Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What I Learned NOT to Do With the Tools (Falls under Respect for People)

The 3rd P in the P4  is , of course, "The Right Process Will Produce the Right Result." That is one of our core beliefs, because it always takes people "off the hook". We no longer look for scapegoats. All we need to do is fix the process using a whole toolbox full of lean tools! Today, I'd like to share some mistakes I made early on with my new found tools.

Let me start with another core belief. It is DISRESPECTFUL for me to fix YOUR PROCESS!! Early on, I was a newly crowned Lean Champion (certified, or should I say certifiable). I couldn't wait to run around the company and use my tools to fix every process I ran into. Mapping, 5S, Point of Use Storage, etc. I pulled them out of the box and used them on your process. When the dust cleared, it was no longer your process, it was mine; except I moved on and you were stuck with it. DON'T DO THIS!! 

Once people begin to see waste in their processes, often the "old way" seems silly, almost comical. "WHY did we do it that way for so many years?" Yet, sometimes there is a tendency to defend the indefensible. BE PATIENT with this. If a process is making alot of rework or scrap for example, chances are there will be resistance to change even if the results stink. NEVER SNAP! Instead of saying, "wake up, this process stinks", say "what would happen if we tried this." We are trying to develop a willingness to experiment. Tell people that we can always go back to the old way if we try this and it doesn't work.  Early on, I might have snapped once or twice, which sabotaged our progress!

Also, don't worry about form. Coach function. Especially with A3 and Value Stream mapping, there are no points given for style. Encourage people to "just have at it". The intention doesn't have to be a map suitable for framing, but a visual indicator for improvement opportunities. Cross outs, blood or grease are OK. 

5S is a good first tool, because it is usually a great launch pad for the others, from a teaching standpoint. Unfortunately, I started with value stream mapping, which can be intimidating to some. Sort-Set-Shine-Standardize-Sustain is cool because I can segue into POUS, mapping and kanban (why do we have so many stored here?)

Slow down and teach people the why of the tools and the spirit behind them and how to select the right tool for the problem at hand. It is great curriculum for your LEARNING Organization. Don't unleash yourself or your lean department on people to fix their processes!!

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