Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Rapid Change – Developing a Method

When I visited Wiremold’s Brooks Electronics Division in Philly a month ago, I was "up close and personal" with the best conceived system for continuous improvement that I’ve seen. My mind has been churning on it since and today we took an important step to try it.

My colleague Craig has a major project to strip 8% of the cost out of one of our product lines by December 31. Much work is done already but he asked if Wiremold’s method might help direct the final push. So, we sat down this morning for three hours and planned how to link the large project (called a hoshin at Wiremold, renamed "strategic initiative" here) with seven supportive sub-events (called Kaizen many place, we’ve called "Blitz"). Using Wiremold’s model, we reduced each event’s plan to a single piece of paper. Thus, in only eight pages, we have a believable plan for a major effort.

Will it work? I’ll keep you posted. I can say this:
1. The method keenly focuses us on what we are doing, freeing us from worrying about the format.
2. The final plan promotes clear accountability.
3. The method forces substantial conversations.

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