Blog Archives

Guest Post on the Lean Blog

Today, I have the special honor of being a guest blogger over at the Lean Blog by Mark Graban.  Mark is on vacation and asked if I would fill in for him today.  The blog posted over at Mark’s site is about Traditional Continuous Improvement versus Lean Continuous Improvement.  This link will take you to the post (link).  Have a great Monday!



Apple vs. PC – Keyboard Waste or Value

I’m not a Mac user and never have been.  Not because I don’t like them.  More because I have never had the opportunity to use or need one.  I have always received a PC laptop as a work computer.  The company I work for now uses about 50% Macs and 50% PCs so I am getting more exposure to them now.  One glaring physical difference was the keyboards.  I noticed how thin the Mac keyboard was.  The picture is below.

Notice the keys are very low profile, the whole pad is extremely thin, and there are no bells and whistles on the keyboard.  There is no place to turn the volume control up or down or shortcuts to mail, files, etc…

In contrast, the picture below is the PC keyboard that is attached to my docking station.

The PC keyboard keys are much taller and the entire keyboard is thicker plus has the bells and whistles on it.

Is the PC keyboard waste or is the Apple keyboard not meeting the expectations of the customer?  For me, I see the PC keyboard as waste.  There is more plastic per key used and the keyboard panel has more plastic also.  This seems very wasteful to me.  What would the savings be if the PC keyboards were as thin as the Apple keyboards?

I don’t use all the extra shortcuts on the keyboard so the manufactured over-processed the keyboard to give me more than I need.  If you are a person who uses all the extra shortcut buttons on the keyboard then you may see the Apple keyboard as not meeting the value needed by the customer.  Even if the Apple keyboard had all the extra shortcut buttons on it, I think it would still be thinner than the PC keyboad.  What do you think?

Waste or not meeting customer needs?


Can I Stop Inspecting?

When educating on the types of waste, I find that most people initially have a hard time seeing inspection as a non-value added activity.  Usually, it is for one of two reasons: 1) making sure the quality is in the product is valuable to the customer or 2) it is a legal requirement.  While there is not much we can do for #2, we can change #1.  I always start with the definition of value added.  I use one that I learned from the Lean Learning Center.

(Full Disclosure: I have worked with Lean Learning Center for about 4 years now, so you will see their influence in some of my definitions.  The link is meant as a credit to my source.)

The Definition of Value Added:

1. Must be something the customer sees as value and is willing to pay for

2. Must alter the process output, the product must change

3. It must be done right the first time

All three criteria must be met in order to for the activity to be value added!

If any of the three criteria are NOT met then it is non-value added. Almost right away people see that inspection does not physically change the product.  This allows them to now see inspection as a non-value added activity and move forward with doing something about it.  Not accepting it as part of the process.

You can’t just eliminate an inspection point because it is non-value added.  Now you have to understand two things: 1) How effective is it? and 2) Why is the inspection point there?

How effective is the inspection? The first questions asked should be: How many defects are we catching at this point?  and What are the consequences of not catching it?  If it is found that the inspection sees a failure rate of under 1% (which I have seen several times), then why do the inspection?  This is where understanding the consequences of not catching a defect comes in.  If you don’t catch the defect does something catastrophic happen?  Or is there now much of an impact on the process/system?  If something catastrophic would happen then you may decide to keep the inspection until you find the root cause of the 1% failures and have confidence in your process not to create the failure.  If there is not much of an impact on the process/system then I would eliminate the inspection.

Why is the inspection point there? If you see a high failure rate at inspection or if a single failure can be catastrophic, then this would be a good place to look at doing some problem solving.  Find out what are the failures at this point and do some problem solving around these issues.  When the failure rate becomes small or zero then revisit the “how effective is the inspection” questions.

Eliminating inspection can really help reduce the waste in your process, but only if you eliminate it for the right reasons.