Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Best Lean Tool to Guide your Lean Journey
There are many helpful and simple lean tools to use on your lean journey however one tool stands out above all others. The basic stopwatch has proven itself to be the best lean tool available. Like a compass to a hiker, a stopwatch is to the lean practitioner.
The focus of lean manufacturing is to eliminate waste in your process and improve your value stream. The measurement of your success is found in your process timeline which is best measured with a stopwatch. Some might argue that a calendar is a better tool with some processes but I will save that point for another day.
What other tool is the best decision maker of a lean improvement where time is the key determining factor? A stopwatch is unbiased and simply tells you how much time an activity takes without playing favorites. In the past, I have found instances where people would spend hours arguing the merits of one method over another method. In most cases, either no decision could be agreed upon or one party gives up in frustration. A better approach is to put aside the power plays and let the stopwatch determine the best method. Instead of wasting time debating who's ideas is better, go to gemba and try both methods while the stopwatch measures the results. Let the stopwatch lead your way.
Helpful lean hint: Try to get in the habit of measuring time in seconds. If you use minutes or hours, people tend to think in those larger terms and believe 1 hour is quick. If you use seconds, it places emphasis on your lean journey that every second counts.