TWI Service Blog is Moving

Subscribers to TWI Blog have received nearly 400 posts between 2007 and 2013. I've been very happy to share and learn from others who are practicing their skills in continuous improvement and management. I've taken a long break from the blog and content generation over the past two years. That time was well spent experimenting with TWI J-skills and developing a comprehensive management approach that is yielding positive results.

As a result, we will be moving the blog and TWI website to the next level: resuming the blog, updating the archives with more original materials and creating a member side of the site where people can learn about the positive changes we have made and learned over the past couple of years - with original content that is proven in plants around the world. This blog is moving to the main site and can be found at the following link:

TWI Blog - Update Your Bookmarks!

The export wasn't as clean as I wanted, so updating the legacy posts will be lower priority, but the original written content is still there - but in WordPress format now. The nice thing is that the blog site will now be embedded into the main TWI site making things a bit easier and more seamless for all involved.

Thanks for reading and see you on the other site!

Bryan Lund


Job Instruction - Major Change to Session I

In my new role, I surveyed my team and asked them to independently list the top five problems in the organization that they could have influence over. When we met together to share our opinions and thoughts about the survey, interestingly, the top problem was Training, with Communication not too far behind.

This prompted me to run a quick JI Appreciation Session, to test the waters with the group. The response was that JI could work well in our organization so we decided to give it a try.

I scheduled six JI sessions of with six participants each. Team Leads were encouraged to sign up and the rest of the company was invited to voluntarily enter the program. The sign up sheet was full in two days.

One of the things Mark Warren discovered in the New Zealand program was the fact that the Training Time Table was moved into Session I, from Session III. I had tried this before, but found this change wanting, not fully understanding the change. The thinking was that supervisors should plan for training first, and not jump right into job breakdown sheets - a big temptation for many. But simply presenting the TTT as it is just didn't have the intended effect. People really struggled with the TTT. After some discussion with Mark and additional research into the New Zealand coaching guides, we made a small change.

I tried this change out today in my first of the six sessions, and I'm really excited about the results. The order of the Session is standard until the end:

4 Objectives
Five Needs
Who Needs Training
Problems in the Workplace
Job Instruction Definition
Telling Demonstration
Showing Demonstration
4 Step Demonstration
Establish 4 Steps
Present Time Table
Tree Example

Trainers familiar with the JI program will not recognize the Tree Example.  Here is what this is and how it worked:

I presented the TTT just like in the JI manual, except not with the Bill Smith example, but with a fictional TTT that continues with the 4 Step demonstration in my electrical shop. This seemed to help the participants make an easy transition from the knot tying story to the nuts and bolts of how the Trainer prepared for training. Once the participants grasped the TTT, we moved onto the Tree Diagram.

The Tree Diagram serves several purposes:

1) Not all participants are supervisors, so not all are responsible for planning for training,
2) TTT are used to spot problems by the supervisor and to plan to prevent those problems through training,
3) The Tree Diagram serves the same purpose as TTT but in a form that anybody can use to spot problems in their work:

A participant was asked what his job was. He replied that it was Manufacturing Engineering Technician. I then used a tree diagram (i.e. like an org chart) to drill down to the next layer of work units. He listed three basic units: utility planning, facility layout management and fixture design and validation. Since these are still large units of work, we drilled down further - after I asked him which unit is the source of most of his problems. Once he identified utility planning, we broke that piece down further: electrical, air and developing specifications. I asked him which one of those was most problematic. Once he had indicated the task that has the most problems, I congratulated him on picking his practice job!

Using this method, we successfully gave ALL participants a method for learning to look at their work a different way - whether they are responsible for training or not. In addition, ALL participants could see that they now have a method that they can practice on a real problem that will make their work, and others, easier to manage and with improved communication.

As I complete the sessions over the next few weeks, be sure to check in and see what else becomes of this change. What do you think of this change? Does it sound like it could make a difference in your approach to training and communication?

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The Biggest Waste of All?

Perhaps not bigger than some government spending programs, but that is a different problem far out of our control. Let's focus for a moment on a spending pipeline we have direct control over: lean consulting and payroll dollars.

