Sunday, November 21, 2004

Kaizen, Real Time, Part 2

Kaizen, Real Time, Part 2

Finished up the Kaizen event on Friday. I think a lot about these things. What worked, and why? What bombed, and why? Who connected, who didn't? What did I get close on and just need to tweak next time? What is so bad that I need to start all over, from scratch?

One thing that worked was the Management Review. This is a little-discussed part of a Kaizen event but I have come to view it as one of the most distincitive and crucial parts of a Kaizen event and is a distinguishing mark of Lean. In short, at the end of the event, the Kaizen team presents a short (literally 15 mintue) presentation of their goal, what they did and what they found. Then, invited guests who are affected by the outcome of the event are welcome to ask questions, scrutinize the outcomes and offer coaching. In a well-developed Lean firm, this is also a time for significant coaching.

When we gathered on Friday, we chose not to tell about one development of standardized work, but to let the assembled guests actually do the standardized work, with virtually no instruction. It was a test of our proposed improvement. Since we held the Management Review in the actual part of our facility that we were improving, they had to walk only a few feet to test the process. And, in three mintues, literally, we had tested our new system 11 times (because 11 people were there for the review!).

What was cool was that it worked 10 out of 11 times. And one member of mangement found a mistake.

And the moment of truth would we respond to an error??

It provided a moment of coaching and teaching. First, we thanked the man who identified the error. We realized it had happened in the haste to finish up. And we realized how to avoid it in future. Exactly what a management review should do. Cool.

The big error in this kaizen was my poor estimation of the time it would take us to implement the changes we were proposing. Like I only allotted half the time it required. Yeah, 10 pounds of potatoes in a 5 pound just wasn't possible. In my optimism in planning, I botched it. We have a too-long list of to-do's...I hope we can get them done in the next week. But it messes up the schedule for the next Kaizen (which is linked to this one) as we work around the holiday schedule coming up here in the US.

Never a time to stop learning. I hope this helps you to learn a little as well. Thanks for listening.

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