Genba Comic - #1

O.k. - I've made some New Year commitments to myself and my online alter ego - the TWI Blog. Something fresh this year will allows me to still contribute to the Lean community when I can't think of anything to say that is intelligible or worth writing about. At least this way, with a comic strip, I can offer a humorous take on how we as Lean thinkers and managers are perceived. We'll see if this idea sticks. In the meantime, a bit of absurdity sometimes speaks volumes:

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Lean Book Review: Lean Hospitals by Mark Graban

Book Title - Lean Hospitals

Author - Mark Graban

Register now for the 2009 TWI Summit and hear Mark Graban speak on TWI in Lean Healthcare!

Bottom Line

At first, I thought, "this is another Lean Simplified book with hospital words" - lean concept after concept with extensive commentary. This isn't criticism of author Mark Graban, it is what I have come to expect of these days with Lean books. It seems everyone re-publishes the same thing about Lean, except the authors use the "Lean ___insert your industry technical jargon here___," approach.

Here in Lean Hospitals, we have a truly unique experience. I had to read this twice, because I was gliding through this like it was another lexicon remix. This caused me to miss the deeper insight that the author, Mark Graban, artfully inserts in example after example. Once I slowed my pace, Graban very quickly takes you deep into thought provoking examples about the healthcare industry – pushing the reader beyond the common Lean definitions and into the real world. How refreshing! No made up stories in somebody’s garden or garage or a skip-hop-and-a-jump through imaginary utopias; NO – Lean Hospitals is the real world application of lean with all of its successes and many lessons learned.

Jammed full of knowledge, testimonials, how-to examples, pictures and illustrations for anyone wondering how Lean could possibly apply to a hospital environment, this book follows a similar pattern of other well written Lean related books where a concept is presented, explanation of the concept is offered and then a host of examples follow to cement the concept in practical application. The real strength of this book is in unique adaptations of kanban and lean concepts which should give some hospital administrators the confidence to take that first step in an otherwise uncertain Lean journey. Bottom line: order several copies and organize a book/work study group with your staff, working out real problems as you make your way through the book. Hint: take your time.

What’s New?

Mark Graban, who has extensive experience in Lean Healthcare implementations, diplomatically chips away on the mainstream approach to 5S - housekeeping - something I have blogged harshly on for over a year now. He stresses the importance of taking 5S out of the narrow crawlspace of housekeeping and into the infinite world of daily idea generation, involvement and continuous improvement. My only criticism here, if you could call it that, is that we only get a glimpse of this alternate 5S universe for a brief period. My neediness aside, this book is unique; non-Japanese AND goes beyond what we know as 5S conventional lean approaches. Mark shows us how hospitals are adopting lean and adapting to their unique environment, the ultimate lesson we should all learn. This is not only rare but refreshing for those of us that have struggled with the way 5S and Lean was interpreted over twenty five years ago and subsequently (and superficially) taught to thousands over the decades. Kudos Mark, for daring to go there, but on this matter - I was hoping you opted for a surgical grade bonesaw instead of a scalpel!

Mark touches briefly on TWI and in particular Job Instruction while you are knee deep in the Standard Work for Hospitals section. Here Mark draws a clear picture of the need for Job Instruction in order for Standard Work to be useful on a daily basis. I believe that this is the only book I have seen that explains the need in a non-manufacturing setting – again, illustrating how hospitals can and are adopting and adapting lean concepts to a real world environment. This may be a good opportunity for readers to point other Lean/TWI skeptics to a real world example of how JI is an elemental skill for Lean leaders. Even more so, TWI and Lean zealots alike will see how this book is substantial, should be taken seriously, and certainly not a Lean “___insert your industry here___“ book.

In a previous book review of Managing to Learn, I reveal how John Shook presents a new "pull based authority" concept. In Lean Hospitals, Graban shows us how pull based authority is applied across hospital departments – here we get clear insight on the kanban “how-to” and the reasons why we should consider this approach in administrative situations. It is very important and worth every penny for this chapter alone. This and many other sections of the book take complex Lean concepts and present them simply and clearly for anyone at any level in a hospital setting.

How many Gold Rivets, Rosie? 4.5/5

Lean Hospitals is a great book, loaded with how-to and sharp insight that predicts the future of healthcare; those organizations that run business as usual and those that are customer-oriented. The style is straightforward - concepts backed up with know-how, but may require another read to fully grasp the full context. This is because the examples tend to chop up the flow of the concepts and I found myself going back a couple of times to tie it all together. Regardless of my minor observations, keep this fantastic reference handy; I have pulled it off the bookshelf several times already and I work in consumer goods manufacturing, so it should be extremely useful to anyone in a hospital setting.

