Saturday, April 28, 2007
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Monday, April 23, 2007
Friday, April 20, 2007
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Monday, April 16, 2007
What's the Engine? What's the Gas?
I had an odd word picture clarify in my head over the weekend.
We so often in get interested in the tools of Lean. Kanban cards. Pull systems. Value Stream maps. I sitting here right now, for example, finally clicking on producing an X-chart, linking lower level goals to higher level activities. It is making sense. Produces a cool tool to communicate with.
And will this get waste-free manufacturing rolling?
Not by itself.
Enter my word picture.
The tools are the engine. The "stuff," the mechanics, the tangible things you can see and feel. The items that are fairly easy to observe, copy and talk about to others. The engine looks good sitting there. Especially when you can add chrome.
The gas, on the other hand, is the fuel that makes the engine turn. If the engine won't turn, it is of no more use than a boat anchor, chrome or no chrome. In a Lean system, the gas is the passion, the energy, the fuel that drives productive activity. It flows from a sense of purpose, a sense of rightness, a respectful use of people who use their strengths and support each other.
Driving down the street, I can easily view other people's cars. From it's make or from the sticker on the back, I can often tell just where they bought the car as well. If the car is moving, I can make the assumption it has fuel. But I never can see the gasoline. Much less can I even hazard a guess as to where the owner bought the gas. It is invisible to me, though I can see its effect.
The Lesson? I have to put a whole lot of energy into the fuel. The engine needs maintenance, even some polish. But it is the gas that makes the engine go.
Friday, April 13, 2007
The “Visual Walk By” Test
We just added two new engineers to our manufacturing team. An ongoing project for us is to learn how to handle the myriad of project requests that are falling their way, even four days into their tenure.
The three of us worked on developing a visual tool to help manage this. They had several good ideas and they mocked them up, putting the tools on the wall. Handwritten, rough, visual. Taped up.
Another colleague of mine, familiar with our method of creating visual tools, saw this and walked up to the hand-written charts while the engineers were not around. He knew, without having to ask me, that the test was if the charts explained themselves in two minutes or less, with no one around. His report?
“It told me about 75% of what I needed to know.”
The good news: it drew him in and told him some of what he needed.
Today’s learning: we need to fill in the other fourth of what wasn’t obvious.
The test itself is worthwhile. You might try that on your charts and graphs.