In two different companies where I worked, I had the pleasure to work with the same VP of Operations. Over the years we get to know each other pretty well and developed a very good relationship based on mutual respect. We challenge each other all the time and that makes our work more interesting. He was old school: push more cases out the door, get them faster, the cost per case is the most important key performance metric! His point of view and my lean thinking were always in a constant battle.
One metric that is very important for us is the yield, how much of the initial raw weight ends up on a can. From time to time we have occasional issues with low yield and every time I used lean tools to find out the root cause and create new countermeasures. During one of those seasonal events of low yield, my boss and I had our usual discussion of what the corrective actions will be; this time I was totally blank; not a single idea of how to proceed. He noticed my hesitation and then he told me: just need to do one thing, go back to the basics.
On our busy lives, it is pretty easy to overwhelm by so many things going at the same time that we can’t find a tree on a forest. The most obvious things are in front of us and we can’t see! If that happens we have to go back to the basics, we have to remember always the ground rules for practicing kaizen in the gemba: housekeeping, muda elimination, and standardization.
My old boss was right, in case of doubt; always go back to the basics!