Sunday, May 1, 2016

Chihiro Nakeo and 6 Thoughts on Moonshine Kaizen

The best way to create a culture of continuous improvement is to make the road as simple as possible. If I want to engage every single solitary brain, I want my CI strategy to be so clear that even the newest employee can jump right in and contribute. Confusing your customers (your employees) is not a great growth strategy. Also, if you find yourself spending lots of money to improve things all the time, then you might be going at it the wrong way. Your "lean" should be about taking away, not adding!

With those two thoughts in mind, enter Chihiro Nakao, the Father of Moonshine at Shingijutsu USA. Sensei Nakao originated the idea of moonshine kaizen: fast, inexpensive do-it-yourself prototyping to develop and test concepts without big investments. The concept comes from the ingenuity of the poor people without booze when faced with Prohibition. Stills were fabricated from common household items that could be disassembled or moved when the Feds showed up. Moonshine kaizen emphasizes hands-on creativity rather than throwing money at the problem or waiting to think out the perfect solution. Nakao urges doing rather than thinking, "do-storming" instead of brain storming.

Here are 6 thoughts to consider about moonshine:
  1. Emphasizes creativity, using only the things on hand to make improvements. A3 teams get very good at this when every single brain on the 3-5 person team has a voice and  feels safe enough to use it!
  2. Building a fearless spirit of experimentation. The correct attitude is "let's try it! if it doesn't work, we can always go back!"
  3. Collaboration and an understanding how the process being improved fits into, at the very least, the processes before and after it. If you think about, when improving one process, we really need to consider at least three. Remember the rule in doing A3....if a change impacts other people's work, they need to be part of it!
  4. Doing field trips. How do others approach the same problems? Sometimes we simply need a change of scenery to help us see past the hurdles. Some of the most mind blowing improvements are from ideas hatched by people who work in a completely different department (process).
  5. Little to no structure fuels creativity.  One of the hardest things to do is create a population of people who do kaizen daily. Temporary self directed work teams are a good way to get people off the mouse wheel to leverage diversity to make improvements. Do you trust employees to do this? If not, who hired them?
  6. Fun. Can you change the "Lean Six Sigma Global Office of Superior Excellence" into the "Moonshine Office"? Measure smiles and thank yous and watch how profit follows.

"If you don't try something, no knowledge will visit you." Chihiro Nakao

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