Newest Extreme Reality TV Show - EXTREME LOCKOUT TAGOUT!!

Can your team survive the hazards of the workplace? Tune in as teams face formidable opponents such as:

The Electrical Disconnect of Doom...

If your team is lucky enough to survive that, you will surely meet your fate against:

The Uncontrolled Potential Energy Source - Pipeline of Power!!!

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Job Breakdown Sheet Example - Agriculture

From Farm Work Simplification, an example of a Job Breakdown Sheet used with the 4-step Job Instruction Method:

What struck me as significant is that this was used an example for instructing people in an improved method over an old inefficient way. This dovetails perfectly with the Kaizen Teian or Suggestion System programs which change the standardized work routines. When themethod changes, everyone involved must be "retrained". The reality is, if you have used JI in the past with a JBS, then the "retraining" is made much easier for both trainer and trainee.

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Toyota Book - Quest for The Dawn

There are several autobiographies available by the likes of Eiji Toyoda and others who were executives in both mfg and sales. I have about a half dozen on my book shelf at home and find them very useful in understanding the philosophy behind Lean concepts such as JIT, Jidoka for example. They are very insightful, getting into the minds of people like Kiichiro Toyoda. If you can find it, and don’t mind choking on the cost of a rare, softcover book, look up “The Quest for the Dawn.” It is a story about Kiichiro, his father Sachiro and subsequent Toyoda family leaders as they struggle to break into the auto market.

There is some discussion about 100 year plans on NWLEAN.net right now and how the use of such plans is a major advantage for Toyota.

I’m not 100% sure about this, but I don’t recall any mention of a century plan in any of the books as a source of reference regarding 100 year planning. But the reason I’m not sure about this is because the book reads like these people are thinking long, long term. So, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that they do, in fact, have a formal 100 year plan. When you start talking about “respect for humanity” and literally believe in that, you start to do some pretty unconventional things.

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Workcells on the Farm

Still don't think Lean applies to you? How about in the barn?



And the Winner of the Pimp My Clipboard contest is....

Byron Bookhout of Michigan State!! Nice ride, Byron!

This bad boy is tricked out with quick clips with oversize handles, old-school chronograph and retro-ergonomic styling that will make all of the I.E.'s in your company green with envy!

Way to go, bro!

In all seriousness, ideas like this make the job easier, right? Even in a salaried, staff position, a person can come up with simple ideas to make their job more satisfying.

Source: Vaughan, L. and Hardin, L. 1951. Farm Work Simplification. John Wiley & Sons

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Dallas Traffic Camera - Big Brother is going Broke!

I love this story! It just gives me great pleasure to see this kind of thing happen...for the full story:

Dallas Traffic Camera Story

The long story - short: Big Brother's traffic cameras in Dallas are so effective that revenue is down causing the local government officials to idle cameras and reconsider expansion of the camera network in Dallas.

This is classic - the problem shifted from a public safety concern to one of generating revenue. What is the real problem? A quick citation from the article gives you an idea:

The results of Dallas' 2-year-old red-light camera system are mixed blessings for City Hall, Mayor Tom Leppert said.

"The good news is it's having the effect everyone in this community wants: fewer red lights being run. The goal was not to make money on this," Mr. Leppert said. "But these are numbers and realities we'll have to deal with."

The mayor added that under no circumstances does he expect a decrease in red-light camera revenue to affect the city's public safety budget, although the overall budget may not enjoy as much revenue, perhaps resulting in the city streamlining other items.

Council member Angela Hunt, long skeptical of the reasoning behind such camera systems, says she's not surprised Dallas is faced with altering its efforts to reduce red-light running.

"The idea of the red-light cameras is that they'll be used as a revenue generator instead of being implemented for public safety purposes. It's imperative that the council review this program, especially when the results don't align with the initial performance projections," Ms. Hunt said.

She cited national statistics suggesting that the cameras increase rear-end collisions.

Wow. And the taxpayers are paying for this strategic deployment.



Lowell Mellen Papers Summary - TWI in Japan

Here is a link to the summary provided by Case Western Reserve Historical Society Library's regarding the Lowell Mellen Papers:


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What is the ROI on employee suggestion systems?

