Many years ago a sociologist by the name of Vilfredo Pareto developed what eventually would become one of the most well known concepts in the world. Pareto who had already made significant contributions to the world of microeconomics discovered that about 80% of the wealth in italy was owned by only 20% of the population. This revolutionary discovery eventually lead to what we know today as the Pareto principle, or the 80/20 rule. Over some period of time the Pareto concept began to gain a reputation for separating what is often referred to as the vital few from the trivial many. While it is important to understand history and how things come to be what we really want to understand today is when to use the Pareto chart and how we can leverage opportunities from analyzing the chart.
Almost every project will include brainstorming of some kind at some point in the project lifecycle. Brainstorming sessions can be a powerful gateway to unlock solutions, make issues visible, prioritize actions and bring experienced minds together. When individuals come together as a team, innovative ideas can be born. One of the struggles of being a part of a powerful and productive brainstorming session is that they generate many great ideas and often reveal a large amount of issues. This can leave a group feeling overwhelmed. Often times, the wide array of ideas can be hard to organize, understand, validate and act on. Worse yet, many members of a team might leave feeling invalidated, unheard or completely shut down.
The first day on the job is always an exciting experience for any new employee. A new chance to show your skills, meet new people and grow in a new organization. Excited to learn something new in training you get thrown to the wolves and here the phrase "you will figure it out." That can be a bit scary to say the least. Surprisingly as you start figuring out everything has procedures connected to it. Three days later and you have mastered erp, assembly and every office function in the organization. A bit surprised by this you're off to a great start!
Have you ever gotten into a discussion of why? because. Why? because. Last weekend I had the great pleasure of this discussion for what seemed to be the first time. I never really put much thought into it but asking why never really was a difficulty for me.
Oftentimes when we want to use the 5 whys to drill from issue to root cause we end up in a pattern of why, because. Why, because. Or, we conduct a long analysis only to find out that none of our levels of causation matched at all. One of the best known examples of a 5 why analysis was performed by the master Taiichi Ohno. He used the example of a welding robot stopping in the middle of its operation. Like a sensei does he naturally went from initial issue to root cause with almost no difficulty at all. So, how do we begin developing this level of mastery with regards to root cause analysis? Here are a few important things to keep in mind when looking for the ROOT cause.
For years now teams have come together on baseball fields, football fields, soccer fields, race tracks, offices and homes in what has become known as the huddle. These quick and spirited standups often last no more than 5 minutes and help team members refocus their efforts while planning for things to come. Whether the purpose is to realign or align team members focus towards an objective, the daily 10 - 15 minute scrum, stand - up or huddle works.
Jesse Allred - email@example.com
Lean manufacturing offers a number of tools and strategies to complete projects, streamline processes, identify wastes, and improve efficiency. One tool that’s often overlooked is the project management concept known as the Obeya room.
Obeya, sometimes spelled Oobeya, is a Japanese term translating to the "big room." These physical rooms utilize visual management and collaboration to ensure projects are seen through completion and in a timely manner. Using posters, charts, and graphs allows everyone who enters the room to quickly understand thought processes, plans, and offers a space for people to review the relevant information easily. An Obeya room is a great area for managers, workers, and planners to get in the zone when working on projects. Obeya rooms foster an environment that will help keep the project on track.
Many years ago, newspapers lined the streets of almost every city in the world. People would gather at the "newspaper stands" and browse each page while sharing a story or two. Word of mouth and the rugged ink stained paper were the main drivers of news, suggestions and ideas.
Today we still have ideas and suggestions, but things aren't quite as simple as the good ole days. Today making a suggestion often involves filling out a tedious small slip with more information than you can even read, shoving it in a bin that nobody collects and then hoping it gets "approved." Here's the idea! Workers see it all, touch it all and often have the closest connection with a process. Why is this significant? That connection can act as the perfect vehicle when looking to identify issues, collect improvement suggestions and or come up with innovative new ideas. The best part is, you don't have to walk to a newspaper stand to do it.
The Kaizen template or improvement newspaper is a powerful tool that can be used with employees. They can suggest improvements, possible solutions and even create opportunities for improvements without necessarily having any idea of a solution. Sounds a bit crazy doesn't it? Well it is! We’ve all been there before, a problem you see all the time and no ideas on how to solve it. The Kaizen template enables employees to support improvements whether they have a fix or not. So how will this tool help employees? To start, the suggestion or person filling out the kaizen template will need to capture a few pieces of information and document the information on the kaizen sheet.
Here's the important thing to understand, no matter how much information you capture, it will do no good if it's shoved in a box waiting for review or hidden on a desktop only to become trapped in cyberspace.
Like any other lean tool, the kaizen template works best when it is made visible. Here are a few important things to keep in mind when using improvement newspapers for a suggestion system.
