Blog Archives

Lean Series on Visual Management Next Week

Back in March, Beyond Lean hosted a week long series on standardized work.  Joe and I posted about standardized work (Lessons Learned and Foundational to Continuous Improvement).  We also had guests post from Christian Paulsen from Lean Leadership (SW and Your Packaging Line) and Tim McMahon from A Lean Journey (What It Is).

The week went over very well with readers so next week we are bringing the series back.  The lean series will be focused on visual management.  Joe and I will have our contributions as well as new guest bloggers Danielle Look and David Kasprzak.

The lean series is a way to get a concentrated dose of information on one subject by only having to go to one site.  I hope you enjoy it.

Bruce Lee and the Ideal State

Today, I have the pleasure of being a guest blogger over on the Lean Leadership blog by Christian Paulsen while he is away on vacation.

Christian always has good quotes from historical people that seem to relate to lean.  I thought it would be fitting then to center this post on a quote.

“A goal is not always meant to be reached. It often serves simply as something to aim at.”

—Bruce Lee

When solving a problem, whether it is designing a new process, eliminating defects or developing a strategy, it is necessary to have the ideal state in mind.

You can read the rest of the post by clicking on this link.


Lean Series Week A Hit

I want to thank all the readers of Beyond Lean.  This week was our first Lean Series Week where we concentrated all the posts on one particular topic.  This week it was Standardized Work.  The purpose was to invite guest bloggers as well as Joe and I to provide view points on a single topic so everyone could learn about the topic in an efficient manner.

As a quick summary, here are the posts from the series this week.

Standardized Work and Your Packaging Line

This week Beyond Lean is focusing the discussion on standardized work.  There will be four posts throughout the week from different bloggers.  Joe and I will post a blog as well as Tim McMahon from A Lean Journey and Christian Paulsen from Lean Leadership.  The purpose is to look at different aspects of standardized work from several perspectives all gathered in one location and within the same time frame.  We hope this spurs thought, reflection and action for our readers around standardized work.

Today’s post comes form a friend and fellow Purdue Boilermaker, Christian Paulsen.  Christian runs the Lean Leadership blog which covers many topics of lean and at The Consumer Goods Club.  His leadership quotes are great and I use them with people I work with all the time.  Christian Paulsen is a Lean-TPM Consultant that helps teams and companies optimize their performance.  Chris’ experience includes 20 years in a variety of manufacturing leadership roles with companies like Unilever and Nestle.  You can reach Chris at , LinkedIn, Twitter  or Facebook.

Our new team is coming together for their 7 a.m. work session.  This team is working through the steps of Autonomous Maintenance and is working through their agenda when the area supervisor approaches the team.  His support is a welcome sight as he listens to the team’s interactions intently.  The team leader then welcomes the supervisor and asks if he has anything to add.

The supervisor says, “I have a request of the team.  The entire packaging department is running terrible and is way behind schedule.  Your cartoner is all jacked up and is acting crazy.  I need you to fix the cartoner and help get us caught up.”

The team was eager to help even though granting the supervisor’s request would require skipping everything that had been planned for that work session.   The team leader is very confident that they can get the line back up and running.  He proclaims,

“I’ve seen this before.  The line is running great then another shift comes in and starts making adjustments….we’ll get it going in no time.” 

Sure enough, after making a series of minor adjustments the line is up and running within the hour.  By the end of the day, this line is exceeding production goals.  All the team had to do was set up the cartoner properly.

Is this the end of the story?  Hardly.  Manufacturing veterans have all seen how individual operators all seem to have their own way to run their line.  In many cases, well intending operators and mechanics will start making adjustments as soon as the off-going shift clocks out, even on a well running machine.  Yet, as this real life event illustrates, there is one best practice.  You need everyone following the same best practice.

The team documented all of the mechanical settings and arranged for a prolonged production trial of these settings.  The settings were initially marked with temporary but secure arrows.  These arrows were replaced with permanent etchings.  While some got on board faster and easier than others, these settings are the documented standard and the expectation of every operator.

Do you have examples of how standardization has improved the productivity and reliability of your production lines?  Do you have standards that you need to put in place today?

Other posts from this standardized work series:

Standardized Work is Foundational to Continuous Improvement

This week Beyond Lean is focusing the discussion on standardized work.  There will be four posts throughout the week from different bloggers.  Joe and I will post a blog as well as Tim McMahon from A Lean Journey and Christian Paulsen from Lean Leadership.  The purpose is to look at different aspects of standardized work from several perspectives all gathered in one location and within the same time frame.  We hope this spurs thought, reflection and action for our readers around standardized work.

