Monday, July 30, 2007

Quick and Easy Kaizen-a way to learn


Long-time pal Hal Macomber is at it again. He just put up Quick N Easy Kaizen, a web site that seeks to model, rather than just talk about, how kaizen really works. Influenced by the significant work of Norman Bodek, Hal is demonstrating how powerful yet simple kaizen really is.

Don't just take a look at the site; enter some improvement you've done recently at work or at home. Look at the other entries. Let your mind start whirring. Suggest others try it as well.

We must learn from each other. Hal's done a great service to us by giving us a vehicle.

Keep on learning.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Just Start It

My wife and I usually share the kitchen clean-up duties each evening.  With no particular concern as to who does what, we get the table cleared, dishes done, counters wiped down and tidied just after supper. 
Recently, we were getting the routine started when I received a phone call.  I took care of that business and came back to the kitchen to find my wife had all the hand washing done already, a task that seemed large to me.  I remarked on the speed to her, which was a comment I suspect she had been waiting to hear for some time.  She gave me a wry smile, as if to say "Pay attention here, Mr. Process Improvement Guy, you might learn something."
She pointed out to me that she does not wait to get all the washing and rinse water run before she starts washing.  Rather, she flips on the water, puts in some soap and immediately begins the hand wash as the wash water fills the sink.  She then sets the washed item in the (empty) rinse sink.  Once she has enough wash water, she moves the nozzle to fill the rinse sink, already holding several washed items.
"You see, I don't wait to get started like you do.  I don't get it the water in before I wash.  I just get going and the water takes care of itself.  It's a lot faster."  She smiled and walked away.  I chuckled and dried all the rapidly-washed pots and pans.  
Two key but simple lessons here, one technical and one behavioral.
In Lean terminology, she eliminated virtually all of the "set-up time" from the process of washing the dishes.  By doing the value-added work of washing the pots as the sink filled, the total time to wash the dishes was nearly the total time of the entire process.  It was a rapid changeover, done instinctively.   
Behaviorally, she demonstrated the value of getting started sooner rather than later.  Extending the old Nike slogan a bit, she said "Just Start It."  In many cases, the sooner we start, the sooner we get done, particularly on more routine tasks. 
Keep learning.  Even in the kitchen. 

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Lean Supermarket, Inc

Lean Supermarket, Inc

I'm pleased to add a link to Lean Supermarket to my blog. Brent Jorgenson, the owner of this on-line resource for us lean junkies, asked me to take a look at his material and post the link if I thought it would be useful.

It is.

Brent has a long experience in implementing lean and saw a need for a one-stop shop to find kanban card holders, 5S aids, quick changeover tools, andon boards and the like. So his effort is to reduce the waste many of us have sensed as we try to move a batch and queue operation into a viable pull system with visible flow.

On top of that set of noble intentions, Brent works out of my home state of Nebraska. Nebraska, you say??? What could possibly come out of the prairie of Nebraska??

Actually, we are very practical, frugal people. People for whom Lean has instinctive appeal. So I'm glad to link up with Brent and commend is on-line store to you.

Keep on learning.