Bring up the phrase "suggestion system" and most managers bristle at this taboo discussion. Here is a great example of why we should engage in kaizen teian everyday - example provided by Anshu Jalora on the LinkedIn network:
Around early 90s, a leading toothpaste manufacturer in India was faced with the challenge of increasing its sales. The sophisticated approaches developed by the marketing and sales personnel, who had big degrees from top business institutes (Harvard, Stanford, IIMs, etc.) were having little effect. VP-marketing wanted an innovative approach, and opened the floor to all employees of the company to give suggestions. They received a very interesting suggestion from a junior shop supervisor. His suggestion was to increase the diameter of the opening of the toothpaste tube by 25%. If this is done, then for the Same length of toothpaste squeezed out, the volume will be 56% more. More consumption, more sales. His suggestion was accepted, and the company noticed an increase of 20% in year over year sales. Simple enough!

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TWI Materials in Japan - Day 4 in WRHS

In the last post, I mentioned that in 1964, Mellen sold the business off to Robert Murphy who continued practicing under the TWI, Inc. name. Mellen signed a 5 year contract to not work under the TWI, Inc. name. Today, I found it very funny to see TWI, Inc. documents in 1966, 1968 and 1970 - many of them with Mellen's name. I dug a little deeper and found that Mellen had formed a new company called Trade Ways International where he primarily engaged in brokering materials for a number of Japanese companies based in the states.

In the late sixties, Mellen had yet another bid on some training intallations with the U.S. Governement. He dusted off the old Management Fundamentals training he used in Japan and pitched his TWI proposal but was turned down due to an incumbent consulting agency.

I also found the "Final Report on the Japanese Installation" after 1951. Earlier in the week, I mentioned that TWI, Inc. had won the 1956 contract and had mentioned that someone had brought TWI to Japan in 1951. This document confirms that it was his firm. However, he does mention in this report that JIT was in Japan prior to 1951. I will do a little further digging to see if that installation was through Mellen's firm or not.

Also discovered today were some more TWI Foundation materials. It turns out that the the Foundation was non-profit and its officers were the original "Four Horsemen": Channing Dooley, Walter Dietz, Mike Kane and Bill Conover. The Foundation was funded through member companies and a letter from the "Institute Del Peru TWI", where the author was requesting Institute training from the Foundation, revealed that the Foundation had stopped conducting public institutes at some point in the past. This was in the late 1960's. The letter doesn't indicate whether the Foundation had stopped conducting institutes with its member companies.

Speaking of the Four Horsemen, the famous "Four Horsemen" letter was found today. If you don't know what this is, it was a letter to all District Directors and Representatives that shifted the strategy of the TWI Service from that of a training clearing house to that of ensuring continuing, thorough use. For example, one guding statement that established the goal criteria for the District Offices was this: "we should not be satisfied until every last job in a plant has been broken down through Job Methods and improved." So, the Districts slowed the pace of Institutes and began to create "Follow-Through" plans for the remaining year or so of the TWI Service. This ensured that the Service was looking at Quality, not Quantity of the end results acheived through TWI. I am having copies of the Follow-Through plan copied.

Of certain interest is the notion that TWI "died" after the war. Mellen landed his first private contract in May 1945, four months prior to the decommission of the service. He had another three or four contracts in negotiations with local Ohio companies. There are several sources in this collection that illustrate how people of the time wondered aloud regarding the future of TWI. Some consultants thought that industry was too used to being "regimented" by the TWI Service and would reject the services once the governement was removed from the picture. Judging from the 100-200 clients I found referenced in this collection, from Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan, Israel, and the United States - just to name a few countries, TWI, Inc. and TWI Foundation kept it alive and well.

I mentioned yesterday how Robert Murphy created a self study manual for JIT. I am having this copied as it is a great illustration of how NOT to do JIT. After he had purchased TWI, Inc. from Mellen, he had sent the check for $650 with the attached handwritten note:


Check for $650 enclosed. Also enclosed is a copy of the first in a series of mailings intended to get us into the business of printing, publishing and selling materials for companies and individuals to use when they want to do their own training. This should be a good field if we handle it properly."

I can't prove it, but here is one reason why TWI faded away. The objective (as stated in the materials) of TWI was to solve production problems. This is normally done by having a consultant come in and provide some answers for you. The approach taken by TWI was "the exact opposite". TWI, Inc. aimed to train your supervisors to be "their own consultants". In the case of Murphy's TWI mailing, the problem he was trying to solve was to get into the printing, publishing and selling of self-study training materials.

