Lean Startup Machine Weekend Wrap-Up

First, our project update: the first leg of our excellent adventure ends today. We validated a few core assumptions - thanks to those of you who volunteered to play with our questions and get on the phone with us for follow up questions. It's hard to say at this point where we are going, we have a few more dozen experiments to run. The general theme and direction is geared around a core lean principle: flow. I'm curious what you think about the following questions?

  • What interrupts the skill development of your people?

  • What do you need to speed up how you develop their skills?

  • Do you see the use of mobile technologies playing a core part in that development pathway?


Second, a brief review of Lean Startup Machine Weekend. Mark sketched out a Job Breakdown Sheet which we will share as an update later in the week. The event is very similar to a kaizen event: activities are biased for action. The primary objective is to save yourself some grief and heartache by breaking up with your ideas before you fall in love with them. I can see this methodology being used with product development teams or voice of customer exercises.

One unique trait of LSM is that once an experiment is created -you "get out of the building" immediately - we know this as go and see. The big difference is that kaizen events test multiple experiments simultaneously - "let's move 12 machines around" instead of moving 1. One could argue that LSM has a better experimental approach than those used in kaizen blitzes...improvement batch reduction has benefits: easier to get done, easier to evaluate effects, easier to adjust if changes are needed. This also happens to be more aligned with small kaizen and Job Methods approach. I found this to be a very solid feature of the approach that throws people right into discovery mode.

My big concern about LSM is the Lean brand associated with it. Those of us that have been around a while have seen this before. In this case the young people are extremely enthusiastic about Lean, as they understand it today. Unfortunately, that understanding is only of the outcomes of Lean, faster, cheaper, better. They only see and are taught, the tip of the iceberg. What lies beneath the surface is what supports the things they are seeing above.

The big benefit here is that this approach can help you reduce risk: shorter development cycles, less cycle cost, real feedback, kill your ideas early.

Well, not so fast. LSM is pretty cool, and I found it to be a fun exercise. But it is a couple of pieces of a bigger puzzle. The shortcomings? As results begin to breakdown later, because basic structures and habits do not exist...these young followers may become disillusioned with "Lean"...and LSM is just another fad thrown onto the scrap heap. This has happened to a bunch of other disciplines preceded with the "Lean" moniker - and it is one I caution the LSM team to watch out for. I'm skeptical that "Lean Startup" will survive, as this has a faddish, Rock Star, feel to it. The next year will be interesting to watch where this "movement", as one starry eyed follower puts it, takes hold.

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Mark and Bryan's Excellent Adventure - Lean Startup Weekend

Wanted: visionary people willing to experiment, make mistakes, learn, lead…

Throughout history there have been a few people that have had the opportunity to participate in what becomes a defining moment…

Take "Cast-Iron" Charley, Henry Ford's right-hand man, who was there in the middle of creating the first auto assembly lines. He describes the development of the production lines as daily experiments until they got things synchronized.

Want to build Apps that drive Daily Experiments?
Or, Taiichi Ohno. He had a small group of trusted men that worked closely with him over the years that they developed the Toyota Production System...

And there was Steve Jobs. He had a select team of individuals that participated in creating the visionary Apple products...

It's time to make the leap like Ford, Ohno, Jobs and their teams...to change the world of work as we know it...to have the courage and vision to experiment with TWI and lean, integrating them into available technology.

Bryan and Mark will kick off this adventure in a marathon event the weekend of 27-29 September 2013.

We need you to assist us with our experiments: feedback, input, suggestions, problems, etc...

We will interact with our volunteers via email, Skype and Google Hangouts.

Stay with the team past the weekend and get sneak peeks and early releases of apps to test in your workplace!

Anyone in a leadership position is encouraged to participate (you organize the work of others)

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JI CardHack - Arrange the Work Area

Last CardHack release for the Job Instruction Get Ready points. This one, like the last, has strong tie-in to 5S skills.

Head over to TWI Service to

Coming soon: Now that you have prepared, its time to instruct - JI 4 Step CardHacks.

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TWI CardHacks - "Have Everything Ready"

"Have Everything Ready" Doesn't really have that flashy Lean sound does it? It doesn't have the name recognition of problem killers like 5S, PokeYoke, Kanban, etc. Yet, this Get Ready point may be the most overlooked Lean key point of them all. One of the reasons for this is that we often take for granted that Everything is um, already, Ready.

On one of my first practice Job Breakdown Sheets, I went out to the floor in a web coating operation. I was interested in a breaking down a changeover job that involved some calendaring rolls. The rolls, quite heavy, were supported by a bearing block on each end, about seventy five lbs. each. When I watched the mechanic pull the bearing off the roll, he used a precarious trick to move the 75lb. block from the roll end, hanging in the air, and over to the workbench about six feet away. His trick was to slide the block and rest it on his thigh, and then shuffle over to the work bench while supporting the block with this hands and thigh.

Perhaps you can imagine what I was thinking: "I won't write down this key point!" 

Number one, what I observed was clearly unsafe - potential problems were back injuries, broken toes, broken feet, pulled muscles, lacerations or crushed digits if he smashed his finger between the block and the work bench.

Also, if he managed to do the job unscathed, which he often did, what if he dropped the block on the ground? Damage to the bearing and the floor was at risk, causing unneeded expense. In addition, without knowing if spare bearings were available, the damage could result in unplanned downtime and missed promise dates or shutdowns of subsequent production lines.

You, see the workplace was NOT ready. This is one example, of tens of millions, that plague our workplaces. When you right a job breakdown sheet, don't just write down what you see. This is your opportunity to question what it is you see. This is one of the hidden benefits of using a questioning method as we are taught when pulling keypoints out of the job. It leads us to Learn to See problems in the workplace.

In this way, we are tuning our eyes to see problems in the workplace.

After talking about the problem in more detail, I learned that not only did the nightmare potential problems flashing through my mind were valid, some of them had already happened. It was time to make an improvement and stop the chain of accidents and problems cold in their tracks. We talked little more and we found an extra die table that needed repair, but would do the trick. After we fixed the control valve on it, he could raise the table to the end of the roll, safely slide the block onto the table, wheel the table over to the workbench and then safely slide the block onto the bench for maintenance.

We felt a lot better about writing down "Use die table" in the keypoints. Better yet, the mechanics quickly rattled off the reasons why with total buy-in.

Check out the TWI CardHacks for "Have Everything Ready". By doing so, you can set the example of how work should be done safely, correctly, quickly and conscientiously in the workplace.

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Job Breakdown Sheets CardHacks - NZ Coaching Guide

More TWI CardHacks...the link takes you to the NZ Coaching Guide for Job Breakdown Sheets. The purpose of this Coaching Guide is to coach a supervisor in preparing a job breakdown sheet and in using the JBS. The guide is useful during the Job Instruction program deployment or as a follow-up guide.

One of the things that I'm not known for in my blog post is brevity. I like to think that is because I'm smart, but I'm pretty sure it has more to do with me learning how to write.

A curious thing about this Coaching Guide, the word "brevity" is used twice. Brevity means: "concise and exact use of words in writing or speech." I find it difficult to write about lean and TWI because there is so much content that spans management, technology, culture, etc. that I don't know how one can write about such a complicated topic with brevity.

Interestingly enough, the NZ coaching guides, appreciation programs and materials are several hundred pages in content - that is a lot to say about 4 step programs!

But what the TWI skill programs really address is human behavior, not 4 step cards. The cards are simply reminders of ways we can behave to get good results.

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