The Most Important Lean Tool
Your eyes. Plain and simple. Without them you can’t go and see what is actually happening.
There are stories about Taiichi Ohno leaving engineers in a circle for hours to observe the process. The engineer was to discover the waste in the process. What was not creating value? Then address it.
Organizations have instituted a policy stating that a person can’t talk about a problem unless they have seen it. The goal is to get everyone to understand what actually is the problem and not what they hear is the problem or jump to solutions.
A person can walk out their doors and onto the production floor in order to observe what is happening. But observation may not always be easy. What if it is an order entry person that does all their work in a computer? Sit with that person and actually watch them enter orders. Ask questions. Use tools like process or value stream maps to create a visual of the work to see.
Even leadership work can be made visible in order to observe what is actually happening. I put my scheduled on a white board so the area could see when I was going to be there to look for waste. Every Tuesday at 2:30. If I didn’t show up, people knew it and asked about it.
Are you using your most important lean tool as often as you should?