Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lean Behaviors: Mock Up, Part 2

Taking my own advice (and that of a colleague), we did a life-size mock up Friday of a new, pull-based scheduling system.  We did it with the folks who will have to use it.


What did we learn?

·         How much physical space it would take

·         Our initial thought on label clarity was inadequate

·         The concept will likely work

·         Three other assumptions were slightly off target

·         Batching is built into our DNA

·         Flow is tough to learn


How did we learn it?

·         We watched the space it would take

·         We watched clumsiness in working with kanban cards

·         We listened to language

·         We watched moods change from comprehension to confusion to frustration to insightful satisfaction


What will we do?

·         We handed out three assignments to get at by Monday at 9am

·         We scheduled a repeat of the mock up later on Monday morning


In short, we did a pile of learning and a pile of teaching in a mere 90 minutes at virtually no cost just by doing a mock up and simulating three days' production cycle. 


No computer screens in sight. 


Seven people, sitting, walking, scowling, asking, listening, talking, moving, adjusting, clarifying. 


90 minutes. And I truly don't think it would have happened as well had we not done the mock up.  


Well worth it.





Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Lean Behaviors: Mock Up

I was reminded twice today of the criticality of a simple, life-size mock up of a proposed change.  In our virtual, digital world (witness this blog :-) ) we mostly sit, staring at a computer screen.  Subtly, that becomes reality to us.

It becomes more of a shock and of supreme use to make up a model of a process.  

  • Use a refrigerator box as a "machine".  
  • Stand at a kitchen counter to model an assembly.  
  • Use empty milk jugs to simulate fluid flow.  
  • Write with washable markers on a wall to see how a pipe should run.  
  • Use playing cards to simulate kanban pick up and delivery.  
  • Put tape on the floor to show where you would walk between process steps.

Mock it up.  Now.  It's amazing what it will trigger for your learning.  

And then keep learning.


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Lean Behaviors: Trusting Signals

Fundamental to any Lean implementation is Just in Time delivery. JIT is driven by pull signals, flowing opposite the direction of product, requesting an upstream.  Thus, everything depends on the human reaction to that signal, be it a physical kanban card, an electronic signal, a specified container, or the arrival of a tugger.
And humans want to know; Is the signal reliable?  Can I depend on it?  Does it tell me, every time, precisely what to do?  Does it make my life better?
An answer of "no" or "maybe" or "well, it should" is enough to derail the pull system.
Humans need to trust the signal.
The signals need to be trustworthy. 
When a pull system isn't working, it's usually one of these two. 
Keep on learning.