Gemba, Lean and Continuous Improvement

Toyota’s Worst Best Kept Secret & The Top Five Reasons For It

Toyota’s secret to the long term success of their Toyota Production System (TPS) is actually pretty simple!  It’s not even a secret.  It’s also really straight forward.  It’s captured in a single word.  Know what it is?

During and since working at Toyota, I’ve been asked many times what the secret sauce is that makes Toyota and TPS such a long term success!  It’s absolutely true that TPS is a comprehensive multi-dimensional system or mechanism about which many books have been written explaining it in great detail.  There is no doubt many powerful principles and tools within it.  It is built on the fundamental principles of respect for people and continuous improvement.  My intention is not to diminish the integration or thoroughness of TPS, but my single word response to the secret sauce question is,

GEMBA

I wholeheartedly believe in respect for people and have a huge passion for continuous improvement, and the best way to create, drive and sustain both is by Gemba!

In addition to providing a means to achieving the principles of respect for people and continuous improvement, the top 5 reasons for conducting gemba are revealed in the spelling of the word itself and are:

 

Go See tLetter Ghe actual condition – in similar fashion as the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”, seeing is believing!  Gemba allows all participants to see the same thing firsthand.  The good, bad and the ugly!  This is powerful because there is nothing left to someone else’s interpretation and/or communication.  There is no opportunity to hide, exaggerate, or underestimate the conditions or impact through misunderstanding, poor communication, or lack of familiarity of the process.  Gemba also provides alignment of what is happening or not happening.

 

Go and see is so powerful, I once scheduled a meeting with the President of Toyota, on the roof!

Letter EEngagement – Gemba is an incredible way to engage openly between all levels.  Asking questions to understand surfaces issues, barriers, abnormalities, ideas, and potential solutions.  It provides opportunities for operators to voice their opinions and become directly involved in being part of a solution.  Gemba facilitates clarity of leadership direction, and teaching and learning opportunities of all involved.  It is an effective way to follow-up on previous actions and their effectiveness.  Gemba also is a great time for leaders to challenge, encourage, motivate, and of course recognize the efforts and results of their teams.

 

 

Letter MMan, Machine, Material, Method (4Ms) – Gemba allows teams to focus their attention on the 4Ms to identify barriers and wastes impacting the operation or process.  The focus of a Gemba could focus on all the 4Ms, several, or a specific one depending on the desired intent or the situation.   The focus on the 4Ms helps train and develop the team on waste identification and is the engine of continuous improvement.

 

 

Letter BBarriers – Another reason for gemba is to identify barriers either creating a form of waste in the process, or impacting the completion or desired impact of identified actions and solutions.  This is very important in order to first identify necessary actions for improvement, and then when reviewing previous actions to demonstrate support to the team, speed up progress, and keep the team motivated by reducing frustration.

 

 

Letter AAction– Gemba must result in some kind of action.  To me this is not only a must, I believe it is unavoidable.   When everyone sees the same things creating impact, questions are inevitable, followed by the generation of ideas to resolve the issues. This occurs by default.  Prioritization and elimination of the identified actions need to happen next.  Once the immediate actions are determined and agreed upon, ownership and completion dates are imperative.  Timely follow-up of all actions is very important to drive urgency, identify barriers and where help or clarification is needed, and provide additional opportunities for all aspects of engagement.

 

So not only are the reasons for Gemba hidden in plain sight of the letters of the word, the reasons for Gemba also propagate the entire philosophy of continuous improvement by naturally creating a never ending cycle of Gemba.

Are all Gembas the same?  “Follow” my website, to receive the next post, “The Different Types of Gemba”.

Contact me:

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

If you are enjoying my posts and find the information useful, please “Follow” me by entering your email in the follow box on the right-hand menu of my website www.glennsommerville.com 

 

* Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

 

Gemba, Lean and Continuous Improvement

See More Going Backwards!

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, we can see more by going backwards!  Our natural instinct is to start at the beginning and move forward towards the end.  This makes sense as time and our lives move forwards, but if you truly want to see, try going backwards starting at the end.

I suppose this advice could be applicable to evaluating your life too!  You know starting at the end and envisioning your final moments and then working backwards from there to the present, and using this visioning to make changes in your life today.  But that’s not my field.  I’m talking about process reviews and gemba.  Sorry!

When reviewing an entire process or supply chain, it’s very important to start the review from the end and work backwards.  This maybe the end of final test, the end of the manufacturing line, or the loading dock.  Sometimes, right from the customer.  The reason for this is to be able to understand the upstream processes from the downstream “customer” perspective.  By walking the process backwards, you will learn and understand the critical or key points required for the downstream process and be more attuned to look for the success attributes and negative impacts when you get to the upstream process.  You can compare the expected condition to that of the actual condition to identify potential issues and then be prepared to look for and identify potential causes of these abnormalities when you move to the upstream process.

