Announcing the Logical Thinking Process training, Jan 2016 in Paris

I used the opportunity to advertise the next Logical Thinking Process 6-days course (from 13th to 20th January 2016 in Paris, France) to tryout the PowToon animation app.

It took me three attempts to get to this:

Here is the link to more information and registration: Logical Thinking Process: Strategic Navigation and Complex Problem Solving


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5 ways Lean guys trigger rejection on shopfloor

Lean guys are not always aware they triggered rejection of their ideas or suggestions themselves, only because of their behavior or their disregarding of some elementary rules.
Here is a short list of 5 ways to trigger rejection on shopfloor.

1. Play the sensei

A sensei, in lean lingo, is a recognized expert, which in japanese style would visit a facility, appraise and give advice in a master’s mysterious way, so that the followers must deeply reflect about its meaning and the hidden but valuable lesson.

Probably every Lean guy’s dream is to be called sensei some day, meaning someone recognizes his/her expertise and asks for guidance and mentoring.

Yet playing sensei without being asked for nor called that way will pretty surely upset people.

To-be senseis I’ve seen like to look down on people with contempt and call everything rubbish.

A sensei being a sensei, he/she is not supposed to explain why something is rubbish, it’s up to the shopfloor people to discover it. A practical way to appear, appraise and disappear without being bothered with details nor explanations…

About such a “sensei”, some upset people said to me: “he just dropped the grenade and left”. On another occasion, the “victim” of such a sensei told me: “he just goes around, says it’s rubbish, but gives no example of what is good or what he wants!”.

While true senseis deliver valuable lessons, even in a strange fashion, self-promoted senseis just flatter their own ego while parading on shopfloor.

2. Lecturing people

Newcomers from a kaizen or Lean promotion office, often young people that graduated recently, tend to go to shopfloor and evangelize everyone with “You should” or “Why don’t you”.

These talented young people have gotten a lot of theory and probably know a lot, at least through reading, but “You should” is difficult to take from someone having barely the same number of life years than others have years of (hard) work experience.

“Why don’t you” is an awkward attempt to apply asking the five whys or to camouflage the lecture with a kind of smart-sounding suggestion. The way the full sentence is spoken out is received just as insulting as the blunt “you should”.

The lecturers too often know little if anything about the shopfloor condition and their questions and suggestions reveal their lack of awareness of the local conditions.

That’s how a new engineer from another company, allegedly far more advanced regarding Lean maturity and appalled by what he saw, got everyone hating him at once for lecturing aggressively the old breed on shopfloor.

3. Assuming everybody know the basics

This is a kind of variant of the previous, savvy Lean guys coming to shopfloor and without trying to understand the local current level of understanding, keep jargoning.

Lot of people do not like to admit they don’t understand, leading at best to a dialogue of the deaf between confident jargonists and proud ignorants.

Worse, when the jargonists notice the ignorance, they likely go for “What? You don’t know…!?”

It is easy to fall into the trap when nice boards and posters suggest the area has had some training and has some Lean tools in use. Which leads us to the next rejection-triggering behavior:

4. Hang up posters and vanish

Hanging up poster, display new or modified procedures and vanish without a word of explanation, preferably doing it when nobody is on shopfloor and letting everybody clueless about what has to be done is another fine way to show disrespect and trigger rejection.

It could be nothing more than the assumption from the Lean guys that first line of management will take over the explanation to their staff, while shopfloor management assumes Lean guys will instruct operators.

After a while, when searching the cause of boards not used or procedures ignored, one will discover that there was no instruction, not even information about the change.

After a while and some of these experiences, operators will come to the conclusion it is all optional or for window dressing only. Shopfloor management itself will sabotage passively by refraining to give explanations and instruction in place of the Lean team.

5. Changing things without people

The last fine way to fuel rejection is to make changes without people from shopfloor; after work or on weekends.

Nobody likes to have his/her workpost changed without notice, information and asking anything. More often than not, the change prove inapplicable because some important fact was ignored.

Would the initiators have asked beforehand, the operators or shopfloor people would have explained. But, the arguments of shopfloor people are often interpreted as a mere resistance to change, therefore it was thought better to do without them.

I remember factory workers mocking the executives who came a saturday for a 5S action with the CEO and having the factory paralyzed on Monday morning. Jigs and fixtures had been thrown away as rubbish pieces of metal by the ignorant executives.


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You consultants – 3 reasons why you should better not blame them

It’s an often heard criticism in our trade: “You consultants just say what we long know“.

The last time I heard it, it was in a friendly tone from a nice chap I worked with, in a moment of exasperation about the situation I described and his scorched  pride.

I agree with that, what I described was already known, even if this statement is oversimplifying. But I understand the frustration of our customers’ teams when allegedly well paid consultants come in to restate  known issues and already proposed solutions.

Yet dear frustrated customers’ teams why not grasping the opportunity to reflect on your own responsibility about such situations? I will help you with that.

First, can you acknowledge the that it takes some skill to understand the situation and pinpoint the core issue in a matter of days, sometimes only hours, the time which is usually allocated for a diagnosis or a scoping?

