'Leanability' - TWI Guest Blogger: Sean Jordan

TWI Blog reader and friend, Sean Jordan, weighs in on lean failure rates and how to judge the 'lean-ability' of an organization:

“How do we judge failure?” Well, I am thinking that judging failure means that we failed to achieve a standard. Hmm, what is the standard for Lean? [I love IW’s Lean survey from March, 2008. As I think out loud, do the survey respondents really understand what their Lean initiative was supposed to achieve?)

When I evaluate ‘Lean-ability’, I want to know about the popular 4 P’s in your organization: Philosophy, People, Problem Solving, and Process. If you can improve (at any pace) to solve problems AND sustain the advances, then you are being successful. Organizations are different, so the pace of change should be set accordingly. With good leadership, a strong Hoshin can be set to achieve a balance of Safety, Quality, Cost, Delivery, Value and Teamwork.

The blog post about the next 3 M’s of Lean are linked to the Lean Failure rate post. Judging the failure of Lean means breaking the Myth. Perhaps SME, AME, NIST MEP, and others should go on the attack about breaking the Myth? Perhaps one popular topic floating around the Lean world that should be banned is “The Next Generation of ….(sorry, I started to throw up in my mouth a little bit) “The Next Generation of Lean.” Here’s an idea, let everyone know that implementing the 4 P’s is hard and can appear boring. Yet is rather effective and fun if done properly. Recently Toyota learned about getting away from its steadfast philosophy.

Finally, I myself am trying to reduce using the word Lean. The myth and assumptions about Lean are so vast that the work itself is a distraction from starting an effective conversation. After working with hundreds of companies, I found mentioning the word ‘Lean’ creates unneeded drama as compared to mentioning ‘let‘s solve some problems and get better.’ Sometimes, when someone calls me the ‘Lean Guy,’ chills go down my spine and everyone looks at me like I’m the lawyer on television at 3 a.m.

Cheers! Let go solve more problems!


Labels: , ,

Jobshop Lean

A really concise and excellent article on how to apply takt time to a jobshop. Actually, jobshops are a more common phenomena in many businesses. The thinking can be applied to hospitals, retail and financial services, R&D or in the government and universities. Essentially, the trick is to find patterns of work in a sea of chaos. The closest hint you will find in mainstream lean literature is the concept of pitch. This is what the article is really describing, the application of pitch to different value stream products: easy to handle, harder to handle, toughest to handle. The article calls finding this pitch the common denominator. We can find common denominators in many things: container sizes, product types, cycle times, ease of use, etc. The trick is in quantifying it in terms of pitch.

I've worked with teams to apply this concept in two different ways: one was with the building of customer configured control panels. All the panels were "different." But by finding the common assembly patterns, we were able to create a flow line with the right amount of workstations and feeder lines for the manufacture of customized control cabinets on a four hour takt time.

Another application was in injection molding. The average plant takt time was about 6/1000th of a second, spread across forty machines that can run many different products at any given time. Kinda makes it tough to use one takt time, doesn't it? Most people would say lean and JIT doesn't apply. But the group found the common denominator: how often does a person have to pack product, i.e., take product away just-in-time for the machine to be able to eject more product without disrupting the cycle? This is something the people quantified and level loaded.

Bottom line: when takt time is too variable or too small to balance against - you need to find the pitch or as this article calls it - the common denominator. This is the first step in creating level flow.

Labels: , ,

3M’s of Lean: Myths, Misconceptions and Misunderstanding

Leansters know the ‘good’ 3Ms of Lean are mura (extra burden), muri (imbalance) and muda (waste). Today, we can add three more ‘bad’ Ms’s to the list: myths, misconceptions and misunderstanding.

There are many examples of bad 3M’s about Lean in the news. Here is yet another...

From Crain’s Cleveland Business, the title, “Swagelok Boss: Lean Operations Not for Us” begs us to read immediately. Why? For those familiar with the company, Swagelok is a successful, privately owned, billion dollar company. It has never had a layoff in its sixty-five year history, despite being headquartered in Solon, Ohio – a state that has taken its share of manufacturing hits. As I scanned the title, I wondered if we might learn something from this manufacturer via the author Dan Shingler:

“But he (Mr. Anton of Swagelok) hardly was spouting the gospel as they've (audience) come to know it. Manufacturers have been told to be lean, to keep inventories low and turnarounds fast, to make stuff “just in time” for delivery — and to jettison employees quickly when there is not work for them to do.”

