Paris Thalassinos is Project Engineering Manager at Ward Leonard CT LLC (Thomaston, CT), an occasional guest blogger here at P4 Lean Strategy, and one of my trusted confidants.
As an engineer, you’ll have to make the decision to stay an individual contributor [team member] or take the leap into management. This sounds easier than it is, especially if you’ve spent your career working in a manufacturing environment; you’re accustomed to the organized chaos that somehow derails every plan. As a team member, this reality is of little concern to you. One of the best quotes I’ve heard over the years was “Today went as expected, everything I planned to do didn’t happen and I solved a whole host of problems I didn’t know existed yesterday”.
Waste isn’t as easily seen in an office environment. Materials aren’t piling up, machines aren’t sitting idle, and most work can be performed in front of a computer without moving for hours. The value stream is intangible, from concept generation to the flow of information between departments or people. Waste in this scenario could be waiting time, over processing [going “above-and-beyond”, or "gold-plating" for you PMP folks], or over producing [creating inventory].
C1, C2, C3
- Inventory - if work packages A2 & A3 aren't needed , they essentially sit on a shelf,
albeit a digital one.
- Waiting / Idle Time - The manufacturing engineer receives A1 and completes his portion of the
work package assuming B1 is in process.
Long gone are the apprenticeship programs where engineers learned how to make parts by running machines. There's something lost when you can't appreciate the skills and methods used to turn a design into reality. If you promote open collaboration, both groups can learn a lot from each other. You might even surprise a few people who doubted “management's latest fad”.