This guy is perfect! Kind, team player, technical skills and desire to grow in the organization. It's like a dream come true finding this type of employee. Then the final interview question is presented, "how do you feel about lean six sigma?" They respond, "I've only heard of it." With the ever growing "popularity" of both lean and six sigma it almost feels like a game changer if a new employee or existing individual has not sought out lean six sigma education or joined a group to become more familiar with these two powerful strategies. Then of course there is the "gap." Yes the gap, it's that ever increasing distance between those with "master black belts" and lean six sigma expertise and those who "missed the boat" for training or were part of "next years group." How do we bring those individuals up to speed so that the changing dynamics of an organization or job market of a career does not continue to drift further and further apart?
The answer to that question has remained the same for hundreds if not thousands of years; education, training and experience.
It's no secret that education for employees or learning for yourself yields: improved performance, consistent knowledge and a specialized skill set. But along with these benefits education can influence a group of behaviors in a positive way too. Imagine for a second an individual who had absolutely no understanding of soccer (I know it's hard to imagine) going with you to a soccer game. While fans are cheering, eating good food and actively engaged in the game, they just sit there with absolutely no connection with the game or anything going on around them. Worse yet they may feel left out and never want to be a part of a soccer game again. A tragedy indeed. Now let's imagine that for a few minutes, maybe an hour before you share with them important moments in the sport of soccer's history, you briefly explain to them the rules of soccer and you help them understand the general strategy of the game. Flashback to our soccer game and this time when everyone is cheering, screaming and excited they understand a few things. Soon they begin asking you more questions and shortly thereafter they want more knowledge. Similar to this most employees and individuals may feel discouraged in environments where they don't understand what is going on around them. Whether it's technical or philosophical it is hard to be a part of something you haven't ever heard about. Why would anyone see the value in eliminating waste when they could crank the machine up and sweat themselves to death creating more value? How would anybody understand the difference between creating value and non-value? They can't unless they have some knowledge or education where they can then begin to wrap their minds around the concept. In our recent release of the brand new completely remade 8 forms of waste course students first participate in an educational experience learning about general aspects of lean, waste and then moving on to the specifics of waste. Like a soccer game the community is now completely open to posting in each of the 15 lectures. This gives students an opportunity to discuss with one another the knowledge they are acquiring. Additionally they gain a firm understanding of fundamental lean concepts helping them to join or be a part of groups, strategies and initiatives that will surely cross their path sooner or later.
Educate someone on the strategy or direction of the organization and they are off to a good start. Now instead of "I've only heard of it," we might hear, "oh yeah, I was lucky enough to take a class on that." Place the individual in a community with others and now they can discuss, share thoughts and learn from others. Add a little training to their already educated mind and talking transforms into doing. That was the focus of the transformed 8 forms of waste course giving people the opportunity to take education and engage themselves or employees within an organization in activities that provide a real training experience. The benefit to this of course is that everyone knows what is going on around them and nobody "misses the boat."
With education and training under one's belt the last piece of the puzzle is experience. As the saying goes "if you don't use it, you'll lose it," the same is true for education and training. If all you do is sit through a course and complete a few reports then after obtaining your prized certification you set aside your new found knowledge you will surely forget what it is you've learned. Like kaizen a good way to continue developing skills in a field or closing gaps between expertise and novice is to practice everyday. whether it's a large scaled project or touching up on a recently read book try to stay engaged so that you don't have to start the process all over again.
There are many ways to onboard new employees and close gaps in the skill sets of current individuals. Whether it's a 2 hour course like the newly released 8 forms of waste course or a training program like the introduction to lean finding an effective and affordable way to welcome new faces to your organization and graft them into the field comfortably will empower and enable employees to be a part of your improvement journey and may possibly set them up as a future leader.
Going to the gemba is one of the essential activities of Lean and Six Sigma that we all must do. Every project requires it, every issue needs it and every person should do it. Toyota Chairman Fujio Cho once said "go see, ask why, show respect." A perfect summary of going to the gemba, but what are some of the basic items a lean practitioner can take with them for their trip to "go and see?"