If you do a quick search on LinkedIn for the term "Lean" and filter for Industry: Management Consulting you will get a return of approximately 3,468 results.

Let's say for a moment that all of those results are for hire. And for a modest Lean Manufacturing Implementation Project, a consultant should reasonably expect to take in at least $100,000 per year in order to live to see another day. One way to look at this problem is that companies are spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $350M for Lean Consulting. Companies who shell out this cash readily admit that an estimated 75% of the time, their Lean Implementation is considered a failure. In other words, we are prepared to flush $268M down the toilet every year. Sounds wasteful, right? Hold on just one minute and look in the mirror.

That is just the cost associated with Lean Consulting companies. What about those of us working within industry itself?

There are approximately 1.8M LinkedIn users that return the word Lean back in their current or past job title, this author included. Let's say that on average, these individuals are paid $80K per year. That puts us into some serious spend territory that would put some politicians to shame. Before I claim $144B is spent on Lean payroll per year, let's whack that back to a conservative 25%, just for the sake of argument. This lands us on $36B per year of estimated spend on assigning people to seek out and eliminate waste. On top of an additional $350M. Let's round to $36B and throw in our 25% success rate: o.k., we waste $30B per year on Lean activities!

And that doesn't include yellow aisle tape! And we Leansters wonder why executives and workers get bent out of shape over the next flavor of the month! We are advocating for a clean flush of their dollars!

I suppose if you compare this number to excessive inventories, we are talking small potatoes. January 2014 durable goods inventories were 10x the value of labor - so definitely not the biggest waste of all. But if I look at that inventory number ($387B) and assume that Lean was successful 25% of the time (that is in achieving flow and thereby reducing inventories) then there must have been some payback, right? How many do you think were truly successful at fully utilized lean systems where inventory was drastically reduced and maintained as a flow system?

Very few, perhaps less than 1% if I had to bet. In fact, durable goods inventories rose 3.7% in one year, hardly an inventory reduction. Of course, I'm playing with fire and about to be smacked down by a real economist who knows precisely how these numbers work, right? But that isn't really the point of this post so I'll stop while I'm ahead.

I wonder what that payback is on all of these Lean skills we have been learning? Are we achieving what we really need to? How do you see the payback? How do you sell the need for continuous improvement? What is the value in your organization? What responsibility does each individual in your organization have to effectively spend this money wisely? What can each do? How do we maximize the potential of each and every person, and not waste it 3/4 of their time? Can you imagine the results?

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Job Instruction, Art or Science?

Recently I watched an interview about the Art vs. Science of writing Job Breakdown sheets. I am highly suspect of the Art vs. Science pitch when it comes to leadership consulting. Why? Because even the greatest artists practiced and perfected their brushstrokes before they painted their masterpiece. This tells me that with practice, perseverance and opportunity - anyone can learn.

What I learned from this interview is that writing Job Breakdown sheets is not necessarily a technically precise exercise, but is about combining words and concepts rearranging them into sequences that work for the learner, so that it is easy for the learner to capture and remember all of the important steps and key points of the job. That it doesn't really matter if it is a key point or an important step, but what is important is that we are figuring out a way to make the job digestible for the learner.

While this sounds nice, I couldn't disagree more.

It's funny, pretty much every interaction I've had with people on the shop floor evolves into a discussion around things like sequence of work, subtleties of the job, the nuances and history of the work which that person takes pride in. If I were to suggest that those subtleties are not subtle, or the sequence is out of order, or their history is fiction, I can guarantee a somewhat visceral reaction. After all, they have the experience of the value-add work, whereas I do not. All I can do is help them learn new skills, show them where we need to go and encourage them to make their value-add better.

I was recently trained by somebody on how to assemble a component of a product we make. After watching the person do the job, I tried it myself. When I started the job out of sequence, the person immediately corrected me, "Don't forget to grease your part first!" Clearly, this person wanted me to remember something important before I moved on. In this case, I can probably say that the Important Step is, "Grease Part".

Now let's use our experts example: what would happen if I arbitrarily decided to put the greasing step as a keypoint, and I put it as 3rd on the list because I think it may be easier for the person to remember the 3rd keypoint because there is a #3 on the grease tube? If I write that as a key point, what is the Important Step?
Is it the same? I probably don't need to explain to you how this example alone invalidates the argument that keypoints and important steps are interchangeable.