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Update: Lean Book Review: Managing to Learn by John Shook

Book Title
- Managing to Learn, Using the A3 management process to solve problems, gain agreement, mentor and lead.

Author - John Shook

Bottom Line

This book is a nice blend of experience, practical how-to and provides a fair amount of “pulling back the curtain” on Toyota’s management and problem solving methods and philosophy. A simple explanation of the A3 process has been long overdue and John Shook delivers it here. Shook and publisher LEI continue the ACME Mfg story that many readers are familiar with. In fact, Shook provides an example A3 that details the fictional ACME Stamping transformation along with several other real-world A3’s from client companies. But the real strength of the book is the “how-to” experience from the perspective of both A3 novice and A3 coach. This book will be a great way for management teams to learn and understand the A3 process together. Bottom line: order a bunch and put together a book study group with your staff, working out real problems.

What’s New?

Shook takes a unique approach in telling the A3 story – from the perspective of fictional users. Readers follow along the learning journey of the two main characters Porter, the novice and Sanderson, the mentor. Some well read Lean zealots may tire of these industrial novellas, but Shook pulls this off with a new twist: the stories are literally side-by-side. So, readers can work their way through the experiences of both novice and mentor simultaneously, on the same page. This is a truly a two-for-one book value!

Shook mercifully reinforces a concept in Lean that doesn’t get nearly the attention it should. Shook describes a “pull based authority” concept at Toyota. Here is a book where you will find that concept in action: Lean concepts such as pull and kanban applied to more than just materials, in this case, management, learning and problem solving. In short, Shook reinvigorates Lean purists with the core underlying philosophy of Lean – pulling at the demand of the customer – applying it to everything we do.

How many Gold Rivets, Rosie?

Managing to Learn is a quick easy read, with loads of examples and a fresh writing style which many readers will be thankful for. I suspect though, a few people may not like the style...but you can’t make everyone happy. Shook offers his personal insight and experience to you in a package which follows a logical order so you can start learning and using today.

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Training Within Industry Article - The Second Coming - Dwayne Butcher

Dwayne Butcher of the TWI Summit has posted an introductory article about TWI at The Content Wrangler. For those of you looking for a quick TWI explanation to pass onto others who ask, "What is TWI, or "What is Job Instruction and how does it apply to Lean?" - here is a great source for you to use.

The TWI Summit is coming soon - May 12-13, sign up today!

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Justice Roberts could use some JIT

The post title above links to Mark Graban's LeanBlog - where he asks, "is it confidence or arrogance" that leads to Justice John Roberts thinking he could make it through the inauguration oath without a problem? If you haven't seen it, he switched some words around, making for an awkward moment - until he corrected himself. The next day, Justice Roberts and President Obama had a do-over of the oath in the White House. So, was Justice Roberts confident or arrogant?

I think the answer is: neither confident or arrogant. I’m going to hazard a guess and say that Justice Roberts put in many hours rehearsing this moment and had the oath down cold. The problem is, we forget that we forget things! And that gets worse when the pressure is on. It's so easy to forget where you were for a multitude of reasons.

A checklist or cue card would have been most helpful, and by making it through the inauguration without a problem would have built up Justice Roberts confidence ( "whew! I did it!") without increasing his arrogance ( "I did it with good preparation and with the help of this aid!" )

The same thing is true with a Job Breakdown Sheet. Trainers, even the most experienced trainers, forget things. Unfortunately, most trainers are the most experienced person in the genba. That fact, however, doesn’t make them good trainers. So, they need an aid to remind them about all the steps, the order and the keypoints for each step – so that they don’t forget.

I’ll wager that if Justice Roberts had been through a Job Instruction session – we would have seen an index card in his hand.

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TWI & Kaizen Masters - Not all of us can be a Chuck Norris

In Job Methods, people learn to observe, question, analyze, create and implement improved work methods. It takes time to master this pattern; it requires a lifetime of self-discipline and support. Yet, with Lean, we expect everyone to be a Grand Master after he leaves the four-hour MEP class intro to 5S! O.k. let's get real - you aren't Chuck Norris and neither are your people when it comes to Lean.

Here is an early example of how a Job Methods participant came up with a way to separate bad parts from good:

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.

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., 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.

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Can JIT Slow Job Loss in a Recession?

In a world where bigger is better, the good times are good. When it gets rough though, look out! When the Big Three are closing entire plants for at least one month, we have to ask why not part of their plants, or, why not spread it out over time? I have to wonder if a big factor here is that concept isn't in their lexicon, let along their current capability. But all car makers have been hit by the same bearish economy - so, is the lack of JIT/mixed model and level loading philosophies in the Big Three a reason for “bigger” problems, such as entire plant closures? One has to wonder especially in the light of this news release:

Toyota Tells How and Where it Will Cut production

"This is a tough environment, and it may continue for a while. We are making responsible business decisions now in order to sustain our business over the long term," said Jim Wiseman, vice president of external affairs for Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America (TEMA). "In addition to slowing production we are redoubling efforts to cut costs at each of our facilities. Further actions and sacrifices may be necessary, but we will continue to do everything possible to assure the viability of our plants and protect the long term employment security of our team members."

