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How much Lean do you do?5/3
I have started moving my shop toward a Lean work environment. I am starting with the basics and moving a little more forward each week.
Over time I have noticed that people say they are doing some but not all of the lean process. I am interested in knowing what part(s) you do and what part(s) you don't. Also would like to know why.
A couple of people are not thrilled with the idea at the shop and I am looking to see what others are doing and have done.
2 second Lean.
Or what Tim always says "fix what bugs you"
Or maybe that wasn't Tim?
The "why" part of your question is the easiest. People pick bits and pieces of Lean and invest minimally in Lean comprehension or implementation because it is the "easiest" approach.
It doesn't take a lot of RAM to conclude that fixing what bugs you will make it not bug you any more. Whether or not, however, that endeavor will actually cause more product to ship or make you more money takes a leap of faith.
People opt for the 2 second lean approach because you don't have to read very much and you don't have to think very hard and people who think too much are pointy headed.
There is, however, a lot of very useful information out there if you are willing to invest some mental capital. 'Manufacturer's Guide to Implementing Theory of Constraints' by Mark Woeppel will give you some very great tools to work with. Another excellent source of actionable items is 'The Toyota Way' by Jeffrey Liker. A bit more terse (but very nutritious) is an article in Harvard Business Review called 'Decoding the DNA of Toyota".
Getting everybody on the bus can be difficult. Sometimes you have to pull the bus over and let some people off. James Womack covers this topic in his book 'Lean Thinking: How to Banish Waste & Create Wealth". He has a chapter called 'Concrete Heads'. Sometimes these people are describe as CAVE people. Citizens-Against-Virtually-Everything.
The best thing I think you can do is fix what bugs you. Make it easier to find a tool or closer at hand to get one and put it away. If you can easily put something away you won't have to compete with it later.
But don't ignore working theory because anything other than the KISS principle is overkill. There actually is value in theory.
Tim some of us don't have very much mental capital to invest.
IMO if you start out with too much theory it becomes a stop to getting anywhere.
OTOH too little theory and you are reinventing the wheel over and over.
The key IMO is gradients, baby steps.
To be sure a professional understands and uses every nuance. But not all at once. Otherwise you have the current younger generation, i.e. heavy on the nuance and light on the application.
And don't forget the element of control in this exercise. When you lose control you get angry, so fixing what bugs you put you in control so you don't get angry.
Granted it may not be the very very best thing to work on first. So you can read TOC, but even that is debatable because working on the nuances can bring about more efficiency than just focusing on the constraint. A course in logic is useful in this area as well.
The TOC guys would have you wandering through the desert looking for that burning bush, the one thing that is the true constraint. You're supposed to subordinate everything else to "elevate" this constraint.
Mark Woeppel makes the case that you can be in charge of where that constraint is. That's a different thing altogether than somehow concluding there is just one thing that keeps it all the joy from happening. You don't get this type of insight from the kumbaya one size fits all approach. You need to invest to even be aware of this concept.
Jeffrey Liker's book also is not a terribly complicated read. It breaks the concepts down to a level you we can understand and implement in our own shops. It provides actionable items that we can assign to someone to do on Tuesday morning before lunch. It weaves theory with practicum.
It also talks about theory. Putting all your work stations on wheels does not take you to lean. Lean is not about efficiency. Lean is about balance. Balance is obtained from understanding the role of batch size.
Batch size is where we need to focus in these little shops because batch size can be controlled with simple policy. Batch size doesn't require investments in infrastructure or software or more space. Batch size is as simple as not releasing the door cut list until the face frames are done.
The 2 second lean approach is useful in that it does help as a conversation starter to get people to recognize the waste of excessive motion but excessive motion is just one type of waste. You need to understand all seven to realize the root cause for six of them is building something before it is needed.
"The 2 second lean approach is useful in that it does help as a conversation starter to get people to recognize the waste of excessive motion "
There you go...
and where you go is how far you get......
Couple of things i found useful.
Derrek, do you just one meeting a week or do daily meetings and clean and improve once a week?
I've never really had to deal with the subject of "lean manufacturing" to a large degree because of the nature of our product and my personal tendency toward being organized to the point of being offensive to some. Don't misunderstand though as I'm always looking for more efficient ways of doing things.
The only reason I'm commenting here is because of Derrek's statement "Your desk has to be clean and organized or the shop won't happen." This is so completely true that I have to applaud the statement.