Amongst the various reasons we "go and see” are the objectives to understand or observe what is going on at the gemba. It won't always be a problem and you may not always find an opportunity, but if we take the time to go, then we should take the time to try and remember the gemba too.
Pencil and Paper
One of the most basic tools you can take to the gemba is a sheet of paper and a pencil. Although there will be times when you need more, you don't need to resize PowerPoint slides, copy and paste excel sheets or shove a laptop in your pocket every single time you get marching orders to go to the gemba, just grab a simple sheet of paper and write a few notes. One thing to be aware of is that the notes you take do not get prioritized over the people you engage with. Keeping things organized is important, but you don't always have to draw a Picasso portrait while you are at the gemba. A simple list of the steps you walk will get you very far when you return from the gemba.
Depending on your objective a phone can be either good or bad. If you are going to "ask why" it's probably safe to say your phone should stay in your pocket. One of the purposes we ask "why” is to develop and stretch others capability to problem solve for themselves. This would not be a time to break your phone out. A few times when your phone would come in very handy are:
1. Gathering data - Most phones are equipped with stopwatches that you can use to gather data such as cycle times while you are at the gemba.
2. Photo/Video - Sometimes while you are at the gemba you will see something that you will need to remember or would like to watch again (slower/faster, closer/further) later on, the phones of today's day and age are a perfect tool for this.
Probably the most important item you can take with you to the gemba is a positive attitude. Greet everyone with a warm welcoming spirit and be ready to listen to anything that people have to say. Additionally, having a positive attitude in all situations will help show others that you are welcome to challenges and opportunities in both good and bad situations.
There are many other items, attitudes and tools we can take to the gemba. Templates can be very helpful in standardizing activities and formats but should be easily accessible and quick to grab. Check out our upcoming course called the ©WASTES methodology for waste walking.
Discussion Opportunities (leave in the comments below):
1. What items do you take with you when you go to the gemba?
2. What are some best practices you have used when going to the gemba?
3. What struggles have you experienced associated with going to the gemba?
One of My Favorite quotes from a great Manufacturing legend says "If you always do what you've always done, you will always get what you have always got." This saying rings true today years after Mr. Henry Ford has passed away. Why is that? That saying doesn't note that what you've always got is bad nor does it say that what you've always done is not the right way either, but it does give heed that if we try something new we will get something different. This can be a troubling thought for some. Maybe what you will get, is not quite as good as what you've always got. Maybe you just don't know any different way to do what you've always done. So how do we make sure that what we are about to do yields results that are better than what we have always done?
1. First Define where it is you want to be
This is actually not quite as hard as it sounds. We often times think of defining where we want to be at a strategic level, you know visions and alignment and much larger scaled initiatives. But this concept is applicable to just about anything that we do in life. " I am here, but I would like to be there." Maybe it is as simple as my profit has always been this much but I would like to increase it to this much. Wherever you want to be just make sure that your "Vision" or your "Target" is at a level that is appropriate and accomplishable. Some ways that you can define where you want to be are; Setting visions, defining charters, strategic planning or outcome statements. Whatever the method you use, just be sure to define where you are headed.
2. Where am I at?
Now that we know where you want to be, it's time to figure out where you are at? A variety of lean tools can assist at this point in the Journey, but one of the most useful tools you can use is the value stream map. Understanding where it is we want to be and clarifying the gap between where we are and where we would like to be, is often a variety of issues. Mapping the current state, will help you grasp the entire situation and plan the best route to get where you want to be. Some other tools you can use to clearly reveal the current state are: Process charts, SIPOC maps, organizational value streams, implementation plans or just your memory and the Gemba. Just make sure you are honest and open with where you currently are.
