Recently we have an external audit at our plant and while the results were good, they were not as good as expected. The audit results did not match the excellent team work effort and great preparation work done during the whole year. The auditor managed to see a good amount of non-conformance, most of them were very simple things.
During the staff meetings right after the audit we reviewed all the observations, some of us were pretty upset by the results. At the end of the meeting our general manager pointed out the team work done and how hard we worked during all last year and the current to make the plant visible which helped the auditor to determined what was out of standard. Of all people, I failed to noticed that our plant is so visible that basically we made the auditor job easier!
Lesson learned, this story is now part of our Five S and Visual Management trainings. These programs work, the audit was proof of that. Visual standards make easier to understand when situations are out of standard. The next step after detection is to fix the situation, that is where we need to work more. Daily follow-up is important, training for new employees and why not? Maybe we need to revise the standards and go back to the drawing table, after all the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle never ends!