Why Lean Can’t Succeed Without Operational Discipline

Manuficient Consulting - Bullseye

 

Managing people and building the perfect manufacturing system are works of art. There are an unlimited amount ways to effectively get the desired result – being the perfect system and its flawless execution. However, manufacturing itself is an exact science; it is not an art. There exists one-right-way (ORW) of doing every single thing needed to execute the core functions of a factory. There is no need to re-engineer and execute a new process for each individual unit of production. This is immensely inefficient. In the absence of work standards, you are likely doing some version of this. The ORW minimizes cost and safety risk while maximizing service, quality, and morale. The essential job function of a front line supervisor or manager is to a) determine the ORW for all required actions needed for executing operations and b) ensure that everyone is doing it every time. This is why the world needs front line supervisors / managers. The supervisor’s effectiveness can be measured in terms of the number of deviations from the ORW of their direct employees. In other words, the manager’s performance can be primarily measured in terms of operational discipline, or the consistency of actions in which operations are executed. In an ideal state, one would possess the capability to evaluate the exact actions of every person / machine in the production process to ensure strict compliance to standard procedures. Since this is not practical in today’s world, we usually only evaluate compliance to standards after there has been a significant failure; sometimes resulting in some poor soul’s chastising or even worse, public shaming and/or termination. Many companies have turned to (or are turning to) Lean manufacturing to develop the operational discipline needed for operational excellence.

If you break down Lean Manufacturing into it’s two base components, what you are left with is:

1) Industrial Engineering – This is the process of designing and implementing the perfect manufacturing system. It requires understanding the expected outputs of the system and making the changes needed to minimize cost and safety risk while maximizing service, quality, and morale. The key aspect here is making changes to the system. Lean manufacturing applies many IE techniques that happened to be developed in Japan, such as kaizen, poke-a-yoke, 5S and others. Although IE techniques vary in degree of complexity, just about all of them can be taught to a person of average intelligence within a few days or so. The creators of TPS and Lean have done an amazing job of simplifying the discipline of IE for the common factory worker to understand and employ. Significant improvements in manufacturing efficiency can be gained with just a base level competency in IE. The more involved tools and methods are typically highly specialized for a given situation and result in marginal additional improvement. (This excludes the equipment / plant design aspects of IE, which can be highly technical as well).

2) Operational Discipline – This is the systematic and consistent execution of necessary actions. As stated above, this responsibility falls within the core job function of a front-line supervisor / manager. This does not require an Industrial Engineer, Lean expert, consultant, or other specialized technical background. This just requires good managers; being those who are highly disciplined and consistent as well. Managers are typically empowered with all the tools and resources needed to control their employees’ behaviors such as performance reviews (for career advancement), incentive programs including bonuses and pay increases, and others. Many companies launch Lean initiatives believing that Lean will automatically create operational discipline. This is not exactly true. Although Lean can help design and implement systems that help drive operational discipline, Lean itself cannot make the administrators of the Lean system more disciplined. Only effective leadership can ensure or increase discipline. Lean is not a substitute for leadership.

This brings me to the main point of my post. Your Lean initiative cannot succeed without sufficient operational discipline. Lean is a system; but all systems need competent and disciplined administrators. As a manufacturing leader, you don’t need Lean to develop competent and disciplined managers, supervisors, or shop-floor employees. You don’t need a Lean practitioner or Industrial Engineer to establish Standard Operating Procedures and ensure everyone is following those procedures without deviation. These are manufacturing fundamentals that help you get the most out of a Lean expert or IE should you choose to consult / employ them. It’s like saying that your basketball team of 6-year-old’s is struggling because they need more advanced plays. In actuality, they would dominate just by boxing out on rebounds, minimizing turnovers, moving their feet on defense, and making their layups (This was also true for my adult men’s league team so it’s something I’m quite passionate about). With that said, your Lean / IE / Consultant can help to accelerate your CI journey by applying industry best-practices and proven techniques for improving performance. However, if you find that your Lean initiatives aren’t sustaining, then maybe you’re not ready for Lean. You may want to take a step back and figure out how to increase operational discipline.

