Wednesday, February 10, 2016

First You Need to See It by Lance Boynton

First you need to “See it.”

Anyone familiar with the book “The Oz Principle”, has heard the tag line “See it, Own it, Solve it, Do it.” The authors coined this phrase and use the whimsical tale of the Wizard of Oz to help illustrate the path to individual and organizational accountability.  Following the analogy, as you travel down the yellow brick road to personal accountability, like the Lion, you first need to muster the courage to “See it”. Second, as the Tin Man did, you need to find the heart to “Own it”, followed by the Scarecrow’s lesson and obtain the wisdom to “Solve it”. Finally, as Dorothy did, exercise the means to “Do it”.


The Concept of “See it, Own it, Solve it, Do it” translates very well to the world of continuous improvement and six sigma. In fact it sounds a lot like the familiar acronyms, DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) and PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act).


As with Dorothy’s journey to find the wizard, the first step along the path to enlightenment is to “See it”. After all you can’t improve a process until you define a problem, i.e. You can’t fix what you can’t see. A fundamental driver to the philosophy of continuous improvement is following the Lion’s example and having the courage to question the current state. Not to except the status quo but to constantly ask, how do I make this process better, faster, cheaper and safer! This concept is difficult for many people, as it requires a level of humility. It is human nature to take pride in your job, and contemplating that there might be a better way often impacts ones ego. One of the most useful mechanisms to help “See it” is to leverage your organizations diversity and use the tactic of “Outside Eyes”. Similar to the difficultly one encounters trying to spell check their own essay, having a team member from a different department review the process often produces several constructive insights.


Another successful tactic and one of the fundamentals of lean thinking is to make things visual. Graphs and charts help the brain see patterns and tendencies that can often be difficult to perceive when only looking at a column of numbers. One of the most useful tools in the Six Sigma toolbox that greatly facilitates seeing trends is the control chart.


In early 2014, I was helping a very large client try to determine why their process was taking longer then expected to gain the desired result. In the world of high-speed manufacturing, time equals money and every second wasted had an enormous associated cost. The customer insisted that they had not modified their process in any way but had noticed a slight decline in productivity over the past couple months. According to their SOP (Standard Operating Procedure), an intensity measurement was taken every day to demonstrate that the equipment met the necessary requirements. If the measurement was between the predetermined acceptance limits the equipment passed and therefore could be used. In essence they utilized a simple pass/fail test. Since their measurement system returned passing results they had ruled out the equipment as a possible source for the increased production time and where beginning to look at alternative explanations, including moving away from my organizations product.


Upon visiting their facility and providing “Outside eyes”, I saw that their current system provided some useful information but did not incorporate a time element.   When we created a simple control chart using their historic measurements, a downward trend became immediately obvious. This concept helped the customer “See It”. In this particular example, the graph illustrated a normal degradation of the intensity of
their light source over time. The customer was not aware of this normal bulb characteristic, but rather was under the assumption that as long as the bulb lit, a stable intensity would be produced. In addition to making the trend visible, we incorporated warning limits. This helped proactively determine when to replace the light source, therefore eliminating process time delays, costly scrap and rework. Through the implementation of this very simple Six Sigma tool, it helped the customer see the true root cause of their issue.


The first challenge in many cases is the ability or the willingness to challenge the status quo, especially when we own the process. After all, nobody like hearing your baby is ugly. However, like the Lion we need to muster the courage to suppress our ego, utilize outside eyes and make the process very visual.  In order to complete your journey to the Emerald City, you need to take the first step and “See It”.





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