Thursday, October 21, 2010

If Air Travel Worked Like HealthCare

Here is a quite funny video on the problems(opportunities) within our healthcare system as presented in an air travel parody and a case for Lean Healthcare. Enjoy and laugh (or cry).

Inspired by Shingo Again

A personal highlight for me at the 2010 Northeast Shingo Prize Conference this week was the opening keynote speech and the opportunity to learn from Mr. Ritsuo Shingo, President of the Institute of Management Improvement and son of lean genius, Shigeo Shingo. I was overjoyed getting the chance to meet him after his keynote and talk with him about lean thinking including sharing with him my first lean lessons taught directly by his father back in 1985.

Mr. Ritsuo Shingo lean leadership experience is vast in his own right, working 34 years for Toyota in various positions eventually becoming President of Toyota China in 1998. After Toyota, he worked for Hino Motors China and was elected President in 2007. Mr. Shingo recently retired from Hino Motors in 2009 only to take up his father’s quest to teach lean with the Institute of Management Improvement.

One of his major keynote points was on the principle of “Go and See”. He said it was not enough just to go and see rather we should “Go and Watch.” Go and See may imply just taking a factory tour much like a tourist walks around to see the sights. Go and Watch stresses the idea of going to gemba with a purpose, staying in one area for a length of time. The process itself will tell you what is wrong with it, if any. Mr Shingo suggested that every management person should go to gemba at least once everyday, and stay in one spot for at least 30 minutes to observe. This is EVERY person in management, not just the plant production leaders. Can you imagine the impact if just this one behavior became part of our company’s culture?

Another point linked to Go and Watch was the steps to problem solving. Many of us know the steps in one form or another, but he stated them in this order:
1. Grasp Facts
2. Find the Problem
3. Cause Analysis-5 Whys
4. Countermeasure (Both temporary and permanent)
5. Implementation

The key point is that finding the problem comes after grasping the facts. Many of us think we know what the problem is and jump right into solutions. Mr. Shingo stated we should cast out a large nets to capture the all the fish to understand the problem with the fish representing facts. From the facts (not opinions or assumptions) we should separate the unrelated facts from the related facts and arrange the related facts in order (i.e. time sequence). We will find the problem from the fact.

Mr. Shingo went on to explain that his definition of a problem is a deviation from a standard. Without a standard, we will not be able to find the problem. He stressed that it is a management problem by not showing what is the standard. How many of us have clearly established standards? Standards are one of the foundations of a lean system yet for many of us, if we were to be honest, might find that we have a weak foundation.
If we have them, are we following them?
If we are following them, are we improving them?

Perhaps we should Go and Watch.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lean Bloggers at Shingo Conference

One of the best reasons to attend Lean Conferences like the NE Shingo Prize Conference held in Providence, Rhode Island this week is to meet fellow lean thinkers and sharing our lean experiences and ideas. As seen pictured above (L to R) are Mark Hamel (Gemba Tales blog and author of Kaizen Event Fieldbook), Tim McMahon (A Lean Journey blog), David Kasprzak (My Flexible Pencil blog) and myself-Mike Wroblewski (Got Boondoggle blog) who met up at this Conference. We had excellent opportunities over the course of the conference to discuss all things lean, attend great sessions, get inspired by lean stories and dig deeper into many lean topics. What a great way to learn from true lean thinkers that not only “get it” but actually “live it” which personally fired me up to get back to work helping others on the lean journey.

But it did not stop with just fellow bloggers. I met and talked with many lean thinkers and practitioners included my new friends at GBMP (led by Bruce Hamilton as seen in the Kaizen Toast Video), Jeff Fuchs (Director of the Maryland World Class Consortia) and many, many others.

Gochiso-sama! This is Japanese for “it was a feast” and an expression of gratitude after a full meal. Our discussions and learning at the NE Shingo Prize Conference left me filled with ideas much like a Thanksgiving feast only without the ready-to-nap feeling, more like ready-to-RUN!

Thanks guys for helping me expand my lean thinking. Kampai, my friends!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

TPM in Action

While recently teaching about Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) using the learn-by-doing approach, we were presented with a great learning opportunity. Our first task was to get our hands dirty in giving the selected machine a deep and thorough cleaning. This cleaning is not just to make the machine look good; we were inspecting the machine while cleaning. This deep cleaning process paid particular attention to those hard to reach spots not normally seen by the machine operator on a daily basis.

We did find many issues with this machine that required repair during this deep clean. This was also accompanied with many comments like “I never knew that before”, “What’s that?”, “I can’t believe how much dirt and chips were under here” and “No wonder it leaks, all the drain holes are plugged up.” There were several other comments made that would make a sailor blush and I’ll just leave it to your imagination.

In the middle of our partial disassembly of the machine to reach those places where the sun don’t shine, we found one major problem, a significant rip in the protective sheath of the main control wiring under the machine against the chip conveyor system. It would have never been seen walking around the machine under normal inspection.

With the wires unprotected and naked to the world, we have the potential of a major breakdown. Not only would a failure involving these wires cause a very expensive repair bill with significant downtime, we have the serious potential of electrocuting someone.

Preventing the loss of life is the highest of priority over any of the six big losses found in the OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) metric.

After doing some root cause analysis, the team concluded the original poor design of the machine (thinner sheath material, plastic elbow joints and poor routing location under the machine) was the main root cause. After the new and improve material arrived the next day (thicker sheath and cast metal elbows), the team replaced the wire covering and re-routed the wiring to the back of the machine (instead of under the machine) making it free and clear of the chip conveyor system.

Our TPM approach included corrective and preventative actions by improving the machine design. The end result is a more reliable, more efficient, safer machine available for making parts.