change management

The Compounding Benefits of Prioritizing in Continuous Improvement

Manuficient - Compounding

Albert Einstein once said that the most powerful force in the universe is compounding. Just as in finance, this is true for managing a manufacturing operation. New problems, big and small, arise everyday. When a problem goes unresolved, it behaves like a disease on your productivity. Additionally, new problems are added to old ones, which creates a snowball effect, and thus the compounding dynamic takes effect. At some point in the life cycle of a manufacturing operating, it takes what Grant Cardone calls “massive action” to reverse this momentum and get into a position where compounding is working in your favor. To do this, you must develop a thorough understanding of what specific wastes are driving inefficiency and pick them apart with well orchestrated and massive action. The 85/15 rule (a variation of the 80/20 rule) definitely applies here. In other words, 85% of your inefficiency is probably being driven by 15% of the issues. The key is to systematically identify the 15% of issues and prioritize the fewest number of initiatives needed to eliminate 85% of inefficiency, which will result in substantial profitability increases.

Manuficient Methodology1.1 PrioritizePrioritizing is the act of deliberately ranking needed activities, then allocating time and other resources in the order of greatest to least significance. Prioritize is the 3rd Phase in the Percent Perfect Methodology® (PPM), which identifies the 3 – 5 tools and initiatives needed to capture the greatest gains toward achieving your operating potential. In Phase 1 of the PPM, we looked at how to define perfection for a manufacturing operation. In Phase 2, we reviewed how to Assess where you are in your journey to Operational Perfection (OP). In this phase, we look at how to determine which specific initiatives will have the greatest impact on closing the gap between current state and perfection.

There are hundreds and perhaps thousands of Lean Six Sigma and other Continuous Improvement tools out there to be applied depending on the specific application. In fact, any repeatable activity that makes a process more efficient can be classified as a tool, which makes the list virtually limitless. The challenge is knowing a) which tool(s) should be applied and b) how to most effectively apply the tool(s) selected. Just like a mechanic needs to have the right tools for a given job and know how to use them without completely mucking up the project, so do manufacturing leaders. This takes resourcefulness, knowledge, and skills – which are all a function of having the right quantity and quality of experiences.

You can identify the appropriate tool to apply based on the type of waste that is occurring. The 8 lean wastes are: defects; overproduction; waiting; non-utilized talent & ideas; transporting; inventory; motion; and excessive processing.

There is a 6 Step Process for determining which tools will have the greatest impact on closing the gap to OP for your manufacturing operation:

Step 1: Determine what perfection would be for your manufacturing operation. Use the Factory Operating System (fOS) to achieve this. It’s a free tool and provides the best way to set and establish your theoretical maximum productivity levels.

Step 2: Analyze where you are in your journey to Operational Perfection. The fOS will also help you complete this step. It provides a user-friendly interface to track, aggregate, and report production performance. It also helps to cultivate employee motivation around CI by disseminating success stories such as personal records and breakthrough performances across your manufacturing network.

Step 3: For each of the three significant types of loss (availability, throughput, and yield), further categorize each type into the 8 wastes.

Step 4: Quantify the total losses being driven by each type of the 8 wastes and perform a Pareto Analysis grouped by type of waste and total annualized losses (in dollars or other currency).

Step 5: Select the set of tools or processes that are best fit for eliminating or reducing the types of wastes that are resulting in the greatest losses. The objective here is to identify the fewest number of tools that will cut waste to within 15% of Operational Perfection, which is widely considered to be World-Class execution. For example, motion waste is best address through time and motion studies; and transporting waste is minimized through process layout re-design and a technique called Point of Use Supply (POUS) among others.

Step 6: Develop the specific initiatives needed to best leverage the selected tools for maximum effect. This may mean customizing or combining tools to refine an ideal set for your specific needs.