I could go on about all of the fundamental concepts missing from Murphy's JIT mailer, but that will be for another day. In the meantime, the lesson learned here is TWI works because it is simple - don't complicate a simple process that works.

The only disappointment was that I a projector was not available to watch the 16mm film in this collection. Much to my wife's dismay, this gives me an excuse to go back. Sorry, Meg!



TWI Materials in Japan - Day 3 in WRHS

Yesterday, I told you about how TWI, Inc. hosted many study groups for the Japanese. I found the programs and itineraries for 14 study groups. Two are of particular interest to us, the Heavy Metal Press Study Team and the Materials Handling Study Team. Both had Toyota engineers enrolled for study. In June, 1959, a Toyota engineer, Hara Yasuo visited the Ford Motor Co. Buffalo Stamping plant as a member of the metal stamping team. Arima, Yukio a staff engineer visited Ford’s San Jose Assembly plant and the Cleveland Engine Plant. Arima’s team then traveled to Chicago, where he observed the manufacture of heavy trucks at the Diamond T Truck Motor Co. Here is a picture of a Diamond T from that year:

I also flipped through the master copy of the JIT manual used to train the Japanese. Lots of little changes for sake of clarity and communication: use of the word ‘electricians’ instead of ‘fire underwriter’s’, ‘tight’ instead of ‘taut’, ‘gocho’ instead of ‘lead man’, ‘kyusho’ instead of ‘key points’, ‘seihi’ instead of ‘make or break’, ‘omona’ instead of ‘important’. JI trainers, pay attention here - R.B. Richardson, owner of this particular manual, also added safety to the JI definition for the board work changes.

Mellen’s initial contract in 1951 was for $28,270. They were there for nine months.

On Valentine’s Day 1964, Lowell Mellen sold his common stock to Robert Murphy for $643. He also signed a non-compete for a five year period. Interestingly, Murphy created a ‘new’ JIT manual with what I believe to be devastating changes for the program – I believe this action by Murphy is one step of many yet to be discovered blunders in the training industry - reasons TWI is absent in today's skill training program in the United States. This is a topic for another day.



TWI in Japan - Roots of Kaizen - Day 2 in the Archives

Well, researching the roots of kaizen and continuous improvement has proven to be an interesting experience. Yesterday I had indicated that I hadn’t yet found anything regarding who brought TWI to Japan in 1951, presumably the first time JIT had been introduced to post war Japan. Day 2 in the Western Reserve Historical Society Library revealed the following today:

Today I found numerous sources confirming that Mellen’s staff had indeed been the pioneers of TWI in Japan:

“In 1951, he [Mellen] and his co-workers spent nine months there [Japan]. When they left, Japan had 30 training directors capable of heading regular training institutes. Since then, still partly under Mellon’s direction, those 30 have trained 4000 instructors from the fishing, mining, banking, and manufacturing and other industries. Those 4000 have since trained 400,000 foremen, in turn each have taught perhaps 10 or 15 men and women in their departments.”
Source: Newspaper Clipping. Wellman,Bertha. Clevander Trains Trainers to Train Trainers. March 12, 1956.

Mellen and company took the three J modules to new heights: the combination of the three modules into one. This approach was embodied in the Problem Solving Training program, brought to Japan by Mellen and colleagues in his second contract with the Japanese government in 1956. The program took hold and became foundational to the management training offered through JITA. A follow up letter four years later confirms this:

from Japan Industrial Training Association. August 2, 1960. Title of Letter: “Status of ‘Problem Solving Training Program’ in Japan”. Some statistics reported in this follow-up letter:

- 15 PST institutes conducted between 1957-1960
- 207 trainers qualified in these institutes
- 9000 trainees receiving PST from these trainers
- Management remarks: “It seems to the management to be a dynamic training course consolidating three basic courses of T.W.I. and a valid tool to shoot down production problems.”

Japanese Letters of Appreciation for Study Tours conducted by TWI, Inc. There were dozens of tours organized by TWI, Inc., for the Japanese. The two tours that prove interesting to continuous improvement folks like me were the “material handling” and “metal stamping” tours. Both reports emphasize the concern by the visitors that mass production approach, although stunning and impressive to the Japanese, would be difficult to adopt in Japan due to the relative scale of the their market. [my emphasis added] One visitor expressed his prophetic vision of how to deal with the unique nature of their country’s scarce resources and slow growing markets: through the adoption of “specialized training” of their managers, foremen and supervisors in order to achieve what mass production can through automation – specifically “continuous flow”!

