Tag Archives: Lean

Learning Lean by Live Simulations

Why bother with the extra expense of a Lean live factory or office simulation?

Live factory simulations have been used  for the last several decades to demonstrate the Lean concepts.  Electronics, clocks, cars, toys, boats, airplanes, electrical connectors,  pens, flashlights have all been popular.  Office simulations to eliminate waste in paperwork/information have also been used. Materials used range from actual products (pens, switches) to more whimsical demonstrations  (Lego assemblies, wooden toys, paper airplanes).

The idea behind all these simulations is to combine classroom learning, through lectures or Power Point presentations, with an actual demonstration of the Lean concepts.  Typically, the workshops are broken into several sections or rounds to represent shifts or days at an assembly operation.

The first round starts  by intentionally demonstrating some of the wastes commonly found in a traditional manufacturing environment.  These inefficiencies are used as talking points for the classroom session.  During the classroom sessions the Lean principles are gradually introduced and practiced during a simulation round.  Quality rejects, amount of product shipped, on-time delivery, and profit/loss are tracked and reviewed after each round.  Subsequent rounds gradually introduce the Lean tools and concepts until the final round representing a Lean Enterprise.

The benefits of Lean including customer satisfaction, waste elimination are demonstrated physically and financially in a way that can be easily understood and applied.  A good facilitator will encourage the students to make the connection between the simulation exercise and their workplace environment.  The workshops are typically presented in skit form to add some levity to the experience.

Because a Lean transformation involves a cultural change, it is essential that everyone in the organization participate in the simulations.  Teamwork and the need for Continuous Improvement are emphasized in the classroom and simulation exercise.

I have participated and facilitated many of these workshops.  I have also, at the client’s request limited the introduction to to Lean to a one or two hour classroom presentation.  In my experience, the latter do not generate the same level of  learning or enthusiasm as in the simulation workshops.  The hands-on experience obtained in the simulation, the facilitator’s ability to relate the simulation to the “real world” experience and the round-to-round factual comparison of the benefits of Lean, in my opinion,  make  simulations a superior method of  preparing an organization for a successful Lean transformation.

Have you had experience in a Lean simulation?  Do you think it is worth the extra time and investment?

It should be noted that workshops typically take a full day. QMA as developed the Zippy Toy Car simulation, a dynamic 4 hour workshop that  in 3 rounds covers the  most important concepts covered in the longer workshops. It is far less disruptive and cost effective. It is designed for in-house delivery, but a Public Workshop is offered periodically.

Enrique Bekerman

 

 

How to Start a Real World Lean Transformation by Live Simulation

 

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Visions of reducing inefficiencies for real-world Lean transformation in manufacturing, distribution, and supply chain operations are only the tip of the iceberg.   Imagine what a live workplace simulation workshop can do for your organization.

A couple of questions are often asked: “Why does anyone need Lean?” and “Would the time and expense of a live simulation workshop be justified?”

Let me answer this first question. If you’re not familiar, Lean is a continuous improvement initiative focused on providing customer value and eliminating waste from processes. The end result is a streamlined operation  able to deliver higher quality products on-time while using fewer resources.  For an explanation of Lean basics you may refer to an earlier blog article .

A live factory simulation workshop is a hands-on technique used for more than twenty years to demonstrate basic Lean concepts. The simulation mode brings in a fictitious operation to serve as a learning tool.  Simulation exercises are conducted to demonstrate different types of waste, and their elimination, as well as relate the techniques learned to “real world” scenarios.

The format of a simulation workshop is divided into several sections or rounds to represent each of the shifts (or days) of the fictitious production facility. Participants are part of the process – through every wheel, screw, and nut assembly. Much like a sports game that excites and draws everyone together to win, Lean simulation workshops have this same effect.

First round starts by intentionally demonstrating the chaos and waste commonly found in a traditional manufacturing environment. Lean principles are gradually introduced and practiced during the subsequent simulation rounds. Discussions open up to talk about what works well and what waste may be eliminated from the process.

