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: Continue reading How to Do Brainstorming
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. Continue reading More on TWI Programs
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. Continue reading JM: Training within Industry – Job Methods
Sometimes, consultants sell lean as a quick and easy way to success that pays for itself. Unfortunately, this is usually not true, as many companies have found out the hard way. Getting lean in a company is similar to getting a lean body; it is usually neither quick nor easy. Let me show you the different phases of a lean transformation. Continue reading Lean Is Tough – The Phases of a Lean Transformation
Lean is my life. Whenever I see someone working, I cannot help but to think about the work from a lean point of view. Every now and then I come across a little gem, where I am just thoroughly impressed with someone’s approach to manage and improve their work. During my winter vacation in Iceland, I came across just such a gem with an excellent corporate culture for continuous improvement. Let me introduce Te & Kaffi and its lean mindset. Continue reading The Lean Mindset – Te & Kaffi in Iceland
Japan is a wonderland for anybody interested in lean. Of course there is the archetype of lean manufacturing, the Toyota group and its Toyota Production System. However, access to Toyota plants is restricted, and during their guided tours you can observe only so much. (See for example my post on Evolution of Toyota Assembly Line Layout – A Visit to the Motomachi Plant as the result of such a tour).
Fortunately, the goal to achieve perfection is also found in many other processes in Japan, many of which you can observe almost anytime, whenever you like and for how long you like. In the past I blogged about Lean in the Japanese Public Toilet and Japanese Standard Pointing and Calling on Japanese trains. This time I’m looking in more detail into the Japanese supermarket, in particular its checkout system. Continue reading Lean Tales in Japan: The Japanese Supermarket Checkout
A lot of decisions in lean manufacturing have uncertainty. How many products will I sell (and what is my customer takt)? Which layout is more efficient? Should I believe expert A or expert B? Uncertainty is a part of life in manufacturing. In fact, the higher up you go in the hierarchy, the more you have to deal with uncertainty. And often these are not just simple “A or B” type of questions, but highly complex and interacting decisions like “What should our new line look like?” Here are some suggestions on how to deal with uncertainty. Please note that they will not answer all of your questions but will help you make better decisions. Continue reading Dealing with Uncertainty
In my last posts I explained the PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act), common mistakes, and its history. However, there is a whole fruit stand of additional versions with some modifications that have popped up: PDSA, SDCA, OODA, ODCA, DMAIC, LAMDA, FACTUAL, Kata, and 8D – and probably more that I do not know of. Let me explain a bit on the different offshoots and alternatives of the PDCA. Continue reading The Many Flavors of the PDCA