Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Quietly Spectacular

An acquaintance phoned me yesterday, August 1.  He was kind of bewildered, yet happy. 

He and I had talked off and on over the last six months about his attempt to install a pull system to even out his production flow.  He had had mixed results and had equally mixed buy-in by some of his manufacturing staff.  They wanted to anticipate demand downstream rather than respond solely to the production signals that kanban provided him.

And, during July, it seems that he hit a critical mass of buy-in.  He noted during the month that uncertainty seemed to be lower, staff whining seemed to be quieter and his final goods and in-process inventory metrics seemed to be better...even though they were having a good month, business-wise. 

But the kicker came as he compiled some month-end figures for July.  His on-time delivery rate was up by 3 percentage points, to a level above the target his management had asked him to hit.  A significant accomplishment in his world. 

And he wondered aloud "Gee, it didn't seem that flashy."

Indeed.  An effective lean system is not flashy.  It is very quiet.  In fact, it calms things down to a level that a manager can then see the genuine problems and not be distracted by noise.  He saw the results up close.  I was happy for him.

I hope this is helpful.

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