TWI Blog is back from Vacation!

The Lund & Clarke family had a fantastic week in Acadia, ME. I was a little frightened about black fly horror stories prior to the trip, but the swarms of pests never really materialized. Beautiful weather, lots of mountain biking, hiking, swimming, canoeing and of course, don’t forget lobstah!

One of the things I noticed about Mount Desert Island is that many permanent residents are sprinkled around the periphery of the national park. This understandably leads to parking and trespassing problems: tourists stop in somebody’s driveway to take a photo of Seal Cove for example. Here is our shot of Seal Cove from Bald Mountain - no trespassing required:

Nevertheless, trespassing is pretty easy to achieve with the meandering, often unmarked, borders between public and private land. An occasional map check revealed that we were passing from one to the next within minutes, especially easy to do on bike. It wasn't always clear whether we were on public or private land. There was no question however at the bottom of Bald Mountain; I immediately thought of clear visual rules through 5S, when I saw this sign tacked to the front of a woodshed down the road from the trailhead:

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SPC - "Breaking the Spell" of Statistical Quality Control

Shingo once said that it took him decades to "break away from the spell" of SPC. Today, I saw an ad on the back cover an electrical components magazine that said,

"We think statistical sampling is just another way of saying UNTESTED."

They went on to claim that all products are 100% tested. I like the fact that a company publicly declares SPC as indequate in their quality plans. This is the first step to better quality. But, they are still testing 100% of the time. All this does is prevent defects from being passed onto the customer. But what about internally? I wonder what is being done to catch errors before they turn into defects.



Standard Work Silos

There are all kinds of lean programs now: Lean Product Development, Lean HR, Lean Accounting, Lean Six Sigma, Lean Construction, Lean Healthcare, etc. TWI actually was used on the farm during the war period in order to train farm workers in ways to boost food production. I guess in a way, Lean Agriculture predates all that we know today! Speaking of farms, let’s talk about silos for a minute along with a core concept and skill that lies at the heart of Lean: Standard Work.

First off - there are silos in every operation and they aren’t going away any time soon, so get used to it! You are fighting 100 years of culture, so stop now. Sales, technology, logistics, HR and accounting aren’t going to just roll over because you say so! So, go after what is within your control and try to influence through daily kaizen. Standard work is one of those things.

The three components of standard work are:

  1. Takt time

  2. Work Sequence

  3. Standard WIP

Takt time is essentially the rate of customer demand. This is where you have a chance to engage the sales silo and bring them into the lean fold. In order to create standard work, you will need to know takt time, which means you will need to know volumes, product mix, etc. You will also need to know shift operating data, so you know have a great opportunity to teach sales and operations about how to bring alignment between their two silos.

Work sequence. This conjours up images of a supervisor watching his workers to ensure that a step is not missed and when he does….look out! Disciplinary action and punitive work schemes are not at the heart of work sequencing, although many managers certainly can make it that way if they choose. No, at the heart of work sequencing is kaizen. This is where we ask:

  • WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY is this step necessary?

  • What is the purpose of this step?

  • Where should it be done?

  • When is the best time to do it?

  • Who is best suited to do it?

  • And finally...

  • HOW can we do this a better way? How can this be done safely, correctly, efficiently?

  • Work sequence often brings in many questions about technology, product development and reliability. Many work combinations cannot be achieved without a machine modification, a new work layout or sometimes by simply questioning the work, we find we can eliminate the step altogether. Either way, you have an opportunity to bring your technical groups together and achieve alignment.

    Standard WIP is a predetermined amount of inventory which strikes a balance between capacities and demand. This is applied at all levels where continuous flow cannot be achieved. In other words, if you are employing kanban or pull systems, then you need standard WIP or a supermarket between that supplier capacity and customer demand point. Again, these inventory levels are not created in a vacuum, but rather with the input and assurance from both supplier and customer. This provides huge opportunities to seek further improvements in the workflow.

    In summary standard work isn’t about getting people to do their work because we "documented" it or we are "setting expectations." It is a symphony of all elements of the business; a result of indepth analysis, design and organization by many people across many functions. If you want to tear down your silos, metaphorically speaking of course, standard work is a way for you to do just that. Plus, I like the old look of silos in the landscape so leave them alone!