Mr. Anton said Swagelok has often been successful doing the opposite.

“We will selectively build inventory to keep people working,” he said. “I know that sounds very non-lean and old-fashioned, but it's consistently worked for us."

I’m trying to remember the last time I heard of anyone serious about lean make the recommendation that employees be jettisoned when there is a downturn, or, when employee layoffs resulted in a lean success. Instead of explaining the rationale behind Swagelok’s inventory strategy as a solution to meet the needs of the customers and business, the article sets the tone for the usual hit piece on Lean: here is why it can’t work here, it doesn’t work for our customers, therefore take your Lean thinking and…

I digress.

“…plenty of area companies are sweating out the decision of whether to keep employees they hope to need later, or to cut costs while the slump is on. Some have no choice but to let people go. But many are putting their employees through extra training, hoping that when the economy does turn, they'll have the same skilled workers as before, but with even higher, more diverse skill levels.”

So this is the strange dichotomy of the media and Lean. Media thinks Lean = Layoffs. And this is the first M, myth. Lean is hardly about layoffs, although some companies end up resorting to layoffs and everyone seems surprised. Leansters, if you are saying Lean is going to avoid layoffs – STOP, you can’t make that promise unless you are in the driver’s seat. Would we be surprised if layoffs came without Lean? No, the layoffs came because of leadership, which is the main reason why lean initiatives or no, companies sometimes fail.

Lean has been evolving into something bigger than simply JIT inventory reductions, JIT is a rudimentary and crude explanation of Lean at best, if not half the story. This is the second M - Misunderstanding. JIT doesn’t mean ZERO inventory. It means the right inventory at the right time at the right quantities. If Swagelok’s strategy is to scale back on low use SKUs and ramp up high use SKUs, is it possible that they have weighed the cost of inventory against the cost of attrition and retraining? It is possible, yet instead of digging deeper, Mr. Shingler portrays not one of Swagelok’s strategies in the article as anything remotely Lean, except for the prospect of layoffs in a downturn. Leansters know that the extra training and skill building now in the downturn will make Swagelok stronger when the economy rebounds, assuming cash flow can support it. Yet, the media story is that these activities are not Lean simply because somebody is temporarily increasing their inventory for critical SKU’s in a downturn in order to keep their valuable employees. Isn’t Toyota, at a basic level, doing the same thing as Swagelok?

“Mr. Anton is going one step further. He said he has hired a handful of high-level technical people, including one Ph.D.-level employee, who were brought on specifically to help the company develop products for the years ahead. ‘This is a great time to be building your talent pool,’ Mr. Anton said.”

Well, I give him points for being half lean just for not hiring another MBA. ;)

Seriously though, here is another M - Misconception. Lean is very much about growth. Many people think that Lean = low variety of products and services when coupled only with high volumes. Toyota has 17 base vehicle models in the U.S. market with many configurations. Ford has 18 and that is after they brought back two versions (sedan and wagon) of the Taurus only after enduring consumer backlash over the discontinuation of one of the best selling vehicles ever. And for years now, Ford has been scaling back from their heyday and Toyota has been expanding trying to “emulate” GM, according to new Toyota leadership. So who is Lean? According to this anti-lean article, Swagelok is doing some very 'non-Lean' things, like increasing the skills of its people and developing new products in preparation to skewer the competition when the economy rebounds? But they aren’t Lean, eh?!

Perhaps the problem here is the label itself. The word Lean conjures up images of fads, programs and initiatives, which turn people off to the discussion quickly even when they may have much in common. Perhaps the term could be better used as an adjective that best describes the way people think and act when confronted with a problem. I could be wrong, but I wonder if Swagelok is thinking Lean and doesn’t know it.

Labels: ,


Lean Failure Rates

Believe it or not, blogging comes with its hazards. One of those is to publish a “fact” that you can’t back up. Part of the plan here at the TWI Blog is NOT to aspire to be like the NY Times, sometimes known for their sloppiness. Despite our best intentions, mistakes can be made when our guard is down and we take things for granted. So, from time-to-time, we have to backtrack and understand the situation after we have jumped to a conclusion...OUCH!