Following this statement, we see in the article that the days to shutdown in each month from January through April are spread across many production lines and many different plants. It seems like Toyota is sticking to the philosophy of JIT in the recession and not abandoning it. A possible big benefit to JIT thinking here is that people are not without a job for at least a month. Thoughts on this? Does anyone know what the Big Three are doing aside from some of the plant closures we have seen in December and January? Is there a difference between the problems the Big Three face and what the Other Three (Toyota, Honda, Nissan) face?

I have to admit, there is a foreboding tone in the statement, "Further actions and sacrifices may be necessary," but my understanding is that Toyota will do everything it can to avoid layoffs, per its 1950-51 pledge. We will see as the events in coming months unfold.

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The 3Gs - Lean Thinkers are Detectives

Genba - Go to the Place – the Crimescene
Genbutsu - Get the facts – the Evidence
Genjitsu Genshou – Understanding the reality - why did it happen

Like a crime scene investigator, a lean thinker looks for problems where the problems occur. It’s hard to look at the whole area and see the details. A CSI agent turns out the lights and uses a small flashlight to look, inch by inch for evidence that could break the case.

Lean thinkers do the same thing in the workplace. Use your finger to focus on a very small detail. Or use a laser pointer. Focus on the detail. Perhaps it is a defect. Or an obvious a trip hazard. A sharp edge in a working area. Everyday, the order form is missing the same information. The sum of the details tell the whole story. These lean detectives find the evidence of abnormalities: the 3Ms, ( seven wastes, instability, overburdens) and they try to understand why the problem occurred.

From here, the Lean detective can understand what happened and work on the steps which will prevent the problem from occurring in the future. They know they can’t put these countermeasures in place alone…there are literally millions of problems to tackle. They know the only way to make this work is to encourage everyone to make small kaizen improvements and eliminate these problems from the workplace.

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Small Kaizen Ideas - a Safe Way to Learn from Mistakes

In Lean, we often hear that we should let people make mistakes. Many people will respond to this with a head nod, but inside are probably saying, “as long as that mistake doesn’t cost us anything”. Grappling with this paradox, which often paralyzes us from letting control of people and their ideas, is a most difficult task. An advantage of implementing a kaizen teian, or idea system, is that you can ease your way into letting people safely fail. It is good for people for two reasons:
  1. Managers learn how to let go of control, while providing opportunities to coach people.
  2. People learn how to improve their work - in a rapid and easy fashion, while coping with small failures. Ultimately, this builds their confidence in their skill and abilities.
Example. A very smart and capable technician said to me once, “this small kaizen idea program just seems to be taking us backwards – people are coming up with the silliest ideas, things that don’t even make sense. It feels like we are in kindergarten! Why don’t they come up with good ideas, things that are worthwhile?”

It is a valid point, but - in the early stages of a suggestion system - it misses the overiding goal: to gain involvement and foster workplace learning. The technician's frustration is that a suggestion to use a stool, or removing the lid to a toolbox to save a step – is a waste of time. In her mind, more important things are pressing.

The point is not to debate the merit of the suggestion – it is that the suggestion is an opportunity for the submitter to learn and for the leader to guide without taking control of the idea. And if the suggestion doesn’t work out – FAILURE – well, it is easy to learn from the simple lesson than from a complex one.

Example. Haven't we learned that accumulating conveyors in a factory are pure waste? No, many factories continue to purchase or upgrade to larger, more complex conveyance systems, sometimes using miles of conveyors. This complex problem is difficult for most people to draw any lean lessons from. In contrast, we can more easily grasp a smaller conveyance problem, such as the length of a fork truck route - something smaller in nature and within our control.

Finally, assuming that some ideas are not worth implementing is simply arrogant and isolates your people. That is management suicide. It implies that we already know the outcome: failure or success. Jumping to conclusions about ideas before the results can be checked is not only dangerous, it stifles creativity. Daniel J. Boorstin said: “The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge.”

In other words, if you consider a small kaizen suggestion system start with the simple - and accept the sometimes silly - suggestions, so that your people can learn quickly by their successes and failures. By not allowing people to fail, we learn nothing except what we already think we know.

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Obama's Lean Government?

Obama appointed a Chief Performance Officer to the White House staff. Nancy Killefer comes from McKinsey & Co. Upon her appointment, Mrs. Killefer said, "Most of the operational issues that the government faces today have developed over decades and will take time to address," she told the news conference. "But there is an urgency to begin now."

