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Author Archive

Who Owns It?

By John Carnuccio

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a speaker event at the monthly EEG meeting at Francis Tuttle. Bryan Coats, a very experienced and learned manufacturing professional gave a presentation on Total Productive Maintenance, or TPM. This presentation covered the history of TPM and the key ingredients for a successful endeavor, but the thing that struck me the most was his discussion about the “TPM culture.” This reminded me of so many other “culture” discussions I have been involved in over the years concerning Lean, quality, safety and other important elements of a high performance organization. Everyone always ends up talking about culture. It seems that success and sustainability in anything always comes down to the right culture. But who’s to say what kind of culture is “right”? And how do you know when you’ve got it?

Merriam-Webster.com defines culture as (my summary): the beliefs, customs, arts, ways of life, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time; a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization (such as a business). As the definition would suggest, every organization has a culture. It may not be a good one, or a desirable one, but like it or not, it’s got one! The culture is a direct result of what the organization believes in; the way it “lives” every day; how it thinks. Obviously, most of us aspire to work in an organization that believes in continuous improvement of everything and everyone. We want to be part of something good that lives and breathes excellence in everything it does. In short, we want to work in what I call a high performance culture; otherwise we wouldn’t be interested in TPM or being on a “Lean journey” or attending EEG events!

It has been my experience that culture is a direct reflection of leadership. And although leadership is responsible for the culture of the organization, the culture itself will grow from the bottom up. Culture change, therefore, must begin with leaders who can articulate a vision of a new reality and are willing to let their people create the path to it. This cannot be done by mandate, desire or appointment. It is not achieved through coercion, promises, or threats. It only happens when everyone owns the desired change. When everyone is empowered to put their personal stamp on it. When everyone walks the walk and talks the talk and lives it every day. Not just the managers and supervisors, but everyone. This is evidenced by the way people work together; the subject matter and terminology of casual conversations; the questions that are asked at meetings; the desire to participate in improvement projects, training classes, and company events. The workforce will take on a certain swagger and attitude. These are telltale signs of the developing culture of an organization. Astute leaders will pay attention to these indicators and use them to help guide their plans and initiatives.

So as you move ahead with your lean journeys, TPM initiatives, safety programs, quality systems, etc., and you desire to achieve the “right culture,” step back and ask yourself: “who owns it?”

Product Family Matrix

Hello, Lean Implementers!!!

I hope you’ve had a productive month with lots of Lean Wins. Today I’d like to change gears away from high level strategy to the tactics of a Lean Transformation.

A Lean Transformation is more than a collection of Kaizen Events, although you will definitely have some. It’s also more than just moving waste from one operation at the expense of another. A Lean Transformation starts with a vision of the ideal value stream and is a strategic method with the goal of creating flow throughout the value stream at the pull of the customer. The first step of a Lean Transformation…even before a Value Stream Map…is to identify your product families.

Product Family Matrix

A Product Family Matrix (PFM) is simply a tool to categorize your end items into families based on processing steps. It’s not necessarily the models you sell, nor is it just similarly designed products. A Product Family is a group of products that have similar processing steps and work contents, typically evaluated downstream of the pacemaker.

The PFM is created in 4 steps: Outline, Population, Work Times, and Families.

Outline: The outline is simply a matrix with all products down the left side of a spreadsheet and all the processes across the top. This will form the foundation of the PFM, and should include all operations, alternate routings, sub-assemblies and end items.

Population: This step is where the matrix is populated with the operations for each part. For example, if part XYZ goes through the steps Lathe, Mill, and Deburr, you would place an “X” under those operations for that part. Populate all parts with their main routings (including both standard routings and tribal knowledge) and identify any alternate operations with an “A.”

Work Times: Fill in the work content times for all operating steps. This will help to identify wide variations in the work contents of parts that could otherwise be in the same families.

Families: Finally, group the parts according to the processing steps they share with other parts. If the PFM is relatively small, a simple visual sorting can work. If it’s too big, you will have to utilize some automation tools to identify families.

One the PFM is completed, individual Product Families will reveal themselves. While somewhat laborious, developing the PFM is a critical step at the beginning of a Lean Transformation to ensure we are working on the right things. Properly selected Product Families will help to remove some roadblocks to flow when we get to the Layout stage of the Lean Transformation. If the PFM is not done correctly, or not at all, you can very easily have barriers to flow and know even know where they come from.

Next time, we will build on the PFM by selecting the Pilot Product Family to work on and creating Current State, Future State, and Ideal State Value Stream Maps. Until then…Stay Lean!!!

Strategy

Happy New Year!!!

I hope 2012 got off to a great start for everyone. I like to use the time around new year to re-evaluate my 1 and 5 year plans. I think of it as my personal “Strategic Planning” session. From that perspective, I’d like to talk about Lean Implementation strategy at a high level.

With the right Leadership and the right Vision, developing a Lean Strategy in the next step. “What is Lean Strategy” you ask. In fact, “Lean Strategy” is simply the business strategy applied after securing lean commitment, leadership and vision. In other words, once the leadership team in on board, and are “thinking towards Lean,” traditional strategic planning takes on a new direction…becoming the Lean Strategy. Ultimately what we’re looking for is the top down approach to implementation, starting with a recognition that waste exists in our processes and to be the most competitive supplier possible, we must drive out waste wherever it lies.

Lean Strategy is more that doing a slew of lean events around the factory and office, although you will get your chance to do that. It is a concerted approach to identifying what value is from the customer’s perspective and the plan to make that value flow non-stop throughout your supply chain. The strategy should answer questions like:

  •  What does our customer value?
  • What competitive advantages do we currently enjoy…and what advantages do we need to develop or strengthen?
  • What does the customer perceive as our weaknesses? What are our unrecognized weaknesses?
  • What do we value as an organization?
  • What is our mission?

We must answer these questions from a Lean perspective to take us to the next step of developing the top level goals, which I’ll talk more about next time.