When thinking the other day about small kaizen in blogging, I threw out a number to make a point: 95% of lean implementations fail. Mark Graban and Karen Wilhelm called me out on that number. Mark asked: “Is this just an anecdotal number?” Karen went further and asks: “How do we judge failure and who would want to admit failure?" These are great questions that cast some doubt over the infamous 95% figure.

Let’s start with the percentage of lean implementation failures. After doing some more digging, my conclusion is that the 95% is "mostly" anecdotal with some supporting figures. For your reference, following are several “claims” about CI/Lean failure rates with the web link to that claim. There are two categories: 1) Straight Failure Rates in descending order, and 2) Supplemental Data, (which may help us begin to understand the phenomena)

Straight Failure Rates

a) Clifford Ransom numbers - 98%+ lean failure rate

b) “More than 95% of all lean implementations fail to provide sustainable results, even with the involvement of highly skilled engineers.”

c) 90% of all companies that head into 5S fail. 90% of the companies that head into LEAN fail.

d) It is estimated that 70% or more of companies that attempt to implement lean fail when using mainstream practices.

e) According to Mark Eaton of EEF South, a far lower number are successful than you might think – less than 30%. And of those who realize the improvements less than 50% are able to sustain it, slipping back to previous or lower performance levels.

f) +50% failure rate

g) and within an LEI forum, a member claimed another anecdotal estimated 75% failure rate.

Supplemental Evidence

a) "Only 2% of the companies reported achieving World Class manufacturing status."

b) The 2007 IndustryWeek/Manufacturing Performance Institute Census of Manufacturers is a study of manufacturing metrics, management practices and financial results at the plant level.

17.8% say continuous improvement programs led to a major increase in productivity:
67.2% report some increase
12.4% report no change
2.2% report some decrease
0.5% report a major decrease

c) 10-20% of leaders in a typical organization are unable or unwilling to make the lean conversion.


Judging from this information, it is safe to conclude that a sentiment or perception exists that the majority of lean implementations fail. We can't really go beyond claiming more than a general sentiment because none of these sources provided anything beyond the straight failure rate and we don't necessarily know what 'failure' means. So perhaps if one survey model was redone with another survey's failure criteria, the failure rate could drastically change. Its all relative.

For the record, the 95% from SME has been in my head for some time now. After this little bit of research, I will not be making this claim anymore. To be fair, it is not clear where SME obtained this figure. Although one can sneak by with this claim in the sloppily researched blogosphere, after seeing more anecdotal data I’m far from being, statistically speaking, 95% confident that 95% of lean implementations fail! It makes sense to revise this figure with something all industry can relate to.

Trying to find this common ground that all can relate to is where the problems begin in trying to understand the failure rate. Each member of industry defines failure differently from the next. To that end, it is tempting to put up a survey on the TWI Blog to try and gauge lean failure rates in 2009, but there is not enough traffic here to get a decent sample size within a meaningful period. Plus, we have yet to answer the second question posed by Karen:

“how would we judge failure?” which is the core question of any such survey.

One definition might be that the company stopped “doing Lean”. Another definition could be that the company filed for bankruptcy. Yet another could be bound by employee satisfaction levels. Or perhaps the leadership is evaluated in some way. So, this definition is left to others to offer up: what is the definition of a lean initiative and how would we judge it as a failure? Your comments please.


Lean IT - take two

Received a report about a broken link. This should work now...

Link will take you to a really thoughtful post about how TPS thinking can be applied to IT.

Labels: ,


Small Kaizen in Blogging

O.k., it is a bit obscure, but here is a great post from the Google Analytics blog on how a fanatic focus on technology may not provide intended results. Rather, a relentless focus on fundamentals is what ultimately wins the game. One excerpt from the post says it all:

"Each time the industry thinks it’s got the elephant in its sights, that five-ton peanut-eater slips away. I think it’s because everyone keeps chasing technology as the solution to pachyderm-sized conversion improvement. If you install the right mix of digital toys, then whamo you’re sure to be the next market leader in your space. Again with the pixie dust.

