Tag Archives: lean manufacturing

Building Adoption of Management Improvement Ideas in Your Organization

Continuation of How to Get a New Management Strategy, Tool or Concept Adopted

Target something that actually provides a good story. It often helps if there have been failures in attempts to solve a problem in the past. That makes the new success more impressive. Something that is relate-able to the audience you are trying to win over is also useful. Even if senior management cares about an issue, if the solution is so technical they are completely baffled, they will be happy with a solution but they won’t be as excited about expanding the strategy you are trying to encourage when they can understand the process that lead to a solution.

Favor efforts that will help you build organizational capacity to do more of what you want going forward (adopt lean thinking, use design of experiments…). Some of this is about building expertise in the organization. It is also about building your circle of influence. Growing your ability to influence how the organization grows will help you encourage the improvements you believe in.

It is very helpful to show connections between individual efforts. Often you build using various tools: in several instances using PDSA cycle to guide improvement, in others mistake-proofing to cement improvement, in another adopting one piece flow to make problems visible and encourage improvement, in another assuring the respect for people to build the right culture for improvement, and in another using an understanding of variation to make evidence based decision rather than jumping to faulty conclusions with limited information. These management tools, concepts, methods and ideas any many more, are used together for a reason. They support each other. So it is very helpful if you tie them together. As you start adding new tools, ideas and concepts to the management system show how they support each other. Individual tools can help. But the gains they offer are minor compared to the gains possible with a systemic change of management.

Another good strategy is picking the right people to involve in an effort. If you are trying to gain support, find those people in the organization that set the tone that others follow (which are not merely those with organizational power due to their job title). It is nice if you can find such people that have generally positive outlooks and like new challenges (this is often the case). If the culture is very toxic you may well have some who are likely to try and discourage hope in others (often because they have been disappointed so many times themselves they have finally decided not to be disappointed again). Often (though not always) you can win these people over.
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Management Improvement Carnival #117

Bryan Lund is hosting the Management Improvement Carnival #117 on the Training Within Industry blog, highlights include:

  • Mark Hamel at Gembatales warns us against the danger of serving two masters…I love the caricatures that he develops for the reader – spot on!
  • A great take on muda, muri and mura by David Kasprzak at My Flexible Pencil. The way David applies the 3Ms to cultural behaviors is clever and thought provoking. Although seemingly “intangible” at first, the cultural wastes that David describes here soon emerge as the first logical target for attack, thereby allowing individuals in the organization to focus on building the ideal relationships so desperately needed to perform at the highest potential.
  • Kevin makes the case for single piece shopping at Evolving Excellence, but not everyone is biting in the comments section…me, I’m on the fence on this. JIT for purchasing makes sense for many, many things but probably shouldn’t be applied blindly to all purchases…

Related: Management Improvement Carnival #952010 Management Review Carnival

Lean Daily

Lean Daily iPhone app

Lean Daily consolidates the latest posts from seven excellent lean blogs in one convenient, free, iPhone app. Learn more about it, see a simulator demo, and download it directly from iTunes.

Mark Graban, Lean Blog, took the lead and a number of us combined efforts to provide this as a free service to our loyal readers:

This iPhone app allows you to read these lean blogs while on the go. You can also listen to and view some multimedia lean content, such as the Lean Blog Podcasts and Video Podcasts and the Gemba Academy sample videos in the app as well. You can also find lean news and some other feeds.

Related: Curious Cat management blog directoryInteresting management content (Reddit)search for management content online

The Toyota Way – Two Pillars

Toyota is receiving plenty of criticism now, much of it for good reason. There is also a large amount of psychology involved. From what I have seen, the insurance companies still see better claims history (fewer and lower cost claims) against Toyota than other manufacturers. And there is another strain that seems to enjoy criticizing what has been praised. Toyota does need to improve. But that is improvement of the existing management system, not a need to radically change the management of the company.

I think Toyota, even with the problems, is a fantastic example of a very well managed company. Yet even with all the study of lean manufacturing even basic ideas are overlooked. For example, the two main pillars of the Toyota way are “continuous improvement” and “respect for people.” For all of us, it is valuable to refocusing on core principles. We are too often looking for the next new idea.

This is one way of looking at the pillars of the Toyota Production System, from the Toyota Technical Center – Austrailia

Image of Toyota's pillars of management: respect for people and continuous improvement

Continuous Improvement means that we never perceive current success as our final achievement. We are never satisfied with where we are and always improve our business by putting forth our best ideas and efforts: we are keen to create better alternatives, question our accomplishments and investigate future definitions of success.

There are three building blocks shaping our commitment to Continuous Improvement:

1. Challenge – we form a long term vision, meeting challenges with courage and creativity to realize our dreams;
2. Kaizen – we improve our business operations continuously, always driving for innovation and evolution
3. Genchi Genbutsu – we go to the source to find the facts to make correct decisions, build consensus and achieve goals.