It’s easy to boast knowing about something when witnessing or living it over years, it’s a real challenge to grasp enough understanding in a comparatively very short period of time.

Could you take such a challenge in a company and a trade you’re just discovering?

Second, you know what’s wrong and what needs to be done. Great. Did you “sell” your brilliant plan? Why didn’t management buy it?

In many cases we consultants come in to repackage “your brilliant plan” and complete it with missing bits, e.g.:

  • Thorough analysis
  • Robust action plan
  • Convincing business case
  • Commitment to outcomes

What we get handed over from previous in-house attempt is most often a “draft” with which no candidate for junior consultant position would ever pass the recruiting interview.
In less polite words: rubbish.

Lack of presentation skills is another common reason why in-house solutions don’t get the required attention.

When executives and decision takers aren’t bored to death by woolly presentations, they often have to guess what the presentation is supposed to explain.

Third, you long know about it but what have you done so far? Why did your management feel necessary to bring in consultants?

You say you had no time to work on it, but do you have more now, when consultants are in the place?

No you don’t but management will not buy your usual excuses anymore because of consultant’s’ daily rate. In other words, your company needs to pay a premium to get you doing what you should have long done.

So yes, we consultant may say what is already known, but we know how to say it in a compelling way, with a concrete and trustworthy solution backed up by a robust action plan. And on top of it we’ll take a challenge about the outcome.


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7 good reasons to attend the Logical Thinking Process training

The Logical Thinking Process Training Course is delivered by Bill Dettmer, a recognized expert within the community of Theory of Constraints (ToC). Bill has worked with Eli Goldratt and other prominent ToC community members.

Here are 7 good reasons to attend the Logical Thinking Process training

1. Meet Bill Dettmer

The first benefit of this training is to meet, listen, learn and benefit from personalized advice from Bill Dettmer. Bill is a recognized expert within the community of Theory of Constraints, author of eight books and numerous articles, “father” of this wonderful tool called the Goal Tree.
Bill is also an excellent teacher and extraordinary storyteller, often illustrating the educational contributions with hilarious anecdotes.

2. A pragmatic approach

The Logical Thinking Process and supporting tools demand users’ rigor and use a scientific approach to solve problems. The underlying logic suffers no deviation, but that is nearly all about being directive.
The proposed overall approach remains pragmatic, graphic outlines and color codes for example are suggested, not mandatory. Even the use of all the tools is not mandatory, their choice should fit the purpose of the users, as long as the logical relationships that structure them are kept as they should be.
It is really the way of thinking and the results that matter, not the look of the outcomes.

3. Work on the ambitions and / or actual problems

The training alternates between theory and practice and it is not based on case studies, but on real problems that participants are encouraged to bring with them. Conversely, having a (complex) problem to solve is a prerequisite to attend the training.
Note: it can be the rollout of a strategy, hence the mentioned “ambition”
A real benefit for participants is to get personalized advice from Bill as he will scrutinize and correct each of the real-case exercises.

4. Benefit from the group effect

Participants are actors and spectators, presenters and scrutinizers in turn. Everyone therefore benefits from the collective experience as well as from the sum of individual experiences during the practical exercises.

5. A dense training course of a suitable format

Training is dense, former trainees testify of this intense experience going through concepts and tools, exercises and practice in brisk pace. However, the format chosen – two times three days separated by a weekend – is adapted and validated by the experience of all the sessions led by Bill worldwide.
Greater dilution impairs learning and the six days spread over two weeks minimize the effects of the absence of the participants in their organizations.

6. The certificate of mastery

Bill issues a certificate of mastery in his name, a credential that the holder has acquired the sufficient mastery of the principles and tools to use them properly, according to Bill’s criteria. The awarding of this certificate is nothing complacent as Bill explains; by signing his name he engages his own reputation and will not certify insufficiently qualified persons with his endorsement.

7. Network with the alumni

Participants of a training session will have plenty of occasions to know each other better: lunch, diners, even a common tour in Paris on the weekend. After the training course, participants will be invited to get in touch, meet and network with the alumni, expanding the community of the Logical Thinking Process.

More information about the training course and registration on the LTP training dedicated webpage.

How corporate Lean programs spoil golden opportunities

This is the sad and true story of a manufacturing unit of a major manufacturer in his industry.

This company has a corporate program to roll out Lean, with permanently appointed staff to support it. The Lean organisation is structured from a corporate level to sites representatives and staff appointed to support departments within the plants (Lean Promotion Office).

The corporate program is consistent and fine, designed by subject matter experts and tailored to fit both the activity and corporate culture. Such an ambitious program has a phased agenda, milestones, audits, reviews and everything necessary.

The Lean Promotion Office supporting team is therefore very busy breaking down the corporate rollout plan and preparing training sessions, coaching sessions, reviews and everything necessary.

Everyone who has witnessed such organisation and corporate rollout knows that the supporting team tends to become a swelling bureaucracy of its own, with very busy people seldom seen on shopfloor.

Comes a day in a department when the production must be stopped for supply shortages and unfortunately the stoppage lasts several days.

Once the things jobless personnel could do were done, they were left unoccupied and all by themselves, in a kind of readiness, the production being assumed to resume anytime soon.

