Sunday, February 1, 2015

Kaizen First!!!!!!!

An effective lean strategy can be summed up in the words of Nike......just do it. I'm thinking that doing lean well is probably like golfing well. Powerpoints, long meetings, planning, planning, planning, or playing every once in a while will never get you to be very good at it. 

Before you should even utter the words "lean" or "policy deployment" or any Japanese terms, can we work to create a culture where people are willing to make improvements in their work? Starting with an employee suggestions, urge people to take improvements into their own hands in small groups of 3to 5 people. Stress small steps, not giant leaps, and convince the people who make the improvements to share what they did with everyone else. Make this and subsequent improvements visible by making sure the managers show up when people are sharing, and keep track on a bulletin board every time a suggestion is made and implemented. (People want to get caught doing what they think is important to make it important).

Don't worry about form in the beginning. All we are trying to do is get people excited about making improvements to their own jobs. To do this, we need to give people the time to do it. Tell everyone they are free (in fact, encouraged) to spend 20 minutes every day to do improvements. Make it a goal to start one improvement somewhere every Monday, and be in a position to share it on Friday. Maybe the improvement eliminates waiting for answers, or searching for materials, tools or people. Maybe it is a trip and fall hazard or a customer complaint. Maybe the sharing on Friday is always at the same time, so people begin to plan for it. Maybe you can teach everyone that shows up one of the eight wastes each week. Maybe the Friday get-together is always 20 minutes.

Fast forward a few months of working diligently to encourage this new baby process in your business. More improvements will suddenly be uncovered. People will begin to get good at working together to make improvements. People will begin to want to go after harder and harder problems. Then you can teach the DMAIC and concepts like nemawashi (proceed slowly, consider many options, gain agreement, implement rapidly) and 5 why.

My whole point is that without the true spirit of kaizen, your lean journey is taking place on a stationary bike. In my own company, I spent WAY too much time training and teaching. Much of what we ultimately accomplished would have happened 18-24 months quicker if we had just......done it.    

Even as your journey goes from a crawl to a walk to a sprint, even as you are using this spirit of kaizen to do true policy deployment (steering your ship at will) and even when you are being written up and visited as an example for other companies, remember that your strategy always has to stay consistent. Kaizen first!!!!

1 comment:

  1. I wish I had a larger forehead. I would pin this to it.