3. How do we get there?
Now we have defined where we want to be and what it is we are currently doing. The next step is to figure out how do we do it? How do we reach our goal? Whatever method you used for the "current state" you should have revealed multiple issues that are impairing you from getting where you want to be. Now it is time to map out your future state (immediately after the current State). You now know where you want to be and where you currently are so you can properly plan how you are going to get where you want to go. Keep in mind as you document your future state map, you will need to create counter measures that remove all the "issues" you found in the current state. This will ensure that the future state map is an improved version of the current state practices and in many cases might yield a complete and total transformation.
4. Help your Team Get the Wins
Of Course with any transformation of what is normal there is always the risk that people will go back to “the way things are always done.” This is where tools such as standard operating procedures, updated policies and company training come into play. We want to make sure that people know what changes will occur and set them up to enjoy the journey in getting there. A few ideas that may help manage the change as you go from where you are to where you want to be are:
You may be thinking about implementing a Lean Strategy in your organization. Or maybe you just you haven't heard much about lean and you want to find out what everyone is talking about.
Wherever you are on your journey here are a few of the most common reasons organizations and individuals embark on the "lean journey".
Some of the small and medium sized organizations have realized that in today's global market it is not only tough to compete but very hard to survive. With the internet now reaching all around the world our competitors can research and access information with the click of a button. Along with the digital power of the internet many markets have been forced to be cheaper and quicker with no spared expense of quality. This means long lead times, safety stock, batches of inventory and excessive queue times must be eliminated. Whether you're in manufacturing or service the solution is lean. Lean is a continuous improvement strategy that a company embarks on to maximize customer value and minimize waste. The term "Lean" was first used in the book The Machine That Changed the World by James Womack. A lean organization focuses on providing complete value or Value added activities to their customers. Lean truly enables a company to focus on what customers want, while increasing satisfaction, improving a company's competitive market and ultimately enabling anybody to change for the better. What are those changes that we refer to as better?
Here are four changes you can expect as a result of a lean implementation:
1. The first and most obvious reason we will list is that a Lean Strategy Removes waste. Lean places a strong focus on what is known as Muda and the elimination of the 8 forms of waste. Those 8 forms of waste are Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Over Processing, Over Production, Defects and underutilized Skills. By eliminating waste a company spends more time creating value and less time on wasteful activities. Let's look at an example. Valentine's day you're looking to go out to dinner with your family. When you place your wallet in your pocket do you put it their to wait in line? probably not. How about for the restaurant to rework your food? Hopefully not. No you probably put your wallet in your pocket to purchase food that you're going to eat and contribute to the transformation of the ingredients into the food you're going to eat. Those activities that you the customer are not willing to pay for are what we call waste. Lean works to drive these hidden costs out of processes.
2. Lean Brings People together. In order to build a lean organization a company must recognize the need for change. The strategy requires buy in from every level of an organization and asks that all team members are focused on doing their part. Principle number 10 in The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles, Dr. Jeffrey Liker writes: "use cross-functional teams to improve quality and productivity and enhance flow by solving difficult technical problems." He goes on to say: "empowerment occurs when people use the company's tools to improve the company." While it's true individuals create value the simple idea that lean tools require interaction and teamwork helps us begin to understand why the development of people and healthy culture is so important to the strategies success.
3. The Pursuit of Perfection. One of the best part about a continuous improvement strategy like lean is the continued focus on improving. The term kaizen suggests that it is through small incremental improvements that breakthrough results are created. If we look into the North American definition of kaizen we see the word "continuous" used alongside the word improvement. One synonym for the word continuous is constant. Constant means to happened all the time or very often over a period of time. By understanding this definition, we understand that Kaizen or continuous improvement is not so much an activity or a project as it is a part of our work ethic and culture that helps us to pursuit perfection and never give up.
4. Streamlines Processes, implementing lean helps companies dramatically streamline their processes. This includes office functions, manufacturing tasks, educational organizations and healthcare environments. If you have a process it can be improved, if you don’t it can be created and standardized. This enables companies to work to their full potential which results in a reduced operational expenditure along with increased speed and service to the market.
