Wednesday, April 14, 2004


Learning About Lean from My Friends 

It’s great stuff when your friends teach you.  Three examples from just today.

Al, on obviousness 

My colleague Al read yesterday's post and said “You haven't stated the obvious with your observations, but after you make those points I'm thinking, "Well yeah, that makes sense......of course." “

Which got me thinking.  Lean is simply a system of thinking that gets you to the obvious point quickly.  In retrospect, it is obvious, common sense.  But, when encountering a job site or an office or a messy garage or a welding shop, things appear chaotic.  Using Lean tools get me to the “Ahaaaa” stage faster. 

But I hadn’t put it that clearly until interacting with Al earlier today. 

Thanks, Al.  

Ken, on slogans 

I had an issue come up today with another colleague, Stan, involving a process breakdown; one of our folks knowingly passed along a defective product to the next stage.  Bad News.  What do we do? 

Ken has, over the past couple of years, typed up and laminated several key Lean principles and posted them next to his desk in clips.  In this case, I realized I could review with Stan the four key actions to take in this setting, (the principles of autonomation or jidoka, in lean-speak)  which Ken had laminated:

1.       Detect the abnormality

2.       Stop.

3.       Correct the immediate problem

4.       Find root cause and install a countermeasure.

I pulled down the card and read through it with Stan, applying it to the situation.  We had a great conversation.  Clarity followed. 

I’m not all that big on slogans, inspirational posters and the like.  But Ken did our company a big service with these cards.  And I learned a lot from it.

Thanks, Ken.  

Sean, on advance notice 

Late today, I received an email from a former colleague, Sean.  He had also read yesterday’s post and offered observations on why “some don’t get it.”  He suggested a possible cause from his own experience:

If I feel like someone has intently listened to what in put I have to the subject, and has had an open dialogue of discussion with me, I feel like I have some effectiveness and involvement. This makes me want to work harder with or for that person in any given situation.”

Great point.  It is altogether too easy to throw off the phrase “some just don’t get it”.  But this, in itself is an abnormality (see Ken’s chart above).  What’s the root cause?  Countermeasure?  Sean suggests earlier and deeper involvement in goal development.  I learn from that.

Thanks, Sean. 

And I hope you learn from this too

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