Standard work? Nah, I got this.

I’ve worked with numerous client and companies on turnarounds or improvement projects in small and medium-sized shops.  The technology is often tried and true, usually considered old school, if you will.  The processes contain nuances and require finesse at times but generally speaking, if they were to apply some standard work, based on the fundamental principles of the technology, the companies I’ve worked with would be a lot closer than they are.

Standard work is a Lean Manufacturing term that, according to isixsigma.com is defined as follows:

Detailed definition of the most efficient method to produce a product (or perform a service) at a balanced flow to achieve a desired output rate. It breaks down the work into elements, which are sequenced, organized and repeatedly followed.

You know those perfect cookies that your mom or grandmother made?  They were no doubt created using the same ingredients, the same process, the same oven and temperature, and the same nuances nearly every time and the results were almost always predictable.  Yummy good cookies, right?

If you tried to make the same cookies in your own kitchen, the results might be different based on the variables in your process.  An extra minute in the oven, a different brand of butter or vanilla, a different cookie sheet, or anything that can create a shift in the standard process.

When a process is so out of control that no two jobs are alike, settings for process temperature, humidity, and timing are ignored, materials storage conditions are highly variable, and employees do it their own way, what can we do?

We create standard work.  Identify the correct environmental conditions, equipment settings, and material storage and handling requirements and stabilize all processes.

We then create standard work procedures that clearly define everything that allows us to replicated the process then teach and instruct every employee to follow them.  Teach the why it matters.  These procedures become the new standard and the only time they change is when the processes undergo controlled changes based on improvement.

I want to include an example of standard work as it applies to me.  Something simple, yet something I feel is important to my brand.  My logo contains 7 different colors, none of which pop up in MS Office programs when I am trying to match.  I contacted my logo designer who provided me with the RGB color numbers used which allows me to match any of the 7 colors used in my logo.  Simple, right?  The chart below is always nearby to enable me to quickly select and match my colors.

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I can NEVER make a mistake matching my colors now.

Thanks for stopping by.  Take care of yourselves in the cold.

 

 

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Waste

So now it’s time to talk about waste.  Muda.  Non-value-added.

There are a few ways to list the 8 sources of waste but for the sake of simplicity, I will opt for using the DOWNTIME acronym.

  1. Defects
  2. Overproduction
  3. Waiting
  4. Non-utilized talent
  5. Transportation
  6. Inventory
  7. Motion
  8. Excessive Processing

So here’s a few things you need to know about waste in any form.

  • It rarely fits into any one of these buckets.  For example, inventory is often found waiting to be processed and requires transportation to move it around sometimes by highly skilled workers.  Inventory is also easy to overproduce just to make sure there’s enough and can contains defects waiting to be found.  And for materials susceptible to environmental conditions, it can spoil rendering it, well, trash.
  • Every value stream contains waste.  I’ve never seen a single example of a waste-free stream.  Often, we will map a value stream for the first time and find over 90% of the activities to be considered waste.  Remember, value is defined by the customer, not the producer.
  • Waste is money.  It will pull profits out of your process if it is not eliminated.  It will create safety, quality, delivery, and cost issues.  It can make your customers very unhappy with you because it might not fit their definition of value.
  • Sometimes waste is necessary.  Usually it is not.
  • Waste likes to hide.  It can be wiley.  Sometimes it can only be seen when you look for it.  The good news is there are tried and true methods for identifying and eliminating waste.  Plenty of ’em.
  • Once you learn to see it, you will see it everywhere.  Everywhere.

So how do we see waste?

We draw a map.  A big, beautiful map.  Using sticky notes.  When we are finished with our map, we will see the waste.

It will be glaring.  It will be ugly.  But when we put our our waste goggles on and see it, we can begin to do something about it.

Up next:  The Value Stream

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Michael Bates has over 35 years’ experience as a Lean practitioner, including 30 years’ leading manufacturing, engineering, and service operations.  He holds numerous Lean certifications and is a Six Sigma Master Black Belt.  Michael is also certified in Project, Program and Portfolio Management.

Value

In my last post, I mentioned the game-changing book Lean Thinking by James Womack and Daniel Jones.  They get right down to business with the 5 principles of Lean, the first of which is Specify Value.

Value can only be defined by the customer and it only has meaning when it is expressed in terms of a specific product that meets the customer’s needs at a specific price at a specific time. 

Value can only be created by the producer.  Womack and Jones state that this is the reason producers exist — to create value for the customer.  So, to restate this from a from a Lean perspective, in order to produce value it first has to be defined by the customer.

I have led product development projects that we, as the producer, defined the value to the customer and can say that the products and related services were, at the end of the day, off the mark.  Assuming we new best resulted in costly product feature changes and launch delays.  A couple of the lines never fully recovered and the 3-year life cycle was plagued with inefficiencies, delivery and quality issues, engineering mishaps, and ultimately, reduced margins.

Our most successful projects involved key customers in the features design process and subsequent service of our flagship products.  This allowed us to hear their definition of value and design a product flow that delivered that value successfully throughout the 3-year life cycle of the product.  The momentum of that success carried forward into the next flagship redesign, which proved to be more successful.

Once we understood the value as defined by the customer, we deployed lean methodologies in all areas of the organization and lo and behold, we had some pretty favorable margins as the result of the cultural shift.  It’s easy to speak in terms solely of the product, but we dug in to truly understand our customers’ business models which ensured timely invoicing and payments.

