expressed in this article are the personal opinion of the author, a narration
of his experience.)
many ways, sustainment is the most important thing I teach. Yet, I have only
one week to teach it after the very first kaizen event at a new client. For
several years, I have used a leave-behind document that guides clients through
the crucial daily activities they need to sustain. This is the first of two
blogs that will be based on this sustainment document, with my hope that it
will help readers to realize that having a written plan is crucial to instill
the necessary habits to sustain benefits from continuous-improvement (CI)
is a plan needed? The most obvious reason is that most companies fall short
when it comes to sustainment. After the excitement of realizing things once
thought impossible are not only possible, but are actually happening, people
have to get back to work. Everyone has great intentions of sticking to the new
routine, and indeed most people work hard to do so. But the everyday
complexities and pressures of modern workplaces can cause an erosion of what
has been gained. (While leadership support is essential for long-term
sustainment of a CI culture, this blog and the next will focus on the tactical
sustainment activities of a specific functional, department or process that has
just finished a rapid-improvement event.)
daily agenda during the week we teach sustainment provides a 30day plan for
instilling sustainment. These are the nitty-gritty activities that hold
together "the new routine." They vary by client and project, but they
include activities such as:
to Customer Demand: Cells or processes need to work to the defined pace and
documenting work-accomplishments and problems-at each paced interval (i.e., X
units per hour, two hours, shift, or day) not only keeps the pace but also
gives visibility into the operation so that operators and supervisors can see
issues and address them immediately. Scheduling boards/sheets: These MUST be
kept up to date for the predefined period, such as five days into the future,
or maybe one day into the future, or even one shift into the future again,
depending upon the type of business, product(s), customer(s), etc. If you want
people to stick to the plan, then you have to give them a plan in the form of a
standard work narrative that tells them who does what when.
of the reasons why this is so important is because all inputs into a process
must be working off the same plan and at the desired pace in order to keep
waste from creeping back in. We all know what happens when materials are not
ordered in time, or when the packaging cell has no idea they are about to be
hit with a spike in flow-problems that beget more problems.
standard work: One of the most insidious enemies of sustainment is
over-confidence. Always audit standard work. Auditing someone's work doesn't
mean you think they are incapable of doing the work right; and by the way,
thinking they are capable of always doing the work right is a mistake. The
entire lean philosophy is based on the collective agreement that no one does
everything right all time, especially if they are working in isolation. When
you think about it this way, auditing becomes the hallmark of a no-blame
culture because everyone admits upfront that they can't do their best work
without the involvement of others.
sustainment daily agenda could include other items based on tools such as 5S,
and on systems, kaizen newspapers, SQDC or pre- and post-shift meetings.
most important is that the list be practiced again and again until the
activities necessary for sustainment become entrenched in the daily routine.
easy for supervisors and managers to use the trite phrase "keep up the
good work." What's more difficult is to guide people to what they need to
do to indeed keep up the good work. It takes commitment to everyday activities,
and this commitment starts with a plan.
About the Author:
Van Winkle works as the Sr. Management Consultant at TBM Consulting Group.
This article was
originally published in the Stitch Times magazine, August, 2012.
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