    Problem Solving - Root Cause isn't always necessary, is it?

    Here is an interesting link. I have no idea how I got to this last night, I guess I stumbled through a few links, tripped into this website and when I looked up I was staring at this!


    Section 6 woke me up:

    "Take the concept of cause with a grain of salt If ever there was a time-waster in problem solving, it has to be the search for the cause of the problem. Don’t misunderstand—the concept of cause is frequently relevant, but its usefulness depends on the kind of problem being solved. It’s not relevant all the time and, for some problems, it’s never relevant.
    "For certain kinds of problems, mostly in contrived physical systems [ ] the concept of cause makes sense. Things are going along just fine, something happens, and matters take a turn for the worse. A component in a piece of equipment burns out. A fuse blows. [ ] In such cases [ ] the search for cause is indeed relevant.

    "But not all problems can be said to be caused. And not all causes can be corrected.

    "At a more mundane level, consider the employee who doesn’t know how to perform acertain task. Suppose this person was never trained to perform the task. Suppose the task itself was only recently made a part of the person’s job, the result of a reduction in force in response to straitened economic circumstances. What’s the 'cause' in this case? Is it the employee’s lack of knowledge? Is it the fact that she was not trained? Is it the newness of the task? Is it the reduction in force? Or is it the economic conditions that led to the reduction in force?"
    This made think: in the case of our worker not being able to do the job, regardless of cause the basics of good training will fix the current problem. There is no point in addressing the past causes, unless the causes can reoccur and break the system again. Still, adhering to a system that reviews and retrains, always seeking out better ways to do the job will not have to face some of the many possible causes that the author ponders in this link.

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    Waste of Waiting

    I have discovered a new physical law of nature and it can be expressed mathematically:

    Philadelphia Airport + U.S. Airways = Delays

    There currently exists no proof that can suggest ontime flights exist when these two variables mingle in the natural world.


    Vermont Tubbs

    See article:

    Last year, the President of Tubb's came to the Vermont Manufacturer's Forum hosted by VMEC and presented on their Lean journey. This article doesn't cover it, but this company has kanban down cold.

    Vermont Tubbs goes Lean and Green



    Harvard Business Review - Toyota Contradictions Article

    Great look at the new book recently released, Extreme Toyota. The HBR description:

    "Toyota has become one of the world's greatest companies only because it developed the Toyota Production System, right? Wrong, say Takeuchi, Osono, and Shimizu of Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo. Another factor, overlooked until now, is just as important to the company's success: Toyota's culture of contradictions. TPS is a "hard" innovation that allows the company to continuously improve the way it manufactures vehicles. Toyota has also mastered a "soft" innovation that relates to human resource practices and corporate culture. The company succeeds, say the authors, because it deliberately fosters contradictory viewpoints within the organization and challenges employees to find solutions by transcending differences rather than resorting to compromises. This culture generates innovative ideas that Toyota implements to pull ahead of competitors, both incrementally and radically. The authors' research reveals six forces that cause contradictions inside Toyota. Three forces of expansion lead the company to change and improve: impossible goals, local customization, and experimentation. Not surprisingly, these forces make the organization more diverse, complicate decision making, and threaten Toyota's control systems. To prevent the winds of change from blowing down the organization, the company also harnesses three forces of integration: the founders' values, "up-and-in" people management, and open communication. These forces stabilize the company, help employees make sense of the environment in which they operate, and perpetuate Toyota's values and culture. Emulating Toyota isn't about copying any one practice; it's about creating a culture. And because the company's culture of contradictions is centered on humans, who are imperfect, there will always be room for improvement."

    Order the online HBR article pdf for $6.50 instead of $15 at the newstand.

    Everything Toyota does is so that people can deal with contradictions in the workplace. For genba leaders a good example of this is determining if there is a deviation from standard (a contradiction).

    Readers of the latest Shingo book, Kaizen and The Art of Creative Thinking - The Scientific Thinking Mechanism, will recognize the "contradiction" theme in the HBR article. Shingo does a great job of simply teaching people how to break complex problems down in to simple parts, so that we can clearly see the contradictions that are at the root of our problems.

