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#Lean may very well increase your employees intelligence…

Reflecting on my previous quick post (I really need to add value instead of just repeating what I’ve read elsewhere…) I made the link between these five practices that help increasing one’s cognition, and Lean. The practices, should you not want to read the previous post, are:

  1. Seek Novelty
  2. Challenge Yourself
  3. Think Creatively
  4. Do Things The Hard Way
  5. Network

There’s Systems Thinking playing behind the scene here as I feel (like the referred blog post’s author Coert Visser) that they are all related to one another. Let me review each point in turn and discuss it from a Lean point of view.

Seek Novelty

By constantly trying to improve the company, Lean managers strive to maintain a state of permanent change. That is, a state where nothing stays as it is forever and people need to improve constantly, thus change and fin new ways of doing things. Novelty can be found in, for instance, the 5M:

  • Methods: innovate new ways of building the widgets your company sells
  • Man: rotate or change job to discover new places in the company
  • Materials: seek new ways of using your materials, or new materials altogether to improve your widgets (or reduce your costs)
  • Machines: innovate with your machine usage: error-proof devices (poka yoke), automatic unloading (hanedashi), arranging machines into cells, etc.
  • Mother Nature: how can you innovate with the constraints of your envionment to be more efficient? Or innovate in ways to preserve the environment?

Well, you can extend the 5M to 8M if you like, you get the point.

Challenge Yourself

Lean is continuous improvement and this rythms with constant challenge: how to reach that next better point from where you are? I don’t have much to say as this is rather obvious…

Think Creatively

Again, this is what a sensei requests from employees, for instance in A3 problem solving. From Toyota Kata, one knows that constant questioning is required: what’s the problem? why is this a problem? How do you know? What could another solution be? How will you check the results? How will you “sell” your proposal to colleagues (nemawashi)?

Some of the harder problems would probably mandates to think out of the box (as Einstein said, one cannot solve the problems with the same state of mind that created them).

Do Things The Hard Way

This means, do your homework. Don’t rely on others to do it for you or rely on devices to do it for you. If TPS is not hard way, I don’t know what it is! 🙂

Network

Well, I can see two networking tools in Lean: A3 and Hoshin Kanri: they make you meet others, discuss the topics with them, have creative and hard discussions and so exchange possibly differing points of views. A good way to maintain brain plasticity, for sure.

Conclusion

It is said that Lean takes ordinary people to achieve extraodinary results by making them constantly improve the processes they work in. Now, studies have shown that it also turns these ordinary people into extraodinary ones.

Given the flow of past Toyota employees moving to the Lean consulting business, I tend to believe there might be some truth in these studies.

Reblog: @DoingWhatWorks : Five principles for increasing cognitive ability

March 8th, 2011 Posted in Solution Focus Tags: , , ,

Some great findings by Coert Visser: DOING WHAT WORKS: Five principles for increasing cognitive ability.

This is to announce a great article about the fact that cognotive ability can indeed be increased and is not fixed as it was supposed to be until now. The way to improve your cognition would be to:

  1. Seek Novelty
  2. Challenge Yourself
  3. Think Creatively
  4. Do Things The Hard Way
  5. Network

(see linked article to know more: very thorough!)


List of #Lean #Accounting Books

March 8th, 2011 Posted in Lean Tags: , , ,

I’ve just found a list of Lean Accounting Books on Amazon.com that I’m passing around for those interested.

I have and read “Real Numbers: Management Accounting in a Lean Organization by Jean E. Cunningham which I found good, but, being an IT person, I’m not really versed in this stuff.

Besides, I came to know about “Direct Value Added”, a new way of doing accounting which seems promising when valuing a company with respect to continuous improvement initiatives. Unfortunately, information about this (“Valeur Ajoutée Directe“) seems to be only available in french (on www.vadway.com). Yet I found an english paper about DVA here (written by a french person), but it’s a paying paper.


How mass production and work was revived through planned obsolescence (somewhat #Lean #history)

March 7th, 2011 Posted in Lean Tags: , , ,

Planned obsolescence (see PDF article near the end of the wikipedia article) was proposed in 1932 as a way to relaunch economy and give back work to citizens.

