Matt Wrye’s Reflections from the Lean Experience
At the moment, I am teaching a Lean Experience at our Center for a group of mixed companies that include retail, transportation, micro-brews, and more. Recently, we delivered a private session at the company where lean blogger Matt Wrye works. Matt converted several of his lessons from the class into blog posts. He decided to focus on some of the subtle points that are easy to miss but do make an impact. I’m not going to summarize his posts, because you should go and read them for yourselves. But I will add any additional comments that I have.
Matt is exploring the construct of an andon system. But the lesson here is that every part of the system should have a unique and specific purpose. Good design really should isolate cause and effect. For example, a faucet with one handle is a better design because one movement (up and down) effects flow rate, and the other direction (left – right) controls temperature. But in a faucet with both hot and cold knobs, when you turn one you affect both flow and temperature, making it harder to get the outcome you are targeting. My additional comments here are not really about the andon points that Matt is making, but it reminded me about some of the principles of good system design.
This has been a particular hot button for me lately. So many people think that standard work equals robots. Nothing could be further than the truth, when used properly. Any complex task (and let’s face it, tasks are getting more complex, not less) can benefit from job aids that make it easier to do what your knowledge and skill says you should do. No one is perfect – let’s not pretend that good intentions are enough.
This is one of my new favorite sayings. I probably should have blogged about it, but Matt beat me to it. To be clear, I am a big fan of kaizen events, and we even teach the process both through an apprentice model as well as in the Kaizen Boot Camp. But, you shouldn’t have to do an event just to pull together across organizational boundaries. It should work more like this.
This is one of the 5 principles we teach and talk about in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean . Lean is often associated with waste elimination. But one of my favorite questions I might ask during an assessment in an organization is “if you find waste, what do you do next?” Most of the time the answer is “I don’t know.” In this case, waste will only be eliminated as an act of sheer will. It shouldn’t be that hard. There should be some kind of mechanism or process, even if it’s as simple as sticking up a whiteboard on the wall and writing things down to be discussed later.
This is a lesson that comes out of our Beer Game. I won’t say much more, other than to say that breaking the habit of running your life by firefighting is perhaps the hardest and most important habit to break.
Too often we are trying to change people’s thinking just by asking them to change. We have to create the experiences that affect their mindset. How we react, what we say, what questions we ask – all of these are simple examples of the experiences we can give people.
Thanks Matt, for taking the time to do this. I feel like I’ve been blogging all week, but it’s all been your effort.
Have you been to the Lean Experience? What have been some of your takeaways?