Once you’ve gotten this far, you’ve won more than half of the battle. Abraham Lincoln once said that “If you give me 6 hours to cut down a tree, I’ll spend the first 4 sharpening my ax.” After Phase 3 of the PPM, the axe is razor sharp and you’re just about ready to deliver a swift blow to your manufacturing operation’s inefficiency. Unfortunately, many companies skip this phase and consequently, this is where they go wrong with their CI program implementations. Instead, they often mistakenly approach it as either a beautification or fire-fighting program. They start with something like 5S because it’s very visual and friendly or they go with problem-solving / kaizen events just so they can pull their CI resources into the weeds of daily operations with them. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just not the most effective use of time and resources. They rarely take the time (and it usually doesn’t take much time) to assess exactly where the greatest gains can be achieved, then prioritize effort and resources. As a result of this and other factors, 70% of improvement programs fail in their first couple of years according to a study completed by the McKinsey & Company consulting firm. Furthermore, having the prioritized list of initiatives on hand helps to recruit / promote the ideal talent for manufacturing leadership roles. For example, if your greatest opportunity for improvement is to reduce changeover times, the optimal talent for a director or plant manager role would have a tremendous track record for implementing the SMED tool (Single-Minute Exchange of a Die) for minimizing changeover times. You can see how having a rock solid CI playbook changes your entire approach to how you play the game. Can you imagine how many major decisions are made everyday without taking any of these factors into account?

MIC_World Class Mfg

I can assure you that the powerful dynamics of compounding are either working for or against you. If you’re not taking deliberate action to leverage this phenomena to your advantage, then it’s most likely working against you. The key to changing the trajectory of your manufacturing operation’s performance is to prioritize the small set of CI initiatives that will produce the greatest impact on closing the gap to Operational Perfection. Defining perfection provides the North Star for manufacturing leaders to navigate the complex maze of day to day manufacturing operations. Assessing the current state helps you to gauge exactly where you are in your journey. The fOS tool at http://factoryoperatingsystem.com is the best tool available to define and assess where you are against operational perfection on an ongoing basis. Finally, prioritizing provides a clear and executable roadmap to World-Class execution. From here, you have laid the groundwork to capture rapid gains in productivity and profitability.

A manufacturing efficiency expert such as those at Manuficient can help you to prioritize your CI initiatives and gain immediate results in performance.

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Copyright © Calvin L Williams blog at calvinlwilliams.com [2016]. 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 8 Lean Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects – Non-utilized Talent & Ideas

Final Launch of Challenger

The Space Shuttle Challenger lifts off Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, at 11:38 a.m., EST, January 28, 1986. The entire crew of seven was lost in the explosion 73 seconds into the launch. (AP Photo/NASA)

Non-utilized Talent & Ideas – all talent, ideas, and capabilities that are not effectively applied to facilitate execution. In this series titled “The 8 Lean Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects”, we examine case studies for when companies, government organizations, or entire industries have allowed a specific type of waste to escalate to a disastrous effect. In this post, we review the waste of Non-utilized Talent & Ideas to better understand what causes it, how to see it, and how to eliminate it. Goleansixsigma.com defines Non-utilized Talent & Ideas as “the concept that employees are not being utilized to their full capability or, conversely that they are engaged in tasks that would be more efficiently done by someone else. Non-Utilized Talent is one of the 8 Wastes which is also known as the waste of intellectual capital.”

Jump to:

The 8 Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects:

Defects | Overproduction | Waiting | Non-utilized Talent & Ideas | Transportation | Inventory | MotionExcessive Processing

Case Study:

On a particularly cool day in Cape Canaveral, FL in 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger was scheduled to launch. A few days before the launch, the team of the engineers who were working on the mission had advised the program’s management team that launching at 30 degrees would be very risky. The data that they had collected on the wax-based O-ring performance showed that significant integrity was lost under lower temperatures. The management team decided to launch anyway despite the warning of their engineers and the result was catastrophic. 73 seconds into the space shuttle’s flight, the O-rings failed and it exploded in mid-air. The price tag on this disastrous decision was 7 lives (one of which was supposed to be the first teacher in space) and about $1.5B including the flight mission, search and recovery, and the investigation.

NPR recently did a great story on Bob Ebeling, the engineer who came forward (risking his career) and tried to warn NASA of the danger associated with this launch. You can find the podcast at the link below:

NPR Story on Bob Ebeling

Corrective Action:

In response to this tragic incident, NASA re-designed the O-ring joints and implement an astronaut bail-out system in later space shuttle models. Evidence reveals that some of the passengers may have survived the explosion, until the shuttle crashed with the ocean after descent. Thus, lives may have been spared by allowing the astronauts to “bail out” prior to coming in contact with the earth.

Interesting Fact:

After the Challenger explosion, there were several changes put in place to prevent this type of issue from reoccurring. Unfortunately, many of these changes did not sustain in operation. In 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia also exploded soon after launch, ending the lives of 7 more astronauts. The Columbia explosion occurred for reasons that would have been prevented by the changes that were put in place after the Challenger mission. This highlights the importance of operational discipline and ensuring that improvements are sustained.

