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Monday Morning Message on Lean – “What’s normal?” – Monday, November 29, 2010

November 29, 2010


“Most people are more comfortable with old problems than with new solutions.” – Anonymous

I had a lot of fun facilitating a 5S event last week and two things made a big impression on me.

The first “ah-ha” moment came when the manager of the 5S target area was describing what he saw. His comment was that when he looked at the area it seemed “normal”, meaning that this is just the way it is. It was interesting to me as I applied this concept to our own work areas at 5S Supply – just because something is “normal’ doesn’t mean its “right”. We have places at 5S Supply that could use a little help. I might pass them everyday and think that it is “normal” but I know it isn’t “right”. I know we should take the time to make them a little better. So remember, just because something seems familiar that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for improvement. Try to see past the way you have it today and think ‘that even if I make a little change for the better I have improved things.’

The second thing that struck a chord with me is when a QC tech on the team said that “in order to have improvement, something has to change.” This is similar to something I have a habit of saying during kaizen events when the team gets stuck – “In order for something to change, something has to change.” I’m not trying to be a cheeky; I’m just trying to urge the team on to do something. Half the battle can be just getting people to see things a different way. There’s an old saying for 5S “5S is easy; getting people to change is hard.” The basic concepts of 5S make sense but getting people to understand and apply them correctly is our challenge. So don’t be afraid to change something. I had to remind the team members that all the changes we were making were low cost and low risk. If the change doesn’t make it better than we can always change it back. Kaizen is about making many of these small changes for the better.

So remember that “normal doesn’t always mean right” and that “in order to have improvement there has to be change.”

Let me know your thoughts. Thanks – Tony

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