 

Exclusive Interview with Norman Bodek, Pioneer in American Lean Manufacturing Movement – Part 4 of 4

In this exclusive interview with Manuficient Consulting, Norman Bodek shares some of the fantastic details of his career as a one of the pioneers in the American Lean Manufacturing movement. Norman is a publisher, professor, and author who has published hundreds of Japanese management books in English and other languages. Most recently, Norman co-authored the Harada Method, a step-by-step process for setting and achieving personal and corporate goals. Listen to Norman’s fascinating story and powerful insights into how American companies can overcome the challenges to achieving world-class execution.

Copyright © Calvin L Williams blog at calvinlwilliams.com [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Calvin L Williams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Exclusive Interview with Norman Bodek, Pioneer in American Lean Manufacturing Movement – Part 3 of 4

Norman BodekIn this exclusive interview with Manuficient Consulting, Norman Bodek shares some of the fantastic details of his career as a one of the pioneers in the American Lean Manufacturing movement. Norman is a publisher, professor, and author who has published hundreds of Japanese management books in English and other languages. Most recently, Norman co-authored the Harada Method, a step-by-step process for setting and achieving personal and corporate goals. Listen to Norman’s fascinating story and powerful insights into how American companies can overcome the challenges to achieving world-class execution.

Copyright © Calvin L Williams blog at calvinlwilliams.com [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Calvin L Williams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Exclusive Interview with Norman Bodek, Pioneer in American Lean Manufacturing Movement – Part 2 of 4

Norman BodekIn this exclusive interview with Manuficient Consulting, Norman Bodek shares some of the fantastic details of his career as a one of the pioneers in the American Lean Manufacturing movement. Norman is a publisher, professor, and author who has published hundreds of Japanese management books in English and other languages. Most recently, Norman co-authored the Harada Method, a step-by-step process for setting and achieving personal and corporate goals. Listen to Norman’s fascinating story and powerful insights into how American companies can overcome the challenges to achieving world-class execution.

Copyright © Calvin L Williams blog at calvinlwilliams.com [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Calvin L Williams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Exclusive Interview with Norman Bodek, Pioneer in American Lean Manufacturing Movement – Part 1 of 4

Norman BodekIn this exclusive interview with Manuficient Consulting, Norman Bodek shares some of the fantastic details of his career as a one of the pioneers in the American Lean Manufacturing movement. Norman is a publisher, professor, and author who has published hundreds of Japanese management books in English and other languages. Most recently, Norman co-authored the Harada Method, a step-by-step process for setting and achieving personal and corporate goals. Listen to Norman’s fascinating story and powerful insights into how American companies can overcome the challenges to achieving world-class execution.

Copyright © Calvin L Williams blog at calvinlwilliams.com [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Calvin L Williams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

What is Manufacturing Strategy and Implementation?

Manuficient - Strategy & Implementation

What is Manufacturing Strategy and Implementation?

Manufacturing Strategy

Manufacturing strategy consists of bringing the three primary pillars of manufacturing effectiveness into perfect alignment. The three pillars include organizational leadership, customers (or consumers), and operations execution. Let’s dive into each of these pillars to better assess the role of each in manufacturing strategy:

Organizational Leadership – The role of Organizational Leadership is to first decide who the company will serve and how. There is an art to choosing your customer, which is an optimization of two primary criteria: easy (for the company) to please and happy to pay what the company needs them to pay. Granted your company may not have a tremendous degree of control over either of these levers but getting this as right as possible at the onset primes the company for growth and success. A less than optimal arrangement sets the company up for some painful realities of doing business. Leadership needs to decide if its worth the trouble / effort to keep a segment of customers happy or if it makes sense to simply choose another customer to serve. This has to be weighed along with the company’s mission, financial goals, and other business obligations.