For more details on this case study, check out the Wikipedia article at the following link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle_Challenger_disaster

Non-utilized Talent & Ideas is possibly the most abundant type of waste. It is the only one of the 8 wastes that is not directly a process waste but one of managment or intellectual capital. It is often caused by destructive internal politics and a general lack of respect for people. This type of waste is greatly reduced by practicing a true meritocracy; promoting highly competent people and systematically vetting improvement ideas, regardless of their source. I’ve created and used several great Idea Management and Execution Systems, all of which include regular idea review schedules, rigorous idea vetting, excellent feedback and communication loops, and incentives for submitting or executing improvement projects.

The Factory Operating System (fOS) at factoryoperatingsystem.com also helps you see waste from non-utilized talent & ideas in the form of lost efficiency. In the fOS, this type of waste could either show up as downtime, rate, or yield losses. The great thing about the fOS is that it promotes a culture of getting better everyday by highlighting personal bests, record breaking weeks, raising the bar (outperforming the standard) and other great achievements. This motivates your team to most effectively apply their talent and ideas to drive manufacturing execution.

A manufacturing efficiency expert such as those at Manuficient can help you to improve the detection and elimination of non-utilized talent & ideas waste, resulting in significant cost savings, lead time reduction, and quality improvements for your operation.

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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.

FREE Whitepaper: Why Most American Continuous Improvement Initiatives Fail

Why American CI Fails 1 It has been estimated that 70% of Continuous Improvement efforts such as Lean, Six Sigma, Agile Manufacturing and others fail to meet expectations. This happens for two primary reasons: 1) The Factory’s Operating Systems lack sufficient structure and are not conducive for Continuous Improvement. The Operating System is the array of policies, processes, people, and technology that are used to execute operations. 2) CI requires a high degree of Operational Discipline that, in the absence of a well-structured Operating System, is nearly impossible to cultivate. Through an in-depth assessment, a set of conditions have emerged that hinder progress toward creating a culture of Continuous Improvement. These conditions are the result of human nature in the manufacturing environment and thus require an Operating System that provides the controls necessary for performance breakthroughs. Some of these conditions include:

  • Competing interests and misaligned agendas
  • Issues that could have easily been resolved evolving into expensive problems
  • Uncertainty about how much time systems are down and why
  • Lack of issue resolution and insufficient accountability systems
  • Changes leading to expensive problems caused by a lack of preparedness
  • Implementations that don’t sufficiently capture the opportunity
  • …and many more!

Download the whitepaper titled Why Most American Continuous Improvement Initiatives Fail from Excelville.com to get the full list of conditions including descriptions that create and perpetuate a lack of operational discipline. Also discover what manufacturing leaders can do to cultivate discipline and lay the foundation for successful CI implementations. Visit the Manuficient Consulting website at manuficient.com or subscribe to my blog at calvinlwilliams.com for more information on this topic. Feel free to share this link with colleagues, friends, or anyone else interested in understanding how to improve factory performance.

Regards,

Calvin

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Manufacturing Change Management: Leveraging Forces of Change to Grow

Manufivient - Threat - Opportunity

In manufacturing, change happens – rather you’re ready for it or not. Sometimes these changes are expected and sometimes not so much. There are many forces acting on the manufacturing system (or any business system for that matter). These forces create pockets of pressure and vacuums that ultimately result in disruptions to the manufacturing system if not handled effectively. There are many sources that these forces can emerge such as: corporate mandates, governmental mandates, personnel changes, competition activity, technological advancement, customer taste changes, new market pursuits, improvement events, etc. This list barely chips the iceburg. When the forces of change becomes strong enough in any direction, the manufacturing system has to have the agility to quickly adapt and sustain acceptable productivity levels. Change is risky but absolutely necessary; it is also unavoidable. With that said, how can a manufacturing system be in pursuit of perfection, when the system is in a constant state a flux? While I’m a huge proponent of Lean Manufacturing, the reality that the manufacturing system is in a constant state of flux highlights a limitation of Lean, which sometimes assumes that processes remain generally the same. It also exposes the urgency of Agile Manufacturing.

