Thursday, November 21, 2002

I thought We Fixed That!!

Here's the fifth point from George Koenigsaecker of Simpler Consulting on why Lean is different from our "natural" way to think.

Once we have improved an operation we are done vs. Every time you apply the lean tools to an operation you will find more waste.

This concept is probably as radical as batch vs. flow. This one also drives us crazier and is harder to grasp than batch vs. flow.

Why? Because it says we are never done. There is always more waste to eliminate. There is always a way to improve further. As my friend, Mary Pat Cooper of Wiremold puts it "We're as bad now as we'll ever be!" Sounds weird, but she is completely right, living in the lean environment she does. They are always getting better.

Practically, what does this mean? Here are some of my thoughts...I'd welcome yours.

  • I regularly "re-do" an improvement I have already made.
  • I live with the knowledge that things will change.
  • I learn how to talk about continuous change and improvement with my colleagues.
  • I have a couple of key metrics by which I assess if a process keeps improving.
  • I admit that what I did six months ago to improve a process can now be done better.
  • I learn to live with the comment, unspoken or not, "If it is better now, why didn't you improve it back then?"
  • I flesh out, gladly, being a continuous learner.
  • I live in a mood of curiosity and interest. I refuse to live in a mood of resignation or cynicism.
I could come up with a lot more. But excellence and true quality means I'm continuously paying attention to improvement. I hope this is helpful.

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