Monthly Archives: April 2007

Standardized Work Instructions

Standardized work instructions are in important part of Deming and lean manufacturing management systems. Processes need to be standardized and continually improved (kaizen). Without a documented standard process variation normally increases over time as processes drift away from the desired standard. As new ideas for improved are proposed those changes can be tested using PDSA and adopted if successful.

The key is not having a document saying this is what the standard process is, the key is having a document that is actually used. For that reason it is essential that the work instructions are easy to use (visible and as simple as possible) and easy to update (to avoid the common problem of the process changing and the work instructions losing touch with what is actually done).

Resources on standard work instructions:

Womack: Toyota Now and the Risks They Face

Why Toyota Won and How Toyota Can Lose by James Womack

Toyota’s great risk, the way it can lose, is that its new managers and the managers in its new suppliers will revert to the old, mass-production mentality of the companies or schools they have come from. If this happens, Toyota’s management performance will regress toward the mean. Instead of moving the whole world to embrace lean management, Toyota will become just another company. And that will be a tragic failure for us all.

The heart of the lean manager’s knowledge is strategy deployment originating with senior managers, A3 problem solving for line managers in the middle of the organization, and standardized work for primary supervisors near the bottom.

This is another excellent article by Womack. See more articles on lean management by Womack. Reissue addition of the Machine that Changed the World (with revised forward and afterword).

Related: lean manufacturing portallean thinking articlesToyota Production System posts

Learning Lean: A Survey of Industry Lean Needs

A draft version of Learning Lean: A Survey of Industry Lean Needs [the broken link was removed] by Gene Fliedner and Kieran Mathieson is now available. This voice of the customer report is product of some of those involved in the Lean Education Academic Network. Conclusions:

We studied what business practitioners think graduates need to know about Lean. Our results showed that practitioners are not concerned about specific technical skills. Instead, they want graduates to possess a systems view of organizations and value streams. Implications for Lean education and a broader systems approach to professional education in general, are considered.

I think it is an interesting read.

Related: Applying Lean Tools to University CoursesLean Education Academic Network Spring MeetingApplied Quality Engineering Educationvoice of the customer

K-12 Educational Reform

Educational Reform Failing K-12 Students, Educator Says [the broken link was removed] by Victor M. Inzunza:

Educational reform has failed to substantially increase K-12 student achievement despite a “massive expenditure of resources,” but the system can be improved if some of the concepts of the influential quality-control expert W. Edwards Deming are applied to schooling, said a former New York Department of Education official

it’s turned itself into a one-size-fits-all, mass-production system where the individual needs of young people are often overlooked to the detriment of their learning.

Applying Deming’s ideas to education is a challenge (it is not as simple as applying the ideas in another business – some additional thought is needed to see how ideas apply to education systems) but very worthwhile. David Langford has done some great work in applying Deming’s ideas to education.

Related: education related posts – Quality in Our Schools [the broken link was removed] – K-12 (kindergarten though high school) quality improvement links – Applying Total Quality Management Principles To Secondary Education [the broken link was removed], Mt. Edgecumbe High School, Sitka, Alaska by Kathleen Cotton [the broken link was removed] – Feel Bad Education [the broken link was removed] by Alfie Kohn

Management Improvement Carnival #9

Lean is Not Mean

Lean and Not Mean: Simple Management Most Effective [the broken link was removed]:

The “pull” rather than “push” point of view first pioneered by the Japanese car manufacturers means that, in lean, everything is seen from the customer’s point of view. Production is defined by the demand from the customer instead of the push from the manufacturer.

“The driver of lean is all from the customer perspective,” says Holmes. “When we talk about value, its value from the customer’s viewpoint. So in any project, we look at the ratio of time in process versus value added time.

This article is another simple overview: I like the title. For more information, see some of our favorite lean articles and our lean manufacturing blog posts.

Google Software Engineering

An interesting series of posts on Google NYC, Top Google engineer talks to NYC software industry [the broken link was removed]:

Google NYC is not a specialized engineering operation, its 300 engineers work in teams of three on the full gamut of Google products and services. Currently, Google NYC engineers are working on about 100 different projects.

