Friday, April 25, 2003

Making Local Improvements

I've written before about Norm Bodek and his fine book “The Idea Generator.” Norm posted a great summary of his approach in a posting earlier this week on the Northwest Lean Listserve.

I attach the salient part of his post here. You can also read the entire post. There is a key challenge here; Do we believe that small changes have impact?

1. Changing the method - once you change you don't go back to doing it the old way.

2. Small ideas - this is the major key. Most managers are looking only for the big ideas - "the big bang for the buck,," and they ignore the opportunity to involve all employees - not every employee can come up with a big idea but they surely can come up with little ideas that make their job easier and more interesting. Example, a worker gets up every few minutes to drop something into a waste paper container and then gets the idea to move the waste paper container closer. It is a small great idea. We want continuous improvement and it is the accumulation of small ideas that makes a big effect. Sometimes the small idea is worth billions - look at paper clips or post-it-notes.

3. Changes within constraints or limitations. People are afraid to make changes - this is managements job to help overcome that fear. Constraints are: not enough money, not enough time, the boss won't let me, I have too much on my plate, people are not talented enough to do it, etc. Quick and Easy Kaizen is done recognizing that there are restraints but we will overcome them all. We want continuous improvement you must overcome the constraints. People will always tell you why they cannot do something - you just smile, thank them and do what Dr. Shingo did, you say, "Do it! I will come back and check next week to see if it was done."

I have concluded that Norm has something. We've been implementing his material as our primary way of documenting local improvements. It works. If you'd like more info, please contact me. In the meantime, I encourage you to review his material and website.

And, no, I'm not on commission!! It simply works. And, it works, simply.

Feel free to forward to a friend. Email me

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