Kaizen Teian Poll Results

I constantly test the waters with the following question: "what about a suggestion system?" only to be met with a sideways glance, slight rolling of the eyes and the nail in the coffin: "Suggestion systems don't work."

I posed a more detailed question on the TWI Blog. Results are below.

98% of total respondents think Kaizen Teian (suggestion or proposal system) is possible in the U.S., however...

38% of the total responses indicated an overhaul of management culture is required to make it so.

2% think Kaizen Teian is not feasible in the U.S.

Normally, the "Suggestion systems don't work." is followed up with, "a box on the wall doesn't make any improvements." I personally couldn't agree more that this style of suggestion system, with no active management-worker engagement, is doomed for failure. This helps explain the results of the poll: many people feel kaizen teian systems are possible in the U.S., but requires a different set of management behaviors to sustain the program.

Sample size 47 online respondents

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Link to TWI Presentations


From last year's annual TWI summit. Lot's of case studies regarding Lean, Job Instruction, Job Method, Job Relations in many different industries: construction, semiconductor, battery manufacturing, others.


Poka-Yoke examples on Wikispaces

If you have people in your organization who say: "lean doesn't apply to my job" kindly remind them with a smile that lean applies to just about everything we encounter, everyday. Since "telling alone is not enough", refer them to the following link http://pokayoke.wikispaces.com/and let them form their own opinion.

Great examples of how lean thinking has infiltrated the lives and thinking of bright people everywhere, even if they don't know it!

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Japanese T-shirt Folding Update - Job Instruction with video

In the last post, I revealed my response to a challenge I received from a colleague. That person was Vic Uzumeri, of the iPov eLearning Service Bureau. Vic and the staff at iPov are producing some cool stuff with training via video media. Folks at iPov integrated the Job Breakdown Sheet I wrote with a video demonstration of the job and some of the key points - and attached it into the trainer's aid section of the JBS. The flash video media is great for illustrating some of the key points. Click here to view the PDF version. There is another PDF version of the same file here.

The flexibility of the flash media and combining it with the JBS makes for a powerful tool in reminding people in the post training phase of the important steps, key points and reason why. Other interesting key points are speed of operation, etc. and the nice things is, you can see it actually happen. I suspect the human vs. video debate will rage on until "humanoids" are useful for training purposes, but for now this is the best video training I've seen because it is combined with the things people need to know. The flash media is great for some self correction if needed and it can be self paced. On the iPov website, you will see an infinite number of possibilities for this media application.

I must admit, I have some reservations about this media for Job Instruction because the temptation exists to sit the trainee down in front of a monitor and have them watch the video, which is hardly a comparable substitute for one-on-one training. But that isn't the video's fault, that's the trainer's fault.

"If the person hasn't learned, the instructor hasn't taught."

Like all tools, training aids must be used properly. The possibilities for this technology are endless, and I'm happy to see that someone can combine this technology with the JBS tools effectively. Thanks, Vic and folks at iPov!



Japanese T-Shirt Folding Video - Job Breakdown Sheet using TWI

A person recently challenged me to write a Job Breakdown sheet for the following job shown in this video:


Here is my Job Breakdown Sheet for this job. This took less time to write then it did for me to figure out how to fold the t-shirt correctly. Once I had it figured out, which took about 15 minutes of trial and error - referring to the video, it took about 5 minutes to write the JBS and about 5 minutes to train another person.

Remember, JBS are primarily for reminding the trainer to state and show all important steps, stress key points, and build conscientiousness into the trainee. It is not meant to replace the trainer. So for those of you who think this JBS is incomplete, sign up for a Job Instruction skill training course now before it is too late! Your training soul can still be saved!

The problem I find with many training videos is that it removes the human element of stressing the key points. For those of you that have figured this out cost effectively, congratulations. This video is poor also because the viewer must mirror every move in her mind, rather than focusing on the job. Another thing is that after trying to fold the t-shirt several times, I couldn't do it! I had to watch the video several times to pull out several key points: where to grab the shirt, speed of folding, specific hand movements, etc. Remember in Job Instruction training we learn the following, "Showing alone is not enough! How many thousands of people are being shown how to do something right now? How many of them understand precisely how to do it?"



Lean Certification Progress

I've been on the Shingo/AME/SME Lean Certification COA committee for two years now. I just passed the baton of chairmanship to Phil Strobel, who will take the fun factor of the committee to the next level - the Phil Factor(sorry inside joke).

The thing I like about the Lean Certification is that it was built by industry - for industry. Sound familiar TWI fans? Literally hundreds of volunteers have put in thousands of hours to pull this together. It isn't a give us $10K and you will be certified program. This is a what is your experience and your peers will judge your experience against an industry standard body of knowledge - at a price literally thousands of dollars below competing "certifications" which require little experience to earn certification.