Any business will operate as a reflection of the nature of the owner. A messy owner will typically have a messy business. A neat and organized owner (I plead guilty here) will force these habits onto the business. There will always of course be some resistance from some but I've found over the years that most people will bend to the rules rather than break. But then I'm not trying to take long term employees and suddenly make the change habits. Bringing someone new into an organized environment is going to be much easier than making a wholesale change to a messy one.
I am guilty of having a desk with crap piled up on it. However, I do not like paperwork and leave it to the end of the day where it doesn't get done. Working hard to discipline myself to "get r dun."
The rest of my shop looks good, not great but good. Lots of things are organized while there is more to do.
What I am looking for is people experiences in doing lean, how they started out, how far they went and why they didn't go further. Curious about other's experiences and what they learned from them.
The logic we work with for work districts is that it takes the same amount of time to put a tool away now as it would at the end of the day or next week. The travel distance from where the tool is to where it should be is identical at any point in time.
Another verifiable observation is that our periodically develops an ad hoc need for a pristine work surface. A customer might walk in the door and need a place to set something down or we might need a temporary place to land a piece of wood while a nearby workstation is being used.
Having that clear work surface available exactly when you need it is a business advantage so therefore mathematically the right course of action.
The thing to focus on is what kind of systems are necessary to make cleaning that work bench not such a struggle. In our shop we have color coded hand tools that live in color coded drawers. Each bench has identical drawers and identical sets of tools on both sides. It is never a struggle to get or put away a tool and our benches are seldom a source of (unnecessary) competition.
Same thing goes for screws and fasteners. Each side of each bench has identical drawers that hold screws etc. We never have little puddles of screws that need to be jettisoned in a hurry.
The adding machines live in a drawer below the work surface. You never have to hunt for a calculator, pencil or sharpie.
I remember an article in the Puget Sound Business Journal. A cub reporter was interviewing the people at Paccar (they build Peterbilt & Kenworth trucks in Seattle). During the same time period Paccar's competitor went out of business the stock value of Paccar went up 50%. When the cub reporter asked why this was the response he got was "Our workers don't spend a minute looking for anything and they don't walk an extra inch to get it".
This is simple math, not rocket surgery.
These guys are right--they've been walking me through a lot (or more accurately, straight-up holding my hand). Baby steps has been gold for us. So not LEAN yet, but LEAN is on the brain all day.
I got cave people around me for sure. I find that selling a theory as a whole is harder then just selling one point at a time. So I've been using the principles into my work without mention of theory.
I started process-mapping things that I do. Eliminating steps that are not adding value, that can be skipped. Finding little ways to reduce waste, one thing at a time.
I've reduced one of our repeat products from a 6-8 hour job to a 3 1/2 hour job. Making master drawings of "repeat/custom" products with algebra, to speed up plugging in varying dimensions, keeping same proportions. Eliminated a step in our riser building process. Found a use for the bent lumber that doesn't even require jointing. Found systems to make physically moving around a little more graceful.
The thinking has been contagious--people are thinking about things like space allocation, fixing problems sooner, condensing jobs into types, etc.
Little things, but they add up--and for sure get noticed.
But I hear ya-- wouldn't it be great if everyone just read the books and got excited?
Great to hear your getting on board with lean. Have been looking to do the same thing for two years and finally made the plunge last week.
My brother in law is a change manager as a profession and he is mentoring me through the process. The most resounding and critical factory is that you have to get the "buy in" from your crew. You have to masterfully introduce this new system and with a little manipulation and coersion get your guys to come up with the system themselves. If they built it or played a large part in building it they will take pride and ownership and most importantly will actually do it.
Don't let up on the push, when problems come up ask a lot of why did this happen and what can we change to avoid the problem or make it faster.
If you have CAVEMEN (love that!) who straight up defy you or throw a spanner in the works, stop the bus and let them get off. Remove the negative energy.
Another great tip is to think of ways to get the workers family on board. Perhaps a dinner voucher as an incentives when a target is met so your guys can take the wife out to dinner. She's now in love with you and sends hubby to work with a nice healthy lunch every day to keep him healthy and mentally alert.
How do I do it faster?
How do I do it better?
And, most importantly, What if I don't do it at all?
I am starting on it as my business has grown over the years to where I am not doing it all anymore. When I started out, I was doing Lean but didn't know that is what it was called. I just tried to get all processes down to their most natural flow and easiest way to do it.
