Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Be Prepared

Be Prepared is the motto of the Boy Scouts and most likely the simplest method for productivity improvement. Lord Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scout movement, coined the motto for all scouts to be prepared in mind and be prepared in body. Scouts who do their best at living by this motto would be in position to do the right thing at the right time. In other words, when the moment arrives, a scout is ready for anything.

How does this relate to productivity and the lean approach?

On a tactical level, take machine changeovers or set ups for example. In my experience, the single biggest element that takes time in a typical changeover is collecting everything you need like tools, fixtures, dies, clamps, sheet up sheets, materials, gages, etc. I would certainly not be surprised if 50% of current set up time is consumed in just this activity.

If we want to make a significant impact in reducing set up time, work on designing a system or process that ensures everything we need to change over is at hand prior to the set up change, every time! A person or persons performing the changeover should never have to leave the machine or wait on any item.

No capital spending required, just planning, practice and discipline to “Be Prepared” when the set up time moment arrives. Discipline is the key ingredient which can be harder to find than this year’s hot Christmas toy on December 24th.

Go to gemba and watch any machine changeover. How prepared are we when the machine is stopped?

Using this same “Be Prepared” motto, are we prepared for meetings, kaizen events, daily production, material delivery, customer requests, etc? How much smoother and efficient would all our activities be if we spent time on being prepared?

Here is another simple example, getting ready for work in the morning. How much time do we spend? How about bathroom time, dressing time, eating time, etc? If we were to select, iron and layout out our clothes the night before, would we save time the next morning? What about shoes, car keys, laptop, or those notes needed for this morning’s meeting? If we had all our grooming items, towels, etc ready to go the night before, would we save time? What if we filled up our car with gas the night before? What are all the things we can do the night before to “be prepared” for getting ready for work in the morning?

But being prepared is more than just having things ready ahead of time, it means to “be prepared” for anything. To be mentally ready, knowing what we should do in case different events should occur and be ready to face difficulties and challenges.

Going back to the morning work routine example, what do we do if the power goes out in the night? What do we do if we have no power in the morning? What do we do if we break a shoe lace? What if bad weather hits? We could prepare for all these events ahead of time and be ready when the time arrives. (Sounds like the beginnings of a FMEA – Failure Mode and Effects Analysis).

As lean thinkers, we might consider adopting the same motto, Be Prepared. What do you think?

1 comment:

Tim McMahon said...

My oldest Son started Cub Scouts this year and had a similiar thought when I read the Cub Scout Moto, "Do your Best". I think this is the attitude you need to solve any problem. Try and if you don't succeed, try again.

As an Eagle Scout and Lean Practioner being prepared is good advice. Be proactive, think ahead, and be ready for anything.

Thanks for sharing Mike.

Tim McMahon
A Lean Journey