Franck and Lilian Gilbreth were two engineers who pioneered motion analysis, one of the thing that Lean does (despite sometimes being a conflicting activity on the shop floor). I’ve already blogged about them, to show some video they did.
They predated Lean by a few decades, yet their center of interest is still historically interesting.
They devised a kind of hieroglyphic alphabet called Therbligs (their name reversed) aimed at analysing movements people do to identify whether such activity brought value or not.
Taiichi Ohno himself used to look at this and explained in his book “Workplace management” how, sometimes, he had problems explaining to people the difference between motion/activity and work, because, in some regional japanese, the oral words were the same and the written kanji only differed slightly (pages 33 and ff).
A Lean expert at Toyota TIE in Ancenis, France once explained to us how they had to work on motion analysis to reduce the length of a production line and how they were far behind what’s done in Japan. France was looking for associates in need of moving their legs 1 meter during their work, when Japan was looking at optimisation when an arm had to reach out for something: timing and magnitude is different, like Lean expertise!
So, next time when you look at a spaghetti diagram, please notice how you may be missing finer therbligs!
Besides, should you wish to know more on the Gilbreths, please have a look at the Gilbreth Network!