How does your Organization treat the people it employs ?
In the last recession it was noticeable how some organizations were quick to fire whilst others made extraordinary efforts to keep their staff. Many of the latter were Automotive companies who valued the skills and capabilities of their workforce. Of course there was self serving interest at work here as skilled workers cost a lot to train, however it is recognised that LEAN Organizations put a lot of emphasis on recognizing and rewarding their staff who, in turn, accept more responsibility as a consequence.
How is your salary calculated ? Does your Organization have a structured pay scale and take into account National & Regional variations for your pay grade or do you just get minimum wage ?
What about training ? does your Organization provide regular opportunities for upgrading your skills; does it pay for courses you wish to attend ? or do you struggle to further yourself via education at your own cost.
How about the Culture ? A “blame culture” is a sure sign of an Organization in trouble. Laying the blame means you don’t take responsibility for your own actions.
Excellent Organizations treat their staff like their customers.
Is your Organization Excellent ?
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In their iconic book “Lean Thinking” Womack & Jones identified 5 Lean principles of fundamental importance.
1) Specify Value from the End Customers perspective. What does the End Customer actually want from the product or service. The only way to ascertain this is through the Voice Of Customer. We will expand on this in later posts.
2) Identify the Value Stream. This is the sequence of processes from raw material to the end customer which comprises Value Adding and Non Value Adding steps.
3) Make value Flow. The process should be continuous, avoiding batch production and queues, or at least minimizing them. Aim never to delay a value adding step with a non value adding step. If NVA steps are unavoidable they should be done in parallel with VA steps.
4) Operate via Pull not Push. The system should be driven by the customers demand avoiding unnecessary over production.
5) Strive for Perfection. Minimize defects and aim for Total Customer Satisfaction.
Adopting these 5 Lean principles leads to a Kaizen journey of Continuous Improvement.
Toyota’s Taichi Ohno identified seven main sources of waste to be minimized in a Lean production system:-
- the unnecessary movement of parts or materials. In our modern system of globalization where components are manufactured in many different parts of the world and transported to be assembled in a geographically remote location the opportunities for unnecessary transportation are endless. To minimize transportation waste we need to carefully analyze the origin of constituent parts and to identify opportunities for re-sourcing more local to final assembly.
Inventory – unnecessary inventory may as well be bags of cash. The operation needs to be streamlined to create a continuous flow minimizing inventory.
Motion – Any motion which is not adding value is Muda (waste) – for example if an operator has to repeatedly bend down to pick up a component this is unnecessary waste. The workstation should be designed to minimize unnecessary motion.
Waiting – time wasted whilst waiting for components, instructions, tools, indeed anything which is needed to maintain continuous flow is waste. If your organization is a service provider bear this in mind when designing systems to interface with customers. We all know the frustration of time wasted in a phone queue.
Overproduction – any production over and above the exact quantity the customer ordered is waste. The manufactured quantity should be pulled by the customer order.
Over-processing – the over embellishment or addition of none functional packaging is waste to be avoided and eliminated. What does the customer really want ?
Defects – all are waste and should be eliminated by the judicious use of 6 – sigma tools and Kaizen.
There are many other kinds of waste, which ones have you observed in your organization ?
One of the key benefits of adopting a LEAN strategy is the positive environmental impact it brings.
LEAN is Green
LEAN is all about minimizing waste and inventory and increasing flow in the workplace. LEAN is equally applicable in a manufacturing environment or in an Office.
If a LEAN strategy is adopted consistently then costs will be reduced by eliminating unneccessary waste and reducing inventory, this will have a direct impact on energy use and overall Carbon Footprint.
Value Stream Mapping allows process waste to be identified and Kaizen busts offer the opportunity for significant improvements in efficiency and further reduction in Carbon footprint.
Adopting a LEAN & Green process roadmap is a great way of ensuring that the strategy is uppermost in corporate minds and ensured of delivery.
LEAN workers need training
…unless the workers on the “front line” are given the autonomy and authority to make key decisions about product quality and the structure of their work. They also need the authority to be able to stop the line should a quality issue occur.
LEAN only works when the workers are enmeshed in the decision making process and their responsibilities rewarded with more secure contracts and conditions.
Some organizations try to introduce LEAN on a piecemeal basis but this will only lead to disappointment. In order to implement a LEAN strategy successfully workers need extensive training in order to exercise their autonomy effectively. This means a real commitment from Management to Training and personal development.
An effective LEAN strategy depends on a complimentary commitment from workers and management.
The Lean Process
A key part of adopting a LEAN strategy is the implementation of 5s.
5s refers to the following Japanese words and their meaning in relation to LEAN.
In order to minimize confusion and increase efficiency anything not in immediate use should be stored out of the way in designated areas.
Every tool should be in its place and in line with the workflow.
The workplace should be cleaned regularly and periodically and everything put back in its place.
Work practices should be consistent and standadized and everyone must know their duties and responsibilities.
Enforce the previous 4s whilst reviewing and modifying them as required.