16mm film. “The knack of Managing Small Enterprise.” The wonderful people at the library are looking into finding equipment so I can view this on Friday. I can’t wait!

One more box to go! Will have more for you tomorrow!


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TWI Materials in Japan - Roots of Kaizen - Day 1 in the WRHS Archives

Alan Robinson, keynote speaker at TWI Summit 2008, told me that during his research into TWI he looked through some materials of Lowell Mellen, President of TWI, Inc. Mellen was a TWI District Representative for the Cleveland office during WWII. After the service was decommisioned, Mellen’s management consulting company landed a contract with the U.S. and Japanese governements in order to bring TWI to Japan in the 1950’s.

Well, I couldn’t leave this alone. I have to see this stuff for myself. I called the Western Reserve Historical Society and made my first visit to the genba today. Mellen donated about 7 linear feet of material to WRHS; linear feet is the currency of an archive. I made it through about two boxes today. There are about 7 more boxes to go through. My favorite discoveries today:

· “Installation of The Training Within Industry Programs in Japan” Final Report

· “Problem Solving Training” Manual

· “Job Instruction Training Manual” Copyright 1952. There are several modifications to the JIT manual that will be of interest to current JIT Master Trainers.

· Wooden JMT fixtures and props, bundled with PST Manual.

· TWI Inc. graphic that looks surprisingly similar to the one I made for TWI Service. When I get home, I’ll probably adopt or modify it and use it for the TWI Service website.

I will elaborate on each of these findings as the days pass. My biggest surprise was that given the known published material regarding Japan and TWI, I was expecting/hoping to find the Toyota & TWI, Inc. connection. I did see a reference to Sappuro Toyota Auto Company listing the company representatives attending the JIT training. However, TWI, Inc., as far as I can tell today, landed their first contract after an initial phase of JIT training in 1951. Part of TWI, Inc’s. contract stipulated that they would train Japanese consultants in Conductor Institute training in order to conduct refresher training for the “500 JIT trainers” already in existence from the 1951 training program.

So, unless I can dig out an obscure reference to who brought TWI to Japan in 1951, we may not know who originally brought TWI to Japan. (Unless I've missed something in existing research/publications, which is very possible, if you know, please comment here!) This really may not matter though, as it is clear the TWI, Inc. group was instrumental in laying a solid foundation for the training of supervisors and foremen in problem solving, standardization and leadership in Japan.

More to come in the following days.



Einstein gets it.

If he were around today, I suspect that if asked, Einstein would have offered some criticism of current direction of management consulting and management theory.

"If I give you a pfennig, you will be one pfennig richer and I'll be one pfennig poorer. But if I give you an idea, you will have a new idea, but I shall still have it, too."



Genba Problem Solving in Politics

Original article is here. Below is a snippet:

"Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd) persuaded the Health Committee to ban possession of 'self-sealing plastic bags under two inches in either height or width,' after picking up 15of the bags on a recent Sunday afternoon stroll through a West Side park."

Somehow I think Mr. Fioretti hasn't quite grasped the situation with Chicago's drug problem. Stolling through the genba, he see's little Batman and Cabbage Patch kid snack bags, (knowing that they are used for drugs) but decides that the bags are the problem.

This is not unlike the depth and breadth of most problem solving in our plants today. Quick band-aids, we think we are getting closer to the problem, but all we are doing is causing our people to lose confidence in our leadership abilities. Chicago residents in Alderman Fioretti's ward, if you re-elect this guy....



What is missing in the OJT cycle? Kaizen!

I stumbled across this website that had posted a comment on a blog post:

In this document the author describes a three step OJT cycle at a fairly high level. 1) Prebrief, 2) Practice and 3) Debrief. The author then poses a question about the OJT cycle:

"There are some schools of thought that suggest a fourth, or consolidation step that occurs between the debrief and the following pre-brief. This may be when the student conducts the proposed remedial action [suggested by the trainer in debrief] or a ‘moment of clarity’ at 2 am the following morning. There is no doubt that this does happen but it cannot be effectively implemented into a training program. It is important that the trainer considers the process just as they would for the possibility of similar style set backs and ‘off days’."