Quality rejects, inventories, product quantities shipped, on-time delivery, and profit/loss are tracked and reviewed after each round, so that the effect of waste elimination is clearly identified and quantified.  The simulation continues to introduce the Lean tools and concepts during each round until the final round represents a Lean Enterprise.

At this point, the total benefit of the Transformation can be assessed.  In addition to improved customer satisfaction resulting from product quality and on-time delivery, other physical and financial benefits are demonstrated.  A Lean transformation involves cultural change, and therefore, essentially everyone in the organization should be part of the simulation exercises. Teamwork and the desire for continuous improvement are emphasized throughout the workshop.

Simulation materials may range from actual products like pens and switches to more whimsical demonstrations using Lego assemblies, wooden toys, and paper airplanes. The goal is still the same: eliminating waste. In fact, office simulations have, in a similar way, focused on the elimination of  paperwork and information capture not integral to business objectives.

One of the most difficult choices people have to make is to commit to starting this journey to implement Lean practices. Often the sentiment is that a simulation takes too much time.  In particular, one business owner recently told me “we don’t have the time to stop production to do that kind of training.”

Is there ever ‘the right time’? Most business people would suggest, now, more than ever, is the right time. To prove this point, a Lean transformation would realistically open up opportunities for business, improve the bottom line, and conserve time and expense. That is exactly what happens in a successful Lean transformation. The simulation workshop has become a necessary first step for a successful implementation.

The QMA network of quality experts offers workshops and facilitation to guide organizations on their Lean journey. We don’t claim to be visionaries or missionaries, just that we’re able to demonstrate the most cost effective ways to build more value into the business.

In our experience facilitating Lean transformations, a live simulation provides a higher level of understanding and fully engages employees in accomplishing these business goals through a successful Lean transformation.

The hands-on experience, combined with our in-depth Lean expertise and guidance, enables participants to relate their own “real-world” experience. And the round-to-round factual comparison of Lean practices and benefits, in my opinion, make simulations a superior method of preparing an organization for a successful Lean transformation.

One further note: Workshops of this kind would typically take a full day.

QMA has developed the “Zippy Toy Car” Simulation (another way to say we get it done quickly), a dynamic four-hour workshop of  three rounds that covers the most important concepts as compared to longer workshops.

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The Lean concepts you learn can be literally taken back to your workplace and practiced the same day. The shorter and dynamic format maintains a high level of energy while reducing the investment of time.

Our popular Lean Office simulation workshop takes place at the “Department of Approvals”, a simulated service organization workshop, participants progressively implement Lean tools to experience a transition from a traditional office setting to an efficient Lean service environment. Participants continuously track progress of improvements by collecting data in a report card and monitoring performance measures through each simulation. The workshop leads management and workforce teams through the application and use of Lean tools in making immediate process improvements.

Our training is designed for in-house delivery, but is periodically offered as a public workshop.  Our next workshop,co-sponsored by ASQ South Florida, is scheduled for April 20, 2012.  See our Events page for more details.

Have you experienced a Lean simulation?  Do you think it is worth the four hour investment and expense?

 

Developing a Listening Culture

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In a previous post Leadership and a Trusting Culture   I talked about the importance of developing trust as a critical component of  managing change in any organization.

To build trust, leaders must first develop listening skills.

Team members must know that their ideas will be heard and given proper consideration. The synergies to be derived from team participation will never be realized if team members don’t trust that their leadership will listen and have a capacity to understand them.

Well intentioned leaders often “kill” ideas without even realizing that they are doing it. A large number of phrases have crept into our daily speech that result in immediate freezing of the desire to openly share ideas.  “We have tried that before”, ” that will never work”  are some examples of  idea killing phrases that will halt any creative cooperation. Being careful  to refrain from providing “knee jerk” negative feedback is an important skill to be acquired by all leaders.