    One example of contradictions in TWI is found in JM. One key element of Job Methods training is a teaching people how to adopt a questioning attitude through intense, direct observation. Only then is a person encouraged to look at the analyze the facts and finally begin to develop countermeasures to problems that prevent us from meeting standards. This approach contradicts an approach of band-aiding and jumping to conclusions.

    Another example is the purpose of Job Instruction. When most people hear the words "instruction", the first thing that comes to mind is OJT. JI is an excellent form of OJT. But even during the war, JI was considered a program that "helped people solve production problems that involved people" OJT, via the JI program, was the delivery vehicle for this problem solving approach.

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    HR and Lean

    Every so often somebody will ask, “HOW does HR get involved with Lean?” This question implies that there may be a problem with HR getting involved with Lean, since they don’t know how proceed with this matter. If there is a problem, we can’t just go out and get involved, we need to first understand it. In Job Methods, we are taught to always ask “why” before we jump to conclusions and ask “how”. So, here is a question to ponder, “WHY isn’t HR involved with Lean?”

    One clue, but certainly not the answer, came to me today in my inbox. (My real inbox, the kind that still has paper in it.) I won’t name the company, but their catalog for HR forms and supplies professes to be “the solution for smart employers.” That’s fine, we all need a slogan.

    Here is clue to the problem. In this catalog there is a huge list of forms, DVDs, manuals and the like that cover three basic areas of administration for HR professionals: hiring/firing forms, regulatory compliance, and motivational/communication products. The catalog is 99 pages. Eight pages feature “training and compliance” products. The products in this section varied: FMLA compliance, sexual & religious harassment, to dealing with problem employees during your harassment training sessions. Other training products, such as signs, featured handy products that reminded people of “microwave do’s & don’ts”, “no smoking” policies, and my personal pet peeve, “please brew another pot” (of coffee since you obviously took the last cup, and an empty pot is coffee pot negligence in my perfect world).

    Because our society is a capitalist one, I think the catalog is a decent indicator of what is driving our current behaviors. Therefore, what I didn’t see in this catalog is the troubling part. Chock full of compliance manuals, handbook writing software programs and the like, this catalog was completely devoid of anything, even a book list with Toyota Talent or Culture that suggested “here is a way you, HR, can get involved with your Lean initiative.” Instead, it appears we are trying to streamline the administration of compliance while pushing the details of recordkeeping and HR data collection down to the supervisors. This leaves little time for real kaizen.

    I must admit, I’m probably picking on a target (catalog of HR forms) that doesn’t deserve any criticism in this arena, but what I am saying is that if this material is even remotely suggests what the current HR field faces on a daily basis, then HR professionals are missing a huge opportunity to actually improve the bottom line of the company. An entire section of five pages, performance appraisals and disciplinary forms, portrays that your problems are solved if you only had these time saving forms. On the other hand, genba management provides instant opportunities to provide positive feedback and correct errors immediately; as these things happen, not six months later after you have “documented the violation that didn’t meet your expectations” which by the way the subordinate has forgotten or doesn’t care because you didn’t care enough to address it when it happened. Another element of lean that can better our appraisal system is the kaizen teian system: this provides a positive way for supervisors to evaluate performance of people, both in their natural workgroup and in their individual involvement through daily kaizen.

    Within the Training Within Industry program is the Program Development module. It was aimed at Training Coordinators as a way to make them the internal TWI consultant that would spot problems and address them through training programs. The training coordinators target would be normally supervisors and other support staff members that could get results through the line workers. I’m not entirely up to speed on my current HR and Training trends, but is HR and Training so disconnected now that HR has no influence in the area of training? Or are they so mired in regulatory compliance and recordkeeping that training is taking a back seat. If the latter is the case, then the hidden costs of HR’s absence from our lean initiative would be staggering.



    TWI Service Update - Japan 1956 Final Report

    Yesterday, I uploaded the refreshed version of the 1951 report which detailed the nationwide installation of TWI programs in Japan.