Value.

Up next: Muda

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Michael Bates has over 35 years’ experience as a lean practitioner, 30 of which while leading manufacturing, engineering, and service operations.  He holds numerous Lean certifications and is a Six Sigma Master Black Belt.  Michael is also certified in Project, Program and Portfolio Management.

A Year to Make a Can of Soda?

I recently, for the umpteenth time, listened to Lean Thinking – Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation and in my opinion, it stands the test of time.  This gem keeps Lean, or Continuous Improvement, simple.

Regardless of the product or service, it is as important as ever to understand the value to the customer, the value stream that brings the product or service to the customer, how to ensure your product or service flows based on demand pulling it through your value stream, and the importance of continuously striving for perfection.

My well-worn book has plenty of marked up pages and the audio book brings the familiar and soothing voice of Mr. Womack into my car.

You must experience this if you care about bringing value to your customers.

And yes, it can take up to a year or more to make a can of soda. Pick up a copy in the media of your choice and find out why.

Your thinking will never be the same.

 Have a great day!

Michael

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Lean Six Sigma is simple.

I’m going to keep this short and sweet tonight.

Lean is all about increasing the throughput by eliminating waste.

Six Sigma is all about improving quality by reducing variation.

Lean Six Sigma is a highly synergistic combination that brings value to the customer.

You can call it whatever you’d like but the principles are the same.  Find the waste and the sources of variation, identify the root causes, and implement solutions to eliminate the sources of waste and variation.  When you’re done with that, do it again.

Every process has waste and variation.  Your job, everyone’s job, is to learn to see it.  Google it if you don’t know how.

That, my friends, is continuous improvement in a nutshell.  But please, just keep it simple.

Thanks for stopping by.

Michael

 

Tasty treat I would love to share

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So I met this guy at work and discovered he is a local musician. As my faithful readers know, I am a huge hard rock and metal fan and love to dig into different things. Chad Novell is in a band called Fibonacci Sequence, as well as a Netherlands-based band called Mercy Isle (also worth a listen!)  Feel free to look up the term if you don’t know what it means (I have yet to hear the story behind how the band came to name the group such an intriguing name).

All I know right now is that this is some pretty good stuff.  Great musicianship, high-end production, wonderfully flowing melodies, and very cool package consisting of double vinyl with booklet and phenomenal artwork and photography.  Top notch!

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The music defines itself far better than I ever could so stop by the website and sample the epic pieces then buy the CD or vinyl.  Best thing I bought this year outside of Maiden’s The Book of Souls.  This is some very tasty prog rock in the vein of Savatage and Trans Siberian Orchestra, with a splash of vintage European prog rock.

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I also know these guys have played in the WMSE studio and you all know my affinity for Tom Crawford and crew over at WMSE.

You never know, one of these tasty tunes just might end up on one of my future WMSE shows!

Thanks for dropping by!

Michael

Mason and His Best Buddies

My 18-year-old son’s name is Mason. I’ve been raising him since he was 6 years old and adopted him a few months after his father passed away 3 years ago. Mason has Autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and is non-verbal, speaking fluent gibberish. He is currently a senior at Hamilton High School in Sussex, WI, and is a loving, caring soul that has captured the hearts of all who know him. He loves HHS and is often seen wearing the hand-me-down and leftover football or basketball tee shirts that have been given to him. Every day he enthusiastically runs out the front door to start his school day.

This is Mason’s third year in Hamilton’s Best Buddies program. Best Buddies is an organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Hamilton High School welcomed Best Buddies during the 2015-2016 school year.

Mason was matched with Best Buddy Sam Herriges the first year, a young man named Erik the second, and a young lady by the name of Harper for the current school year. He has attended dances, school sporting events, and in general, hung out and watched movies, listened to music, or grabbed a burger at the local Culvers.

Mason, as is the case with many young folks with Autism or IDD, does not have the option of texting friends to meet up with them or simply ask to go hang out. Best Buddies has opened up that opportunity for Mason to expand his network and be with friends as any normal teen would. He loves cruising and singing with Sam and Erik while jamming to Fallout Boy’s Immortal, and swiping Erik’s fried cheese curds at Culvers. He is thrilled every time Sam calls him on FaceTime from college in Minnesota and is left with a long lasting smile. He’s not much to engage in meaningful conversation but the ear-to-ear grin and body “stims” speak volumes.

Best Buddies has turned out to be a great opportunity for Mason to socialize and do things he normally would be excluded from in high school. Next weekend he is off to another dance to enjoy another passion of his.

Mason, and so many others like him, thrive through this program but they need our help to continue to grow this to bring kids that used to be shunned and parked in back room of our schools out into the mix. To be a part of high school. To teach others how to interact with those with special needs. To simply be a normal kid when, in all actuality, many are not. Life will be long and hard for Mason with his disabilities, but his high school experience got immeasurably better when Best Buddies entered his life. Please consider helping spread this to all Wisconsin schools.

And many thanks to HSA Bank, a division of Webster Bank, for allowing me the opportunity to be of service to Best Buddies on this special day. Such a great and giving organization, one I’m proud to have recently joined.

BESTBUDDIES.ORG/GIVINGTUESDAY