Process vs gemba flow

Walking a process backwards can be very enlightening and usually opens your eyes to many improvement opportunities.  These findings can be of safety, quality, productivity or cost in some manner or another.  The reverse perspective is eye opening!

I recall working with a leader that was trying to improve the cycle time of a process.  After a period of time and several process improvements, although they had improved the cycle time, there remained significant variation in the results and on occasion the cycle time was not achieved.  They found that the main part of the process was being completed within the cycle time.  So during their investigation, they skipped this part of the process as it was obviously working well.  The problem was that the carts containing the completed product were being misplaced.  Time searching for the carts in the next process step resulted in the overall cycle time sometimes not be achieved.  Efforts had then been put towards making the carts more easily recognizable from other process carts and improving the visibility of them.  So together we walked the process in reverse.

Walking the process backwards, we asked the operator in the downstream process where they obtain the carts from the upstream process.  They were fully aware of where it was and gladly took us there.   So far so good!   As we walked to the location, they advised us that the carts are rarely found there.  When we asked why, they said it was because the other operators would drop the carts closer to the lunch room out of convenience when going for break.  So typically they would just go there and start looking for the carts.  When we arrived at the designated location, it became a little more clear what was going on.  The 5S was horrible.  The lines to indicate where the carts should be parked were worn out and worse, the bar codes to which the operator was to scan the carts into were worn out as well.  Other carts and equipment that were not supposed to be located there were taking up space designated for these sub-assembly carts.

We then spoke to one of the downstream operators and asked them how they scan the carts into the designated locations when the bar codes were damaged.  They showed us the small bar code cards they had made up and carried with them!  Problem solved!  What this meant is they could very easily scan the bar code at any location regardless of  where the cart was physically.  Of course this wasn’t the intent, but…  that’s what happened.  Further questioning of the operator indicated that they really didn’t have a good understanding of what the bar code was for and that the location of the cart was critical to their downstream internal customer.  Most operators have the best of intentions, so because the space was occupied with “other stuff”, the operators thought it was a good idea to scan their portable bar code cards and drop the carts at another similar process where carts were placed.  It was coincidence that this was close to the path to the lunch room.

Sure, these issues could have been identified by walking with the process flow, however, with the walking backwards perspective, your questions are different and the answers come from the downstream customer who views things from a different perspective than the operator in the previous process.  This allows you to determine the key points and success factors much faster and more efficiently.  Using the example above, for sure the poor 5S and worn out bar codes would have been found walking with the process.  However, it is very possible that the issue would not have been resolved because we may not have determined that the operators had the portable bar code cards, or learned that they really didn’t understand the intent and criticality of scanning and placing the carts in the designated location, and may also have assumed it was poor operator behaviour of dropping the carts on their way to lunch.  A lot of time and frustration could have easily resulted and the root cause not determined.

If you don’t already walk the process backwards, try it next time and leave a comment as to whether you found it beneficial.

Other Related Posts:

10 Important Steps of Effective Gemba Walks or “Go See”

Gemba Walks – Tip #1

Gemba Walks – Tip #2

4 Necessities for Smooth Flow

Teaching your eyes to see

 

Contact me:

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

If you are enjoying my posts and find the information useful, please “Follow” me by entering your email in the follow box on the right-hand menu of my website www.glennsommerville.com 

 

 

Lean and Continuous Improvement

Top 10 Busted Myths About Continuous Improvement

Unfortunately there remains several inaccurate beliefs and thoughts about Lean or Continuous Improvement.  Based on my experience, here the top 10 “BUSTED” myths with #1 being the biggest misunderstanding!

CI Mythbusters

Leave a comment with any Lean or Continuous Improvement myths you feel are inaccurate or “BUSTED”!

Related Posts:

Continuous Improvement Tip – Don’t Forget WIFM!

Do You Have What it Takes to Lead Continuous Improvement Teams?”

Do Your Continuous Improvement Teams Have What It Takes To Win?

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

Lean and Continuous Improvement

Continuous Improvement Tip – Don’t Forget WIFM!

When implementing a Continuous Improvement (CI) activity, it’s important to show your operators the “What’s in it for me?” or WIFM, to boost their motivation and engagement.  Here’s some simple but impactful metrics that address the WIFM for CI.

Sometimes when we undertake CI activities to improve a process, we as leaders tend to forget the WIFM aspect for the operators in the process.  Sure a big part of the intent of CI is to engage and empower our operators to have a higher level of involvement and ownership in the success and improvement of the business, but at the end of the day, CI also needs to have positive impact on what they do everyday.

Although we do want our operators to understand and care about our management metrics such as Safety, Quality, Productivity, and Cost, unfortunately sometimes what they hear is that we want them to work faster, harder, or go without.