An effective Change Management System is essential in our pursuit of the perfect manufacturing system. This is based on the definition of a perfect manufacturing system being one that can sustain above 85% OEE, even under changes of any frequency and magnitude. This being a manufacturing system that is both Lean and Agile – or Leagile as some are now calling it. A Change Management System can help prime the organization for upcoming changes as to minimize disruption and avoid compromising any element of manufacturing execution. There are several critical components of any effective Change Management System:

1 – Change Tracking Log – This provides a database of past and future changes and allows effective prioritization. The log allows for changes to be spread out on the factory’s calendar so that non-critical changes can be scheduled around critical ones. The Tracking Log also helps to predict how upcoming changes will affect one another. Finally, the Tracking Log helps to identify which key stakeholders have signed-off on the change and which buy-offs are still pending.

2 – Change Management Communication – CM Communication provides the critical change information to the right people on a regular basis so that all stakeholders remain aware of what changes are coming down the pipeline. This helps leaders to predict how upcoming changes will impact their areas of accountability and allows them time to take steps to prepare. The CM Communication could occur in the format of a weekly meeting, emails, publishing printed documents or whatever works best within the context of your manufacturing environment.

3 – Risk Assessment – This is a process that provides a safe format for all key stakeholders to assess risks and voice their concerns about an upcoming change. The Risk Assessment also provides a platform to collaborate on any mitigating actions needed to sustain acceptable business performance.

4 – Key Stakeholder Buy-offs – Stakeholder Buy-offs allow key stakeholders the opportunity to approve or dis-approve on the quality of execution of the agreed-upon mitigating actions from the Risk Assessment. Depending on how your CM System is designed, the owner of the change will likely have the obligation to provide as much evidence as needed to validate effective execution of mitigation actions. This could include test results, photos, training sign-off sheets, or any other form of proof.

5 – Change Management Review Process – The CM Review Process is a step to ensure the integrity and Continuous Improvement of the CM process itself. Its possible to develop CM metrics to measure the team on the effective execution of the CM process. For example, one metric could measure if the change owner obtained 100% of required sign-offs before the change actually took place. Another could measure the delta in OEE% for a process following the implementation of a change.

Implementing an effective Change Management System is an initiative in itself. Just like any initiative, its success or failure depends primarily on the discipline of its leaders to see it through even when others have not bought in. An effective Change Management System can be a tremendous asset for people on all levels in the factory and the company at large. It provides a systematic way to drive the changes that need to be made. So if you’re an operator on the plant floor, you can use the CM System to initiate a change for much-needed improvements in your production area. Likewise, the Plant Manager can use the CM System to ensure team engagement and support before engagement. Additionally, in the most Agile organizations, CM Systems are used company-wide to affect changes initiated across different business units such as Marketing, Sales, Distribution, Finance, or other.

A manufacturing efficiency expert such as those at Manuficient can help create a Change Management System tailored to the nuances of your organization that helps sustain and drive Continuous Improvement.

Visit my Excelville Profile for tools and resources for your operations excellence initiative.

Regards,

Calvin

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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.

How to Get Undeniable Buy-in for Driving Change in Manufacturing

Manuficient - Thumbs Up / Change Management

Have you ever had the feeling that someone was telling you they were on-board with a change but they didn’t even fully understand or think through the change you were proposing? Or maybe they were just saying yes because they like you but not taking your idea very seriously? Or perhaps you’ve done all the groundwork for a change and one or two people are just dead set against it for no rational reason. And then you go ahead and make the change as promised and two things happen: 1) those same people who said they were all for it are now visibly uncomfortable with what you’ve done and 2) those who were against it before have now declared you public enemy number 1.

If you’re already in this situation, this blog post won’t be very helpful for you. Good luck and stay tuned for the post on How to Dig Yourself Out of Whatever it is That You’ve Stepped in. Fortunately, this post may help keep you from stepping in it again in the future. I’m going to share with you a process for garnering stakeholder support for the changes needed to drive manufacturing efficiency in your organization.

