“Your first solution is not your last.” – Joe Denler

While facilitating a TPM Kaizen Event last week I was trying to get the point across that we need to find better solutions when we are trying to fix problems. I kept saying “Your first solution is probably wrong.” What I was trying to say is that – don’t just jump to your first solution and think you are done. The first solution is probably just a band-aid solution that really doesn’t get to the real root cause.

During the event we carefully spent time to get the root cause of several issues that were causing less than optimal availability and performance in a cell. We did some basic TPM training, tagged items that needed attention, performed a clean & inspect, reviewed PM & maintenance logs and then determined the areas of most concern. The team really focused on getting to the root cause of the issues.

I challenged the team to come up with five solutions to the different areas we were going to attack. By asking them to think of multiple solutions I figured that an overall better solution would emerge than the first ‘gut feel’ answer. To nudge them along I keep saying “Your first solution is probably wrong, so keep going.” That’s when Joe told me “Why would any of my solutions be wrong. Don’t you think I am trying to solve the problem?” He wasn’t angry or upset with me. That’s when he told me “I don’t think you should say it that way. Maybe you should say ‘Your first solution is not your last.’” He was right. Even an experienced Lean facilitator can learn something each event.

So, thank you Joe, from now on I will remind people that “Your first solution is not your last’ to help spur them on to greater thinking and better solutions.

“The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running.” – Author Unknown

I wanted to use this quote to illustrate two things. First, is the concept of Kaizen, which can be thought of as little improvements over time. These little changes in our workplace should make things easier; typically they are low cost and low risk. They are the one hundred small modifications that add up to lasting progress.

Sometimes it seems like we have an uphill battle when we are trying to spread Lean thinking and implementation. While performing an annual review of a successful 5S program that we helped a healthcare company establish, I asked the 5S Coordinator “Why do you think his is going so well?” Her reply was that people realize that this isn’t going away; this is something that the organization embraced and will continue to do. She also mentioned that it took a while to get there. She also said that if they didn’t keep at it, it would have just become another flavor of the month. Keep running.

Jennife Molski, Customer Care manager 5S Supply finishes Chicago Marathon 10-10-10.

The second thing I wanted to share was that Jennifer Molski, Customer Care Manager from 5S Supply ran in yesterday’s (10-10-10) Chicago Marathon. She did all the proper things like train and eat right, but an unfortunate injury during training made it painful to run. That didn’t deter her. She got out there and did her best. She kept going even when it was hard – that’s perseverance. Thanks to all of those who supported Jennifer during this time.

Keep at it, perseverance in the right endeavor pays off. – Tony

“It’s a visual world and people respond to visuals.” – Joe Sacco

I was presenting at SME’s “Making Lean Work for the Job Shop” last week and was fortunate enough to be able to take a tour of a local facility pursuing Lean. I was amazed at the progress they have made in their five year journey, but one of the things that stood out in my mind was the great application of visuals in the workplace. Unfortunately, no cameras were allowed on the tour so I can’t show you any specifics.

One of the very first things our tour guide mentioned was how they used to have a grid up in the ceiling for electrical, lighting, etc. This was close to the top of the benches and gave a feeling of being cramped or closed in. One of the first things they did was to remove the clutter (Sort) of the grid and raise the lighting back to the ceiling height. In doing so, they were able to choose new lighting that improved the overall brightness and reduced the electrical bill. This also allowed them to make any type of changes on the shop floor that they needed.

They also had very good visuals tied in with their Leader Standard Work. They had display boards in each area where the teams would hold the daily stand-up meetings and where management would be able to see the current status of the workplace. Of course they had boards with the standard Quality, Cost and Delivery measures plus other specific measures that were deemed necessary for good communication.

To keep track of throughput, they had the typical 60-minute board at each cell. This allowed the value-adders to write down where they were at and if needed, reasons why they were behind. I liked that I saw that the workers were behind in a one-hour segment and they wrote down that they were trying out a new testing procedure. This made it very clear why they were behind for that time span.

Don’t under-estimate the power of visuals in the workplace. Most visuals are low-cost solutions versus lack of information. Spend the time to put up meaningful visuals in your workplace, they payoff will be tremendous.

Visual Workplace Summit

One way to learn more about visuals is to attend the first annual Visual Workplace Summit being held October 26-28, 2010 in Salt Lake City, Utah. There are some top notch keynote speakers, workshops and plenty of breakout sessions that feature real-world examples. I encourage you to check it out.

If you have great examples of the visual workplace and would like to share them, please send them to me. Thanks – Tony