The Customer – The customer’s role in manufacturing strategy is to define when to deliver it, how many to make, what variant to make, and where to put it. Since no one customer can explicitly provide this information for you (unless you only have one customer, ie Walmart), excellent data needs to be collected and used as a guide to understanding these expectations. Customers speak to the manufacturing process in two ways:

1) By pulling their wallets out and making the purchase. This is the single most powerful way that customers communicate. Here is where the data is extremely useful. Ideally, you would be able to capture the entire body of purchasing data within your industry or sector for analysis. This would include not only your own company but your competitors’ data as well. Again, the answers you want to glean from the data are when, how many, what variant, who buys it and where to put it in order to meet or exceed business goals.

2) The other way customers communicate is through feedback. In today’s world, feedback is readily shared through both formal and informal channels. In the information age that we live, there is no excuse for companies to not know, with intimate detail, what their customers are experiencing with the company’s products. This is vital information that needs to be systematically aggregated and used as a critical input to the company-wide continuous improvement processes. The sooner the company can identify patterns in feedback (including feedback for competitors’ products) and get positive changes incorporated into the manufacturing process, the stronger case that company makes to win and keep business.

Operations Execution – Once the customer is chosen and you know how they like it, its the job of Operations to execute to perfection. This means optimal quality, cost, and service levels with perfectly healthy and happy employees on the shop floor doing the work. This means having a robust culture of innovation to not only meet customer expectations but to be able to continuously delight above and beyond the competition. This also means having the agility to change capabilities on a dime to keep pace with changing customer tastes and preferences. And finally, this means leading the way on technological advancement to continuously drive greater agility and perfection in execution.

Implementation

Implementation is the ability to establish absolute alignment between all three pillars mentioned above and taking the steps needed to create perfect synchronization between the three. This is evident when the vision in the C-Suite can be witnessed in action on the plant floor. This is only achievable by establishing and cultivating a culture of problem-solving, and the problems being solved can be tied directly to the results from the aggregated feedback analysis from customers. If the business requires V quantities of W product at X price to be delivered to Y customer by Z time, then perfection means achieving this standard without fail and with outstanding quality. Implementation is engineering the business system to deliver perfection. The implementation process includes three primary steps: assess, design, and test. These steps should be repeated until the business system verifiably delivers to your standard of perfection. Once this is done, you have achieved optimal manufacruring efficiency.

Copyright © Calvin L Williams blog at calvinlwilliams.com [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Calvin L Williams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Is Your Company Inadvertantly Putting the Breaks on its Own Continuous Improvement?

Manuficient - Brake Light

Getting better at something can take a lot of work. As any change agent can tell you, change is difficult, especially when there are people involved. Change requires shifts in the power structure, disrupting old habits, and pushing people out of their comfort zone. The reason that’s a problem is because you simply cannot get better if you cannot change. The two are inseparable. In many cases, there are just as many forces at play to prevent change than there are to create change. Sometimes those forces are created by the way the company works, or its business system. The business system is the array of its policies, people, processes, suppliers, customers, culture, and technology. Sometimes, the business system is designed in a way that inadvertently discourages continuous improvement. But don’t fret. In this post, I will uncover a few of the culprits that are putting the brakes continuous improvement in your company.

At any point in time, a manufacturer can capture its current state situation. Although the current state is just a snapshot in time, it can reveal some very interesting information. This information could include throughput levels, process efficiencies, conversion costs and so on. It could also reveal recent trends that provide some indication of what can be expected for the future. Those trends provide some insight to how “primed” your organization is for a continuous improvement initiative such as Lean, Six Sigma, Agile manufacturing or anything else you’re trying to do. A positive trend over time indicates that the organization is more likely to embrace change or continuous improvement. A flat trend over a long time indicates that the organization may be stagnated with some degree of resistance to change or improvement. These are the most difficult ones because there may be gatekeepers who won’t see a need to change. Making the case for continuous improvement will take quite a bit more effort in this instance. If the trend is negative over a long time period…well there’s bad news and good news. The bad news is that if you don’t improve, you won’t stay in business. The good news is that if you don’t improve you won’t stay in business. Making the case for continuous improvement in this case is a piece of cake.