Of Google’s 8000 employees worldwide, approximately half are engineers. Warren stressed that Google pro-actively seeks to keep an engineering-centric culture and does all in its power to avoid undue influences from the likes of biz dev, VC and marketing folks.

Google continues to stress the importance of letting engineers pursue customer delight. It seems to be working pretty well, even if some don’t like the primacy of engineers at Google.

Google Engineering: The REAL story [the broken link was removed]

The Google agile development process begins with “upfront ideation,” Rechis said, and “story creation” follows. Once “stories are in place,” a highly managed “weekly sprint” development cycle is set in motion, with multi-functional teams working to meet supervised deadlines. Development teams typically are comprised of a Project Manager, a User Experience Engineer and a Technology Lead prioritizing workflow. Project schedules are set and reviewed for compliance in regular and frequent team meetings:

Engineer finishes task, Produces build for User Experience approval, Engineer releases into build, Build QA’d. Build stage for release…

The Google “weekly sprint” methodology enables flexible iteration integrating user feedback during the development process, Rechis indicated. As is the Google rule, he concluded, “focus on the user and all else will follow.”

Related: Stretching Agile to fit CMMI Level 3Agile ManagementGoogle New York Speaker Series

Toyota to Name Press as a Director

Toyota to name first foreign director [the broken link was removed]:

Toyota Motor Corp., seeking to add an international flavor to its management, will appoint a foreign national to its board of directors for the first time, sources said Tuesday.

The promotion of Press, 60, who also serves as Toyota’s managing officer, will be voted on at a shareholders meeting in June, the sources said.

But currently, all 25 board members of the parent company are Japanese. Only four of the 49 managing officers in charge of conducting operations under the directors are non-Japanese, including Press.

He became president of Toyota Motor North America Inc. in May 2006, and has since been in charge of directing Toyota’s North American operations.

Related: Toyota Production System postsToyota Institute for Managers
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The Triumph of Lean Production

The triumph of lean production by Steve Schifferes

Laura pulls a cord, stopping the production line – and prompting her five fellow workers on trim line three to crowd round. They soon see why it is not screwed in properly and fix the problem. “I don’t like to let something like that go,” she says. “That’s really important for people who buy our cars.” Workers at the Toyota plant in Georgetown, Kentucky, pull the cord 2,000 times a week – and their care is what makes Toyota one of the most reliable, and most desired, brands in the US.

In contrast, workers at Ford’s brand-new truck plant in Dearborn, Michigan, pull the cord only twice a week

Just think about that Toyota’s Georgetown plant (seen by many as one of the best examples of lean manufacturing) stops the line 2,000 a week. Do you think your organizations systems are as well designed as the Georgetown plant? Does your organization stop to examine what needs to be improved with anything approaching that level (granted Georgetown is large but even so…)?

Related: Andon definitionJidoka definitionFord and Managing the Supplier RelationshipThe Georgetown Kentucky WayToyota’s New Texas Plant
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Western Trailers – Lean Manufacturing

Western Trailers improves efficiency – with some help [the broken link was removed]:

Western Trailers President Jerry Whitehead and a couple of other senior managers went through TechHelp’s lean-manufacturing course a few years ago. Now, the company is paying for all of the approximately 50 supervisors at the 225-employee manufacturing plant to go through a new and more intense version. “It’s just good manufacturing, getting the waste out,” Panter said.

There’s a need for greater efficiency, especially as companies get bigger, he said. Western Trailers built a new manufacturing plant in 1998 and expanded it last year. The company has added about 75 manufacturing employees in the past two years, Panter said. “With the rapid growth we had, it was easier to lose focus on the principles because we were trying to get product out,” he said. “This brought us back into focus. And it’s helpful to teach the people on the floor.”

I am much more interested in lean stories where waste is reduced and employment increases than where employment is decreased. The idea is to reduce waste, increase value to customers and grow.

Related: Idaho’s TechHelpWisconsin ManufacturingApplied Quality Engineering EducationTerex Handlers: Lean ManufacturingLa-Z-Boy Lean