The proposed means were somewhat extreme, yet it’s well known that today defects are embedded in most appliances (which are built to be non-fixable) to force people to buy a new equipement on a regular basis.

How we would fit this with “Total Productive Maintenance” is not clear to me yet 😉

 

#SystemsThinking World Users – Google Maps

February 28th, 2011 Posted in Systems Thinking Tags: , ,

For all people interested in Systems Thinking, please don’t hesitate to join the wonderful Linked In discussion group “Systems Thinking World“: there are lots of deeply interesting and challenging discussions, fueld with passion.

Then, you might want to make you visible on the dedicated Google Map here: Systems Thinking World Users – Google Maps.

See you there!

Reblog: Interview with Heidi Grant Halvorson (author of Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goal) by Coert Visser [and how it relates to #Lean]

February 22nd, 2011 Posted in Change, Lean, Solution Focus Tags: , , , , , , ,

This is a very nice interview of author Heidi Grant Halvorson about her book Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals.

INTERVIEWS: Interview with Heidi Grant Halvorson.

Coert Visser, interviewer, works in the field of Solution Focused Change.

I really appreciated the interview and the part about what types of  goals allow for lasting happiness:

  • relatedness
  • competence
  • and autonomy

That book seems to be a very good candidate for mandatory reading for managers.

Again, I find that hoshin kanri, or company wide annual goal setting in Lean companies, when properly done, aligns very well to these kind of researches.

  • hoshin kanri supposes that the whole company, starting at the CEO, deeply wants the best for its customers and its employees. That for me connects to the purpose of the company and fills the relatedness advocated for by Heidi Grant
  • by allowing all levels of the organization to contribute to the details of  the hoshin planning process according to their own level of competency and personal knowledge of what needs to be done at the job position they hold, the competence need is also fulfilled
  • and, in the end, by giving responsibility to all organizational levels to know and work on the specific goals they set, aligned with the company goal, autonomy is taken into consideration.

Of course, this (relatedness, competence, autonomy) is also true for A3 problem solving, but I let that as an exercise to the reader 🙂

It’s great when research validates some practices already done, because it allows for some kind of formal explanation and justification of “why it works”. People can stop complaining that “it ain’t work here” and “we’re different”, because researched formally showed that it’s doomed to work anywhere. It’s also a way to reinforce a (young) (Lean) coach that’s it’s the good way to go, whatever the organization’s reluctance to go down that path.

What’s your #1 #Lean tool? I vote for #compassion

February 22nd, 2011 Posted in Lean Tags: , , ,

This is not a real Lean tool per se, but I’d say Compassion:

  • compassion from management toward employees to help them get out of these messy processes and improve their work;
  • compassion for the poor customer that have to deal with a malfunctioning product or service;
  • compassion for the top management for themselves that need to cope with a dysfunctional company when it could be made flourishing and have all people, from top management to lower level employees thrive at work…

What about you?

Reblog: #Toyota’s Recall Crisis: What Have We Learned? – Jeffrey Liker

February 16th, 2011 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , ,

This is an excellent article from Jeffrey Liker about the (end of) Toyota crisis about their supposed gas and brake pedals problems.

Toyota’s Recall Crisis: What Have We Learned? – Jeffrey Liker – The Conversation – Harvard Business Review.

Besides, I’ve always thought, regarding this crisis, about what Deming would have said regarding common cause and special cause problems. Indeed, given the long track of excellent quality at Toyota, any problem suspected to come from the company would not nominate it for being bad with respect to quality, as tragic as the accidents had been.

At least (and this is what occurred), these obviously special cause accidents (from a statistical point of view) needed deep investigation, which has been done (read the well documented article of Jeffrey Liker above).

Reblog: #SOLUTIONFOCUSED CHANGE: The word ‘talent’

Here is an excellent and well researched blog article: SOLUTION FOCUSED CHANGE: The word ‘talent’. There are reports on the fact that talent and intelligence may be grown and that confidence in this growing possibility actually make it more effective.

This is in line with other work on systems thinking and systemic therapy (from Palo Alto’s mental research institute and the work of, for instance, Gregory Bateson and Paul Watzlawick).