An often overlooked part of standardized work is how foundational it is to continuous improvement.  Standardized work is not about turning people into mindless robots.  It is about setting a baseline so improvement can occur and freeing up the mental capacity from doing the routine in order to think about how the process could work better.

Standardized work creates a baseline to understand how the process is currently working.  Once a process is stabilized, a baseline is created.  Now an improvement can happen.  A change can be made to the process and the results can be monitored.  If the process improves, it will be seen.  The same is true if the process worsens.

If everyone is working differently, without standardized work, then there is no stability in the process.  When one person makes a change to try to improve what they are doing it is very hard to see in the results.  Was the improvement due to the changes made by one employee or by the noise in the process from other employees doing the work differently?  Eliminate the noise by developing standardized work.

Standardized work can help reduce the amount of time someone is thinking about getting the routine task completed, because they aren’t looking for tools or parts, the work is coming to the area without defects or fewer decisions are needed because the standardized work guides them.  While there is a misconception that this is used to create humanoid robots, an organization practicing lean thinking wants the freed up mental capacity to be used on thinking of ways to improve the process.  Some organizations call this the 8th waste of unused employee intellect.  This is about engaging the people who do the work in the improvement process.

Without standardized work, continuous improvement is not possible and it can help to better engage the employees in how to improve their work.  Just like when building a house start with the foundation.  The same is true of continuous improvement…start with standardized work.

Other posts from this standardized work series:

Lean Leadership Blog

Yesterday, I had the honor of being a guest blogger over at the Lean Leadership blog ran by Christian Paulsen.

The post talks about how a true supplier relationship is built on trust and integrity.  If you want a true partnership and collaboration with your suppliers you can’t be looking to ditch them at the first sight of saving a penny.  Working with the suppliers during bad times to help them get better is a great way to build the trust and shows integrity on your behalf.

Here is a link to the blog.

Guest Post: 4 Tips from Historic Leaders

Today’s post is from a friend I have met through starting Beyond Lean and a fellow Purdue Boilermaker.  Christian Paulsen helps companies optimize performance. He is a Lean – TPM facilitator and adds value to organizations by driving continuous process improvements and bottom line cost savings.  Christian is a Consultant who brings 20 years of manufacturing leadership experience and Lean Manufacturing expertise.  He authors Lean Leadership and is a regular contributor to the Consumer Goods blog.

Theodore Roosevelt was born in New York City and graduated from Harvard.  He studied law at Columbia but dropped out when asked to run for public office.  Roosevelt was a NY State Assemblyman, a Dakota Cowboy, New York City Police Commissioner, and the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He left the Navy at the beginning of the Spanish-American War. Colonel Roosevelt found volunteers among cowboys from the West and Ivy Leaguers. He led these Rough Riders into history and won the Congressional Medal of Honor. The Colonel served as Governor of New York, Vice-President of the United States, leader of the Republican Party and founder of the Bull Moose Party. He also served as the 26th President of the United States, survived an assassination attempt and won the Nobel Peace Prize. Roosevelt led an African safari and South American Expedition as a former President.

Roosevelt’s success was not dependant upon favorable circumstances or the right culture. Nor was it not limited to a particular organization or field of expertise. He was successful in an amazing variety of roles because he was an exceptional leader.  Roosevelt is just one of the historic leaders that Doug Moran draws on in “If You Will Lead: Enduring Wisdom for 21st Century Leaders.

Jen Weigel brings out 4 leadership tips from the book in the Chicago Tribune. Lean leaders can learn from these lessons as well:

1. Know yourself – Ronald Reagan and Teddy Roosevelt both had the ability to be authentic in all situations. Lean leaders need to be authentic and straightforward with your team. You won’t be successful in the long run if people don’t trust you.
2. Know what you want – Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King Jr. knew what they wanted. Dr. King crafted precise language to convey his vision. Lean leaders need to convey their message frequently while catering the terminology to the audience.
3. Make yourself someone that others want to follow – Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa had such winsome faith and passion that others wanted to follow them. Lean leaders need to show their faith on the process with their actions.
4. Earn the privilege to lead daily – George Washington got people excited about following him yet he was also able to keep them following without overreacting when disasters hit. Lean leaders need to celebrate success and be the stabilizing force when things go wrong.

Have you seen leaders who have executed any of these well? What was the result? Which of these principles would help you on your lean journey? What will you do differently today?