Even when I am not facilitating training or events, I like to walk by and participate or sometimes just listen and observe the employees participation. This is something that always helps me to measure how well our new lean culture is progressing.
There is one kaizen event on which I am really interested because is impacting one critical area that has the potential to positively affect the areas upstream and downstream in more than one way: safety, OEE, quality product release cycle time, inventory accuracy and WIP (work in process) reduction. They started building their own value stream current state and identifying all the kaizen bursts. The team meetings are usually very intense, the participation level is great and the discussion is pretty good. One day though, something was wrong because the energy was different.
They were working on the future state and the discussion was bit heated. One of the supervisors was utterly quiet, which immediately calls my attention. During the meeting, the facilitator asks her about one of the proposed ideas and her answer was: ” I don’t know! I don’t work there! Ups, all my alarms went off! Next day, I visited her at the gemba and after some small talking, I asked her about kaizen. In the beginning, she was a bit hesitant to tell but then she indicated that it is just not right to discuss how to organize the area and change the flow if any of the team members are actually hands-on working on the area. After that, I felt like a train ran over me! Gosh! How right she was! How in the world I did not notice that!
Right before this event started, we were introducing the concept of “the next process is the customer”, the group have people downstream and upstream, and the team leaders and supervisors from the area but nobody from the actual doers. We have to invest in our people, empower the people! How these guys will feel when we call them to show a new process! Right off the bat, everything will be wrong, and at the end will happen only what they allow to happen. We can not go to other people house to mess with it!
Thanks to the sharpness of this supervisor we realized our mistake and from the next meeting, new team members started to participate. We all learn a lesson, the process owners are the first ones to receive the event invitation always!