Respect For People refers to our own staff as well as the communities and stakeholder groups that surround us and we are part of. We respect our people and believe the success of our business is created by individual efforts and good teamwork.

Respect For People is translated in:

1. Respect – we respect others, make every effort to understand each other, take responsibility and do our best to build mutual trust
2. Teamwork – we stimulate personal and professional growth, share the opportunities of development and maximize individual and team performance.

These elements combined define our corporate DNA, provide a way of operating that is recognised by each and every Toyota-member around the globe and enables us to sustain our success in the future.

Back to Basics for Toyota by Akio Toyoda

When my grandfather brought Toyota into the auto business in 1937, he created a set of principles that has always guided how we operate. We call it the Toyota Way, and its pillars are “respect for people” and “continuous improvement.” I believe in these core principles. And I am convinced that the only way for Toyota to emerge stronger from this experience is to adhere more closely to them.

While recent events show Toyota obviously needs to improve, that has been true all along (it is just more obvious lately). Some may see this as an indication that these lean manufacturing ideas based on Toyota’s practices are no better than other management practices. I don’t believe this. I feel just as strongly about the value of lean management as ever. I think that the recent events show you that no matter how well an organization in managed there is plenty of room to improve. Toyota never was close to perfection. They have much to improve, but they are still one of the best managed companies in the world.

My comments in 2005:

I think the instances of such failures are just a sign that even Toyota still has quite a bit to improve. I think this announcement likely is a result of common cause variation (it is the natural result of the current system). The natural result (of the system) is not that they have this particular failure, but that this recall is consistent with the % of vehicles that required a recall of this general character. I believe they are getting better over time but they still have a long way to go. With a result based on common cause you want to look at the entire system when designing an improvement plan not at the root cause of the seat belt issue. See Responding to Variation online and the book, Forth Generation Management, by Brian Joiner.

Related: Toyota Stops Lines – Lots of LinesAkio Toyoda’s Message Shows Real LeadershipDeming CompaniesRespect for People Does Not Mean No Criticism

And my comments in 2007:

I don’t agree that they need to rethink their purpose in life (I have a feeling that is taken out of context). They need to maintain and maybe even increase their commitment to their purpose in life.

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Toyota Stops Lines – Lots of Lines

The practice of stopping (either the machine automatically detecting a problem and stopping or a person stopping) the line when a problem is detected is part of Jidoka. Jidoka is also highlighting and making problems visible. Jidoka and Just in Time are the two pillars of the Toyota Production System. Today Toyota practiced Jidoka on a large scale: Toyota Halts Sales of Eight Models After Recall

Toyota Motor, still struggling to resolve a problem with accelerator pedals, said Tuesday it would temporarily stop selling and building eight models in the American market, including the popular Camry and Corolla sedans

“This action is necessary until a remedy is finalized,” Robert S. Carter, a Toyota group vice president, said in a statement. “We’re making every effort to address this situation for our customers as quickly as possible.”

Toyota said it would immediately stop selling the Camry, Corolla and Avalon sedans, Matrix wagon, RAV4 crossover, Tundra pickup, and Highlander and Sequoia sport utility vehicles. It will also stop building those models the week of Feb. 1. All of the vehicles are assembled in the United States or Canada, at a total of five plants.

The models affected accounted for more than a million sales in 2009, 57 percent of Toyota’s American total for the year.

The most recent recalls follow what Toyota insisted was a companywide effort to improve quality that was started by Katsuaki Watanabe, who served as its president before he was replaced last year by Akio Toyoda, grandson of the company’s founder.

My guess is there are quite a few people in Toyota that are getting a frustrated that they continue to have problems that they have been unable to successfully address. This strikes is as the kind of action initiated near the top of the organization chart to remind the organization that problems must be addressed immediately. It is not ok to continue business as usually when problems have not been addressed in the Toyota Production System. Toyota is capable of failing to live up to the principles of lean manufacturing. But they also seem to understand this risk and continue to strive to improve. To succeed though they need to improve results – intentions alone are not enough.

Related: Cease Mass Inspection for QualityRecalls at Toyota and SonyReacting to Product ProblemsWorkplace Management by Taiichi Ohno

2009 Annual Management Blog Review Part 3 of 3

The 2009 annual management improvement blog carnival continues with more bloggers posting highlights from some of their favorite management blogs. Also see 2009 Annual Management Blog Review Part 1 and part 2.

Mark Graban’s review took a Boston theme covering Chasing the Rabbit, Running a Hospital, Gemba Coach and John Shook’s Management Column. Highlights include:

In the 3rd carnival post on the Stats Made Easy blog Mark J. Anderson took a look at Seth Godin’s blog and among other things liked: Godin suggests that under the bright light of the internet being generous and fair in business dealings pays off now more than ever.