Because it is from industry, those that are learning lean everyday, you know you are on the leading edge of Lean knowledge and application.

Prior to serving on the committee, which I will do for another couple of years, I helped other volunteers build the portfolio section of the program and exam questions. Recently, I had a chance to take the Silver level exam. I was certified Bronze last year, and found the exam to be very challenging and the portfolio process was an excellent opportunity, and challenging as well, to reflect on my experience in a way I haven't done before.

To be honest, I was dreading the Silver exam. I feel I have the experience, but since the exam is gate protocol for certification - and I wasn't as familiar with the texts as I wanted to be - let's just say my test anxiety was high.

Turns out I had needless test anxiety - like most people usually experience. I passed! The test was much more difficult than the Bronze. If I had to give any advice on the Silver exam - it would be to brush up on the Lean accounting and Product Development materials. Through my TWI Service bookstore, you can get pretty deep discounts on used materials. SME offers packages also, which would reduce shipping charges. The exam is open book, but you have to know the materials very well at this level. The indices are horrible, so flag concepts, tools, etc. as you see them in the chapters. In another post, I'll elaborate on exam review sessions which may be helpful for you in preparing for the exam.

I knew that when we were building the program that the exam would be hard ...I think I underestimated that assessment. It's downright tough. But that is the way we designed it. Now that I made it through the gate, I have to find my way through the maze of experience and finish my portfolio!

(exam questions I wrote two years ago [as if I remember the answers, I barely remember last week!] are tagged so as not show up on my personal exam - in case you are thinking "bias". The level of sophistication for exam revisions and security actually surprised me when I was involved with the construction of the program.)

If you have any questions about Lean Certification, goto http://www.sme.org/ or contact me on my TWI Service page. I'll do my best to answer any questions you have.


Lean Kaizen event Questions and Standard Work

Here is a good one experienced this week:

You have to reduce space by 50% for new business. The group decides to create some smaller workcells to achieve this. The current process has multiple batch process steps that feed an assembly work cell - a large accumulator in which subsequent hand assembly processes are performed with the assistance of some smaller mechanical equipment - ok?

The basic direction this group of workers received was that any mechanical batch processing equipment including conveyors, orienting bowls, etc. (in short, anything that costs overhead dollars) was to be eliminated and done by hand. An example of the current process is:

An injection molding machine shoots a part, the part is ejected and conveyed to a rotary bowl orienter, the part goes into an assembly robot, the part is assembled with others and a subassembly is then oriented into the accumulator. The robot is extremely unreliable.

The direction this group received was to eliminate everything except the injection molding machine, and do the rest by hand including moving material.

Assuming that the assembly robot cannot be fixed to work reliably, (hand assembly is currently faster and more reliable than the robot) shouldn't we do everything we can to eliminate movements, transfers, delays, errors in moving material for the operator using the other equipment that is reliable? If the equipment can do the work that is non-value added but required, isn't part of "respect for people" and "jidoka" to make the workers' job easier?

I would remove the assembly robot (which is slower and less reliable than doing it by hand) and build the hand assembly work cell where the parts are being currently oriented to. This would let the worker focus on building the parts and not moving the parts. It seems to me that standard work routines are going to be hard to create and adhere to if each employee must break into their routines to replenish material that the equipment could be doing for them.

Any thoughts?

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Follow-up to Lean Jargon-Japanese Translations

I found this wordpress blog with some Japanese translations of common words that come from the Toyota Production system. I find the translations of Heijunka and the interpretation to be more accurate in that it describes Heijunka as "simulating demand" over a long period but leveling through that period. This assessment matches up better with the definition in Toyota Production System book published by IIE, versus the North American take on Heijunka as still panicking/reacting to customer orders as they come on a daily basis. Heijunka takes some forecasting into play and then locks in the number for a specific period, or so I'm told, but then levels production to smooth out the process and take control of QCDS. Anyway, thought you might find this person's hard work in learning Japanese and applying it to his studies useful for learning more about Lean and TPS.



Lean Article on Self-Help, Ideas, Learning Lean

This article is about a group of people in a company learning lean using a grass roots effort. I can't stress how important it is for the lean effort in your company to take a similar approach, but must be led by a leader with authority.

People love to get involved with something when it addresses both their intrinsic desires and they can contribute to the group and especially when a leader is learning with them. Someone (Rousseau?) once said, "to make him the master, you must become the apprentice."

Plus, this article mentions Alan Robinson's book, "Ideas are Free" in which idea generation is at the heart of the TWI Job Methods program. In fact, Alan Robinson will be at the 2008 TWI Summit in Orlando FL.


Click here to get $50 off registration at the TWI Summit!