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Is a Good Morning Greeting a Waste or a Disturbance?

I had just completed my pre-shift surf through our car assembly plant and settled into my perch in Final Assembly where I could observe our Andon Board at Shift Start when a Team Member approached me, he said … “You know Richard if we were to stop greeting each other we could, in essence, build another 2 vehicles per shift!”

With a shocked response, I exclaimed “WHAT ??? we cannot become that impersonal, we spend a lot of time together and we do have a baseline of “Respect” for all our Team members to uphold.”

The Team Member continued … "do the math - we typically say Good Morning to at least 10 people as we migrate from the parking lot to our work-station. We have over 3200 Team Members and each greeting transaction consumes around 3 seconds … so in essence, we are wasting 100,800 seconds or 3360 minutes per day doing greetings. It takes us around 12 hours of direct touch labour to assemble a single-vehicle … so if we stop greeting and divert that time to building cars … we could build 2 more every day".

Of course, it was an absurd observation, but it did definitely demonstrate just how successful our cultural DNA had evolved that our Team Members questioned every process to find opportunities no matter how sacred they may be or natural as being a human. If we had decided to act on the suggestion it would have been the ultimate cultural change challenge … but I never forgot about that brief exchange … ever …

Now let us migrate to another scenario a few years later. We were in the middle of a major deployment of Daily Report-Out methodologies. I had arrived early and was surfing the plant quietly to monitor progress and updates on our boards. As I passed across the receiving dock I was startled to see the maintenance manager opening one of our crates that had arrived with more boards. Startled, because he made sure I was aware that he was not a fan of the methodology during our training.

So I paused and engaged in a conversation with him … and I gained my first insight. In my role as a Maintenance Lead, I get blamed by everyone for not meeting numbers dues to equipment malfunctions or unscheduled downtime. I typically review all of my e-mails when I arrive to work … and one issue may get covered in 10’s of e-mails that I need to read, respond and then resolve because everyone is more focused on shifting blame … Now I just walk the boards, record the issues and dispatch the appropriate resources and in many cases can have the issue resolved before I need to be held accountable at the Management Report-Out … my e-mail traffic has dropped over 30% … so although I hate the methodology I am starting to love it since it is becoming my path of precision communication.

Report-Out Kit

Third Data point ...

At another site, I am standing and observing a Shift Start having arrived 15 minutes before shift start. As I am standing and observing (notice a common thread about the power of observation) I noticed the following,

  • Foreman arrived to greet and speak with the Team Lead (2-3 minutes)

  • Assistant Superintendent arrived to greet and speak with the Team Lead (2-3 minutes)

  • Human Resource Manager arrived to greet and speak with the Team Lead (2-3 minutes)

  • The plant Manager arrived to greet and speak with the Team Lead (2-3 minutes)

  • Customer Service arrived to greet and speak with the Team Lead and confirm today’s priority (2-3 minutes)

  • General Manager arrived to greet and speak with the Team Lead (2-3 minutes)

So, in summary, our Team Lead’s attention was being diverted in 6 separate instances consuming close to 30 minutes when he should have been focused on getting his area up and running and resolving any potential “Disturbances to Flow”. Of course, all the visitors ranked higher within the organization than the Team Lead and deserved respect and attention and to them, they were seeking unfiltered updates at the center of truth so they could react and respond accordingly and with authority.

So the challenge based on Data points is:

  • How to maintain Respect without interruption?

  • How establish Daily Priorities?

  • How to not interrupt Team Members that have achieved their “muscle memory” cadence

  • How to share unfiltered information without having to repeat the message multiple times?

  • How to assign resources?

  • Define accountability?

  • Shorten the Shift Start ramp-up?

In short, the answer is for organizations to adopt and implement Daily Report-Outs which consists of a series of stand-up meetings with precision speaking and generous listening. The typical methodology consists of a Shift Exchange, Shift Start and Daily Management Report-Out. Each meeting needs to be completed in under 5 minutes and must cover critical information and data to summarize the previous 24-hour accomplishments while setting the expectations for the coming 24 hours.

In future we will discuss the required mechanics and more important is the development of critical Key Performance Indicators (KPI) that are controllable by the Report-Out Board members. Just having a KPI with a target just becomes a wish unless you can delegate control and accountability to shift the pointer.

Daily Report-Out methodology is a simple concept but also complex in nature to how it is developed and deployed … and thus becomes a challenge to properly explain … but one of our clients did give our product description a good critique …

“For the report-out boards, you may want to add more to the description about how these are often the bedrock of many Lean deployments and certainly one of the most effective stand-alone tools”

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