Thursday, February 25, 2010
Was today's White House Health Care Summit the worst kaizen event in history? I'm not sure if a good facilitator could have saved this thing or not, but at the very least I think they missed a great opportunity to do some value stream mapping. Maybe a little VOC analysis. Some consensus building tools. Maybe? Anything? Please.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
The first time I observed this it was interesting. The second time it was coincidental. The third time it was just weird. Over and over again, in different cells, with different "types" of people, the result was the same. Ask someone how long it takes to do a task, and they give you an estimate that is 50% longer than reality.
Amazed as I was by this revelation, it was when I shared it with a SMED team that a fascinating corollary came to light. It turns out that it matters who's asking. I'm an engineer, and apparently that biases the result. When a manager asks the same question (how long does it take to do that?) the answer is very different -- and diametrically opposed. In fact, the anecdotal cycle times given to managers are exactly 50% less than those observed. Wow.
I'm not a psychologist, and I cannot pretend to understand the reasons for this; but the implications are huge. Actual gemba observation may not be necessary. Simply have an engineer and then a manager ask someone how long it takes to do something. Then split the difference. You'll have a highly reliable cycle time.
I've moved the Kaizen Notebook over to WordPress. I hope this proves to be a positive change, and I apologize for any inconvenience. The old web link will redirect to this site, but if you're using an RSS reader you will have to update your link. Thanks, and I appreciate your patience as I continually improve.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
It sounds easy, but a 4-day kaizen can make for some pretty strong emotions and lead to some pretty defensive behaviors. Just take a deep breath and remember that at the end of the week, you’re at best only 50% through the PDCA cycle. And never fall in love with your ideas…
Saturday, February 13, 2010
But as our team has discovered, in order to create a true pull system you also need to have one-piece flow of information. Now the attention has shifted to the upper portion of the value stream maps, and it turns out that one-piece flow of info is just as scary as that of material (if not more so). And the trepidation encompasses both the strategic: “What do you mean I can’t send a weekly schedule to the floor?” and the tactical: “What do you mean I have to deliver production instructions at every pitch interval?”
However, as the initial discomfort subsided, the team discovered through detailed simulations that the excess inventory of batched information hides just as many problems as material inventory. And that by providing information only as it is needed, disruptions in the value stream become immediately evident. The team is now galvanized around this idea. The shift in thinking – arrived at through the kaizen principles of education and experimentation – has opened the door for vast improvements in the existing operation. Exciting times lie ahead!