But it just doesn’t work that way. What we’ve learned is that the big wins come from a long series of small wins, accumulated over time. And small wins come from experienced insight and hard work. And it has to be the type of hard work that a company is willing and able to perform. Not pie-in-the-sky goals without any mechanism for implementing."

There are some parallels to Lean here. Big Kaizen events are the norm, yet, last time I checked there still exists an infamous 95% failure rate of lean implementations. Perhaps the fanatic focus on gimmicky tools to get Big Kaizen results is not the first step in a Lean journey? Perhaps building up the skills of all people to make small, incremental improvments is a better start?

Labels: ,

Update: Lean Call Centers

Update on Lean Call Centers: 

I sympathized back in 2009 with Mr. Adsit, lamenting the lack of standards in call centers. Well, I got my wish - things are pretty much standardized and I'm not any happier about those after dinner calls...

a) the call starts off unnaturally friendly, b) polite refusal, c) hangup

But in true kaizen fashion, telemarketers, while following their standard work above - manage to inject some creativity into their day - here are how some recent calls went down in the Lund household:

1) Tip #1: if you sound really cheery when you greet me on the phone, try to stay that way. 

Telemarketer: "Hellooooo, Mr. Lund, how are you this fine day?"

Me: "I'm doing well, thanks! How are you?"

Tele: "Wow, nobody asks me that, thank you! I'm doing well! I'm from so and so and blah, blah, blah (still cheery!) blah, blah, blah...")

Me: ...then: "You know, I really appreciate you taking the time to make your offer, but I'm not interested. In fact, would you take me off your call list and please confirm that you did so?"

Tele: "yeah."

Tip #2: I'm not interested = I'm not interested. 

Tele: "Hello, how are you!? Can I interest you in...blah, blah, blah."

Me: Listening patiently...then: "You know, I really appreciate you taking the time to make your offer, but I'm not interested. In fact, would you take me off your call list and please confirm that you did so?"

Tele: "Mr. Lund, I completely understand your feeling on this. Would you be interested in a trial offer where you make no commitment to buy now, or perhaps you could enter into a payment plan upon credit approval it will only take fifteen min-?"


Tip #3: When somebody tells you that now is not a good time, you should probably take their word for it.

Tele-Jekyl: : "Hi Mrs. Lund, blah, blah, blah..."

Mrs. Lund: then: "I'm very sorry, I am actually interested but you have caught me at the worst time right now, a family member was in an accident (ed.-true story, he is in one piece now) and I'm waiting for a phone call to check up on him. Can you call me back another time soon because I am interested?"

Tele-Hyde: "uh...well no...let me get you signed up it will just take a minute..."

Mrs. Lund: "Uh, I can't, I really have to go, I hope you understand that this is not a good time?"

Tele-Hyde: "well , Mrs. Lund my brother was in an accident and he was just fine..."

Mrs. Lund" "Um, okay. I really need to go, I'm sorry that I can't purchase it now-"


 Somewhere along the line, standard work for telemarketers turned into 4 important steps:

1) Pretend to be friendly, but make sure the customer knows that you are pretending,

2) No matter what, DO NOT listen to your customer, despite their best efforts to communicate with you - you must make them feel like they cannot communicate,

3) Unless you convert them, NEVER, EVER, utter the following words and phrases during the call: "Goodbye, Good Evening, Thank you, Your Welcome, Sorry to Bother You, Take Care, or God Bless". This offense is punishable by termination.

4) If you see that the call will fail, your new goal is to make the client feel like he has done something wrong and that he wasted your time. This serves the purpose of getting him to forget that, in fact, it was you that called his private home and invaded his personal time and space. This is achieved by hanging up on the client, preceded by a one word salute: yup, oh, no, uh, eh, or preferably - an audible huff or sniff.


Original post:

Interesting interview with Dennis Adsit, vice president of business development for KomBea Corporation. He talks about the 40 year quality malaise within the call center industry, where he claims the root of the illness lies with lack of process standards for call quality. Given the last few calls I've taken, I tend to agree.

Mr. Adsit tells us how he wants to adopt process centric thinking, ala Toyota Production System, and adapt to the call center industry. I think this interview may serve as a good example for those departments or service-oriented areas of the business that do not think Lean applies to them. Have them take a look at this two part article:

Call Center - Part I

Call Center - Part II

In summary if you can replace the word “agent” in the following sentence with whatever role you choose in your organization, you will understand where Mr. Adsit is coming from:

“the industry has a lot of problems, but there is a single issue that the others pale against: between: agent variation.”

