Updated: Mar 28, 2021
A Non-Lean environment is where ...
Mediocre Processes are managed by Amazing People
Whereas a Lean Environment is where ...
Amazing Robust Processes can be staffed with any one!!!
So why are developing Robust Processes so difficult? In most cases people have become victims of their environment. Over time complexity has crept into the process making it harder for new people to learn and typically the process takes longer and has unpredictable outcomes.
Look at the anatomy of a car ... If we used one employee to build an entire vehicle. That employee would need to possess many skills to complete the task, for example; be a welder to assemble the frame, a skilled assembler to build the engine and attach other drive train components, an upholster to create the interior, a painter for the exterior ... The list goes on and on ....
Just imagine f you could find such a multi-skilled employee how much would it cost and to control them to meet your design requirements will be like training a thorough-bred horse.
Henry Ford was brilliant ... He knew that to be effective, cost positive and predictable he needed to take tasks and begin to break them down into small manageable components. The sum total of the task to build a car was still smaller than having an artisan build your complete car ... But with a difference we had individual specialists not generalists and many eyes to contribute continuous improvement ideas.
Even McDonalds has mastered the art of work break-down and even included the numerous use of andons to control the process.
TIP !! You need to observe every process and break it down to the simple tasks.
Even after you have a list of task continue to break it down to the very minimal
and simple of task elements.
Look especially at your office and administrative processes Since little has been done to Lean out these processes ... huge opportunities exist for cellular methodologies and
single piece flow.
Next look at how to create flow within the process. A great way to accomplish this is the adoption of Timed Delivery Routes since it accomplishes a couple of things:
First, Timed Delivery Routes maintain employees focused at their work stations while the materials are being conveyed or advanced through the process. Second, and probably more important is that they will establish a cadence within your organization.
TIP !! Remember people will expand work to fill the time allocated, or if you are a student how to cram a paper the night before it is due, in spite of having 3 months. Start your routes small and simple ... A mail run or clearing the garbage.
The theme of management by walking around is like a Timed Delivery Route, as the organizational memory develops when the boss will be coming by ... They will learn to meet certain metrics and deliverables.
MAKE IT VISIBLE !!! This is where many organizations try to start with their Lean journey because it creates such a visual impact ... But for those it just becomes a housekeeping exercise. You need to make the PROCESS visible. This way anyone will know that status of a process or where problems are happening since it quickly becomes visible. Make sure that your floors are “talking floors” so you know where items are to be located or if they are missing. The use of shadow boards for holding tools work well in any work environment but do not necessarily consolidate them into one location since for every 30 inches of reach consumes .6 seconds.
As you make your processes more visible ... In essence you are creating distributed accountability. By having distributed accountability we have created standard work and some element of empowerment within controllable limits. You are now getting close to having the true Lean Environment.
In conclusion, to create your Lean Environment use the following steps;
• Break down all task to the most simple of functions
• Create Flow
• Make it visible
Finally, it is important to track process compliance as a feed-back loop to the employees and also as a way to measure success. The initial metrics can be simple ... and so they should, since as the process becomes more robust and predictable you and your employees will be ready for more complex metrics.
My simple Lean Metrics ... Go to any meeting room or the cafeteria and see how many chairs have been naturally been pushed in. Often, not many ... this is typically a simple lesson taught to us by our Mom’s as children ... So why as adults does it become lost?