Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Multi-level Change Efforts

Multi-level Change Efforts


My blogging buddy Frank Patrick made a profound series of points last week and I'm only now able to find the time and space to comment. 

His comments were profound as they speak to the understanding of how genuine improvement happens.  Frank ruminated, out loud, on
the need for big change.  Then, he discussed further the role of smaller change events.  

He is right on both of them. 

Effective Lean systems have change happening, simultaneously, at three levels. 

At the lowest level, individuals are improving and documenting the improvement implementation regularly.  World-class companies see two implemented local improvements per person per month.  Yes...two per person per month.  The really good companies and departments often exceed three per person per month.  Most implemented with no capital.  A simple movement of a tool.  A rotation of a receptacle.  A flip-flop of two sequences. 

The next level up is the improvement event.  An organized, planned 2-5 day push for an improvement in a single area.  Involving 4-8 people and spending less than $1,000, it shoots for a substantial improvement in productivity, safety, yield or all of the above.  Some call these "kaizen events" others call these "blitzes."  The name doesn't matter.  Doing it does.  World-class companies devote 2% of each work team's work time to this each month. 

The next level up is the strategic initiative.  This can last up to six months and ties some large-scale operational goal into a series of improvement events.  It is linked tightly to corporate strategy.  This is also called policy deployment,  hoshin or
hoshin kanri.   Only one of these goes on in each plant at a time.  It targets quantum improvements in company performance. 

These three levels happen constantly.  They are not in tension...they are in harmony. 

And it is very tough to develop.  And almost impossible to duplicate.  And those who do have a huge advantage. 

I hope this is helpful

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