3.16.2009

Standardization is Key to Meet our Ideal State

Interesting conversation from a Job Instruction session:

Participant: "You say that JI is one-on-one training. I may get a large order any day and have to train 30 people instantly. That is our current business situation. Can I train small groups of people?"

JI trainer: "Well, JI is one-on-one training. Knowledge isn't passed efficiently in large groups."

Participant: "When I was in the army, gun cleaning, assembly and disassembly is done in large groups, and the method used is basically JI. What is the difference?"

Hmmm...to answer this question - we have to get back to basics.

Let's start with a questioning attitude: What is the difference between our shop floor processes and the process of disassembling, cleaning and assembling a military issue rifle?

This participant had been blessed with the experience of an ideal state of efficiency - many people learning and performing at a similar level in a very short period of time. Why couldn't we o the same thing?

One word: standardization. Her assumption is that our manufacturing processes are AS standardized as interchangeable parts of military grade weapons.

Without standardization this supervisor will encounter the following problems when training groups of people using JI (or any training method for that matter) :

Training a group will not guarantee the individual trainee the best the trainer has to offer. Because one person learns faster than the other, hard feelings can result. On the other hand, one person who learns fast will be left on their own sooner, potentially leaving many unanswered questions in the mind of the quick learner. Both scenarios can foster resentment. Trust me, this happened to me once: "What's the harm in training two people?" I didn't think much of it at the time, but I regretted it later because I didn't consider different learning styles.

Back to our example. In this supervisors case, only a couple of workstations are available for her to commission for training. Having 18 other people watch two people train will result in a number of problems. For one, boredom. Nobody is watching or listening after 15 minutes. Instead, they are a member of the peanut gallery - judging what they are seeing. "I can do better than that method" "I did that this way at my last job." Second, side conversations occur when OJT is used to tackle a group. Not everyone can train at the same time, so people fill their time. To summarize, group training works effectively and efficiently when EVERYONE is involved and the job is so darn standardized and error proofed that the trainer doesn't have to worry about 98% of the keypoints being done wrong. Even still, subtle points can be missed even in the best of situations.

That's why soldiers have their rifles inspected. It is not enough to "tell" and "show" and hope that all is well. We have to make sure that our training is effective and this means follow up. Standardization is key here as well.

Watch this video. Imagine: what if the rifles were NOT standardized?



Now consider these questions if we assume the weapons were not standardized:

If they were training fellow soldiers, would the group of trainers and trainees experience some of the problems I described above?

During training, could keypoints be missed?

Would everyone be operating at this level? (Cycle time within fractions of a second)

This is why a major lesson learned in JI is the value of PREPARATION and then execution. The execution is easy at a one-on-one level if the right preparation is done. Of course, this spans many disciplines - but if the materials are not correct, machines not set, schedules determined, order of operations not defined, location of tools and materials ire disorganized - we stand little chance of all 30 people "getting it". We then have to train each on as an individual so that "we know they know" the job as well as we do. Otherwise, we should expect different results than those on the plan.

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