Thursday, June 01, 2006

White Board Muda

While conducting six sigma training last week, I noticed that both large white boards in the training room were filled with value stream maps and other information developed by improvement teams. Pretty cool to see evidence of lean improvements in progress. However, I also noticed white board muda.

On each white board, written notes of "Do not Erase" and "Save" were strategically placed to prevent anyone from removing the previous work on the board. It seems like a good idea to save the work and poka-yoke (mistake proof) the information to prevent being accidentally erased. But during my training course, or any other future training in this room, the white boards could not be used while this information was saved. Despite the request to "Save", it's no guarantee that the information will not be erased.

Next to the "Do not Erase" was no additional information like who wants it saved or for how long. It could be weeks or months that the white boards remain frozen in time holding this information and preventing its use during this time.

As a lean tip: Do not practice the habit of writing "Do not erase" on important information conceived on the white board. It could be erased anyway and the white boards can not be put back into action for others. Quickly transfer this information to save it and wipe the white boards clean.


Bill Waddell said...

I thought saving information on white boards was why God, or Kodak or some Japanese guy or whoever invented digital cameras. From white board to everyone's computer screen whenever they want to see it - just like magic!

Mike Wroblewski said...

You are correct, Bill. The technology of digital cameras or even fancy white boards with a built in printing can magically create a painless copy of the white board information. I guess habits from our old chalk boards days stay with us yet nobody seems to question it.

Andy Levine said...

Those fancy white boards that print out what's on them a re great but expensive. Large sticky's or pads work well and don't cost that much