While preparing to present a webinar on “5S for the Office” I had a chance to review some real-world examples of kaizen (incremental improvements) that were created while guiding clients during 5S events. I thought it would be a good thing to share some of these ideas so that others may learn from them, share, improve or just take the idea and run with it.

I’ll break these down into the format that we use for what we call “One Good Idea” which includes: the problem, solution, benefits, before and after photos (if we have them) and a “Thanks to” to acknowledge people that helped with the idea. I’ll start with a few now and try to add some more this week.

One Good Idea – Surprise! Supply Cabinet

Problem – Items in cabinet were obsolete, unorganized, took time to find what you needed, it was like finding a surprise!
Solution – Organized the cabinet, used Visual controls

Before and After of the "Surprise!" Supply Cabinet

Benefits – Everyone passed the 30-second test (you can find things within 30 seconds), Easier to reorder supplies
Thanks to – Pete H.

One Good Idea – The Big Honkin’ Binder

Problem – Large, heavy binders were hard to grab and if another person was using it you would have to wait
Solution – Used smaller binders, marked to indicate if any where missing

Before and After Photo of the Big Honkin' Binders

Benefits – Easier to grab and use
Thanks to – Randa A.

One Good Idea – Overwhelming Work

Problem – An engineer was overwhelmed with work with constantly changing priorities, this led to projects being delayed or worked on when not needed
Solution – Since there was always some paperwork and folders associated with projects, the engineer and manager decided to use a file folder holder.
If the holder was full, then the manager had to remove a folder in order to add a new project.

Controlled number of projects

Benefits – Visual, priorities were easily recognized, reduced stress
Thanks to – A. Happy Engr

What do you think?

Do you have “One Good Idea” (or several) you would like to share? Please send them.

Bravo Bodek!

March 18, 2010

Tony Manos and Norman Bodek

I just saw Norm Bodek speak at the ISO 9000/Lean and Six Sigma Conference this week in Orlando, Florida. For those of you that don’t know, Norm has been studying productivity since 1979, has made 70 trips to Japan and has published over 200 titles on Lean. He is a truly remarkable human being giving us significant insights to the productivity secrets of top Japanese manufacturers. He is a firm proponent of Kaizen and getting great ideas from employees.

One of the many things that he shared with the audience I would like to share with you. Norman said to ask each employee to submit one idea per week that would:

  • Make their work easier,
  • Make their work more interesting,
  • Improve their skills and capabilities, or
  • Improve their work environment

Did you notice that all of these were focused on the worker? These weren’t improvement ideas that solely only focused on improvements for the company.

I guess this goes in line with what a student of mine called the “25 square feet”. The 25 sq ft represent the five foot by five foot area around the worker. Who knows that area the best? They do of course! The challenge is to ask the employee to come up with just one idea each week to improve things for themselves. Just think of the impact – one idea per week per employee, 50 or so ideas per employee per year. Multiply that times the number of employees; what an astronomical leap in progress for any organization!

I liked that Norm reminded us that respect for people is paramount if you want to have a Lean organization focused on continuous improvement. Check out Norm’s book “How to do Kaizen – A new path to innovation” with Bunji Tozawa from PCS Inc.

I just got back this week from the American Society for Quality’s (ASQ) Lean and Six Sigma Conference held in Phoenix, Arizona. I think this is my third year in a row attending (since the Six Sigma Conference added Lean). This year was even better than last’s. There are so many people that make this conference a success I couldn’t possibly name them all here. But I would like to give a special thanks to Shirley Krentz and Mark Olson from ASQ for all there hard work and effort. The results speak for themselves. I would also like to thank the members of the Lean Enterprise Division of ASQ for their support.

The first day of the conference I was kept pretty busy because I had two sessions to give. The first was on Hoshin Planning. This one hour overview walked the audience through the Hoshin Kanri process. As you can imagine that the information was pretty high-level, but gave enough information for novices and experts alike. What I liked was when a women came up to me after the talk and said that she was so glad that she attended this session and that she felt much more confident about the Hoshin planning process. Another comment came from an experienced Hoshin planner when he commented on how he liked the explanation of the “X-matrix” (one of the tools used during the process).

The second session was a fun, interactive and educational session called the Lean Training Game Exchange. As a consultant, trainer and lean practitioner I have many tools to help drive home certain lean points. During this session I presented four of them: the 5S Numbers Game, Visual Hide & Seek, Index Card Batch Size Reduction and the Tennis Ball Game. Since this was a one hour session also I had just enough time to cover the basics and try a few rounds of each class exercise. Some of the comments included:

“Useful application of tools”
“Easy, self-explanatory, hands-on”
“Reinforces lean principles and represents the “steps” to improvement”
“Loved this one!”

Over the next few months I will try my best to get these up and available for free on our website including short instructional videos. The 5S Numbers Game is already available for free including a PowerPoint presentation, facilitator’s notes and the forms needed.

I was able to attend the morning keynote sessions for both days. I have to say they were inspirational and informative. They also got me revved up again with a boost of energy to continue to strive to improve my professional and personal life.

One last note, it was great to see old friends and meet new ones. I thoroughly enjoyed the networking opportunity and to help connect people together. I had a chance to sit down face-to-face with a couple of people where we were able to exchange ideas, get some work done and help each other out. That’s what I love about the Lean community.

See you next year! – Tony