Friday, October 26, 2012

Creating Interest

Flow is a lot more interesting than batch.

This occured to me in recent conversations with one of our team leaders who schedules work for her area.  A series of well-intended but misdirected steps had created a batch process in her area.  She couldn't figure out how to fix it but we managed to reverse the errors well enough and regain flow.  Two weeks later, she couldn't be more pleased.

"We are getting more done each day," she beamed.  Why? I asked.  "Well, there is more variety.  We work on several different products each day and that stops boredom.  Plus, by doing that we use different materials and are less likely to run out of our supplies." 

There is all the theory of why flow trumps batch, why synchronizing production to sales works, why pull is better than push, why reacting promptly is better than predicting accurately.

Yet, when you get down to the core, it's also just a lot more interesting. 

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Go Look at the Ears

"You know, farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from the corn field."
Dwight Eisenhower, Address at Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois, 9/25/56

Ike had it right.  Need we say more about getting out of the office and to the place where we add value?  About showing respect for the folks doing the work by spending time in their worlds?  About feeling the rocks in the soil and the insects crawling and the joy of a good harvest and the sweat by which it comes about?

No wonder the Allied Armies were willing to follow and fight for General Eisenhower. 

My thanks to Jamie Flinchbaugh for pointing me to the Eisenhower quote. 

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Monday, October 08, 2012

The Curse of Sophistication

As long as I've worked at implementing a Lean strategy, I continue to find it amazing how a description of it seems to fall flat on others' ears.  A common reaction is "Well, it's just common sense."

Which is truly a comment which dismisses it as a viable strategy.

Lean works when folks accept the fact that "simple" works.  That replacing what you sold is an effective inventory strategy.  That a promptly-recorded, hand-written metric is an effective visual indicator.  That a manager walking down the hall to see a situation for herself beats the daylights out of a screen-full of four decimal pointed figures.

Our access to technology and obsession with sophistication blinds us to simple processes.   Simple processes are, less and less, "common sense".

And it is that simplicity which is truly Lean.

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