I occasionally watch the reality show Undercover Boss, where top executives work undercover in their own companies. Over and over again I see these managers making the same mistake: They have no understanding whatsoever of what is really happening on the front lines. It is a typical case of not going to the shop floor often enough, or in lean speak, no genchi genbutsu (Japanese for “go and see”). So, <dramatic voice> Why do bosses all make the same mistake? Will they ever learn? Will you enjoy this post? See for yourself in the post below! </dramatic voice>.
To improve your system capacity, it is a must to find and improve your bottleneck. However, finding the bottleneck is difficult. Most methods used in industry fail at finding the bottleneck. As discussed in my previous post on Shifting Bottlenecks, this is mostly due to bottlenecks being dynamic and frequently shifting from one process to the next. In this post we will look at common bottleneck detection methods used in industry. More importantly, we will find out more about failures of bottleneck detection methods commonly used in industry. Subsequent posts look at bottleneck detection methods that actually DO work!