Now at this point, we could go into a judge and blame situation. Why can't agents do the job correctly and follow directions? Or we could go deeper and ask why can't managers do a better job of coaching? This is where Mr. Adsit chooses to lead us. He boils this problem down into two reason which helps us understand why Lean is a management system for improvement not a hodgepodge collection of tools:

1)“Consumers, call center leaders, and CEOs tolerate the fact that the quality of the experience the customer has is a function of the agent who happens to pick up the phone.” In other words, nobody cares and if they did, they feel there is little they could do about it. So, we need somebody to have the vision to lead us through the problem.

2)“Improvement model is wrong.” Given that #1 is generally true, we learn how the agent centric improvement model is inferior to a process centric improvement model, led by management.

This is the meat of the article and I'm going to let you take it from there. Your thoughts? I think this is somebody to watch. If he can do half of what he is talking about...that will turn some heads.

Labels: ,


Let's Teach Our Kids about Standard Work

You may have seen Dean Odle’s great story about his third grader using Job Instruction to ace her recent assignment. If not, take five and read this story.

Last week, our first grader’s class held a pot luck lunch where parents could listen to their children show off their reading skills. It was a nice time and I always enjoy the miniature chairs which bring your knees up to eye level.

One genba observation stuck with me. We brought our four year old along because he has like, five girlfriends in the first grade class. One of his friends was teaching Aidan how to tie his shoes. The instruction went something like this:

“Aidan, watch me. First you do this, then this, then this, then this, then this, and then this. OKAAAYYY?”

Aidan, of course, had no interest in the matter and considering the fact that he was wearing Velcro sandals, had nothing to practice with. Nevertheless, his instructor assured him, “Now you can tie your shoes because I showed you, OKAAAYYY?” to which Aidan just nodded in the affirmative and went back to eating his hot dog.

The thought occurred to me…there is a lot of industrial instruction that isn’t a lot different than that described above! If we are going to nip this standard work thing in the bud, we need to go back to formula and start teaching our kids two things, 1) how to think about processes and 2) how to instruct.



Lean IT

GREAT article on Lean applied in IT situations. Finally, someone who lists the 5S' in terms of standards and ongoing improvement - NOT just housekeeping.

Also, you will find at the end of this article a nice adaptation of the eight wastes in IT services.

Labels: , ,


Kaizen in Ohio Government?

There is a lot of talk about the need for kaizen in the government. But, like anything, it isn't what you do - its HOW you do it that matters. Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio recently proposed that government offices be allowed to create a non-profit arm that will take in donations that will be used to train state workers in the "kaizen process".

But there are all sorts of contradictions that go along with Kaizen and Government:

1) Government is supposed to be big, slow and dumb. This is designed in by our founders so that power is limited to any one person or group. Power that is concentrated within a small, nimble and 'smart' government may move too quickly for us as normally distracted citizens to scrutinize our representatives motives and actions. This alone invites criticism:

Critics of the already house-passed bill say that this bill has ethical problems. For one, can the Highway Dep't step up ticketing if solicitations and quotas for their non-profit are not met by the publics 'voluntary' donations?

What about business donations? Can businesses win favor from say, the local environmental protection agency?

2) Kaizen is supposed to be fast and cheap. Government is slow and expensive, partly for the reasons stated above.

However, there is no reason why government cannot be efficient. With that said, why can't government leaders form their own kaizen teams today, without additional funding?

3) Non-profits are under fierce competition already. Kaizen can help companies become more competitive, often by reducing cost, under normal market conditions. When the government gets involved, it can become the monopoly player in that market. Just look at disaster insurance for example. Any right-minded citizen would be furious to learn that taxpayer dollars fund poor decisions made by homeowners who rebuild in hurricane coastlines - incentivized by the artificially low government insurance programs. The result is higher costs for Americans. Could government drive local food shelfs, fuel assistance and other non-government non-profits out of the local Cleveland market? Coupling the voluntary non-profit tax with existing taxes simply means the possibility for more government involvement in our lives is likely.