It's never too late to start the learning journey.

Personally, I'm a bit skeptical about this appointment. This is like hiring a Lean consultant and expecting them to solve other peoples' problems, it just doesn't work well in the long term. Obama would be well served to follow the lead of some state and local leaders in government:

This link brings you to an article about Lean in Government.

Here are some links to State offices related to improvement.

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TWI Videos from ATAC

Thanks to Dwayne Butcher of Lean Summits for pointing this out to the TWI blog. The first video is an abbreviated intro to the supervisors five needs + safety:

The second video is the "telling" demonstration that trainers use in a JI session. The audio is really poor on this video:

The third video is the "showing" demonstration that trainers use in a JI session:

My take on this...its likely that only TWI trainers can appreciate these videos. Most people who don't know what TWI is are probably watching this and wondering "what the heck is going on?"


TWI - Jim Huntzinger Lean Article on Standard Work

Jim Huntzinger of TWI Summit submitted an article to the Reliable Plant blog about Standard Work. For those of you who know Jim, no introduction needed.

For those of you who don't, Jim wrote the Roots of Lean article that turned our Vermont SME group onto TWI, while we were researching the topic of Standard Work. Jim has a very strong grasp of the history behind Toyota and I always enjoy learning some other little tidbit from him about our own country's industrial history.

Probably one of the most important lessons I've learned so far about Lean, is that we can learn a lot from the past. For example, what is really behind standard work? It is so much more than takt time, work sequence and standard WIP, as we are taught in mainstream Lean literature. So much more than documenting the job on a sheet of paper.

This is true for many things, not just Lean. Our political and economic history for example, is so drastically different story than the one we hear from our soundbite-and-controversy-obsessed media. And that is the second lesson I've learned from TWI. The J-skills reinforce the need 1) go and see, 2) get the facts and 3) grasp an understanding for ourselves. This is a simple, fantastic learning cycle that dovetails with the need to always improve standard work.

This lesson is in stark contrast to what we are taught our whole lives: 1) get an answer, 2) delegate the activity and 3) get the results.

In short, if it wasn't for Jim's insightful thoughts and writing, I'm not sure I would have felt the need to move down this path.

Thanks Jim!

For TWI Blog readers, don't forget to come to the TWI Summit this May in Ohio!



TWI - Training Within Industry at Donnelly Custom Manufacturing

From the Alexandria Echo Press, Minnesota:

"For the second consecutive year, Donnelly Custom Manufacturing Company in Alexandria has received the Silver Supplier award from Marvin Windows and Doors, a leading manufacturer of made-to-order wood and clad wood windows and doors."

"Donnelly molds short-run parts for Marvin and has been instrumental in helping them achieve excellence in employee training through its Training Within Industry (TWI) best practices."

"The award recipients are selected based on the results from monthly supplier performance reports that evaluate each supplier’s standards of quality and delivery as well as technology and transaction accuracy."

Denny Hall and Dave Sondgeroth, of Marvin Windows and Doors of Tennessee, presented at the 2008 TWI Summit. Here is a link to the TWI Summits presentations page. Look for the heading: "Conferences". You can access the 2007 summit presentations as well from this link.

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"Buy-in" - What Are You Selling?

A reader emailed and asked how to avoid the "crickets" when pitching an idea to others. You know the feeling....you have the best idea and run it past your people. You know this idea is going to change the way things work, people are going to wonder why we haven't done it before!

Their response: silence, except for the crickets chirping away.

Especially frustrating for managers who need to get things done, getting buy-in from the people that work for you is extremely difficult, if not rare. We have to ask ourselves though, what are we doing when we try to get buy-in? What do we really want from people?

As a supervisor or manager, we usually want someone to think through the great idea you gave them and then go do it. Very rarely does this actually happen. If it does, invariably the idea isn't done the way you had envisioned it. It seemed like such a great idea yesterday morning, while you were in the shower, when you do your best thinking of how it would work just right!

So if we are looking for our people to buy-in to something, what are we selling? An idea. What are you seeking for payment? Usually commitment and action. What do our people get in return? Our idea, that we wanted them to do in the first place. Most people would rather have you just tell them to do it rather than go through the meetings to pitch the idea in the first place. That is so much more efficient!

But do we ever really get buy-in? Do subordinates or peers truly own our ideas once they have "bought-in"? The most likely answer is no.

What we really want is people to own ideas and put them into action. Supervisors that spend their time influencing and encouraging their employees to try out their own ideas as problems arise are far more successful than supervisors that try to sell their own ideas to their employees. This is a key component to successful kaizen teian or suggestion systems found in lean companies like Toyota, Subaru, Canon, Matsushita, Technicolor, Autoliv and many others.

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