An effective way to motivate and inspire operators to identify CI and drive improvements in processes is to establish key performance metrics that directly impact their process.  Typically these indicators are inputs or leading indicators that if improved will impact the outputs or results you are trying to improve at the overall process level.

Examples of some good input metrics that have meaning to the operators include:

  • Distance they walk in a shift
  • Total number of steps they take
  • Number of twists of their upper body
  • Number of reaches
  • Total weight lifted
  • Number of decisions made per cycle
  • Ergonomic burden score

Before your kaizen or CI activity, work with your operators to define the key metrics and measure them.  Then make them visible by listing the before condition on a flip chart, white board or other means of display.  Next engage with the operators to determine ways of improving these metrics through the kaizen or CI activity.  Track the improvements for each, or the after state, to clearly show the improvements being made that directly impact the operators every day.

What other metrics do you track of this nature to show your operators the WIFM and positive impact your CI activity is having on their process?  Leave a comment.

 

*Feature Image republished with permission by High Performance Solutions

Other Related Posts:

Do your processes “tick-off” your operators?

Do You Have What it Takes to Lead Continuous Improvement Teams?”

Do Your Continuous Improvement Teams Have What It Takes To Win?

 

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

 

 

 

Leadership

Looking back and moving forward – A Leadership Journey

With another year ending and a new one beginning, it seemed fitting that I look back and reflect on the last year of my Leadership and Continuous Improvement blog.  I have to say it’s been both fun and rewarding.  It’s been a fun and fascinating journey into the world of social media with incredible learning and self-development along the way.  A great surprise has been the people from all around the world that I have virtually met along the way.  It’s been rewarding because I made a commitment to myself to give this a try for a year and in so doing had to maintain the discipline to post every week (with the exception of a few planned breaks), which trust me is not easy, but I did it!  It has also been rewarding to see the reaction and interest received from some of my posts.

So I will continue on my journey for another year and challenge myself once again to grow, develop, and learn more.  I hope you will join me again this year.  If you find my posts interesting and helpful, I encourage you to “follow” my blog directly.  Various social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook and others, use algorithms to determine what posts are seen in your news feed.  Don’t assume you will see my posts if we are connected on LinkedIn or Facebook.  By following my blog, you will always get notified of a new post which includes a quick link to that post.  I typically post an article 1/week plus a mid-week motivational quote.  Below is the link to my website:

www.glennsommerville.com

Looking back over the statistics on the posts from 2018, below is a summary and link to some of the top posts.  I’ve also included a few posts that may be of help at the beginning of the new year to assist you in getting organized and ready to achieve more this year!

Top Posts:

10 Important Steps of Effective Gemba Walks or “Go See”

By far my most viewed post!  Many leaders have heard the term Gemba, but few actually do it or struggle to do it well.  In this brief post, 10 steps of having an effective gemba are discussed to help leaders engage at the shop floor level to identify and solve problems  with their teams.

Gemba Walks – Tip #1

A quick two paragraph post giving a simple but effective tip to follow when on a gemba walk.  This tip helps the leader be engaged while paying full attention and respect to their teams.

Gemba Walks – Tip #2

A brief half page post to raise attention to a common problem continuous improvement teams often make.  As a leader, watching out for this is super important to realize the full potential of your CI activities.

Stop repeating bad history…

Ever been surprised that one of your systems or mechanisms has failed….again?  Probably this is because at least one of these three components are missing.

A Leader’s Best Question

This is my favorite question to ask as a leader.  It’s three words!

 

New Year’s Getting Organized Posts:

Leader Standardized Work is for, well, EVERYONE!

You don’t have to work on the manufacturing floor to utilize Leader Standardized Work (LSW).  LSW can help any leader become more consistent and effective.  This post discusses how to set-up and sustain LSW.

Reflections Vs Resolutions – It’s That Time Of Year!

A brief post that discusses why New Years Resolutions generally fail and why personal reflection is a such an important step before setting new goals and objectives.

Effective Leadership Skills – Personal Planning

If a leader is not well organized both professionally and personally, they are likely not going to be effective.  6 important tips on personal planning are covered in this post.

Effective Leadership – Part II – 6 Steps to Manage Your Time Effectively

Time is finite.  We all have the same amount of time in a given day.  So, how come some people seem to accomplish so much more than others?  This post reviews some key steps in how you can manage your time effectively and achieve more.

10 Steps to Improve the Work-Life Teeter-Totter (Balance)

I believe true “work-life” balance is a myth and see it more as a teeter-totter that has it’s ups and downs.  By taking these 10 steps you can achieve a better work-life ride that you control.

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com or find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/

Thanks for reading and following.  I look forward to continuing my journey in 2019 and welcome your thoughts and suggestions on topics and interests by leaving a comment!