From a local Cleveland radio show, Lanigan and Malone offer up their thoughts on Strickland's Kaizen process...again, they don't seem to object to Ohio stateworkers improving their processes, the question is, what is stopping you today?

Labels: , ,


Standardization is a Lean Key Point

When people think of heavy industry, they tend NOT to think about Lean Manufacturing. Yet, here is an interesting (and lengthy) article about how two crane manufacturers are employing the most critical of Lean principles, STANDARDIZATION, into their growth strategies.

When people talk about standardization, we should try to be a bit open-minded about the word. Why? It can assume different meanings in industry. In assembly, standardization might mean a best method, subject to ongoing kaizen. In sales and service, it could mean a checklist used to maintain good customer relations. We see strict, rigid standardization in hospitals - in the instruments, procedures and facilities. In this article, standardization is presented to us through the lens of product standardization, commonality and modular design.

What I like about this article is how the manufacturers are focusing not only on their benefits realized through modular design, but how those innovations will benefit the customer, service and other support services in this industry.

“Modular design will be the trend for the future. If you want to do lean, you need modular design. It’s a key enabler of the lean manufacturing process. At the manufacturing stage, there are benefits in tooling savings, and in staff training costs."

“A new modular approach to design, developed in the car and aviation sectors, promises crane buyers more choice and cheaper cranes, with fewer parts, faster delivery times and simpler staff training.”

“The push for standardization and modularization is driven by the need to reduce total cost of ownership for the crane operators. There are economies of scale: it reduces the cost of training and spare parts logistics and, furthermore, the need for engineering resources, and the development cycle is faster.”

“Cross product line standardization can bring much more than we see today. It will make training for operators and service teams cheaper and bring benefits to the certification process. There will be significant cost saving benefits for customers."

“Standardization at the component level simplifies our parts supply logistics and makes it easier to maintain cranes in the field. It means less training is needed to service new components.

“Operator controls are one of the hottest candidates to be standardized. They offer some of the most promising cost savings for maintenance, and offer safety and reliability benefits. Today, our staff can help customers operating different types of mobile cranes by using the same diagnostics system. This advantage needs to be systematically exploited. For customers and dealers too, it means less training is needed.

Fewer parts and systems to learn, less time to train, fewer resources required all translate to savings in training across the entire enterprise value stream. This strategy by the crane manufacturers is a fantastic approach to delivering real customer value. But will this strategy fulfill all of the predictions made here?

You may be asking, HOW could this get any better? HOW, indeed. This one word is THE reason why I think Job Instruction is so important to our industry's capability to compete. The manufacturer's focus their results on “WHAT” it is they are doing. When it comes to training people in standard work, we are told WHAT will happen: it will be easier, cheaper and faster. But will it be better if we use our existing training methods? HOW the training is actually done has very little to do with the success of modularity in design. Perhaps, if our training skills were standardized, beginning with Job Instruction, these crane companies could deliver the total package.

Labels: , , ,


Value Added Junk

Bill Waddell over at Evolving Excellence talked about serving up value at In-N-Out, a Southwest region burger chain that is extremely profitable and consistently delivers value to customers through a simple, focused strategy. When I saw the low prices on the menu and, subsequently buried within the comments section, fabulous reviews of the food and service – it got me thinking about what the competition has to offer:

King of the tonersCardboard crowns. Always a hit at your seven year old’s birthday party, but guess who else loves these? Your teenager, while in the back seat of an Audi with neon ground effects on a Saturday night at 11:15 p.m. with a bad case of the munchies! And they are 'free'!

Another freebie: indoor-playground-induced-swine-flu. When the food isn’t unhealthy enough for your kids, send them into the petri dish for a little while!

Cheap, plastic, branded toys from China. Hey kids! Let's play a game: "I spyyyyy with my little eyyyyye...lead paint!"

Creepy mascots watching you sleep.

Grimace and Hamburgler puppet! Does anybody remember these wastes plastic bags that instantly ripped apart at the seams - after waving Grimace's arms only one time?

Seagulls. O.k., In-N-Out also has seagulls, but at In-N-Out's prices - it costs less to feed them!