In Short a Lean Strategy really is the improvement strategy. Although these are only four reasons a company might embark on a lean journey, there really is no question that if you are looking to grow, transform and survive in today's global market lean must be a part of your organization or skill set.
What reasons can you think of that may cause a company or an individual to shy away from lean?
As the new year comes to an end, new strategies, resolutions and goals kick into gear. We share with friends how much weight we want to lose. We talk with superiors about how we are going to improve and we set goals we've set before with the hopes of reaching them this year. Day one begins with the new goals. Day two, we are executing and day three one of them falls to the wayside. Why is this?
While there are many different reasons resolutions, goals and objectives might get misplaced one common way to avoid this is through the use of visual controls.
What is a visual Control?
A visual control refers to methods, devices, activities and or systems which are designed to assist in the management or control of activities. These means of control often employ other sensory characteristics along with a visual to better manage. A visual control is one method of communication that we can use to show at a glance:
1. How we are performing or progressing with our activity or work effort.
2. If anything is deviating from a standard.
3. What we need to do.
1. Progress/Performance - The visual control should show anyone who looks at it how the work effort or activity is performing in comparison to the standard or objective. One example of visual management that could be used for a new year’s weight loss goal might be a weight loss chart like the one shown below.
2. Deviations from a Standard - Visual management also seeks to identify abnormal conditions. While it is important that we see, and know when conditions are not meeting the expected level of performance, it is probably even more important that visual controls share knowledge throughout an organization allowing individuals to look, understand and act accordingly. If you had as part of your new year’s weight loss goal a diet, the plate shown below may be helpful to use at each meal. You can see what the standard is and you can see if the standard is being met or not and correct it accordingly. Now that's Lean.
3. What you need to do - Exception messages in ERP/MRP give us information and prompt us to act or receive information. A gas light on our car tells us we need gas and both our weight loss tracker and portioned plate show us what we are doing in relation to the standard. If we are not meeting a standard we need to understand the abnormality and act accordingly. If we are meeting the standard, we keep doing what we are doing or do a little better. The point is the means of communication being used for visual management should help us to make decisions of what needs to be done.
There you have it one easy tool you can use in 2017 to become much leaner. Just remember:
With the new year upon us posts regarding health are widespread. Resolutions have begun, talk of parking further away and staying in the green aisles of the grocery store seem to whisper to our ears on every social media channel known to humans. Well this post will do the same. If you're looking to grab a few extra steps during your day, strap on the fitbit and let's head on out for a "waste walk."
What is a waste walk?
The waste walk is one of the best ways to train employees, reveal waste and discover new improvement opportunities. Simply put it is a time where either a team or individual's head to the floor and look for waste. The waste walk can be a standard activity, planned event or a now and then practice. The only thing that is required for people to have during a waste walk is a basic understanding of the 8 forms of waste.
How to Perform a Waste Walk:
1. Before you can begin your waste walk you need to make sure that everyone is aware and understands the 8 forms of waste. A few ways that you can help people understand waste might be:
2. Once everyone has a good understanding of the 8 forms of waste you may want to consider establishing a standard time for activities such as waste walks to be performed. Setting a standard time will allow teams and individuals to plan for their waste walk. It will also help people to understand the importance of going to the gemba regularly. Along with establishing a standard time it can be very helpful to develop a spaghetti graph or a roadmap that charts the waste walk out. This will help keep focus and can also be used on specific value streams or areas if need be.
3. While you walk the area/value stream look for as many forms of waste as you can. Take a moment to write down every form of waste that you find. Be sure to be very specific every form of waste is an opportunity for improvement.
4. Prioritize your list and select forms of waste that can be removed right away and execute right away. If there are other forms of waste that need analysis place them on a suggestion form or a kaizen paper.
