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Lean is as Simple as … Tuck in your Chair!

I am certain that most parents have instructed their children to “Tuck in their Chair” after they are done, it is a very simple instruction and not only does it make the area look neat and organized but it also communicates respect for others by removing a tripping hazard and it signals that you are done … Really simple and I am sure clearly understood by all of our readers …

So do I need to communicate this simple basic supposedly instinctive behaviour through a work instruction? You Betcha … Yes! … because when the parents are not around and it is not their personal space, common decency for the most part cannot be expected.

We are going through a tremendous period of constant change especially as it relates to protecting ourselves and others from Covid so it is fully understandable that processes are in a constant state of flux … but are the change requests actually delivering the desired results? People are great observers and when it comes to my personal protection my eyes audit processes like a hawk so it just makes sense that your procedures have accountability integrated … and not just another check-mark motion of compliance but a true emotional commitment.

Now, people, all people resonate with instruction in different fashions. There are three distinct communication transfer methodologies used to communicate and digest information. Imagine, that you are about to embark on learning or installing new software on your computer and see which category you relate best with;

Orator … These are folks that will read an instruction manual from cover to cover before beginning to use the tool. This also includes those folks that will read the assembly instructions before beginning an assembly process.

Visual … if someone shows you how to do something or takes you for a guided tour, you are able to retain enough information that will enable you to continue on your journey.

Touch … here someone will actually mentor you through a series of actions so that you actually touch and experience the elements of the process so they become programmed into your brain.

I am always amazed at the complex methodologies leaders within organizations want their employees to follow … when they have difficulty managing their leadership team to follow some basic principles. For example, observe the following basic Standard Visual Work Instruction for a meeting room … I know you are thinking … is this for a pre-school classroom? Nope … was for a meeting room used by highly educated professionals …

  1. Board Room to be left as you found it or better! – clean and orderly

  2. Chairs must be pushed in – and table cleared

  3. Excess papers must be removed and placed in recycle container

  4. Ensure all attendees are aware of Safety Requirements and Evacuation procedure (especially for visitors)

  5. Turn off light and computers before departing meeting room.

  6. If food is involved Meeting Facilitator must arrange for appropriate disposition of leftovers.

Yes, so simple it almost appears insulting ... but unfortunately necessary and it still took almost 6 months to achieve compliance.

Just conduct an audit of your meeting room half-way during the day … how do they look? Messy?, Chairs not put back into their proper place or papers and reports from previous meeting left behind? Then you will quickly understand why it will be a challenge to create that “Adult to Adult” environment through-out the entire organization

So where to start?

Start in your meeting rooms and cafeterias … make the instructions simple, yet easily understood in a positive manner. If you really want to make it effective assign a room monitor randomly to insure that the work instructions have been followed after a break …

Pictures speak a thousand words … they are also a universal language that everyone understands. Why is that you send picture postcards from your vacation? … cause it easier than attempting to describe it through the written word.

If the creation of a Standard Visual Work Instruction requires more than 1 page … the assignment is too complex. Simplify the content or break it down into more meaningful miniature tasks.

Many organizations cringe in fear that they will have to create Standard Visual Work Instructions for every operation within the facility … nothing can further from the truth. Have individuals or Teams go through the exercise of creating a Standard Visual Work Instruction where confusion, misunderstanding or conflict is occurring about role responsibility or accountability.

Other things to consider about Standard Visual Work Instructions …

Standard Visual Work Instructions are not created for operations but rather as an auditing tool for management to ensure standard work practices are being followed.

Do not call them Standard Visual Work Instructions … but rather your Current Best Practice, this will psychologically empower your folks to want to find improvements to constantly enhance the process without the fear of retaliation or discipline … as long as they follow the Standard Visual Work Instruction for making changes.

Anyone within your organization should be empowered to suggest new Best Practices to be adopted, so make the creation of a new work instruction simple and easy. With the price of digital cameras being so cost effective the barrier for using this tool is virtually eliminated.

Solidify compliance to Instructions using a layered auditing approach like have items to be checked reflected in your TPM (Total Productive Management). Combined TPM and Visual Work Instructions truly will anchor your changes and amplify the potential of sustainability.

A good Standard Visual Work Instruction will pretty much cover all three of the common communication transfer methodologies.

So what kind of communication receptor are you? … Orator, Visual or Touch?

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