Today’s guest blogger is Joe Wilson. Joe is a great lean thinker that worked for an automotive supplier for several years. Developing his lean thinking by diving into the deep end. Joe now works for Tyson Chicken working within their Industrial Engineering group. I am happy to post his writing here. Joe is a great lean thinker.
A few days ago, I had one of those random day-dreaming thoughts that spurred me to go look up something in a book that I haven’t read in a few years. When I opened the book, the bookmark was a heavily scribbled on piece of notepaper from a series of Lean classes I took. Among a handful of otherwise barely readable comments was these three words, underlined and circled: “PACE…NOT SPEED”.
Those 3 words stood out as a turning point for me in my lean education. Those words drove an understanding of what the huge pile of lean phrases and tools I had bouncing around my head really were all about.
You really can’t implement things like pull systems/kanbans/heijunka, standard work, or even 5-S programs until you can define what your customers want and when and how they want it. It is extremely difficult to determine how many people should be doing the work in your workplace or how much equipment you need to do the work if you don’t have a true understanding of how much work needs to be done. What this also means is that your distribution, purchasing, and planning/scheduling functions are absolutely critical to the success of your success in lean.
Where do you take this from here? Start by getting as deep as you can in what the market is for your plant/company’s output and what your customers need. Get as deep as you can in how your suppliers bring things to your door and how you handle those. Those things aren’t exactly the most interesting or flashy pieces of the pie to work on, but without a clear understanding of what you need to do, you can’t solve the problem of how you get there.