Monday, September 17, 2007

Work in Progress Virus


As I take my Gemba Walk at a client site, I see a virus spreading at epidemic speeds in the offices and shopfloor. The virus is a simple “Work in Progress” sign posted above a work area, usually above a pile of material or individual workstation. What once started as a plea for fairness during 5S audits in one area has now spread across the entire organization.

Apparently, someone did not like getting a poor score on their 5S audit. Instead of using kaizen to improve it, they argued that the designated area should not be counted because it was in a constant state of disarray as a result of doing work. When a 5S auditor went along with the scheme, the “Work in Progress” sign was born as a free pass to overlook this area in a 5S Audit. Just like a virus, the “Work in Progress” signs started showing up everywhere. It is not a surprise to see the popularity of the signs. This approach is certainly easier than making an actual improvement but the wrong approach. (I did like the turtle to describe the flow).

Isn’t every square inch of our facility a place to do work with some stuff just moving faster than other stuff? Why don’t we put a sign over our front door declaring the whole building as work in progress and skip the 5S audit entirely? Don’t laugh. This was actually done over an entire department work area as a joke and the Auditor accepted it!



On our lean journey, it is easy to fall into traps like the immune “Work in Progress” designated areas and even boldly call the signs a visual management tool. Don’t be fooled. The lean principles are to be applied in every process, every function, and every square inch of our organization. There are no free passes, my friends.

4 comments:

Karen Wilhelm said...

Maybe it's the word "progress" that makes people think they have an excuse. Aren't we all works in progress? Anything's that not getting value added to it and moving to the customer by means of pull is just inventory. That's not to say that my office doesn't have piles of stuff aging slowly, but at least I know it's waste.

Mike Wroblewski said...

Right you are, Karen. Just because we called it progress does not excuse us from overlooking these areas. All of us have our own "work in progress" areas that we deem acceptable but they can/should be improved too!

johnthep2009 said...

Hi

I like this post very much. It help me to solve some my work under my director’s requirements.

Apart from that, below article also is the same meaning

5S audit

Tks again and nice keep posting
Rgs

johnthep2009 said...

Hi

I like this post very much. It help me to solve some my work under my director’s requirements.

Apart from that, below article also is the same meaning

5S audit

Tks again and nice keep posting
Rgs