Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Cody Parkey:5 Why NOT 5 Who

It's funny how when things go bad, our first instinct is to find out who's at fault. Well, often it's pretty obvious, right? Somebody didn't do their job. Well, once that becomes our line of thinking, we can do 5 why to drill down to root cause. Usually it comes down to that person was either stupid or they didn't care, and obviously they need to be written up or fired. 

Once we become enlightened, root cause is usually "we didn't teach them well enough" or "we didn't communicate the importance well enough". Either way, if the student hasn't learned, the teacher hasn't taught. In my 58 years, I've learned that humans are highly intelligent and highly motivated to do the right thing! If, for some reason, you have a few humans on your staff that don't possess these common traits, then I ask "who is the knucklehead that hired these people tat are dumb and don't care?"

Which brings me to Cody Parkey, the place kicker for the Chicago Bears. As is probably now known in the Arctic Circle, Cody missed a game winning field goal as the clock ran out in the NFC wild card game vs. Philadelphia last Sunday. Much of the feedback Cody got for his miss can be summarized as follows:
  1. Comparisons to Bartman, a poor gentleman who reached out to catch a baseball, thereby preventing the Cubs from being world champs.
  2. People pointing out the fact that Cody was hired to do only one job. "He's making millions of dollars to kick a #@!*(&^% football, the least he can do is do his $#^&*(&^ job!!
  3. Cody and his family received death threats because of the dark, dire predicament he put them in....no Bears football next week or the week after or the week after that.
  4. Videos on Twitter of people punching doors, kicking television sets, etc.
I watched the game, and between officiating and just loving the game, it was probably the 1000th game this season I watched. One thing I can assure the death threateners, the door punchers and television kickers is that the kicker for the Chicago Bears is highly intelligent and highly motivated. Unless we have a robot kicking field goals, or doing heart surgery or driving a tractor trailer or running a CNC machine for that matter.....mistakes will happen. 

Back to the 4 categories of feedback listed above:
  1. One good way to make Bartman, Cody, the referees, the weather all irrelevant.....score more! It's amazing how good we officials get when a team is scoring a lot!
  2. Surgeons, engineers, golfers, managers, coaches, football referees, you name it, all get paid to do one thing. Coincidentally, every single one of us fails to do our job periodically. If you ask some of the fans, we officials seldom do our job right. Nobody's perfect, including Cody.
  3. Whatever doesn't kill ya, makes you stronger. That was my Dad. Pretty sure the sun will come up and then set. I doubt people will know the difference in 2050. Give Cody and his family a break, the Bear's defense let the Eagles march down the field and score, didn't they? Are those defensive lineman too big to threaten? The NFL said the kick was tipped, why not threaten the 6'6" 365# left guard?
  4. Whatever you punch or kick, you'll just have to drag it to the curb on trash day, or replace it, or do some non value-added work, fix it.

The theme here, as managers, is to not knee-jerk to the 5 whos, which seems to be so instinctive (did it for years). Get to root cause! And Codey Parkey, chin up, I am rooting for you in 2019 and beyond.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Bad Quality: The Island of Misfit Toys

Quick rundown on the 8 wastes: Defects, Overproduction, Waiting, Motion, Over-processing, Inventory, Transport, Un-used employee brainpower. There might be a reason people usually cite defects first when you quiz them. 

Defects cause more of the other wastes. When we screw things up, we usually need to transport them somewhere using people's motion, creating sleeping money (inventory). Then we need to re-make something while our customer is waiting. Ouch, none of that is free.

Which brings me to the situation that is going on right now with the Island of Misfit Toys. The phone is ringing non-stop off the hook because of the screw-ups. Don't even get me started, but if this Santa guy would only go to gemba more than once a year, maybe he would have a better handle on what his customers want and definitely don't want. Some recent examples:
  1. Charlie-In-the-Box-is this some marketing idea gone bad? Do we ever check in with our customers, or just deliver them Charlie instead of Jack? Or did the new guy in labelling have a liquid lunch again?
  2. An elephant with spots-probably not a bad idea, but I think measles is what jumps in my head when I see this abomination of a toy. Was this a joke? Or, when we did the changeover from stuffed leopards to stuffed elephants did we forget the dooflicker again?
  3. A choo-choo train with square wheels on the caboose-no need to write this one up. Our VP of Purchasing saved us $0.07 per wheel for these square numbers. Did we bother to test them out before shipping? 
  4. And the last one, which I saved for last because if it wasn't so dangerous, it might be funny. Of course I'm referring to the squirt gun that squirts not water, but freakin jelly. How many kids are going to get punched in the face when they decide they're going to squirt grape jelly in someone's face? 

The real issue is the fact that Santa and his employees think it is perfectly ok for their customers (usually children aged 0-12 years of age) to be their quality inspectors. The other issue is that for the 40000 year in a row, there will be no raises nor any bonuses paid out due to the shipping costs and the rented warehouse space called the Island of Misfit Toys. 