With that said, there are some arrangements where business systems have embraced their inefficiency. These systems have decided to implement practices that allow some inside the business to profit from their inefficiency instead of eliminating it. I’ll give you a few examples: the contractor who is paid by the hour has an incentive to consume more hours to complete a job. Another is the airline that allows passengers to pay for priority boarding and seating. Their incentive is to keep the “normal” process so cumbersome that people will pay to cut in line and circumvent their terribly inefficient process. In this case, the airline has created a nice new revenue stream from their own inefficiency. You see where I’m going with this. These would be examples of policies killing the culture of continuous improvement. Over time, the people of an organization grow to accept inefficiencies as “the way it is” and they learn to capitalize on them as well. Inefficiency leaves room for corruption, which only breeds more inefficiency. This is what leads to a culture of poor performance and resistance to continuous improvement.

As part of your continuous improvement initiative, it will serve you well to take a close look at the policies, people, processes, suppliers, customers, culture, and technologies that might be hindering your growth. You will need to identify who in the organization is profiting from inefficiency and create conditions where the only way to profit is by ever increasing efficiency (with outstanding safety and quality of course).

© Calvin L Williams blog at calvinlwilliams.com [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Calvin L Williams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

How Training Enriches the Soil for a Culture of Operational Excellence

Training - Freeway Exit Sign

In business, we make guarantees. We guarantee excellent quality, world-class service, and competitive prices. We need to make guarantees because are customers need to know that we will deliver, and they deserve that peace of mind. This allows our customers to place their focus on other important things.

The ability to deliver to those guarantees is a matter of integrity. However, businesses are made up of a system of imperfect people, machines, and processes. How can a business make guarantees to their customers on one end, and on the other end be riddled with so much imperfection? The answer is in the the design of the business system. If you were to read a company’s mission statement, and it says, for example, that they will make products of unparalleled quality, then you should be able to audit their business system to determine if it is truly capable of delivering to that standard. Although the goal of any business system should be to eliminate the opportunity of failure of delivering what is guaranteed to the customer, the execution of the business system is often heavily reliant on people. That’s right – imperfect people.

This is where training enters the stage. Training is defined (by Google of coarse) as: “the action of teaching a person or animal a particular skill or type of behavior.” In this case, the desired behavior would be to effectively execute the business system or designated process within the system. Training helps imperfect people to become more perfect; at least at a specific thing. An effective training program ensures that people have the capability to execute the business system according to what the business has guaranteed the customer.

There are four primary categories to an effective training program:

  1. Standard Operating Procedure Development and Management
    1. Entails documenting critical system and procedural knowledge and making sure that they remain current and complete
    2. Ensures that all Standard Procedures are readily accessible to relevant personnel
  2. Training Execution & Records
    1. Ensures that trainees know and understand what is needed for effective system execution
    2. Tracks who has been trained on what content
    3. Helps to ensure that gaps in training are closed in a timely manner
  3. Validation of Learning
    1. Provides immediate verification that sufficient learning has been achieved
    2. Validates that learning has been retained and has been put into operational practice
  4. Change Management
    1. Ensures cross-functional buy-in to pending process changes
    2. Supports the sustainment of good practices and desired behaviors

Business systems (especially in manufacturing) are constantly evolving creatures. In a culture of continuous improvement and operational excellence, the manufacturing process, procedures, and knowledge requirements change almost daily. A training program that is capable of delivering the right knowledge to the right people at the right time; than ensures that the capability is acquired and is put into action; is essential to drive out operating costs and sustaining strong performance. Often times businesses start their continuous improvement initiatives without having a solid foundation such as an excellent training program in place. They quickly learn how frustrating it can be to make brilliant process changes only to have them undermined by poor training and people development. Implementing an effective training system is an initiative within itself; but it is essential to optimizing the performance of your most powerful asset; your people.

