Monday, July 27, 2020

TPS and Agile

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

The past few years our Lean Pathways team has had the pleasure of working with software developers – a fun, capable and creative group.

For some years now, the software world has been using the Agile methodology to increase throughput while reducing defects and lead time.

In my experience, Agile and the Toyota Production System (TPS) are entirely simpatico.

In fact, it seems clear to me that Agile is a child (or perhaps grandchild) of TPS.

Core TPS principles and methodologies like visual management, team huddles (scrums), rapid experimentation and total involvement are central to Agile.


As you may recall, I am not interested in ‘theology’ – only in what works and lasts. TQM, TOC, BPR and Agile are all true, and all congruent with TPS.

All roads lead to Rome.

The clear and present danger for TPS/Lean, and Agile, is superficiality.
(Superficial systems generally attract opportunists seeking a quick hit.)

A set of connected principles and methods become a Way (do in Japanese) when they connect to your deeper being.

If our work is to last and attract new practitioners (e.g. Millennials) we need depth, which means connecting with TPS/Lean roots, and committing to years of practice.

Thereby, we’ll attract practitioners (deshi in Japanese) who’ll further develop the Way, and attract future deshi.

Best regards,

Pascal


In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

Beware INITIATIVES
Point, Flow & System Improvement
Andon – Putting Quality at the Forefront
Lean Outside the Factory - Reverse Magic!



Monday, July 13, 2020

Beware INITIATIVES

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

Like most people, I went to business and engineering school with the best intentions - get a better job, learn interesting stuff, become a better manager and so on.

But we pick up more than we bargain for - including dysfunctional mental models, which I've written about at length.

We begin to believe that, because we are so smart and well-educated, we can manage from a distance.

And the corollaries:
  1. What can front line workers possible teach us?

  2. Improvement means head office INITIATIVES dreamed up by people -- just like us!

Result?

Endless INITIATIVES stream out of head office.

They crowd out real work and often crush our managers and team members.

Everywhere, I see good people struggling under the weight of actual work plus the funny work head office insists on.

Executives are like crows - they like shiny things.


Here's some advice:
  1. Resist the temptation

  2. Put the shiny things on a wall in the Executive metrics room

  3. Look at them occasionally, but don't do anything

  4. When the organization has some "white space", pull one off the wall and look at it

Then put it back and forget about it.

Here's a reflection point:

At our old Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada plant - we never had INITIATIVES

We had tough performance targets set through Strategy Deployment, and the expectation that we'd figure out root causes & countermeasures.

Result: we focused entirely on making the day's production and improving our management system.

We were free to balance continuous improvement with breakthrough.

We owned our management system.

Best,

Pascal


In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

Point, Flow & System Improvement
Andon – Putting Quality at the Forefront
Lean Outside the Factory - Reverse Magic!
The Beauty of Making Things



Monday, June 29, 2020

Point, Flow & System Improvement

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

Important that we understand the difference.

Leaders at all levels are responsible for leading improvement commensurate with their scope & span of control.

It makes little sense for a front line Team Leader to hunt the Great White Whale of System Kaizen.


Similarly, it's suboptimal for a Senior Vice-President to focus her attention on solely Point Kaizen - when she should be looking for Moby Dick.

(Caveat: she certainly needs to sponsor, motivate & check Point & Flow kaizen in her zone.)

So here are some working definitions of Point, Flow & System improvement.

Point Improvement
  • improvement in a point in the value stream, e.g.
    • Machine changeover,
    • Material handling
    • Quality - (e.g. damaged to packaging, contamination)
    • Ergonomics
    • Standardized work - lack of, wrong content/sequence/timing etc.

Flow Improvement
  • improvement in several points in the value stream - that lead to an overall VS improvement (e.g. in Lead time, throughput, quality, inventory turns)
    • Flow improvement comprises several point improvements
    • A + B + C + D = overall VS improvement, where A, B, C & D might be
      • Machine changeover,
      • Material handling
      • Quality - (e.g. damaged to packaging, contamination)
      • Ergonomics
      • Standardized work - lack of, wrong content/sequence/timing

System Improvement
  • Entails continuing to ask Why until we uncover systemic causes to recurrent problems
    • Usually entails macro systems around Man, Machine, Methods, Materials
    • Can also entail core business processes - e.g. Budgeting, Forecasting, Info systems etc.

Happy fishing,

Pascal

In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

Andon – Putting Quality at the Forefront
Lean Outside the Factory - Reverse Magic!
The Beauty of Making Things
What is Breakthrough?, Part 2



Monday, June 15, 2020

Andon – Putting Quality at the Forefront

By Al Norval (bio)

In a couple of recent blogs we’ve talked about Jidoka or Built in Quality at the Source. While it sounds easy, putting it into practice is very difficult. One of the primary reasons for this is it requires a fundamental change in our thinking or as we say a change in our Mental Models.

Let’s start by asking what is Jidoka?

It’s one of the pillars of the Lean Production System and can be defined as:

Providing machines and operators the ability to detect abnormalities and immediately stop work, then call for help and problem solve. At Toyota, it is also known as "autonomation with a human touch". Jidoka allows us to build quality into each process and to free up people from the need to “watch” machines work.

By following this, Jidoka allows machines to do what they do best, which is to detect abnormalities & stop the process and for humans to do what they do best which is to solve problems.


The key connection between the two is Andon which can be defined as:

A signal that notifies operators, supervisors, and maintenance of problems that are occurring at different places throughout the organization or facility. Typically a worker pulls a cord that lights up a signal board when he or she detects a defect. The best Andons will dictate real-time action.

A call for help has gone out. How the organization responds to this depends upon the Mental Models of the organization. If they respond quickly and swarm all over the problem correcting the defect before re-starting the line, they are experiencing the Mental Models of:
  • Problems are gold, treasure them!
  • Don’t pass junk down the line

If on the other hand, they either don’t respond or come out and play the blame game, they are demonstrating the traditional (non-Lean) Mental Models of:
  • Problems are garbage, bury them
  • Make the numbers or else

I encourage organizations who are thinking about putting in an Andon system, to work on their human response system first. Ensure you have the capability to respond quickly and problem solve quickly before attempting to go to line stop.

To succeed Andon, Jidoka and in fact all the Lean Tools require a change in our thinking which is only accomplished when we change in our mental models. Where is your organization’s thinking? Where is your organizations mental models? I’d love to hear from you.

For more on Mental Models, please see Lean Pathways.

Cheers

Al


In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

Lean Outside the Factory - Reverse Magic!
The Beauty of Making Things
What is Breakthrough?, Part 2
What Does Breakthrough Mean? - Part 1