I’ve recently worked with a client on a turnaround situation in a small shop. The technology is tried and true, even considered a bit old school, if you will. The process contains nuances and requires finesse at times but generally speaking, if they were to apply some standard work, based on the fundamental principles of the technology, they would be a lot closer than they are.
But what if they are unwilling to learn and apply standard work and the fundamentals?
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.
The challenge in this case seems to come from ego. The leader of this team has been educated on the proper procedures for much of this work yet refuses to implement necessary changes through standard work. The problems continue. The employees do what they want. No two setups are alike. No two products look the same. There is no process discipline. Customers are leaving. Orders are late or cancelled. Poor quality products are shipped. The hole gets deeper yet nothing seems to improve.
It’s an amazing example of defiance at a very costly level. How unfortunate for the business, employees, and customers. It’s very frustrating to watch a business fail for something so simple.
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.
I can NEVER make a mistake matching my colors now.
Thanks for stopping by. Take care of yourselves in the cold.