I can't prove it, but I think what makes most training today ineffective is that training is usually done for purposes other than to solve process problems. Good training aims to reduce human error in the process. It aims to solve problems that involve people.

When a trainer sees an error, immediate correction is required. Follow-up through with kaizen, however, will eliminate the error from ever happening again. Often a 'moment of clarity' is when the trainee truly understands the reason for why they made an error. Again, this is the opportunity to correct and reinforce their learning - strike while the iron is hot! - but follow-up on their ideas to make the process better will take their learning to new heights.

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5S and Eight Wastes - Part I

author: Bryan Lund

Let's start this off on the right foot: 5S is NOT about cleaning. Yet on nearly every 5S audit checklist or task list I see, the primary activity is cleaning. The objective of 5S is NOT to clean. Yet, that is the focus. The purpose of 5S is to involve people and engage them in thinking about their work. However, this concept doesn't blend well with the way we were taught to manage.

In lean we attempt to involve all people in the decision making process. Accompanying this responsibility is the notion that if all people are making business decisions, then those people must be held “accountable”. This word, accountability, embodies dogmatic management nonsense.

Yet, we cling to this rhetoric: empowerment, accountability - as if merely saying the words earnestly will win over the hearts and minds of subordinates. Unsuspecting employees go along with this, more out of fear of reprisal than anything else, cautiously optimistic if not enthusiastic about the whole situation. In the manager’s mind, the “decision” has been made; the rule of accountability has been set with the employee signaling his willingness to give it a go.

And what do we ask these newly empowered and accountable colleagues to do?

Clean up at the end of their shift.

The trouble begins when the plan falls apart. The plan was to solve all kinds of workplace problems, but the same problems still remain. Problem solving skills have not been taught or acquired, goals not set, problems not fully understood and the manager holds the employee “accountable” for his actions: mostly for not cleaning their area, or making their production numbers. The employee is frustrated and now mistrusts future initiatives, as he knows that the manager will hold him accountable for the manager’s poor ability to develop the people and the system.

This is a major sore point for any improvement initiative, this problem of mutual trust and respect. The role of accountability must be reversed when we talk about continuous proves improvement. It is the role of the manager to lead the way; the process is a reflection of his willingness to allow it to be in its current state. Only then can mutual accountability be realized. Regardless of the program or approach used their must be a willingness to focus on the process and make mistakes. The environment must be a “no blame zone”. When we see mistakes, we can work together to fix them. In continuous improvement, where problems are constantly uncovered, we must overcome the natural reflex of tuning out our environment, rife with problems, and tackle those problems each and every day. There are two important concepts that help people combat the forces of complacency and wage an all out war against waste.

Unfortunately, modern management theory has diluted these concepts down to such meaningless jargon that many people write these off as a fad: 5S and “The Eight Wastes”. In the next several posts, I will illustrate how 5S has become widely viewed as a nationwide housekeeping campaign and how this paradigm is destroying lean initiatives.

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Juran, Leader in Quality Control, Dies at 103 years young.



Norman Bodek in Vermont - Sustaining a Lean Culture

Norman Bodek came to visit us in the great state of Vermont on Friday, 2/29. About 100 of the finest people representing Vermont manufacturing gathered at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters in Waterbury to hear what Norman had to say about sustaining a lean culture.

Norman worked the morning crowd in typical fashion - he had them laughing, wondering where he was going with all of this. Just when you were trying to put it all together in your head, Norman brings you back on topic, and the pieces fall together.

The first message I took home: ask people to make two improvements every month, and support them in doing just that. Sustainment isn't saying that we are doing lean, dabbling in the tools - sustaining is to "learn by doing".

The second message: keep it simple. I was reminded of my first "lean" project as Norman spoke about measuring the eight wastes themselves...people were complaining about taking time from production to go see engineering about changes to the job. I set up a "toll booth" to the door of engineering - every person through those doors ticked off their toll, an average $7 per visit in lost production time, to correct information errors found on the shop floor. People were EAGER to highlight this waste. Problems in engineering package design were fixed as a result of highlighting these wastes: direct measure of the waste of motion, waiting and over-processing.

Often we get caught up in making simple concepts complex. Ask people to come up with two ideas per month and suppor them in it. Directly measure the eight wastes, NOT indirectly through innocuous financial or cost accounting measures.

Thanks Norman, for the reminder!

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