Fishbone Diagrams and Mind Maps

A lot of lean problem solving requires creativity. There are many creativity techniques available to help generate ideas for problem solving. In my last post I presented brainstorming, which is a freewheeling creativity technique. In this post I will show you some creativity techniques that have a more structured approach. These include mind maps and fishbone diagrams. Both can be used in groups, but they are also helpful if you need to tackle problems on your own.

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How to Do Brainstorming

A lot of lean is about problem solving, and most of these problems are complex and difficult. Otherwise, someone would have solved them already. Hence, I would like to introduce you to different creativity techniques for problem solving. Most of them can be used in groups to access the collective wisdom and creativity. Most of them are also suitable to develop a number of alternative solutions, of which you can pick the best ones (see my previous post on Japanese Multidimensional Problem Solving). Many of them can be combined in sequence. Let me start with the most common one, brainstorming:

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Effect of Prioritization on Waiting Times

Prioritizing one part over others is an easy way to speed up the production of the prioritized part. However, if too many parts are prioritized, the performance of the others will suffer.

My general recommendation is to prioritize no more than 30% of your production volume. In this post I will look in more detail at this relation and verify this assumption (TL;DR: this is correct!). This post is based on a masters thesis by my student Yannic Jäger.

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More on TWI Programs

The TWI Program during World War II was very successful. Besides the Job Instructions, Job Methods, and Job Relations, a few other modules were developed, some of them internally. After the war, different institutions took over what the US government abandoned in December 1945. These follow-up institutions were the TWI Foundation and the TWI Inc. in the US; but it was also continued by the British TWI Service and the New Zealand TWI Service, and it was especially successful in Japan. Altogether, TWI was used in around seventy countries in 1960, although with quite different intensity and much less than when the US government used it through the war.  This is the last in a series of five posts on TWI. 

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JM: Training within Industry – Job Methods

Job Methods is the TWI module focusing on improving the workplace. The method is a basic four-step process focused on optimizing mechanical work. The underlying approach is good. The documents from 1945, however, put the improvement squarely on the shoulders of the supervisor.

My belief is that the workers should be involved much earlier and that the decision of what to improve would also benefit from more attention. But the basic method is still sound. The TWI people also saw this problem, but their management told them that it is “good enough.” Hence this module saw a lot of improvements after 1945. Yet, it was the smallest of the three main programs. Let me show you the TWI Job Methods in more details. This is the fourth in a series of five posts on TWI. 

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JR: Training within Industry – Job Relations

Free Labor will WinJob Relations (JR) is one of the modules of the original Training within Industry (TWI) program. It was actually developed at Harvard using case studies, and for its time was groundbreaking in its idea that leadership can be learned! Like most TWI modules, it is sensible and useful. As with most TWI programs, it is focused on the front lines of the shop floor, and designed for first-line and second-line supervisors. The module is about good shop floor leadership.

While the program dates from World War II, it has lost none of its relevance, and can still help modern-day shop floor managers in becoming better leaders. The steps are not rocket science, but good common sense, and described with a clarity and brevity unusual for a management book.  Below is a summary, mostly condensed from the “Job Relations 10 Hour Sessions Outline and Reference Material.” This is the third in a series of five posts on TWI. 

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JI: Training within Industry – Job Instructions

Arguably the most successful module of Training within Industry is Job Instructions, or JI for short. JI has a precise focus on one topic: how to train your workers. The method is very simple and basic but works well.

Of course, there are some limitations. The process works well with pretty much any type of work, but it is best done one-on-one, as it was intended. It is not well suited for classroom teaching of larger groups; the trainer does need to invest time and attention to every individual student. But overall a very useful method. This is the second in a series of five posts on TWI.

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