How robust is your training program? How is it impacting your ability to sustain or improve business performance? Reach out to us to assess what can be done to improvement the integrity of your training systems.

© Calvin L Williams blog at calvinlwilliams.com [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Calvin L Williams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Manufacturing Agility Index: Measuring the Efficiency of Change

Agility

How well does your organization handle change? Is it managed deliberately or do you use a shoot first, ask questions last approach to changes? What is the level of resistance that you face for easy process changes? What about the difficult ones?

Change is inevitable. The only choice we have is to proactively work to change for the better. And if you’re not actively getting better, then you only have one other way to go. Staying the same is just not a realistic expectation. This is the driving force behind the concept of Continuous Improvement.

In this post, I want to introduce the concept of the Agility Index, which is a measure of your organization or factory’s ability to process change. The lower the number, the more difficult change is; likewise the higher the number, the more agile the organization or process. The term Agile in business is much more popular in the world of software development and project management but the concept of Agile Manufacturing is increasing in popularity driven by the realization that markets are demanding greater variety and Agility can absolutely help drive down manufacturing costs. Agile Manufacturing is a relatively underdeveloped discipline that many believe is the next step in productivity to Lean Manufacturing. However, in my view, Lean and Agile are uniquely independent disciplines. Each is more applicable to some manufacturers than others. The goal of each is ultimately improved customer service and retention. Although Agile attempts to help manufacturers break into new markets sooner than competitors to gain advantage.

Agility can be described as the cost of change. Cost can be measured in time, energy, dollars, or even psychological displacement. And since change is inevitable, its in every manufacturer’s best interest to reduce the cost of change – or increase its Agility.

To measure a manufacturer’s agility, you first need to create a scale that measures magnitude of change. There are three factors that are used to quantify the magnitude of a change: Degree of Change, Scale of Change, and Complexity of Change.

Degree of Change: To get the full grasp of agility, you have to first see the business system as a process (or array of processes). All processes have three core elements – Inputs, Process, Outputs (with Suppliers and Customers being conditional factors as in the SIPOC model). Based on these three core elements, there are 4 degrees of change that I’ll go into detail about in a future blog post. The  greater the degree of change, the more difficult it is to implement. At the simplest level, a product changeover would represent a change from the current state to a future state process.  On the other end of the spectrum, a full implementation of a new product line or production plant would be a change in the fourth degree.

Scale of Change: Scale of change measures how many people or assets are affected either directly or indirectly. Some people will have an immediate need to change their behaviors and some will just need to be aware of the change that has taken place. For obvious reasons, the more people affected by the change, the more difficult the change is to implement.

Complexity of Change: This is a measure of how much of a learning curve is needed for the people affected by the change. A future state process that requires one new process step is much easier to implement than a future state process that requires 100 new steps for example. The greater the complexity of change, the more difficult it would be for an organization to implement and return to steady state.

Each of these factors are measured on a scale of 0 and 100% and multiplied across to measure the magnitude of change.

So here’s where all of this matters. One can fairly easily determine how much a change should cost. For example, if all of the waste was moved from a changeover process, it would require XX minutes. However, the actually process it taking YY minutes historically. The Agility score for that type (or magnitude) of change can be calculated as XX / YY. From there, you can actually calculate a savings potential for increasing Agility to 100% for that process.

Based on this information, you can use what is called the Agility Index to determine what the true cost of changes of greater magnitude such as implementing a new production plant would cost due to poor agility and how much could be saved by increasing Agility. Organizations with great agility will have a much lower “cost of change” than an organization with poor agility. Therefore, increasing Agility in the manufacturing environment would be substantially lucrative in many cases.