It is a well established method in all types of brainstorming exercises to withhold criticism while ideas are being gathered.  The absence of criticism provides an atmosphere where creativity is uninhibited.  Once all ideas are vented, the leader and the team may engage in the critical evaluation of the benefits, costs, and general practicality of each solution to the problem at hand.

The “wild and crazy” ideas that appear impractical at first, often become the real problem solvers.  If  team members are free to think and express themselves they can often put a different “spin” on an impractical idea that overcomes the initial objections.  One idea may be the initial spark of creativity that can be used as a “springboard” by other team members.

When a leader criticizes prematurely, or places too many limits on the types of ideas that are welcomed, the results are predictably unproductive.  In a recent Dilbert comic strip, Scott Adams makes this point.

Tom Feltenstein  offers a hilarious and powerful video, titled “99 Idea Killers.”

Paul Williams advises teams to “pause before you pounce” on an idea.  He has developed  “Idea Killer Bingo Card” to help teams recognize their own use of reactive negative feedback.

I heard one of  QMA clients express disappointment with the results of their “suggestion box” recommendations.  In facilitating some of their team efforts it became evident to us that leaders, at all levels, were quick to criticize the ideas of others and find reasons why the solutions wouldn’t work.  They often assumed they knew the answers to the problems.

After privately confronting them with their negative attitudes towards the ideas of others, they made genuine efforts to improve the way they interacted with team members.  It turned out that many of their inefficiencies were easily eliminated once team members trusted their leaders to listen to them and became fully engaged in the organization’s continual improvement efforts.

What is the worst idea killing criticism you’ve witnessed?  Do you have a special technique to deal with negativity of  “idea killers”?  Please share your comments below.

Lean: Is It All or Nothing?

Lean: Is It All or Nothing? – Manufacturing Executive Community- Question posted originally on: http://www.manufacturing-executive.com/message/2637

Enrique’s answer:

A company can often obtain small gains by utilizing the Lean tools.  For instance, using 5S to organize the shop floor results in immediate gains in productivity and accident prevention.  However, sustainability of the improvements depends on the last two steps “standardize” and “sustain”. This is where most organizations fail and where the development of a Lean culture is necessary.

The development of a Lean culture takes time, as Matt mentioned above.  As people start seeing the benefits of Lean, they will start getting involved in improvement efforts.  Lean is all about incremental improvements that add up over time.  If large gains are obtained initially, that is icing on the cake.

The emphasis should be on Continuous Improvement and waste elimination, not on cost savings (these will come soon enough).  Training, education and empowerment at all levels are also essential to developing a culture where waste elimination is an integral part of the organization.

Developing Customer Focus in a Lean ISO System

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In Lean applications, it is very important to assess “value” from the customer’s vantage point. Activities that don’t add value to the product or service are by definition “waste.”

Delivering what the customer wants when he wants it is the primary thrust of Lean.  The vehicle for accomplishing this is the elimination of waste from processes.  ISO 9001:2008 emphasizes meeting customer requirements and continually improving the Quality System.

Quality objectives in the ISO Quality Management System can be derived by focusing on the customer needs and requirements and by using Lean tools in helping with the attainment of these objectives.

To maintain customer focus, you must:

  1. Research and understand your customer’s requirements–needs and expectations.
  2. Ensure that your company’s objectives are linked to these requirements.
  3. Communicate the importance of meeting these requirements to your employees.
  4. Track your performance against the Quality objectives.
  5. Use Lean and statistical tools to improve performance, eliminate waste, and reduce variation.
  6. Measure and track customer satisfaction; act on the results–complaints, as well as, compliments.
  7. Manage the details of customer relationships in a systematic manner.

Continued customer satisfaction results in improved customer loyalty leading to repeat business.  Obtaining customer loyalty should be one of your most important goals.

