Tag Archives: Critical Thinking

Common Mistakes with the PDCA (and Some History)

The Mysteriously vanishing Check and Act
The mysteriously vanishing Check and Act

In my previous post I explained how the PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) should work. However, while most people know the PDCA in theory, I find that the practical implementation is often lacking. And, quite frankly, I am also sometimes sloppy with the PDCA way more often than I would like to admit. Time for some reflection and observation on what works, and why so often it does not.

Hence, in this post I will show common pitfalls and problems when doing a PDCA. Also, simply because it is one of my pet interests, I will also show a bit of the history of the PDCA and its origins in quality control. Continue reading Common Mistakes with the PDCA (and Some History)

The A3 Report – Part 3: Limitations and Common Mistakes

A3 on ClipboardIn the last two posts I showed you the basics of the A3 report and the (possible) content of the A3 report. In this last post of this series, I would like to talk about common mistakes and the limitations of the A3 report. Overall, for me the A3 report is a minor tool to help organize the real work of problem solving, despite all the fuzz some make about the A3 report. Continue reading The A3 Report – Part 3: Limitations and Common Mistakes

The A3 Report – Part 2: Content

Handwritten A3 report
An A3 visualization in pencil

In my last post I wrote about four basic factors for an A3 report (one sheet / A3 size / with pencil / on the shop floor). This week I would like to show you what goes in an A3 report. The important framework here is PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act). However, in my view there is no single perfect A3 template that will fit all of your problems. Rather, an A3 is created on the go. Make the tool fit the problem, not the other way round! Continue reading The A3 Report – Part 2: Content

The A3 Report – Part 1: Basics

DIN A Paper SizesIf you know your way around lean, you surely have hear about the A3 report, famously named after the DIN-A3 paper size. It is also known as the A3 problem-solving sheet. The goal is to get all the  necessary data on one sheet of A3 paper using pencil while you are on the shop floor. The A3 report is commonly used for problem solving, but also for project management or status reports. Continue reading The A3 Report – Part 1: Basics

On the Benefits of a Pencil in Lean

Pen vs Pencil
Pen or pencil?

In many lean books and other writing, it is often recommended to use a pencil for certain tasks as, for example, the A3 report. Yet, I have seen very few uses of pencil in lean manufacturing in the Western world. Most of the documents are computer printouts based on Excel, PowerPoint, or Word. The few handwritten documents are usually done in pen (see also my post on The Advantage of Handwritten Data on the Shop Floor).

In this post I will look into why almost nobody uses pencils and why it would be good to use more pencils. I myself am also guilty of that, but I plan indeed to use more pencil in the future. Continue reading On the Benefits of a Pencil in Lean

Visit the Shop Floor or Your People Will Fool You! – Genchi Genbutsu

Only the fool trusts the presentation…

To manage your shop floor (or any other part of your enterprise), you need to have reliable data about the situation on the shop floor. Even with reliable data, the remaining uncertainty makes good management a challenge. Many managers, to save precious time, rely on data and information provided to them by their people. This is a grave mistake! Always verify at least part of the data with you own eyes! You would be surprised how different – and usually worse – it is in reality. Continue reading Visit the Shop Floor or Your People Will Fool You! – Genchi Genbutsu

Line Balancing Part 3 – OEE Caveats

Stacked handsWhen balancing a line, it is important to distinguish between idealized times without losses, and times that include all types of losses like breakdowns or missing material. The ratio between the ideal time and the real time is the OEE. This post looks at some of the problems that can happen with line balancing if an OEE is used incorrectly or differently, and is the third post on this series of line balancing. Once we have determined what OEE to use, we will look at how to use the OEE in line balancing in the next post. Continue reading Line Balancing Part 3 – OEE Caveats

The Challenges of Lean Administration

More WorkLean started with manufacturing, but since then has moved in many other areas of the economy, from lean banking to lean healthcare. One major part of modern economy is administrative processes, which includes things like making offers, procurement, accounting, engineering, research, and many others. By some estimates, more than half of the cost of producing companies are in administration. Up to 80 percent of the lead time is due to administration. A lot of the principles behind lean can be used in administration. However, there are also some unique challenges that are less prominent in manufacturing. Let’s have a look. Continue reading The Challenges of Lean Administration