FPS - Fighter Production System

Lockheed says it will emulate the Toyota Production System because of its inherent advantages in "eliminating waste and integrating just-in-time logistics." This makes sense at many levels, given the ramp up details provided in this article at FlightGlobal.com

In fact, Lockheed's goal is to have "branded its own manufacturing style the 'Fighter Production System', to be emulated by other producers", within the next ten years.

This all sounds good, but once again, management-speak is taking over and unfortunately at our [taxpayers] expense. It seems two things are in play here:

1) Given the current tax-pillaging-climate we live in today, may I humbly suggest to our government and all contractors that we utilize said production system to focus on reducing cost and worrying about OUR money THEY are spending, not whether or not they can leverage OUR money to brand "their" production system - no doubt for consulting opportunities.

2) Is this the right goal: "emulating the Toyota Production System" so that the Lockheed system can be branded and emulated (i.e., sold)?? I wonder if a better goal should be along the lines of one fighter produced per day with zero defects, for example. Instead, this article reads like Lockheed has fallen for the old trap of managing to an ill-conceived end goal while hoping the solution will fix their actual problem.

Labels: , ,


Guest Blogger, Dean Odle Provides a JBS Example

I want to first express my appreciation for your TWI Service site and the TWI Blog. These site have both been a tremendous help in my study of TWI and the history of TPS and Lean. I had a recent experience with the Job Breakdown Sheets that I'd love to share with you and others.

As the school year in Texas is winding down, I notice that the projects my third grade daughter, Alishia, is bringing home lately are getting more interesting and creative. Last week, Ms. Hathaway assigned the students an assignment called Teach the Teacher. Each student was tasked with designing a short lesson to present to the class and teach the teacher. The topic was up to the students to decide but, needed to be something they enjoyed doing such as a hobby or recently learned either in school or at home.

Alishia had no problem deciding the topic she would teach. You see, she just completed her first session of volleyball and she loved to practice passing or bumping the ball every chance she could get. Other than choosing the topic of the lesson, How to Bump a Volleyball, there were other requirements of the assignment such as written description of the Objective, Materials, and Step-by-step instruction of the activity to teach.

Alishia was very excited about the project and began working on writing out the steps at about 6pm. After about an hour of watching her struggle, I decided to offer my help as she was having a very difficult time describing the basic steps. This is tough task when breaking down a job even for adults as it can be very difficult to separate the steps from the many key points.

First thing I did to help Alishia was ask her to demonstrate for me the bump skill her coach had taught her and tell me in her own words everything she was doing to get in the perfect bumping position. "First, Dad, I have to get my hands ready," she said. "Great, do you think that could be the first step?", I asked. And, she wrote it down. Then, it dawned on me we are actually "breaking down a job" so why not introduce to her the JBS?

So, I quickly printed the JBS from your site Bryan and Alishia filled it out with not only all the steps but also the Key Points and Reasons to each step in about 20 minutes. Needless to say, she was so impressed with herself and of course so was I! At one point, she even said out loud, "Wow, you're really good at this Dad!" which was very amusing since she was doing all the work. Once she felt good about the Steps, Key Points, and Reasons, I ask her to go through all the Key Point and tell me which ones are Critical and which just make the step Easier. I thought this would be a difficult task for her but to my surprise again, she said, "Holding your hands together helps a lot but you can still bump it by just keeping your hands close together. They just might come apart." It only took another 3 or 4 minutes and she had worked through identifying all the Key Points for criticality. After Alishia had completed the entire JBS sheet, I helped her type it up on the computer into the Word doc template. She then searched the internet for the perfect volleyball "bump" photo to add to the sheet and added it as the final touch.

The next day, when I arrived home from work, Alishia was eagerly waiting at the door to greet me. "Dad, Dad, they got it! The whole class bumped the ball. It was a blast! Your sheet worked. "I had to confess to her that it wasn't "my" sheet it was her hard work and the sheet was just a great place for her to write out her instruction.

This experience for me solidified my the power and simplicity of the TWI methods and material. If a third grader can use it, I think now I have no more excuses for not introducing it to my entire team and breaking down our many jobs at the office.

Bryan, again I want to thank you for all your efforts to make the TWI material so readily available through your sites. I have also attached Alishia's first JBS on How to Bump a Volleyball for you to review and enjoy.

Labels: , ,