But that may not be enough...now lets go one step further: how would I know that they can't remember it as the first step? I must have had the experience of observing the person fumble through the steps in order to realize this problem and then subsequently rearrange the steps in order to move the 1st to the 3rd, or was it the 2nd? What is the likelihood that this unpreparedness would undermine the training effectiveness, if effective at all?

Oh, you test the breakdown sheet first. O.k., let's say it was tested first, but we can go deeper with the flaws of this approach. Now, three weeks later, a different trainer must train a new person using the same breakdown sheet with the 1st keypoint located in the 3rd, or may be the keypoint is now the Important Step. What is the likelihood that they will be confused when they see me grease the parts on the 1st step and then skip over it on the 3rd? What is the likelihood that I will even use the breakdown sheet since it really isn't accurate in the first place?

And further still...what happens when the two trainees talk to each other? How well will they communicate about this job? What problems can you imagine, in the context of your workplace? Now imagine how many key points you may have in your workplace? Is it 100? 1,000? 10,000? 100,000? More? How many people work with these keypoints? It doesn't take much math effort to explain how this turns into a nightmare probability problem  - which is the primary purpose for putting standards in place to begin with.

I was somewhat surprised to see Important Steps and Key Points treated this way. It is my contention that this muddled thinking is the primary reason why people have difficulty in training to begin with and subsequently, problem solving at higher levels.

I think what he was trying to say is that you want to give people the right amount of information, in the right sequence so that they remember the job easily. That I can agree with.

So, let me kindly remind everybody here about the anatomy of a Job Breakdown Sheet:

WHAT - Important Steps - Advance the work - this is the sequence of the steps. The sequence of work can be rearranged for kaizen, but not for training, that would sort of defeat the purpose of standard work.

HOW - Key points - things that could hurt a person, make or break the job, or make the work easier, a trick, or a knack for something. I suppose you could make a key point an important step, but an important step it does not make. Example: Safety - you can do any job in an unsafe manner, and still advance the work. Key points are HOW you advance the work.

WHY - Reasons for the key points. Don't you want to know why we do things this way? Don't you want to communicate these things to people so they do not take shortcuts? You may better understand how your work relates to individual progress, team goals and business growth objectives if you include this info on your breakdown sheet.

When it comes to art vs. science, Job Breakdown Sheets are mostly science and little art. Yes, you need to know how to approach people. Yes, you need to know how to work with people. These are artful skills needed in dealing with people, but those skills alone will not make you successful at building a continuous improvement culture and they are not to be confused with technical skills.

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The Discovery of "Lean"

Whoa! I've been out of the blog saddle for a while...been a busy winter.

Speaking of staying busy, Mark Warren has been at it as well. Take a few minutes out of your day to check out this great synopsis about the "Discovery of Lean" by Mark:

I really like the slide above. It best illustrates what is wrong with today's version of lean:

1) We are taught to create work cells because that is lean,
2) The work cells do not really synchronize well,
3) They are not synchronized because the work content is not not balanced,
4) The work is unstable because standards are weak or non-existent,
5) Standards are weak or non-existent because (insert your reason here)

If you follow the chain above in the opposite direction, it is easy to see that people who organize for flow by first creating work standards it is far easier to implement and improve work cell arrangements to be flexible with demand. And of course, Job Instruction is a great place to start with creating work standards.

It is between the parentheses above where leadership can make all of the difference. Managers end up inserting excuses, leaders find the reasons and eliminate them. That is called waste elimination.

Learning to see the waste can be hard, because we are so hyper focused on creating work cells. When the work cells do not work, we resort to old coercive speed up tactics, give up or go back to the old way.

So, I admit it. I'm a purist, the stuff today's Lean is made of is really just a collection of skills and principles applied and developed over 100 years ago. I really like Mark's YouTube video above because it speaks to the validity of principles in systems leadership. I'm curious what all of you think about Mark's story above? Does this resonate? In what way?

(Darn, it is hard to not use the word, "lean")

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