Love to get the fat man's ear about a concept called quality at the source. The cost of quality is cheapest when defects are caught way early in the process, and wicked expensive when your customer does the catching. QATs is composed of 3 elements.....training, visual control and checklist documentation (no reports to fill out, that's over-processing).

Anyway, Merry Christmas. For those of you who ended up with a spotted elephant, our apologies and better luck next year.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

LEAN & the 4th Industrial Revolution Part 2: Nemawashi

Make sure everyone knows the plan!
In Part 1 of this series, we talked about the 4IR & the Toyota Production System concept of jidoka, which, when you boil it down, means "respect for humanity". As this 4IR marches forward, with potential exponential leaps in productivity through technology (robots, cobots, artificial intelligence, the "internet of things"), we need to be mindful of the fact that we have an opportunity to exponentially improve human quality of life. People will be doing more people work, machines will be doing more machine work!


Part 2 is a quick discussion of the concept of "nemawashi". If jidoka is the "why", then neamwashi is the beginning of the "how". 



Nemawashi is a Japanese term that means an informal process of quietly laying the foundation for some proposed change or project by talking to all of the people concerned, gathering support and feedback. It is considered an important element in any major change and before any formal steps are taken, and successful nemawashi enables changes to be carried out with the consent of all. Another way to think about it is "laying the groundwork". 

More simply, I define nemawashi as "proceed slowly, consider many options, gain agreement, implement rapidly, with emphasis on the gain agreement part. The opposite of nemawashi is what Mike Rother, in his book Toyota Kata, Managing People for improvement, Adaptiveness and Superior Results, calls implementation mode. Implementation mode can also be thought of as jumping to solutions. For those of you who use A3 teams as your process for continuous improvement, most of the time spent is in truly understanding the problem at hand by collecting good data to help us get to root cause. As an A3 team works through the scientific method, dig deeply into define, measure and analyze. If this is done well, the improve and control is easy! 

Work to engage every single brain cell in your business. Don't rely on a handful of brains. Work hard to make sure people understand the why and give them a glimpse of the future, and make sure they take the journey with you. In considering technology to improve productivity for a given process, Principle 8 of TPS tells us to introduce it through "direct experimentation with the involvement of a broad cross section of people."

The more people engaged, the better the result! 

In Part 3, we will consider 4IR and Policy Deployment. 





Sunday, December 9, 2018

LEAN & the 4th Industrial Revolution Part 1: Jidoka

The Jetsons

  1. First, a quick history lesson. The first three "Industrial Revolutions":

The First (18th-19th centuries)-farmers became small urban manufacturers. Think iron, textiles and the steam engine. 

The Second (1870-1914)-electric power allowed small urban manufacturers to become large urban manufacturers, especially, steel, oil and electricity. Highlight was the development of the internal combustion engine.

The Third (1980s-today)-aka the Digital Revolution-the advances from analog electronic and mechanical devices to digital technology. People suddenly rely on computers, a cell phones and the internet.

The phrase 'Fourth Industrial Revolution' was first coined by Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum in 2016, and introduced the same year at the World Economic Forum. 4IR is characterized by "the fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres". In other words, The Jetsons. Think robotics, artificial intelligence and the internet of things. Think additive manufacturing and 3D printing on steroids.

Now lets talk about the lean concept "Jidoka". which is defined as autonomation or "automation with a human touch".  I suppose this very narrow definition comes from the story of how Sakichi Toyoda (Toyoda Automatic Loom Works LtD) in the early 1900s invented a self-stopping loom that avoided the hours and hours of untangling woven fabric. Watching people struggle to untangle fabric bothered Toyoda, and believed that work to be disrespectful to human beings. Which brings me to what jidoka really means: RESPECT FOR PEOPLE.


The goal of a lean strategy is to leverage operational excellence to create market disruption by methodically eliminating the 8 wastes. People do more productive work and much less waste (non-value added work). Companies successful in lean see huge improvements in productivity (often measured as sales/labor hour). The 4IR will be marked by quantum, exponential leaps in productivity (our ability to do more with the same human effort). More important, the 4IR can result in quantum leaps in human's quality of life. My friend Lenord Hahn of Ulbrich Steel alerted me to a 15 minute Ted Talk you may enjoy where Kai-Fu Lee discusses how artificial intelligence can save our humanity. More and more, humans will be doing fulfilling human work and machines will be delegated to repetitive, tedious tasks!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this discussion, which will talk about the 4IR and the concept of Nemawashi.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Flipping Doubting Thomas

Doubting Thomas, who needs to see with his own two eyes
Let's face it, sometimes managers are much better at kicking things off than sustaining them.

Invariably, when a company brings me in to build a spirit of kaizen, sooner rather than later, I meet at least one Doubting Thomas. Sometimes a few Thomases. This is how the conversation goes:

Thomas: "Don't get me wrong, I really like what you're doing. But, no offense, we've tried all that before. TQM, 6 sigma, Lean, Mapping, 5S, TQM, Just-In -Time, you name it, we've done it. Back in 93 I was even certified." 
(Translation: You can save both of us time and aggravation by driving your lean butt back to the airport. Your stuff won't fly here).

