Lean Quotes

Winds of Change

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

Barack Obama

Advertisements
Five S, The Beginning

Do you practice 5S at home?

The beauty of 5S is that is simple and can be used everywhere.  In one of my recent 5S implementations I was not getting the buying from my maintenance crew until I mention examples of 5S at home.  Let’s face it, nobody want to lose their tools or waste time looking for them instead of working on that project that you are so passionate about.  You need a tool, you know you have it but, where it is?

During my lean journey 5S is one of the tools that I always use at the beginning of the implementation.  This training is very important because physically transform the area very fast, and is so easy to use that employees can learn and practice in a short period of time which helps to build confidence on lean manufacturing.  That confidence also led the employees to try 5S at home.

I heard great stories of how they use 5S on their garages, home offices and closets around the house.  If is funny to hear how they explain their spouses or partners the plan they have to organize and keep organize those areas.  The challenges they face to make their families understand the why and how help them to understand our challenges at the plant and become advocates of the program.

If you have some cluttered areas around your house, 5S is the tool you need to get rid of them.  Try it, it’s worth it!  In future posts I will present ideas that you can use at home.

 

Continuous Improvement, Gemba Management, Problem Solving

How is continuous improvement practiced in real life?

I was watching a Ted Talk video with chef José Andrés where he described how a team of chefs fed Puerto Rico after hurricane María.  I admire him for his work in Haiti after the earthquake in 2010, but now after his work in Puerto Rico with the World Central Kitchen I am thankful and consider him a hero.  The entire talk is fascinating but there are parts that resonate in me for the simplicity on which he and his support team did problem solving and continuous improvement in a crisis and beat the huge federal structure on bringing food for the people in need.

Some of his words remind me things that we do while practicing continuous improvement:  “Let’s not plan, let’s not meet, let’s start cooking.”  and  “All of a sudden, big problems become very simple, low-hanging fruit solutions, only by doing, not planning and meeting in a very big building”.

One common situation for managers is to take decisions, is what we do every day.  Some managers still take decisions based on month end reports discussion during a staff meeting.  Those reports are like a post-mortem analysis, they only say what happened on the past.  Any action taken may or may not work to change the subject targeted on those reports.

The best way to know a situation first hand is going to where the action is, lean practitioners call that place gemba.  Gemba is whenever the process we want to improve happens, the production floor, office, laboratory, any place where we need to practice continuous improvement.

I am very visual, for me the best way to understand something is by taking a look at it.  I use charts and other visual methods to communicate status but when I am facing a problem, the only way for me is to go where the problem is and observe.  For me going to the gemba and see what is happening is a natural thing.  Even if does not feel that natural for you, it is possible to do it and it works on every environment.

What José Andrés did in Puerto Rico was just that, he went to the gemba observed the situation and took decisions on the spot.  Their ideas execution was also a check for their effectiveness and the trigger for changes to adapt to the changing situation or priorities.  That is how we practice continuous improvement at its best!

Workplace

Is your job making you sick?

Unless you won the big lottery prize or are insanely millionaire, you have to go to work everyday.  A few people is lucky and have a job that they love.  My grandpa use to say, make a living doing something you love and then you don’t have to work the rest of your life.  Easier said than done!

Most people have an ok job, they don’t love it but they are content with it, good salary, not a big hassle, stable.  There are others that wish every day to have a different job.  If they don’t like it, then what keep them from walking out?  Most of the time, their responsibilities like family and/or debts convinced them of keep going.

When the daily struggle is so bad that you feel you hate your job, most probably your health is suffering either from the lack of good rest or from complications from it.  Not enough sleep can cause headaches, migraine, weight gain, mood swings, irritability, tummy problems, poor vision and others.  We all know that stress is a source of hypertension, depression and anxiety.

As leaders we are responsible for the well-being of our employees, not just to provide a safe workplace.  What are we doing wrong that people just hate to go to work everyday?  That is a question we need to ask ourself, a deep analysis of our daily practices, how we treat our employees.  Are we supporting and helping them to be successful on their jobs?  Do we show respect?  Do we care to listen to their concerns and treat them as human beings and not just commodities?

Everyday when you wake up, your first though should not be “I don’t want to go to work”.   If it is, maybe you have to try harder to get out of there because you are letting yourself to be trapped on toxic situation that is making you sick.