Nobody can say it better than the master himself Mr. Taiichi Ohno. Learning to see waste is the first critical step along your personal journey, but sooner or later seeing waste will not be enough. Once you have learned to see waste the next step is moving towards "elimination."
We were excited to see that many of you took advantage of our November Sale for the Lean Six Sigma White Belt and 5S Course. While continued training is one way of developing your skills another important element that goes hand and hand with continued education is "experience." While it's not always easy to go and do a Kaizen Blitz in our home we can identify forms of waste in our everyday life.
Let's take for example " The missing kiss." Every morning before I head out into the world my children, wife and I gather around a board near our front door. We take a few moments to catch up on things we've been doing and find ways to support each other in accomplishing our goals. Along with our brief huddle every morning I stumble off right when the huddle breaks and grab my shoes for the day. About 50% of the time this results in me not getting a big hug from my daughters and a kiss from my beautiful wife. Why? I've built waste into my morning routine. Transportation, moving from the door to my bedroom on the other side of the house, Over Processing, going from one side back to the other and back again and of course unused skills and talents by not taking advantage of my families brilliant mind for solutions. So how does lean apply to this "everyday" situation? Well, if you are anything like me you love spending time with your family.
One day while working on a project at my desk a thought came to my mind. I pulled out an old design layout I had in my drawer of the home and upon further review realized that jackets, shoes and backpacks could be placed in a closet near the door. We began by conducting a 5S of the closet together. Upon completion there was more than enough room for our shoes. While the story might sound silly it gets sillier, don't worry. Not a moment later my little seven year old STEM cell winner decided to chart the flow of the morning routine.
Folks I want you to know that it has been well over a month now and every morning I get a hug and a kiss before we all head out, how? By eliminating waste. So what's the point?
While it might not be a hug and a kiss in the morning for all of us, it could be walking across the hall to pick up a sheet of paper you printed, maybe it's sifting through the closet to find supplies you need or excessive waiting when you really don't have the time. The point is, waste is everywhere and all around, by first learning to see and then learning to act you will find that not only will your job or career advance as you eliminate waste but you may just find that there was much more time, resources and energy to do the things you love.
Remember there are always FREE wonderful resources available on The Lean Six Sigma Glossary and in our blog Listen to the Gemba so please take advantage.
Let's keep transforming the world through the "complete and total elimination of waste" and continue sharing with one another. If you happened to come across some waste in your day today, don't forget to share your story in the comments section. Have a fantastic day everyone and until next time, keep on improving and we will keep on giving you solutions that ignite your power!
A full time worker spends about 8 hours a day 5 days a week at work. A part time worker may spend anywhere from 1 hour to 7 hours a day at work. With long hours like that work is often considered a "second home."
The term ergonomics is often used in cooperation with workstation and checklist to denote comfortable and functional working conditions. Although there are many different criterion available that one might benchmark, ultimately the satisfaction of the employee lies in the hands of the organization they work for. Some other very important reasons to ensure that employees have a functional, safe and efficient working environment are directly related to:
One very useful tool that can be used to improve all of the four elements listed above is the workstation checklist. The general outline of a workstation checklist outlines an established criterion from such notable organizations like: Osha, Cornell University and of course various labor organizations like Ontario ministry of Labour.
Lean and six sigma strategies use a belt system very similar to many forms of martial arts to designate the experience, skill and contribution to the organizations strategy for each individual. As you may know already there are 5 different belts that a practitioner can obtain.
White Belt - A white belt is generally trained in basic elements of lean and six sigma. They typically are capable of understanding language and activities that are going on around them and often times work with problem-solving teams. Although White belts are not often designated full time to a continuous improvement team they often times are able to assist others who may have little to no exposure in lean or six sigma.
Yellow Belt - A yellow belt is often times a subject matter expert in specific areas of an organization. Generally yellow belts will participate in projects as an assigned team member and are often capable of providing direct assistance with process improvements and data collection.
Green Belt - Green belts are very skilled in terms of improvement projects and analysis. The green belt is often of the same skill set as a black belt but lacks the experience needed to coach, guide, mentor and direct other individuals.
