Friday, December 31, 2010

Annual Management Improvement Carnival 2010 Lean for Everyone

For the second of four blogs reviews in my contribution to this year’s Annual Management Improvement Carnival, I will feature Lean for Everyone written by Jon Wetzel.

This year I stumbled across this new blog which started just last December. Jon is the owner and operator of Lean for Everyone, located in Farmington Hills, Michigan, working to help teach new and small companies how to use Lean Six Sigma in their workplace.

I am a new reader of Jon’s posts and became an instant fan. The first thing I noticed about Jon’s posts are his long, intriguing titles that grab hold of you and draw you into his lean story. Many of his posts are inspired by daily activities in his life centered on his home which many us can relate while drawing some excellent lean learning. With a biotech background, entrepreneur spirit (he invented and patented Scented Pen) and the skill to make twist balloon animals (not kidding), you can imagine the cool insights and different perspective bursting from his mind and found in his lean posts.

Here are a few of his best for 2010.

Lean on TV: Kitchen Nightmares – Gordon Ramsay from Hell’s Kitchen a change agent?
Jon Wetzel describes the rapid restaurant improvement event steps that Gordon Ramsay uses to save a struggling restaurant from extinction. If you overlook the not-so-shy, in-your-face confrontational style of Mr. Ramsay, you learn that his recipe for improvement is actual quite appealing.

Lean for Health: I’m performing a kaizen on myself at
Jon Wetzel writes a series of posts on his personal fitness improvement journey using highlighting the helpful visual controls found on this website.

Lean for the Home: 4 Simple Steps to Doing a Red Tag Event in Your Closet
Jon Wetzel provides a simple, visual method for seeing the waste in our closet of clothes that we no longer wear.

Lean for Home: Creating an emergency checklist for when the power goes out
Jon Wetzel illustrates the power of the simple checklist and standard work as applied to a home emergency.

5 lean things your accounting dept. can do immediately to help cash flow
Jon Wetzel provides a few simple and effective ideas for our accounting department to look at their procedures with an eye for improvement.

Lean Biotech: I got to dumpster dive in Pfizer’s supply closet. It was not a Lean place
Jon Wetzel connects with his inner Indiana Jones as he pilfers through the abandoned supplies of a closed Pfizer facility, piecing together the remnants to tell the story of their not-so-lean supply chain practices.

Please be sure to continue reading Jon Wetzel’s Lean for Everyone in the future and comment on his posts.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Annual Management Improvement Carnival 2010 - Improve with Me

It’s that time again for the Annual Management Improvement Carnival which is orchestrated by John Hunter, creator of the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog. I have the privilege to help by reviewing four excellent improvement blogs, Improve with Me, Lean for Everyone, My Flexible Pencil and Training within Industry. Following suit with the great review formats of Jamie Flinchbaugh and Tim McMahon, I will review each blog in separate posts over the next few days.

I’ll start things off with Improve with Me written by Brian Buck. Brian is a lean healthcare practitioner from Tacoma, Washington and started writing his blog back in December 2007. I sadly missed a couple of opportunities to meet Brian last year as I traveled to Seattle but hope to met him on one of my future trips.

As a regular reader of Brian’s posts, I have gained a broader perspective on improvement. Here are a few of his best for 2010.

Strategy Deployment Challenges at a Hospital
“Just because a project is a good thing to do does not mean it should be done now. It is very easy to spend time and resources on these “good” projects if your organizational strategy is not deployed throughout all levels. The challenge our organization is facing is there are other strategic initiatives losing momentum due to competing resources.” This post links to a nice video feature Dr John Toussaint from ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value on their hospital lean strategy.

Advice for First Time A3 Authors
“Writing an A3 is a wonderful tool to solve problems and share the thinking that goes into resolving issues. I have some tips to help first time A3 authors that I hope will be valuable for you.”

Doing Silly Things
“It is amazing to me how often people want to implement something or suggest how to change a process without ever connecting their thoughts to a problem or desired outcome. As an internal consultant at a hospital, I frequently get presented with proposed changes where we have to back-track to discover the problem. Here are some reasons I think this happens”

Fire at Will
Brian Buck provides some thought provoking points to the “Burning Platform” approach to drive change.