1. Make it Visible
Like we mentioned earlier improvement newspapers should not be contained within a network or hard drive, they need to be visible. Think for a second to a problem you’ve had before but couldn’t solve. Eventually you share with a friend and they share a possible solution. Immediately you think, “why didn’t I think of that?” When opportunities are visible everyone can see, understand and help each other. One advantage when using a computer to fill out the suggestion is that there will be no sorting through legible and illegible papers. You can fill the paper out and print it out, placing it in an area where everyone can see the idea and before you know it someone is there to support you in finding a possible solution.
2. Keep them Alive
About the era when tv was in full swing and computers began to emerge newspaper stands were laid to rest. Now we get quarter machines by selected restaurants and no more standing with our friends talking and sharing the latest news on the front page. Fortunately, Kaizen templates are far from dead. They are in fact one very effective way to obtain opportunities for improvement but they must be kept alive. Monitoring the suggestions during a huddle is one way to keep status up to date and ensure that each suggestion is moving forward. In a huddle you can address the needs of the suggestion and help ensure ideas continue moving forward. Possibly the most valuable aspect of this constant and continuous activity is that the people who make the suggestions will begin to understand that they are part of a team and their ideas mean something to others. When people get a sense of belonging, support, action and appreciation your possible improvements will increase sufficiently.
If you have ever used a new tv changer there is a bit of a learning curve to it. Directions in hand and a thousand different settings to program it will never be as simple as walking to the newspaper stand to get some information. The same principle should apply to our kaizen templates or improvement papers. Not everyone knows how to use excel and not everyone will understand the process right from the start. That makes it the perfect opportunity to train employees and go for a Gemba walk. The bottom line, make it easy for the people filling the papers out. The only thing that employees should be responsible for is filling out the template and doing their best to discover the root cause.
Although we may never see newspaper stands lining the streets again, kaizen templates or improvement newspapers could line the huddle boards of your organization. They could fill white boards, line the walls and flow from the mouths of team huddles. All while capturing innovative ideas from talented employees and driving improvement initiatives day in and day out. The best part about this great tool is that it won't even cost you a quarter.
If you would like a template for a Kaizen/Improvement newspaper to get started click on the button below and begin experimenting with different tools that will help transfer improvements from idea to action.
Almost every organization in the world knows by now that the 5S system is an efficient, low maintenance and high impact means of driving continuous improvement. The system itself can be used in offices, shop floors and software systems. So why is it that many who have tried this powerful tool only yield small returns or feel as though something is hiding?
1. Missed sorting or tagging of items - "We'll use it someday." If you have heard that phrase before chances are you didn't capture all the benefits of your 5S initiative. Be sure that if an item has been collecting dust for over 30 days and an agreement can't be reached the item is tagged and addressed in a 5S auction.
2. Unsure what to look for - Another very common reason why the 5S feels like a cleaning event that yields minimal returns, is that people are not exactly sure what to look for or where to look. Here is a fun little list of some things to look for in your 5S event:
3. 5S removes waste and cleans - There are no two ways about it; some people will say spring cleaning and other people will say waste removal. Can't we all just get along? It does both. Move a tool that is used everyday from one side of the shop to the point of use and your transportation is minimized. Shine a machine up and discover not leaks, breaks or malfunctions; well, you've got a sanitary area that invites the spirit. Whether you're removing waste or shining for inspection, hygiene or sustainment both are beneficial so why not do both?
There are many ways to squeeze hidden waste out of an area with the 5S system. The more events you conduct and are a part of the more hidden waste and "top secret" items will become visible. What are some unique things that you have found during a 5S event?
When it comes to understanding a process, few tools are as powerful as the SIPOC map. The SIPOC can be used in both process mapping and value stream mapping. When used as part of a value stream initiative the map shows material and information flow in forward and backwards loops, this allows teams to identify potential gaps from a systemic view which helps us understand the effects of activities both upstream and downstream. Today we will look at the SIPOC map from a process mapping perspective.
What does SIPOC mean?
The tools name SIPOC is rather catchy. Each of the letters provide us with insight as to portions of a process we should review when mapping from a high level. SIPOC map keep in mind that the suppliers provide the inputs to the process. The process which is what you are trying to improve should in some way provide value or transformation to the inputs which results in an output that needs to at minimum meet your customer's expectations.
When do we use a SIPOC Map?
The SIPOC diagram is most often used to identify opportunities for improvements before a project begins. Because the tool shows us all relevant aspects of a process it can also be useful when a team needs to:
What does a SIPOC Map look like?
How do I use a SIPOC Map?