A Lean ISO system is one of the best means of achieving long-term customer loyalty by focusing on the customer requirements and making the customer the driving force of your organization.

6 Myths to Dispel Before a Lean ISO Implementation

People not familiar with the ISO 9001 standard may think of it as being bureaucratic with lots of extra paperwork.  In reality, this is far from the truth.

The ISO 9001:2008 standard requires that you establish controls for your business, that you monitor customer satisfaction and that you continually improve your processes.  These basic elements are essential for any organization to succeed.

The ISO standard does not specify “how” these elements are to be implemented, thereby giving each organization the flexibility of complying while conducting its business in an effective manner. Using Lean concepts in the implementation of ISO 9001 enables the organization to gain all the benefits of the structure of this system without creating a bureaucratic burden.  Following are some of the popular myths regarding ISO requirements that often prevent a Lean implementation.

1)     Myth. The Quality Manual needs to be very detailed in describing the quality system.

Truth. The manual should briefly state the key processes and their interactions.  It needs to make reference to the procedures and flow diagrams that describe the processes in more detail. The manual does not contain any proprietary information and does not have a minimum length.

2)    Myth. Several “controlled” hard copies of the Manual are needed.

Truth. The entire document and records control system can be in electronic format.  Although many organizations prefer having a certain number of “controlled” hard copies, the standard does not require it. The key here is control; making sure that only the latest valid information (procedures, forms, etc.) are used.  Having several sets of “controlled” copies makes it more difficult to maintain the documentation.  Maintaining one controlled “hard copy” set may be a good idea as a quick reference.

3)    Myth. Employees must have easy access to a “hard copy” of the procedures and “work instructions” that apply to them.

Truth. Again, these procedures and work instructions can be available in a controlled electronic format. Documentation must be readily available and securely stored and a method needs to be developed for revision and approval.

4)    Myth. A procedure is needed for everything.

Truth.  ISO requires only six procedures which can be condensed to five: document control, records control, non-conforming product handling, internal auditing, preventive and corrective actions. Other procedures should be developed when they add value to an internal customer or external customer viewpoint or improves communications between the functions that will use it.

5)    Myth. ISO prevents Lean implementation because all changes need to be documented and approved.

Truth.  The ISO standard expects Continual Improvement to take place and Lean provides a set of concepts and tools to reduce waste and thereby improve processes.  Lean improvements should be documented once the new procedure is confirmed to result in improved results.  

6)    Myth. All procedures and work instructions need to be written in a consistent format.

Truth.  ISO documentation can take many forms including written procedures, pictures, drawings, flow charts, and screen shots.  Procedures need not be wordy or complex.  The key is that the information be understood and accessible by the people using it.

Will people with different language and cultural backgrounds be able to understand the procedure or work instruction without much need for interpretation? Dispelling these myths will allow for the implementation of a highly effective Lean Quality Management System using the ISO 9001 structure.

Lean ISO and the Eighth Waste

The elimination of waste is the main focus of Lean Manufacturing.  In recent years, many organizations have incorporated the concept of the “eighth waste” in their implementation of Lean Manufacturing.  Many early sources spoke about the Seven Wastes that are found in most processes:

  • Overproducing
  • Transporting
  • Waiting
  • Inappropriate processing
  • Building unnecessary inventories
  • Conducting unnecessary movements
  • Defects and errors

Lean practitioners have come to recognize that elimination of these seven wastes is highly dependent on getting people involved in the Improvement process.  This failure to fully utilize the workforce talents and fully engage employees is now considered the most significant waste of all and is referred to as the eighth waste.

These wastes are symptoms of the underlying root cause for the real problems. For instance, excess inventories may be an indication of unbalanced workloads, machine breakdowns, misunderstood customer requirements, and unreliable suppliers.

Being on the lookout for the evidence of waste provides a starting point for the investigation of the root causes and for finding solutions to the problems.  Employees are not only closer to the symptoms, but also closer to the root causes of the problems.

