeking to observe and discover waste when engaging the gemba, standing in the circle helps us to focus and observe an area with "narrow eyes."
How many forms of Waste have you identified today?
Many years ago, about 12 to be exact while sitting at my desk engaged in a six sigma project as a young improvement enthusiast a gentlemen in a polo shirt with a Tier 1 aerospace name on it approached me. He asked me "What are you working on?" my response went a little something like this "Well sir, my grandfather told me to stand at a CNC lathe for the entire day yesterday. He didn't tell me what to look for or what to do there he just said, watch. He followed that up with get to know the people in the area at lunch time and at breaks but over the course of the day, watch." The gentlemen then replied "what were you watching for?" a bit hesitant I said "I don't really know, he didn't say. He just said to watch and then the next day to write one page for these five questions he wrote down." Of course the gentleman asked if he could see them and I shared:
1. What did you see?
2. Why did what you see happened?
3. Was what you saw performed the same way for the entire day?
4. Is there anything that you saw that looked or felt abnormal?
5. If there was one thing that stood out to you during the day what would it be?
To my surprise the gentlemen responded with a chuckle and said, "I've been there before." I shrugged it off and went back to my report out. I later realized that this activity was teaching me how to observe, how to postpone judgement and finally how to identify opportunities. As the years have passed I learned that the 8 hour activity performed in that little aerospace shop and Toyota facilities around the world could if need be happen in a matter of 5-10 minutes with a structured methodology to follow.
Don't neglect your foundation.
Everyday we are faced with strategic decisions, tough purchases and operations that requires a response to demanding needs. While these aspects of business will never go away we can not neglect the foundation of Lean. The only way to remove waste is to establish behaviors that remove waste. Sometimes those behaviors can be driven by policy, procedure and even metrics. Whatever the means of driving behavior that finds and pursues the elimination of waste it is much more powerful when done every single day.
Like it became obvious on the Jiu Jitsu mats that day with my friend, we often times don't realize the importance of seeing and identifying waste daily. Because waste is not accompanied by a shortness of breath or excessive sweat it is harder to pinpoint than categorizing low profit margins and lead times that are increasingly long. But when we make an effort to discover waste daily, like an athlete may train in his sport daily the results can be astonishing.
If your interested in finding our more about waste click on the link here: 8 Forms of Waste Introductory Course. The course is completely free while updates are occurring.