Lean Haiku – A Raised Hand

Photo by Viqi French under Creative Commons Attribution

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I refuse to give up on something after one try so here is my second attempt at lean haiku.  If you missed my first try here it is with a brief explanation of my motivation.  This one is called a raised hand.

he raises his hand

nobody cares to answer

this place really blows!

I didn’t say I was going to make elegant lean haiku.  It’s about somebody who has a problem and doesn’t know how to fix it so he asks for help and doesn’t get any.  It’s about a place that has no cord to pull, and nobody listens when you need help.

I like to say that the most important things I have ever learned I learned in kindergarten or in boot camp.  Two of the things that I learned in kindergarten where that you should raise your hand if you need help and that a good kindergarten teacher calls on you before you have to swallow rocks, stand on your head in the corner, and hold your breath until your face turns blue just to get attention.

In a previous life we hired a plant manager who had worked for Toyota.  I gave him a couple months to get accustomed to us before I asked him what the biggest differences between our company and Toyota were.  He said the way that the two companies managed projects (maybe another post), and that the single biggest problem in any plant in Toyota was when somebody tried to follow standard work and it didn’t work — people immediately came to help.    These would have been good kindergarten teachers.

I have heard executives from corporate headquarters berate plant managers because they didn’t scream loud enough for help.  These are bad kindergarten teachers.  It is bad in general to blame people.  But to blame them for you not listening to them is absurd –  Monty Python Ministry of Silly Walks absurd (video clip at end of post.)

The ‘he’ in the haiku above was me 17 years ago.  I paid union dues while making rubber parts for a DJI 30 rubber manufacturer.  It blew.  I hated going to work.  Then one day ‘they’ sent our maintenance planner to get schooled on autonomous maintenance by some Japanese guy.  Our maintenance planner came back and we started doing TPM.  When we had problems we had somebody to help.  Our problems went straight to a mechanic who fixed them or taught us how to fix them.  It blew a lot less.

We went into rooms (on overtime – ‘they’ paid us to do this) and we came up with simple solutions to problems.  ‘They’ didn’t have to do anything but listen, approve some overtime, and pay for some cheap stuff and it began to blow less yet.

Then ‘they’ got some of ‘us hourly’ people trained on effective meeting skills and basic problem solving and let ‘us’ lead scrap reductions teams that included some of ‘them.’  It worked.  Some of ‘them’ became ‘us’.  Sometimes we even said ‘we.’  It really didn’t blow anymore.  It wasn’t always great it we didn’t hate anymore.

We never got world class but we got better.  It started to change when they answered the raised hand.


Create your own silly walk here.

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2 Responses

  1. TPM was very successful at that plant because of everything you just mentioned. The Plant manager was a believer and supported any and just about every thing we wanted to do. It was truly crossfunctional and really floor driven. The pleasure for me was three fold. I got to see equipment improvement (kind of a geek in that respect). Talented guys like you Bruce that were turned off and or tuned out decide this does not “blow” and for guys like me to watch it happen and decide this really does not “blow”. Thanks for reminding me Bruce.

  2. TPM is a fantastic tool as a manager ruling out faulty machinery from the start really helps reduce the problem solving time cycle.

    In regard to standard work and real time problem solving. This is a great as long its understood all problems cannot be solved in real time. Too many Gurus would have us believe 5 whys will get to the root cause most of the time. Practitioners understand you must limp along many times before you run smoothly. I can always tell which camp is leading because one is focused on the problem while the other is more focused on the open action items on a RAIL list.

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