Saturday, February 12, 2011

I am Insane

During a recent kamishibai training session, I received the best compliment of my lean sensei career to date. At least I’m taking it as a compliment. The President of the company said to me, “You are insane.”

After conducting a session on leader standard work, I introduced the use of kamishibai boards to senior management which in this case included the President and his staff (plant manager, department heads of sales, engineering, etc). Kamishibai boards are a simple audit card system using layered audits. Audits are one of the key elements of a lean management system to identify process problems and engage all levels of management closer to the process. It forces the attention of management to focus on the process.

We went to a newly constructed audit board created by the team leaders and supervisor, reviewed how to use the audit cards and practiced doing a real audit using the cards. At first, the senior management was a little apprehensive to go out to gemba to audit the process but grabbed an audit card anyway and started their learning process.

Almost immediately, I was getting feedback like, “How do expect me to know if the setup was right and completed in the expected time?”, “If we do these audits, it will take us all day to finish them.”, “How can I tell if the prints are the correct level?”, “How do you expect me to know if we are working to standard?”. It was a little surprising just how much negative pushback was given and this is from the senior staff, the leaders of the lean system.

My response was, “How do you think you will know the answers?”

After a round of discussion among the group, the President spoke up and said, “Mike, you are insane.” He went on to say, “You mean to tell us that we are expected to know our processes on the shop floor?”

I smiled.


Jamie Flinchbaugh said...

Great story Mike. You can't fix everyone. But you can sometimes expose their "brokenness."

I was doing a value stream mapping analysis with a senior management team. After completing the current reality, the general manager sat back and said "if it wasn't for our customers and suppliers, we'd be in pretty good shape." He couldn't see past the problems OTHERS caused for him. Needless to say, he is no longer the general manager.

Mike Wroblewski said...

Hi Jamie,

Thanks for your comments. As you know, we are more like farmers planting seeds waiting for them to grow before harvest. Some seeds take root and others do not.