There are many reasons people hold out from making the changes that are needed for progress. The change could pose a legitimate threat to safety, quality, productivity, morale, or some other important aspect of the business. It could also be that the change threatens someone’s personal position of authority. However, no matter the reason, the bottom line is that people are going to be uncomfortable with change. And the bigger the change, the more resistance you will face. The key is to take the burden of change upon yourself to make sure all risks are identified and satisfactorily mitigated to address and minimize the discomfort of your stakeholders. The way to do this is as follows:

1) Organize a risk-assessment. Invite all relevant stakeholders to participate in identifying the risks involved in making the proposed change. If the stakeholders themselves cannot be present, have them substitute a representative that they can trust to effectively express their interests. Make sure everyone understands that the proposed change is just for discussion at this point and you want help understanding some of the risks involved. Try to keep this session to under an hour because that’s about as long as you can reasonably hold people’s attention; especially in a manufacturing environment. Make sure to capture all identifiable risks. This means giving your participants free-reign to add risks to the list at will. The last thing you want is for someone to come out in the 11th hour before implementation with the objection that you did not capture during the risk-assessment. Also ensure the group’s leader is present  to keep some of the risks grounded within the realm of reality. Even better, get the boss’ general buy-in before going into the risk-assessment.

2) For each risk identified, work with the stakeholders to develop a course of action that would satisfactorily mitigate the risk. Its important that the person who raised the risk agrees that if the mitigating action was completed satisfactorily, they would have no further objections. Here is where artful facilitation is needed. If you’re not a skilled facilitator, you will need help to get good ideas out and keep the meeting on coarse. Ideally you can get the concerned party to propose the solution themselves; second best, you or another attendee propose something that they can publicly agree to. This may mean slightly changing the scope of your initiative, completing more testing to verify the cost / benefit, including additional training or documentation, or expediting planet’s revolution around the sun by 6 or 7 days. Whatever it is, you as the change agent need to build consensus around what specific actions are needed before you can earn the stakeholders’ buy-in. In a group setting, people’s personal intentions are a little more difficult to hide and they tend to engage with the idea that their concerns can potentially be addressed, especially if everyone else is playing along.

3) Take your mitigating action items list and get to work. Complete every single item to the best of your ability. It doesn’t matter if you complete these items yourself or delegate. In this case, you cannot afford to deny or delay any of the items. Gather proof that demonstrate the completion and quality of workmanship of each item. Use pictures, standard work documents, data or test results, sign-off sheets, or whatever else it takes to provide a paper trail of thoroughly completed action items. Neatly package the artifacts and preparation to get sign-offs. Then create or use a sign-off sheet and have all the key stakeholders sign the sheet saying they are satisfied with the mitigating actions taken and that they are ready to proceed with the change. Then you are clear to proceed in changing the world – your world at least however small it may be.

Going through this level of rigor to get people’s buy-in has a psychological effect that the change is worth it and it shows that you value the authority and professional integrity of the key stakeholders. I’ve seen cases where people have forgotten that they ever were opposed to the change by the time the mitigating actions are taken and its time to sign-off. In this case, they just sign-off so they can hurry up and jump back into rescuing the plant from today’s crisis. Either way, this process covers your bases and lays out a path for continuous improvement both in the manufacturing and leadership buy-in process. Keep a record of the sign-off sheet, risk-assessment, and proof of completion artifacts in case you need them for future reference. A manufacturing efficiency expert such as those at Manuficient can help you develop an effective risk-mitigation process  and effectively drive change in your organization.

Visit my Excelville Profile for tools and resources for your continuous improvement initiative.

Regards,
Calvin

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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.

How to Leverage Opinion Leaders to Implement Change in Manufacturing

Manuficient Opinion Leader

In every organization, there are people who have formal and informal authority. The folks with formal authority are fairly easy to spot. They usually have the biggest office, fanciest clothes, and sit at the head of the table. Spotting the ones with informal authority can be a little trickier. Sometimes they are more vocal and aggressive. Other times they are silently controlling the tides from behind the scenes in your organization. Either way, it’s one of your key responsibilities as a change agent to identify these people and leverage their influence to drive change. Here are a few techniques you could use to make this happen:

1) Build a solid business case for the change you wish to ensue. You can do this with your internal resources or leverage outside help such as the experts at Manuficient. Make sure you cover all the most important bases, especially those that closely align with your core business values. Also, your business case needs to be data-driven including identified risks, costs, benefits, and key milestones to implementation. Also, your business case needs to be formatted in an easily palatable story so that anyone can quickly understand what you have in mind.

2) Identify the opinion leaders in your organization. This includes the boss in the corner office, the tenured machine operator whom everyone highly respects, the aggressive manager, or the Admin Support whom everyone loves. Pay attention to who everyone waits to speak in meetings and then tend to just go along with. Also identify the more vocal employees who put off the vibe that they’re not playing the same game as everyone else.