Good luck with your efforts to increase your organization’s Agility. Feel free to reach out to us if you would like a 50+ point analysis of your manufacturing Agility with recommendations for what could be done to drive improvement.

© Calvin L Williams blog at calvinlwilliams.com [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Calvin L Williams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

5 Things You Should Do Immediately to Improve Plant Performance

Declining Performance Chart

Well it turns out, there’s quite a bit of science to the art of plant management. There are hard ways to drive performance and there are easy ways. I’m not going to dig into the hard ways because I’m sure we all know what those are. I will however touch on how the great ones do it. In every factory, there is an abundance of the 8th and often forgotten waste, which is non-utilized talent and ideas. In this post I expose how to harness this abundant resource to drive plant performance. Below are five things you could do within the next month to significantly improve plant performance:

1) Make sure your performance KPI’s are aligned with your plant’s priorities. Wrether it be to reduce costs, increase throughput, increase overall customer service levels, or anything else. Create a consensus on what are the ranked priorities of the plant for the next year, 5 years, and longer term. Then develop a set of KPI’s that immediately reflect your factory’s level of execution around those priorities. KPI’s should be something that can be tracked and managed on at least a daily basis but the more real-time, the better. This increases the actionability of the metrics being tracked. Its a lot more difficult to engage people in a metric that is only updated once a month or less frequently. In manufacturing especially, its wishful thinking to expect people to have an attention span longer than one day.

2) Set daily, weekly, and monthly performance targets for the KPI’s mentioned in step 1. Tie plant bonuses, performance reviews, and other systems that are in place to motivate people to the delivery of performance targets for those KPI’s. For example, a target could be to increase OEE% by 2% each month for an entire year. This would be even more powerful if you were tracking OEE by individual line area so you can easily see what areas need more TLC.

3) Publish the KPI’s in a highly visible location and update as frequently as possible. With today’s performance tracking technology, you can sometimes use monitors that display performance by area in real time. It works great when you can aggregate and summarize performance by area and publish it in an area that’s both highly visible and great for meetings. This sets you up for performance review meetings and makes the areas with greatest opportunities for continuous improvement more evident.

4) Establish escalation protocols for issues. There are 2 types of escalation processes needed. The first is for issues that pose an imminent threat to service levels. Make it clear how long a line should be down before maintenance, supervisors, and managers should be notified and need to get involved. There should be a set of standard actions for the support personnel to follow if they are called upon for help.  Ideally the line operator would initiate the root cause analysis process before calling for help. The help should be equipped with the appropriate training to continue and coach the line operator on the next steps in the RCA process. This should continue up the chain until the issue is fully resolved.

The second type of escalation process is for chronic issues that may hurt efficiency but are often worked around to hit daily targets. However the same rules generally apply. Set standards for how long an issue should persist before it needs to be escalated. Make sure to give your operators enough time to exercise their problem-solving skills before escalating. Also ensure that each level of escalation has a higher capability for problem-solving.

5) Train, train, train, and then execute, execute, execute. Make sure everyone in the organization knows their role and are well prepared to solve the problems that are typical for their area of work. As a leader, all you need to do is make sure everyone is following the protocols and engineer the protocols as needed to get the results you want. The effectiveness of your training and execution will be apparent in the trending of your KPIs, which at this point should mirror your priorities. All you need to do at that point is sit back and watch all your production waste melt away. Then celebrate, celebrate, celebrate.

Wash, rinse, and repeat.

Just by publicizing performance and establishing daily management protocols, you will see a significant jump in performance. This is called the Hawthorne effect. Celebrate early success but continue to push for stronger performance over time. From here, you will see a grassroots effort to take initiative on opportunities for further improvement. This usually takes a few months but this is exactly where you want to be.

Good luck in your performance improvement efforts. Feel free to reach out to me if you need assistance with developing a continuous improvement roadmap, training, help with a chronic performance issue, or just need someone to bounce ideas off of.

© Calvin L Williams blog at calvinlwilliams.com [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Calvin L Williams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.