Apr 23, 2010

Are you tracking 5S properly?

Jon Miller of Gemba Panta Rei fielded a question this week about tracking a 5S "program." Jon raised a few questions of his own for those who may be relying on 5S as the keystone of their lean effort:

1. What is the purpose of the 5S program?  You need to ask some "why"s about 5S in your operation. Is it merely good housekeeping, or a means to better safety or visual management? Or something else? You can't track what you don't understand.
2. How do we measure success of the 5S program? What's important right now and in the future to your reason for practicing 5S?
3. Based on this, what are we trying to track? From how clean is clean, to how committed employees are, what progress are we making and how do we know when we're there?

Jon goes on to explain what he sees as the importance of 5S and making measurement part of on-the-scene leader daily management.

Added to Jon's observations, which I will leave up to you to read, are several comments from Chris, Tim, Steve, and Pedro about how they have kept a finger on the pulse of 5S implementations in their experiences.

All in all, a quick thought starter for your next visit to the plant floor, because you will, of course, do that every day.

Apr 13, 2010

Good questions

When it comes to posing nuanced and insightful questions on boards like LinkedIn, Joe says his seem to go unanswered rather than starting off meaningful dialogue. So I’m going to cite some that have caused some active discussion on various lean-related LinkedIn groups. Note that 30 responses is an awesome number, even on groups with tens of thousands of members.

Below: The name of the group, the question, which is usually expanded upon by the author, and the number of responses are:

AME: Which S, in 5S (or 6S), do you find to be the hardest to practice?, Ron Pereira, 20

Superfactory: How important is the 'people' link is in achieving a sustainable change with in an a organisation?, Allen Edun , 37 responses.

ASME: Why don't more people participate in your local ASME Chapter meetings and activities?, John Wilson, 39 responses.

SME: Do you agree with Ford's assessment of the manufacturing industry today?, Caitlin Campbell, 22 responses.

AME: Spreading the Lean Message, Karen Wilhelm, 27 responses.

AME: Toyota: where do we go from here?, Mark Gavoor, 48 responses.

Supply Chain Today: "Cost savings" vs "Cost avoidance". What is your take between the two?, Dave Waters, 87 responses.

Operational Excellence: Is Strategic planning necessary? Ralph Bateman, 29 responses.

IIE: How can lean be implemented in a hospital?, Gregory Uhlenhake, 21 responses.

Continuous Improvement, Six Sigma, and Lean Group: What are the "hallmarks of lean?, Phil Westwood, 18 responses.

Lean Six Sigma: Is a Gauge R&R meant to compare two different types of gauges?, David Weiser , 11 responses.

Lean Learning Center: Lean in R&D environment, Jason Dunklee, 32 responses.

Questions on basics are important, although it’s possible to sound like the professor giving the quiz when you know the answer. Questions played off opinions get good response -- I deliberately left out the thousands that got vocal about the Toyota product recall issue. Luck is an issue, whether the question was asked -- were there a lot of other questions coming in at the same time?

I like the exchanges that happen when someone needs to know the answer, is struggling with something he or she is missing the experience to understand or handle the issue. When mentors appear and help out the questioner, the process is really working. Even differences in opinion about the answer help by showing that sometimes there is no best answer.
Take this report for what it is, a cursory sampling of questions on a few continuous improvement LinkedIn groups. If it helps prompt more discussion online, that’s a good thing.
Copyright @ 2005-2014 by Karen Wilhelm