In a previous article, I explained the compatibility of ISO 9001:2008 and Lean Manufacturing.  ISO 9001:2008 specifies that the organization must disseminate its’ Quality Policy and Objectives so that all employees understand them and how their jobs contribute to them. It also specifies that the organization must be engaged in the continual improvement of its Quality Management System.

The eighth waste can be described as “underutilized minds.”  Although ISO has some built-in requirements for improvement such as internal audits, corrective and prevention action systems, it does not prescribe how employees, in general, should be involved in the continual improvement of the organization.

To address the eighth waste, organizations desiring to institute a Lean ISO system need to:

  • Train employees early in the process on the Quality Policy and Objectives  so that they begin to understand their roles in the process.
  • Engage employees in the documentation process including involvement in writing the initial drafts of procedures or work instructions.
  • Select and train employees as Internal Auditors so that they learn about other areas within the company when participating in audits.
  • Involve employees in Internal Audits as both Auditors and Auditees.
  • Engage employees in workspace organization and standardization (5S) and in improvement events such as Value Stream Mapping and Kaizen activities.
  • Train employees in root cause analysis and basic problem solving techniques so that they can assist in maintaining the Corrective and Preventive Action Systems (CAPA).
  • Develop workplace organization score cards and train your Internal Auditors in their use.

These actions will significantly reduce the eighth waste in the organization by engaging the workforce in the Continual Improvement process.

Lean and ISO Working Together

Some people think that compliance with ISO 9001:2008 inhibits innovation and Lean transformational change. This is very far from the truth. I previously wrote about how compatible and complementary both methods are when implemented in the same timeframe. I will explain in more detail below.

ISO requires the organization to be engaged in Continual Improvement.  Lean provides one vehicle for a company to be focused on the customer, while constantly working at making the organization’s processes more effective.

ISO 9001 is designed in a Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) format for Continual Improvement.  In implementing ISO, we plan for the development (Plan), we implement it (Do), we audit against the standard (Check) and we take corrective action when necessary and continue the cycle by identifying and pursuing opportunities for improvement (Act).

During the Planning stage, we can use the Lean principles to assure that the documentation is “value-added”, that they are truly needed, that procedures are written in a simple concise manner and that work instructions are made as visual as possible and easily understood by the user.  Procedures and work instructions should encourage their use and facilitate training and cross-training.

The key for the ISO implementation is to get a “snap-shot” of the Current State and to document it.  Value Stream Mapping, a Lean method, is useful in identifying process steps  and opportunities for improvement in the Current State and to document the possible improvements in a Future State Map.  A Continual Improvement Plan could then be developed to identify actions, responsibilities, and target dates for the improvements.

Significant improvements will be documented as “Preventive Actions” for follow-up in the ISO system.  Any improvement that reduces lead-time or increases product/service Quality is a valid candidate as a Preventive Action as it will prevent customer dissatisfaction.

In Lean, Rapid Improvement Events (Kaizen) address solutions to the opportunities identified in the Continual Improvement Plan. Once such solutions are identified, tested and implemented (again, P-D-C-A), the new process needs to be documented in the ISO system.

Lean uses the concept of “standard work”, a method that identifies the sequence of activities, the use of the resources needed, and the time planned to keep up with customer demand.  Standard work provides an excellent vehicle for identifying the “inputs” and “outputs” for each process as required by ISO standards.

Sustainability of Lean methods, such as the 5s workplace organization, requires following up and auditing to assure that the organization does not return to the “old ways”.  The ISO systems for conducting Internal Audits and taking Corrective and Preventive Actions provide methods for sustaining the Lean improvements made, provided these processes are standardized and documented.  Checklists can be written to include these improved processes so that they can be audited and monitored.

It all fits together.  There is no need to be concerned with a “chicken/egg” argument, as to which should be done first. Just plan what you want to do, then do it, check it and act on it! You will always want to make it better, and should.