Sunday, November 2, 2014

Lean: The Elimination of Autopilot

Change is fun!!!!!!!! Said no one. Ever.

We humans love our routines. Think about your own life. How does your day start? What are the five things you do first? Are they the same most days? Our shower routine is probably the same (hair, then armpits, etc.), start shaving the same way (sideburns to chin, ankle to knee), we eat the same things for breakfast, we drive the same way to work, we probably do the same 5-10 things upon arrival. Check e-mail, grab a coffee. We work, go home, eat dinner around the same time, watch the same TV shows, the news, sports, whatever, and go to bed at nearly the same time. Repeat. For decades.

For the most part, the routines that make us feel secure can be better defined as AUTOPILOT!!! 

Now someone wants to "do lean" at work. Depending on how hard & fast you are determined to go at it, the more disruptive you will be to AUTOPILOT. 

Picture first an organization where people are just getting going with lean Most times, people start doing kaizan events that don't really upset our AUTOPILOT. Usually, even if the changes seem big, most everyone gets caught up in the event, and there are smiles, laughs and high fives. if you think of lean as a department or something we do once in a while, you never really upset AUTOPILOT. It is possible to go on for years "doing lean" like this. 

Now picture an organization where people are closing two or three hundred A3 improvements per year. Every single person in the organization is engaged in continuously challenging every single process in the company. The only constant is change, and there is no AUTOPILOT. People do not waste doing nor defending processes that give lousy results. To get to this, there will be emotion, blood (not literally), sweat and tears. People will learnt that processes, not people, are under attack. 

To go from the first scenario to the second scenario requires steady, determined leadership. The two pillars of The Toyota Production System are "Continuous Improvement" and "Respect for People". The second scenario requires a steady, daily diet of both. Continuous improvement doesn't mean once in a while, and respect for people doesn't mean fixing other people's jobs. 

AUTOPILOT is no where to be found. (Remember that all "standard work" means is "the best we have so far".). A3 is the best way to gradually and steadily build a culture where people challenge everything and are perfectly OK with change. The 8 wastes will be driven out, and all that will be left is value your customer will pay for, and your productivity (dollars shipped/hours worked) will go through the roof.

"Change is fun!!!!" Says me.

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