    Today, check out the 1956 version that details the installation of Management and Problem Solving training in Japan! This is truly a remarkable story - read about a piece of history that helped shape the direction of Japanese Management techniques.



    TWI Service Update - Japan 1951 Final Report

    Jeff Maling and I spent a couple of hours doing some re-scanning of materials I found at WRHS. Thanks Jeff! A nice benefit is faster downloads for you...

    If you are into the history of Lean and TWI, than you need to download this report. It indicates that TWI had been introduced to the Japanese in 1949 and about 500 Japanese JI trainers were clamoring for refresher training and a nationwide installation of the programs. Lowell Mellen of TWI, Inc. obliged them, offering the foundation for training through the famed multiplier effect, reaching thousands of supervisors over a four month period.

    Check out this 1951 final report upon the completion of TWI training in Japan!



    Interview for Industry Week - "Introducing TWI"

    Jill Jusko has published the transcript of an interview she did with me on her current Training Within Industry article series.


    5S & The Genba Training Standard

    There is a lot of talk about 5S and how it is the cornerstone of lean manufacturing. If this is true, then why is it that all we ask operators to do when it comes to 5S is clean? Are we to believe that cleaning is the path to world class organizational performance? Why is 5S thought of as a housekeeping program? I’ve published an eight part article series on 5S and the Eight Wastes that addresses these questions about how 5S is a systematic thinking process – NOT a housekeeping campaign.

    An offshoot of this systematic thinking was posed in a question by a co-worker in a recent Job Instruction (JI) session: “how am I supposed to audit the workplace when regarding 5S standards?” My reply is simple and something anyone can do: refer to the Job Breakdown sheet for any given job. In the header area of the Job Breakdown Sheet (JBS) you will find a field for tools, supplies and parts required to do the job:

    If you have been through a JI session, you will know that one of the four “Get Ready” points for instruction is that we should “have the workplace properly arranged, just as a person is expected to keep it.” Using the JBS, we can determine what tools, supplies, information and parts are needed to do the job as defined by the JBS. Anyone who has been trained using the JI four-step method will know that it is difficult to perform the job correctly, safely and conscientiously (i.e., to the standard) without a properly arranged workplace.

    If you are out on a 5S audit and find there isn’t a JBS for the job, create one. It will help process owners define and design a better organized workplace. You can practice observing and adopting a questioning method to coach people versus a telling method. Use the JBS to help formulate your questions: “how do you remove the o-ring?” “What happens if…?” “What is the correct oil to use on this step?” The answers to these questions will give you the facts required for good workplace design.

    You can use the 5S thinking method to help you along at this point. In other words, 5S supports the work standards and JI helps you sustain the gains made by 5S through good training and genba follow-up. Are only the parts, tools, materials required for the job in the work area? Are they arranged properly? Are there any unnecessary steps to this job? How can they be eliminated? The two are mutually dependent and one reason why many people don’t make it past 1S or 2S levels. Plus, if you want Lean buy in, supporting co-workers in making their job safer, easier and more consistent sure beats cleaning and getting the plant “tour-ready”!

    For a more detailed article series on 5S and the Eight Wastes, see my articles page.

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    MTP - Management Training Programs Available for Download

    Mark Warren of Tesla², Inc. has been extremely generous in donating his formatted MTP manuals to the TWI Service community. Many people have referenced this fundamental material in their research about the Toyota Production System: Alan Robinson, Jim Huntzinger, Shigeo Shingo, Taiichi Ohno, Eji Toyoda, JITA reports and many, many others.

    These manuals were used to train supervisors and managers in the Japanese post-WWII era. At a glance, there is not much that is special about this material. But with some knowledge and experience about TPS and Lean, one can gain some special insight into how leaders learned the fundamentals of making daily incremental improvements within the realm of their responsibility. I hope you take the time to download and review the manuals.

    Within the 22 modules, you will find expanded Job Instruction (sessions 11 and 12) and Job Methods (sessions 14, 15, 16) training, which helps explain the special interest in the MTP program within the TWI community. But of course, wrapped with the context of the other 17 modules, these programs become essential in turning supervisory leaders into your first line of defense in the war on waste.

    Enjoy, and thanks again Mark!