3) Get the opinion leaders on board with your idea before anyone else even hears about it. Opinion leaders value their position (of either formal or informal authority) over almost all other things, and you should too. The last thing they want is to have someone else (the change agent in this case) encroaching on their territory. By befriending and giving the opinion leaders a stake in the change you are pursuing, you gain powerful allies in the initiative. By not acknowledging them, you gain powerful enemies.

4) Deliver on your part of the deal. Opinion leaders usually expect something from you in return for their support for your initiative. They might want you to speed up the process for getting a nagging maintenance issue fixed or help resolve some other ongoing conflict they’ve been having. They may just want assurance that their place in the new kingdom is safe. Either way, you’re going to have to help them with that issue in exchange for their full cooperation. And they’ll probably want their issue resolved in short order.

Once you’ve successfully executed on these steps, then you’ve paved the way for smooth implementation. Miss any of these critical steps and you’ll be swimming upstream for a long time before any relief arrives.

Visit my Excelville Profile for tools and resources for your continuous improvement implementation.

Regards,

Calvin

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© 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.

Manufacturing Execution Strategy: Technique vs Speed

Manuficient - Swimmer

In manufacturing, there is an optimal point where you have achieved the ideal balance between technique and speed for a process. The trick is knowing when you have struck that balance; and the answer may not be what you think.

I have a son and a daughter who are just shy of two years apart in age. They have a completely different approach to learning a new thing. Swimming, for example, is one of the things they are learning to do at the same time. My son’s approach is to go as fast as possible. He doesn’t care how much energy gets wasted in the process or if he has nailed down the proper stroke or anything like that. He just wants to go fast. In the manufacturing setting, he would be like the supervisor who speeds up the production line to the point where it begins to take a toll on quality, morale, and even machine lifespan; all for the sake of getting the most units produced for that day. For my son, the budding swimmer, the consequences are not so severe. His agility and strength will quickly improve, especially while he is young. He will achieve a pretty good speed early but potentially peak out before he reaches his potential, especially if he remains in the same sport. He will then either need to unlearn all his bad habits and improve his technique in order to get better or he’ll pick up something else where he can win. In the manufacturing environment, speed can be a little more dangerous. For one, running the line faster than it is capable of running reduces machine uptime, quality, and morale. These things cause the production crew to create work-arounds to sustain the increased speed that over time turn into bad habits. You may be able to get some pretty strong results early on but cannot be sustained over the long run due to the amount of wear that it places on the system. Also the higher-ups get “drunk” off of the increased rates (even if they are short lived) and that supervisor finds himself in a position where he is expected to produce ever-increasing throughputs with a declining production system. This approach is best suited for an environment where sheer strength and agility are the predominant requirements such as places with frequent changeovers, constantly evolving product offering, and shorter production runs. However a much higher investment in production system maintenance, and training is required.

I have a daughter who is also learning to swim. She makes little to no effort to go fast, but her inclination is to master the technique of swimming. She will swim laps across the same stretch of pool for the entire time. If you give her a tip to improve her technique, she will incorporate immediately and continue her laps. As such, she is constantly evolving her method and developing good habits. She is also gradually increasing speed as she becomes physically stronger. In the manufacturing environment, her approach would be akin to the craftsman or master artisan, patiently working to perfect the craft. This approach is perfect for environments that experience infrequent change and mastery of delivery is the predominant requirement. Fewer changeovers, longer production runs, and longer SKU lifespan would be the ideal state characteristics. This approach is great for long-term growth but less than ideal for short order production runs.

In manufacturing, you will find both approaches winning the day depending on the needs of the business. However there is a fundamental approach that applies across all types of manufacturing environments. The key is to analyse the perimeters of the specific manufacturing environment and identify those elements of the business that will probably not change for a long time and those elements that change frequently. For those elements that are long-lived, the slow and steady approach to management should be applied. For those elements that are constantly changing, techniques of speed and agility should be mastered. There are four core elements to every business: people, processes, products (or services), and technology. All of these elements evolve at different rates within the company, therefore the management strategy should be selected to fit the rate of evolution for the given element. A manufacturing efficiency expert such as those at Manuficient can help you identify the rate of evolution among these four axis and help develop the most effective management strategy to optimize performance in each area.

Visit my Excelville Profile for tools and resources to help implement you continuous improvement initiative.

Regards,

Calvin

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© 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.