Of course, Solution Focus is an approach with roots in these works, so the article on this blog should not come as a surprise :-). I’m currently reading that book, by the way and created the corresponding category on the blog, because I think I’m going to invest more time in this!

What also strikes me is the link with experience. Aren’t we in the field of Constructionism? Isn’t it what the Thinking Production System (aka Toyota production System, TPS or Lean) is also all about?

  • Plan an experiment to learn something
  • Do
  • Check the result and seek to understand the results
  • Act / Adjust as a consequence

So, not only did Taiichi Ohno enforced doing and having experiences, he also enforced thinking out the results to ensure learning did occur (this is hansei in japanese). In effect, this probably raised intelligence of workers and he didn’t know it at that time (though he probably knew that people not doing things were indeed dumb, given the low opinion he had about most managers! 😉

#Lean historical document: #TWI Complete program for a plant

In the myriad of documents produced by the TWI during World War 2, there’s a one page synthesis of what a “TWI Complete program for a plant” ought to be (you can see this document in the files section of the Yahoo TWI discussion group).

What’s important to me in this document is that it highlights some key points about the specific roles of TWI and Plant Management in implementing the TWI training programs.

I get a lot of insights in these documents about why lean may not stick in today’s organizations and how we could change this (indeed, the way TWI devised their management contact procedures would behelpful for any kind of change program!). Of course, the context is really different nowadays than during war 60 years ago, but these points still are important. They probably are even more important now than formerly in order to secure change because current context may not be seen as urgent.

The aforementioned document has three parts, of which I’m only quoting the first and the last:

  1. What T.WI.I does
  2. What the TWI programs are (not quoted here)
  3. What the plant does

What T.W.I. does

  • Present TWI complete program – to top management
  • and Demonstrates program methods – to middle management
  • Starts program in the plant – for first level management
  • Checks program results – with all levels of management

What’s striking me in this section is that all levels of management get a chance to acquaint themselves with TWI programs. By this, one can ensure that:

  • top management knows what it’s all about (eases sponsoring)
  • middle management deeply knows what it is (prevents resistance and eases sponsoring)
  • results are followed at all levels to ensure that the TWI programs are kept on top of the stack in management’s head

What the plant does

  • Top management – authorizes programs and plans use (accepts training as an operating function at all levels. Designates […] coordinator)
  • Middle management – Promotes understanding and gives support (arranges convenient schedules for employee coverage)
  • First-level management – Starts training in basic supervisor skills (improves supervisory skills by continuiing use – Follow-through)
  • All levels of management – Check production results

Here, we can see that TWI fostered deep commitment from top management. Not only did the programs were sold, TWI also got top management to understand and take action to recognize that training was indeed part of management job in operating functions. Also, with a coordinator designated by top management, the work can continue without taking too much time of the sponsor, avoiding the risk of him getting upset by constant dragging into programs details.

Next, middle management, often being seen as a source of (change) resistance is here given an active role in supporting and planning the program. This is a way to both appeal to every management person’s will to help others (something I’m deeply convinced: people do want to contribute to others and to something bigger than themselves) and to ensure that the program is well fitted to each and every specifics of all departements of the company. Nobody’s overlooked in the process and everybody gets a change to contribute. From a systems thinking point of view, one could say that TWI complete program for a plant had requisite variety!

As for first-level management, it is clearly stated that their role will be to put the programs in continuiing use (for there is no results otherwise). There are other TWI documents related to how Follow-Through is supposed to be done.

And lastly, all levels of management need to check production results. That’s not a check of how many people were trained, but really a check of what kind of production improvements were done by way of TWI programs: increased production, man-hours saved, reduction in training time – tool breakage – scrap – grievances. So, in the end, it should be clear in everybody’s head that TWI helps solve production problems, as defined and viewed by all management levels in the company.

(The document is dated February 10, 1944, so it’s not modern rocket science!)

I hope this review of one of TWI documents will shed light on their training program efficiency and that you took some ideas home for improving your own change and lean programs.

I plan to comment on other TWI documents, so stay tuned!

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