Lean – Keep it Simple

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How many times have you walked on the site floor with banners about lean and banishing waste and then trip over a pallet or had to pick-up trash on the floor? Have you ever had someone talk to you about OEE and TPM while you look over and see employees without the correct tools or standard work or a clean work area?

I am not a fan of new acronyms or catch phrases but when I see a situation like this, I think 6SW. 5S plus Standard Work. I have read about companies that came back from the brink just using these tools. One company in particular that was mentioned in Evolving Excellence did 3S because they found if you do the sort, set in order, shine correctly and consistently, you can create value for the customer and minimize waste with no other tools or terms required (read post here.) Until this is done, in my opinion, your culture has not changed and you will be unable to get to the next level.

Standard Work is another tool / process / philosophy that if not embraced will cripple an organization. This is not limited to the production floor, but how meetings are structured, how is strategy developed, how do we deal with accounts receivable. Standard Work creates stability in the safety, quality, and productivity of the organization. This is required to take your business to the next level.

5S and Standard work are not glamorous and are difficult to implement depending on the situation but are necessary to move to stability of a business.


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3 Responses

  1. Scott,

    I think there should also be standard work for execs/managers/supervisors. Because they support multiple value streams there’s an enormous amount of variability inherent in their jobs, but there are still elements of their work that can — and should — be standardized. Anytime you see a knowledge worker looking at email first thing in the morning, you can be pretty sure they don’t have any standard work.

  2. Thanks for the reply and I agree. Also, I have had several experiences where there was standard work or at least work flow set-up only to be undercut by someone in the leadership who didn’t want to follow the rules. What message does that send? Rellated to emails, and I am just throwing this out there, Timothy Ferris in The 4 Hour Work Week suggests batching and queuing emails because they are usually not value added activies. He sets up two times a day when he answers emails and he lets everyone who works with him what those times are. Just something to think about.

  3. I preach the gospel of email only 2-3 times per day as well because, as you so aptly put it, in general it’s NVA. The problem is that senior management generally won’t accept it — they want what they want when they want it, and that attitude cascades down through the organization. As a result, the 2-3x per day (or email-free Fridays, or email quiet hours) policies are never sustained. Nathan Zeldes at Intel has been a leader in this area, but even he hasn’t been able to make changes stick.

    So the key question is, how do you get the leadership team to understand the cost of this behavior and make a change? What lean tools/exercises can we use to make the point?

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