TWI & Kaizen Masters - Not all of us can be a Chuck Norris
And let’s face it…even today with all of our technology used in equipment manufacturing, most people simply automate this sorting feature and build it into the machine technology – in short, we standardize waste (judgement inspection) with all of our vision systems, sensors, weight checkers, etc., all we are doing is automating the job of putting a part down a reject chute. We rarely ask how to build in devices that prevent the error in the first place. Yet we expect people to think this way...in the meantime, we leave our peoples’ ideas on the table, preventing us from moving to the next level of quality.
O.k., o.k., you armchair leansters…you know who you are – right now you are yelling at your monitor: “why make the bad parts at all?! Is the time and money to make the fixture wasted if we can avoid making the bad parts in the first place?” The answer is, of course, YES – that is, IF you know how to prevent the initial error at the time of need. This is where we go wrong with involvement, right? We want the person to be Chuck Norris, coming up with an idea that gives that defect a round house kick to the face so it never shows itself in this factory again! HAI-YA! KAIZEN! And sometimes we want that perfect solution soooo much, that this really good idea would be somehow rejected or put on the back burner.
O.k., now the next question: who is more likely to come up with the error proof idea – the person who devised the fixture idea, building on their knowledge of the product and process? Or is it the engineer that is charged with squeezing 1.4% efficiency out of the waste sorting machine? Who is thinking everyday about the root cause of the problem? The person who has to build a machine that sorts the defect faster and more accurately, or the person who ends up dealing with the defects that invariably slip through the machine and make it into the workplace?A better answer is that EVERYONE should be involved with generating small IDEAS, while opening up the COMMUNICATION channels to SHARE them. Of course we have to provide the right SUPPORT structure to get those ideas into ACTION. This level of involvement is the basic idea behind kaizen teian - or small suggestion systems - an evolutionary step related to Job Methods and Work Simplification programs developed decades ago. But we often lose site of the basic skills in how to generate those innovative ideas and how to support those programs that move us to the next level. Instead, we want to jump to the conclusion - KAIZEN! HAI-YA!- without worrying about the details of how to get there. The problem with this approach is that most people aren't Chuck Norris, well, at least for today.
This is one of the key benefits of the TWI skills: by building confidence in people, we can continue upgrading their problem solving skills as we grow together. Only then, everyone knows the overall current state and knows how to analyze their own situations – making it far easier to genuinely move to the next level and not slip backwards. By mastering one basic skill, we can master the next, eventually so that people are teaching each other through practice.