Black Belt - A black belt has mastered almost all aspects of their niche. Black belts often lead in initiatives, problem solving and help support coaching, training and facilitation of other individuals.
Master Black Belt - A master black belt is often referred to as sensei or coach. Often master black belts are full time coaches establishing programs to advance the organizations skill set and supporting as an "internal" consultant on large scaled projects.
A young engineer stands at the shop floor. Tasked with finding one example of each of the 8 forms of waste he first stands for nearly an hour. When his supervisor returns and asks, "what did you discover?" He responds "just the normal activities." The supervisor nods his head and returns to his office where he can see the engineer on the floor and the area he is watching. About one hour later the supervisor returns and presents the same question. A bit baffled the engineer replies, "Well I saw that gentleman walking to get a tool he needed, someone from planning came out here to grab a paper they printed out and that gentleman right there finished all ten assemblies on time and placed them in the move area." Again the supervisor nodded his head and returned to his office.
Later that day while that engineer and his supervisor were conducting a hansei (reflection of the event) the two spoke about some various types of waste. As the hansei approached an end the supervisor posed the question "what can you do next time you are out at the Gemba to identify waste a little better?" The young engineer sat for almost 3 minutes appearing to have no response. Determined to let the spirit work its magic the supervisor was silent, never moving his eyes from the engineers face. A short while later the engineer responded, "I need to ASK." With years of experience in supervision the engineers supervisor dug a little deeper, "what do you mean you need to ASK?"
That was when the Supervisor/Sensei found his future leader.
"Well" the engineer started, "You told us in training that we should think in terms of processes. In this case I thought about it and ASKing seems like the best process for me to try." He went on to share his thoughts...
Acknowledge - The engineer shared that he knew what the 8 forms of Muda were and that he knew about there origins. However, he was not yet willing to acknowledge that the waste was right in front of him. After standing at the Gemba the entire day his thoughts moved from not seeing to asking, why am I not seeing? When he did this he realized that he was looking for types of waste but not yet identifying what was value and what was not value. At this point he asked why does that planner have to walk to pick up that paper, he prints those papers all day long? He then began to realize that walking to get paper that you print all day was waste. Next he admitted he thought outside the box and came up with a solution. What he ultimately realized was that often times we acknowledge the lower fruit on the tree but we don't really see the many other types of waste that we do everyday. He closed by sharing "I need to Acknowledge that waste is everywhere and those are opportunities to improve."
Study it out - Over the course of the hansei the engineer shared that acknowledging the waste was not enough. He learned that first we must acknowledge the waste and then study it out with ourselves and with the individuals working in the Gemba. Some methods of studying it out are asking why 5 times or conducting other forms of a root cause analysis.
Kaizen - As the engineer began to finish his story and his initial development of his ASK methodology he shared what the "K" in ask meant. To him the "K" was the most important. Kaizen, probably more appropriately described as the spirit of kaizen. As honest as our friends thoughts were he stated "maybe I don't really know what kaizen is." Of course the supervisor came to his aide and responded, "Kaizen is a journey, It is a spirit that individuals accept as a core belief and a philosophy from within themselves, however that is only part of Kaizen. A lot of the rest of that spirit comes in the doing. He then handed a book titled The Spirit of Kaizen to the engineer. I would like you to read this and summarize the 5 points that Dr. Maurer writes about in the book." Soon after our young friend received the book he said "This is part of Kaizen isn't it?"
In this story we read about a young engineer who in the beginning couldn't quite notice a fundamental aspect of Lean, identifying waste. But by the end of our engineers story he had developed a methodology of his own. While finding items that are non-value, mapping, assessing, analyzing and re-analyzing are contributing factors in a successful journey coaching and reflection land right up at the top with principles and tools. While many of us have years of experience, degrees and millions of belts on our wall, sometimes our greatest development comes to life if we just ask.
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