Bryan Lund found some inspiration from the Three Star Leadership Blog, Process Rants, Capable People? and the Leadership Styles Blog. Highlights include:

And I covered, Training Within Industry, Visual Management Blog and Making IT Clear to bring the annual management carnival to a close. Highlights include:

This year 10 blogs took a look back at excellent post from 34 management blogs in 2009, providing some great idea to help managers improve. Don’t forget to visit each carnival post and find some excellent ideas you can use and perhaps some new blogs to add to your RSS reader.

Related: Management blog directory2008 Annual management blog review

2009 Annual Management Blog Review Part 2

The 2009 annual management improvement blog carnival continues with more bloggers posting highlights from some of their favorite management blogs (see 2009 Annual Management Blog Review Part 1). Kevin Meyer looked back through the posts from TimeBack Management, Lean Six Sigma Academy, Curious Cat Management Improvement, A Lean Journey, and Stats Made Easy and found some gems, including

Dan Markovitz reviewed the Lean blog, Evolving Excellence and Jason Yip’s blog. Highlights include:

Hank Anderson has highlighted posts from the Hexawise blog for Stats Made Easy. Mark Anderson has reviewed Work Matters and will be reviewing Seth Godin in an upcoming post. Highlights from the Hexawise blog include: What Else Can Software Development and Testing Learn from Manufacturing? Don’t Forget Design of Experiments (DoE) by Justin Hunter, my brother.
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Management Blog Posts From March 2006

photo of sunset in Mount Rainier National Park by John HunterPhoto of sunset in Mount Rainier National Park by John Hunter
  • Cease Mass Inspection for Quality – “Deming point 3 is ‘Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality.’ Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place.”
  • Lean Management – most organizations will not seriously consider changing the current management thought process without drastic threat (bankruptcy) or numerous successful improvements that give credibility to the new management ideas…
  • Using Design of Experiments – While the adoption of DoE is still growing slowly, an increasing number of organizations are using DoE to improve. In the past most companies (in most industries anyway) did not have to compete with others that were using DoE to improve…
  • Saving for Retirement – Savings for retirement is difficult mainly because of our trouble planning for the long term, it is not at all a complex problem. The fable of the ant and the grasshopper illustrates this point very simply and it is really that simple…
  • Six Sigma and Bad Management, is not Really Six Sigma – if you read the work of Roger Hoerl, Soren Bisgaard, Forrest Breyfogle III… and learn and apply what they talk about as Six Sigma you will definitely have to address bad management practices…
  • Deming and Toyota – I believe Toyota applied Deming’s ideas to create a management system and continued to develop that system to create the Toyota Production System)…
  • No More Lean Excuses – Within a couple minutes the service person had picked up a Canon A700 and explained how to open the door for batteries. I happen to think the instructions, and design, could be much better but..

Related: Curious Cat Investment Blog – Retirement postsDeming Companies

Lean Inventories Do Not Excuse Failing to Deliver

Low inventory levels do not mean failing to have products available for customers. Now, if you manufacturing in huge batches and can’t respond to customer feedback then it might mean failure to predict customer demand does mean failure to deliver. But lean thinking has shown how to avoid this problem. People need to adopt lean manufacturing practices and gain the benefits of low inventory levels without the costs of failing to deliver what customers want.

Sorry Santa, We’re Out of Stock

The “it” gifts this year could swiftly vanish from store shelves, as retailers, with nightmares of Christmas 2008 markdowns dancing in their heads, have slashed inventories to some of the leanest levels in recent memory.

Retailers themselves are battle-scarred by last year’s fourth-quarter fiasco. Following the financial meltdown of September 2008 and amid the most severe economic crisis since The Great Depression, consumers retrenched.

That’s when stores hit the markdown panic button, slashing prices upwards of 75 percent. The result was the worst holiday selling season since 1970, according to The International Council of Shopping Centers.

But although leaner inventory levels should drive profit margin gains this holiday, “retailers might not have enough inventory to fully satisfy demand,” said Citigroup retail analyst Deborah Weinswig, in a research note. It is a risk they are willing to take.

“They would rather lose a sale than take the markdowns they had last year,” said Goldman Sachs analyst Adrianne Shapira.

The retailers need to design their systems with lean thinking in mind (not lean – as in cut expenses without thought). And they need to work with suppliers using lean manufacturing principles.

Related: Be Thankful for Lean ThinkingGuess What? Manufacturing in the USA is a Good IdeaTesco: Lean ProvisionZara Thrives by Ignoring Conventional WisdomOperational Excellencelean manufacturing articles