Don’t Call HR Yet!
“If someone isn’t following standard work then it becomes an individual performance issue. Have you ever heard a leader say something like that? It is important to help leaders understand that there are many reasons why standardized work may not be followed and creating a human resource performance improvement plan should not be the first step.”

A.C.O.W. Tale
“Does your hospital have a system to ensure nurses have working equipment or they know how to get them fixed? I recently visited a hospital where the answer would be “NO”.”

I like Brian’s posts because he presents great examples from his lean healthcare experiences that stretch my manufacturing-centric point of view on lean improvement along with providing his insight to the lean approach.

Please be sure to continue reading Brian Buck’s Improve with Me in the future and comment on his posts.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Managing Mura

One of our challenges in lean manufacturing is to try to level unevenness, called mura, through the value stream is improve the flow. Mura is one of the 3 M’s along with muda (waste) and muri (overburden).

When thinking of mura, we typically think of the demand pattern for our product or service. A cyclical demand profile is fairly common with many products especially seen in seasonal products like lawn mowers, snow blowers, Christmas trees, fruit cake, swim suits, etc. Even caskets have a seasonal pattern, believe it or not. It seems to be the nature of most products and we accept it.

But what about self inflicted unevenness?

I was visiting a company (not a client) recently that has a problem with mura (unevenness). Every month 50% of the total monthly sales occur in the last week of the month. This pattern is pretty consistent each and every month. As you can imagine, the impact through the value stream is like a pig going through a python every month. During the last week of the month, the plant is running high overtime to meet this demand and the following week they are having down days due to low demand.

I learned that they have a monthly sales target to hit every month. This metric is one of the “Must Do” metric driven by management with all the normal rewards and punishments the go along with it. Hit the target means raises, bonuses, promotion and keeping you job. Missing the target means poor reviews, no increase in wages, performance turnaround plans and job loss.

Under this “Must Do” metric, the sales department made decisions and acted to meet the target every month which, in this case, meant making “deals” that cut the price at the end of the month. It did not take long in the market for the savvy customers to see the pattern of price deals towards month end. So as you can imagine, more and more customers waited until the last week of the month to buy which exasperated the situation.

Bottom line, this mura has not only resulted in higher cost but lower sales revenue (however they are making up for it in volume, right?)

I have seen the same push at year end especially when bonuses are at risk. Do anything to make bonus is the primary short term mindset. Is this happening at your company this time of year?

The main problem with goals like monthly targets, quarterly targets, year end targets and bonus driven targets is they potentially can drive the wrong behaviors. Goals and targets are not bad things to have either professionally or personally, they are great things the have. Just be aware of the behaviors and actions that go along with effort to achieve them.

For simplistic countermeasures: Stop doing that. In this case, don’t make the ritual price cuts at the end of the month. Look deeper at how sales promotions affect the value stream. Try to think more long term and figure out what behaviors (ie number of customer touches) are desired to achieve the results (sales generated). Focus on these behaviors deemed to have the most impact. Brainstorm with your team (sales and operations together) to find a better way.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Management Improvement Carnival #118

Got Boondoggle is proud to host another edition of the Management Improvement Carnival. Please check out the following posts from follow lean thinkers in recent weeks. Enjoy and learn!

Who is Responsible? by Jon Miller – “The word "responsibility" means to bear a duty. When one is responsible, it is because one has taken on a burden or duty. In keeping with lean principles this should not be overburden, or unreasonable duties, but it is critically important that individuals take responsibility for the role they have accepted.”

Guest Post: Going to Gemba with Grandma by John Wetzel- “I saw something that I would never have discovered if I hadn’t gone to the gemba.”

Hoshin Kanri: Steel, Needles, Tubes and Logic by Ron Pereira – “And as it turns out, during the taping of Gemba Academy’s Lean Lingo course, Brad broke down the characters of this mysterious word. And in doing so, really opened my eyes to what this word means.”

He Should Have Seen It by Mark Rosenthal - “We talk about 5S, separating the necessary from the unnecessary, a lot, but usually apply it to things. What about information?” (Also read the link in this post!)

Voice of Customer (VOC): What does it mean? By Mark Wheeler – “Most companies have some type of VOC program in place. Many programs fall short of delivering measurable value. This failure often lies at the definition level of VOC. But how do you actually define it?