My people have started taking on more of the responsibilities and I want to get a formalized process of doing so. I also want to draw in the newer employees into our culture as quickly as possible. Thirdly, I am taking on youths to give them work experience so I need my processes to be as easy as can be. The youth have some disadvantages that I am hoping they will overcome. Those are poor math skills, poor reading skills and no idea of work ethic. The youth are being paid with grants through local organizations trying to help the youth in my area, Ferguson MO.
So far we have started with using KanBan cards (we call them ReOrder Cards) and Kaizen cards (we call them Process Cards). They have been well received as everyone sees the benefit of having the reorder and work processes made easier. Haven't started the daily meeting yet but they will start at the middle of the month. Had to get some rearrangement of schedules so everyone can be here at once.
It is part of our culture with some people to always be looking at ways to improve and I want that culture to go to all people. I am looking also at having processes in place so others can take the responsibility of leading the work through and out of the shop.
Writing the processes down is absolutely the best way to impart knowledge. The better systems you have for getting people to do things the best way will result in fewer mistakes.
The impact of mistakes is much greater than just the cost of remediating the problems. Mistakes impact confidence and confidence impacts progress. It's hard to measure the shot someone doesn't take because they are fearful of failure.
Part of your system should embrace and celebrate mistakes. If you can inculcate this sentiment into your culture your crew will more courageous.
"Writing the processes down is absolutely the best way to impart knowledge."
I am in the process of making training videos.
What I have done so far is to purchase a7" Android pad. I have made one video and posted it on You tube but didn't want it to found so it is hidden from others. Created a QR code that gets picked up by the pad and goes straight to the video. Placed the QR code with the instruction steps so it is all on the same page.
Will be doing more once I get all the steps hammered out.
I have mixed feelings about meetings.
In corporate, my experience of meetings were a joke. The company was by no means a joke, nor were any of the staff, but the meetings sure were. But then again, I think they were in the "necessary protocol" sort of area.
See nothing important ever happened during the meetings. But individual interactions about the meetings sure sprang things.
No matter how smart/professional/invested people are, meetings are, and always will be, a bit awkward. But then how else do you get a dialogue out to a group?
I think the main dynamic of Lean is bottom up.
But I asked Paul Akers about this and he said you need both bottom up and top down.
This is where the E-myth type thinking comes in. And where the meetings come in they get everybody on the same page. E.G. what the company goals and plans are and any policy that needs to be made known. If they are stand up meetings they are much shorter.
BUT people should have individual functions that they are in charge of which absolutely should not be discussed at meetings.
Ahhh Pat, there you are! Kinda missed ya :)
So I don't think anyone actually says what they are thinking in a meeting. Except for me-- I'm that dense. And man alive, does it ever back-fire. Figured out with time that if you lay a big thought, for the first time, in a group, the leader feels challenged. But if you plant a seed one-on-one, it goes softer.
Then again, there are also carefully written proposals, with dollars counted, math laid out...
I just self-answered one of my old questions.
Thanks Pat, dunno how you always do that.
My feelings about meetings is the shorter the better. My plan is for 20 minutes top, preferable 15 minutes.
I have been discussing this one on one with people over the last few weeks to lay the ground work. I have a couple of people that do not react well to instant change but if I lead them down the path before the change, they are on board with it.
Therefore my plan is to start small and grow from there. The biggest thing I see is that lots of people they should be exactly like FastCap and try to whole hog and catch up to where they are at. My thinking is that it took them years to get to that level and it didn't happen in one year. So I will build it it one block at a time and eventually it will be there.
On another note, does anyone do his bathroom thing of having the employees clean it on a rotating basis? Or do you use a dedicated person or service to clean?
Start with one simple thing and try and improve one thing per day , week or month.
We do the scheduled clean up and improvement time once a week before the meeting about an hour. That time is for bigger stuff. Clean up happens theoughout the day and week as well.
Derrek, I find it interesting that you do just once a week. Everyone else seems to stress daily. I only have 10 people and we all work together already so I think I like the idea of just once a week.
The once a week cleaning is for the kind of mess you know the fire department would not approve of.
The once a day cleaning should be twice a day. This consists of just keeping the benches viable and sorting the stuff you are working on from the stuff you are not. You can keep the work you finished this morning on the bench you are working on this afternoon if you want to but it would be simpler maybe to just turn out half your lights or wear a tennis shoe on one foot and flip flops on the other. If your goal is to handicap your throughput you might as well get the job done.
As for the big kaizen event sometimes this is just as simple as screwing a tin can on your chop saw station so you don't have to walk across the shop to get a pencil or felt pen. Phase two of this unthinkable campaign would be to figure out how to ensure there are always pencils and pens in the can.