One of the added benefits of a SIPOC diagram is how easy they are to create. Follow these simple steps and you will be able to create a SIPOC map:
1. Find an area as close to the process you are mapping as possible so that you can see the process happening and engage with people at the gemba.
2. Start by mapping the process out. You should map no less than 4 steps and no more than 7 high level steps.
3. Next identify the process outputs.
4. Now identify customers (internal/external) that will receive the outputs.
5. After you have identified customers, document the inputs of the process. These are the X's that are transformed into outputs or Y's by the process.
6. Lastly Identify any suppliers of the inputs.
7. If at all possible identify requirements that might be known already. If you are following the DMAIC method these CTQ's will be verified in the measure phase.
After using a SIPOC map we can now see all the elements of the process clearly.
1. There was an inquiry for a bike repair which resulted in a scheduled appointment date and time.
2. Next the owner came with his bicycle ready for a diagnosis which resulted in a recommendation and an estimate to the bike owner.
3. The bike rep. then received permission for the order and prepared his purchase order for the bike mechanic.
4. The parts were then ordered by the manager which was the internal approval for the bike rep.
5. The vendor then delivered the parts which was the approval for the bike mechanic to perform the repairs and ultimately resulted in the customer being called.
6. Then through observation the bike was repaired.
If you would like to download a free SIPOC template simply click on the link below.
One of the most effective tools any process orientated employee can use is the process map. The process map has been around since the dawn of time and has evolved into many different iterations in order to meet users needs. Along with the flexibility of a process map it's quite effective at showing a user where pain points in a process might be.
What is a process map?
Process mapping refers to a tool used to make business processes visual. The process map documents an entire process step by step which allows us to see relationships between inputs and outputs of a process along with clear identification of decision points and many other steps in the process series. The process map is generally used towards the beginning of initiatives in order to understand the flow of a process but it can also be used in support of almost every phase of improvement projects.
Different Types of process maps:
Traditionally there are many different types of process maps that have been developed and used. For example a SIPOC and a value stream map are forms of process maps but generally provide a much deeper level of understanding as they identify information flows too. In general there are three different categories of process maps:
Why do we process map?
In general process maps provide us with a visual display of the sequence of steps within a process. They can also be used as a method of communication. We have all been a part of a project that goes around and around in circles trying to remember and figure out what actually happens in a process. When we make those steps visible the process is communicated to everyone in a more understandable language. There may be times where you need to add in steps here and there but with the map visual and near the area where the process actually occurs, the communication of the process is much more accurately defined. Another very common reason for process mapping is that a visual map can aid us in the analysis of a business process. Some of the ways we can use process maps to analyze are:
How do we build a process map?
Process mapping is a fairly simple process to learn. But there are a few general rules to follow when you build a process map.
Different Tools for Building your Map:
Process maps can be built with stickie notes and butcher paper, excel, powerpoint, word or in vizio. Over the years I have grown to love stickies and butcher paper because it is much less restrictive and can be built anywhere. For our purposes today though we will use excel to build our process map. Today we will cover three types of process maps: The top down flow chart, the linear flow chart and the swimlane or cross functional flow chart. If you haven't downloaded a template yet, you can do so by clicking here.
The first thing you will want to look over is the first tab of the template. Excel makes it very simple to choose your symbols by simply clicking on the insert tab and selecting shapes. At the bottom of the shapes you will notice symbols for building a flowchart. You can try to memorize them right away but there is also a reminder of the symbols meaning in the first tab.
The great thing about a top down chart is that we can still drill into each of the process steps below it. 2. We then can ask the subject matter expert, "what do you have to do to get the ingredients out?" The person baking the cake might say:
The next type of map you will find in your template is known as a linear flowchart. The linear flowchart is a diagram that displays the sequence of work steps that make up a process. It will show decision points, rework loops and a few other elements. Let's make a linear flow chart for our cake.
The final flow chart we will look at is the swimlane flowchart. These types of flowcharts are often referred to as deployment flowcharts too. The swimlane flowchart is used to distinguish what job function of the organization is performing what steps. They can be used to show back and forth activities between steps and unlevel workflows.
As you can tell in the swimlane diagram above we can see very clearly who is responsible for what process step. If there were overlapping steps we would see those stacked which may be a trigger that there is an opportunity for improvement.
What should process maps have?
Like any other map a process map has a few unspoken rules we should do our best to adhere to. First and foremost be sure to label the process name and the team somewhere on the map just in case there are any questions. You may also want to place a date on the map of when it was created. Next the process map should be very simple to read, it needs to go in one direction not up and down and side to side. Try to keep a flow that is either left to right or top to bottom. You will also need to identify start points and end point and keep all of your loops closed. Did I include all these unspoken rules?
Helpful things to look for in a map.
We mentioned a few items to look for in our process maps but let's summarize them here now that you are an expert.