Me: "This is different, blah, blah, blah. It worked in my own business and  enabled us to increase sales from $18M to $32M without adding any more people, blah, blah, blah. I can also show you how it has worked in a dozen or so of my clients, maybe we can arrange a site visit so you can see for yourself, blah, blah, blah."

Thomas: "Don't get me wrong, I really like what you're doing. But, no offense, we've tried all that before. TQM, 6 sigma, Lean, Mapping, 5S, TQM, Just-In -Time, you name it, we've done it. Back in 93 I was even certified." 
(Translation: You can save both of us time and aggravation by driving your lean butt back to the airport. Your stuff won't fly here).

Nothing can be said. Thomas has heard it all before. Power Points ad nauseum, Gemba Walks, Lean committees, he's lived through it all. There is only one way to flip Thomas. He needs to see a huge change in management. Management needs to get their hands dirty. 

One of the many benefits of introducing A3 to build a spirit and culture of continuous improvement is that it makes it really easy for managers to get their hands dirty. The A3 board is very visible and it spells out the active improvements, who is leading it, when it started and who is coaching (getting hands dirty). Any manager who wants to get their hands dirty can simply go to the board, pick an a active improvement and go see the person leading it, and ask, humbly, "will you show me what you're doing?" Managers can also show up at the weekly closings to demonstrate that lean is important and express gratitude and sometimes amazement at how smart people really are.

In my own business, 70 people would lead 8 or 900 improvements each year. Lots of opportunities to convince Thomas that things are different and that they could trust management to follow through.

The good news is that once I flip Thomas, he becomes my biggest proponent! Before I knew better, I thought of my doubters as my foe. In reality, Thomas is my best friend!


Sunday, November 18, 2018

Sacred Cows and Silo Waste

A3 is about a slow, steady, continuous march toward flow. Instead of "doing" continuous improvement when you have time, or every once in a while (an event), A3 is about developing a new process in your business so smaller improvements occur daily by pretty much the entire company.

When you first adopt this new process, everyone is excited. A3 becomes a really easy way to implement hundreds of employee suggestions. The people who actually DO the work feel like they have a say in how their work is done. Hours and hours of non-value added work (the 8 wastes) is eliminated and morale improves. 

The idea is that we start A3 using employee suggestions, and then graduate to problems like customer complaints,  recurring defects, late orders, and even some long standing sacred cows that some managers dig their heels in to defend. Usually it involves a silo that should be "serving" operations. Think IT, Sales, Quality, EH&S, HR, Finance, Purchasing, Maintenance, Senior Leadership, sometimes even the "lean department". As people become better at seeing waste, they become more and more frustrated with silos making waste and the managers in charge of these silos. 

Inevitably, someone who has been doing their part by willingly leading improvements in operations will become sick and tired of living with silo waste and will become determined to lessen the impact. This is usually where all the enthusiasm and high-fives from A3 turn into long faces and feet dragging. Even though nobody in their right mind would argue that said silo waste needs to be improved, this is where managers tend to defend a bad process that causes waste (defects, overproduction, waiting, non-essential processing (sign-offs), transport, inventory and/or motion). The problem with A3 is that it makes waste (including) silo waste way too visible. A3 is good enough to go after waste on the factory floor, but not in the silos?

This is where senior leadership really needs to actively get involved and help the company over this hurdle. Once the silo waste starts to get eliminated, THEN everyone starts to see that management means what they say and really are committed to lean thinking!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

LEAN: People First, Improvements Second!

I'm not sure there is a more misunderstood lean concept than A3. I have heard it referred to as a form. I have seen people judge A3 improvements strictly by "return on investment". I have seen people's improvement ideas squashed because some manager decided the improvement wasn't worthy. This is all short-sided thinking!

A famous Toyota Production System mantra is "build leaders then build cars". Most companies FAIL when attempting a lean journey because the focus is on the improvements and not on the people making them!. The "lean journey" doesn't even make it out of the driveway.

An A3 program starts by asking everyone in the company 1 question. "if you owned the business, what change would you make to your job right now?". I have asked this question thousands of times, and amazingly, people never answer it selfishly. The response is always some obstacle that keeps them from doing their job productively.

The A3 form itself teaches people how to become really good problem solvers. The boxes on the form are laid out to mirror the scientific method of problem solving: define, then measure, analyze, then improve, then control. Imagine competing against an entire population of people getting better and better as problem solvers? Yikes!

People who lead A3 are practicing the skills we would expect from good leaders. First they need to recruit and lead a team of 3-5 people. They learn to take these people through the DMAIC. They learn how to do root cause analysis, leverage diversity of the group and gain agreement. Then, after the improvements are made, they are asked to get up in front of the whole company and teach everyone what they've learned (at the A3 closing). People learn how to be good team leaders and members, and they learn they can overcome their fear of public speaking. Mangers have an opportunity to encourage and thank these growing leaders. 

Toyota is right. Lean is about building leaders. The improvements are icing on the cake!