Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Lean: Just Do It!

In my humble opinion, there is only one way to do LEAN wrong. That is, do nothing. Or, hardly anything. Or do it in spurts, or once in awhile. 

A friend of mine, Mark Evans, Aerospace Print Supervisor at GM Nameplate (Seattle, WA) observes that in many companies, improvement is 20% doing and 80% talking about doing. Mark notes, "done well, at the end of the year, you might find you've accomplished 200 things instead of maybe 20. Since Lean is a journey, and slow enough as it is, you will want to get as far down the road as you can and continually kicking the can down the road is NOT going to get you there."

One of the two things my clients will tell you is I'm not big on doing Power Points, and I teach tools on the floor while people are making small improvements or solving problems. Very rarely do we preach in the conference room. As Mark said, lean is HARD enough. Don't make it harder by confusing people or making them tentative to try something new.  Lean is so about learning by doing. Don't waste time and money teaching people tools and Japanese words they won't appreciate until they need it to solve THEIR problem. Nothing is more pointless than requiring people to get certified, or become green belts. LEARN by doing without delay!

A3 (rapid kaizan) is about everyone in the entire company making small, gradual, continuous improvements. Getting better every day. Remember that the attempts at improvement are reversible! You can always go back to the old way. In coaching A3, teach the project leaders to quickly schedule their first standup meeting at GEMBA to begin the work of gaining consensus on the current condition. Before that first 15-20 meeting ends, make sure everyone has homework and you have scheduled the NEXT meeting for the next day, in 2 days, or 3 days max. One year, in my company, 70 people did 300+ A3's, and the average start to finish was just over 7 days (remember 15-20 minutes per day, not entire days).  
In the words of US Olympic Gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi, "YOU CAN DO IT!!"

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