Which did not happen, and boredom became the daily normal.

This is when the consultant regularly visiting the department shows up, and a bit upset by the waste of human skills, proposes to organize a much needed initiation to 5S.

That can’t be done.
– Why?
– 5S is scheduled later in the year, according to the rollout plan.
– But people are available now and with the current department (messy, dirty) condition it is a golden opportunity to both train people and improve the condition!
– Nobody is available for the training.
– But I can do!
– This is not compliant to our rollout plan and procedures.

As incredible it sounds, there was no way to organize the initiation and no manager would back up the proposal nor agree to give it a go.

I assume the Lean Promotion Office members are measured according to their (planned) activity and weren’t eager to mess up the plan, take any chances to displease their managers.

Production managers were blind to the situation and not knowing much about 5S, could not see the opportunity to have meaningful occupation for their staff.

To add to the sadness of the situation, when 5S training time will come, the situation may not offer the same opportunity: machines may be running, everybody may be busy and the mess and dirt may not be that visible as it was during the stoppage.

5S training will then probably be done with case studies and simulation, on restricted area at best, in order not to disturb production. This is where the golden opportunity is really lost: using a real case to act on, learn and improve.

Postponing the training and improvements to later scheduled time slot will make the actual 5S related problems last longer, cost more and waste the opportunity.


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VSM start on (false) assumption

Chris HOHMANN

Chris HOHMANN – Author

Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a great tool, that got really popular and stands as a one of the icons of Lean.

In a nutshell, Value Stream Mapping is the schematic description of physical and information flow of a process or a value chain. It helps understanding the current situation and analyzing the causes of issues and limitations. VSM is followed by a design of the desired future state, called Value Stream Design (VSD). The third implicit part of a VSM-VSD is the action plan, made of the necessary actions for changing from current situation to the desired future state.

VSM is therefore an excellent trigger for continuous improvement and used as such in Lean initiatives.

What lean enthusiasts using VSM look for is a smooth, fast and direct flow from customers’ needs or desires to customers satisfaction, using only the very necessary resources. This requires the process supporting the flow to be as free of wastes as possible.

Wastes mean Muri, Muda and Mura, more about this >here<

It seems reasonable then to (re)visit the process and hunt down any waste in order to improve the flow.

Doing so is making an assumption, mostly unspoken and even unconscious, that the actual process is really useful and needs/deserves improvement.

Yet most of the lean enthusiast take a shortcut on the scientific thinking promoted by Lean, jumping too fast on Doing (read Mapping in this case) without giving enough time, if any, on Planning.

The Plan phase of the PDCA is meant to pose a hypothesis and to design an experiment carried out during the Do phase and assessed for validation or invalidation in the Check phase.

It therefore happens, more often than believed, that an unnecessary process gets attention, time and resources allocated for improvement when what was is really needed is simply to get rid of the whole process!

How can a process be useless?

It is common to setup a process in order to overcome a problem and literally forget to remove it once the problem is solved. Many processes are cluttered with sub-processes and procedures once created to bypass or overcome a problem that remain in place, consuming resources for absolutely no value creation.

In order to avoid such kind of embarrassing creation of muda (Value Stream Mapping an unnecessary process), each process candidate for a VSM should first be analysed for its purpose: what is the goal of this process? what problem this process is supposed to solve?

If there is no good reason for the process to exist, no need to map it, go for discarding it. (Note: good reasons may include “mandatory by regulation”)

For another variation on this subject, you may like to read VSM Pitfall: unnecessary process


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Muda, Muri, Mura

Subtle variations about waste.

Some Japanese words have made their way into the western business language since Lean spread worldwide and inspired all businesses. Three of them are quite well known: Muda, Muri, Mura.

MUDA

Muda is one of the Japanese words passed in the common language of industry. Muda stands as generic word for any and all of the infamous seven types of waste:

  • Waste from overproduction
  • Wastes from wait times
  • Waste caused by transportation
  • Wastage due to unnecessary inventories
  • Waste in the manufacturing process
  • Unnecessary movements
  • Wastage due to defective parts

These seven types of wastes were commonly observed in industrial workshops and proved pretty generic to many other activities, even in administration and services (with a little adaptation).

A later eighth type was identified and now commonly admitted in the list: the waste of human talent(s).

Muda are not the sole type of waste, but they are the most easy to understand and relatively easy to identify by observation. “Muda hunting” has become a regular activity, sometimes even popular activity in some companies.

MURI

Muri means unreasonableness, like the use of oversized or excessive means relative to the need or the desired result. Muri can be obvious, like hauling a small light box with a big truck or conversely overloading a smaller truck with large/heavy load.

Other muri may be more subtle like immobilizing large capacity pallet boxes for storing some small lightweight components when the need for storage could be solved with cheaper and easier to handle smaller boxes.

Muri is also about the physical overload, the hardship, exposure to mental stress, which lead to wasting energy, health and ultimately human capital.

Special attention should be paid when working postures include arm extension or leaning forward with the bust, back bent, leaning the head, torso rotations, squat, etc. Repeatedly pushing or pulling strongly, lifting heavy weights, using the fist as a hammer, and so on.

MURA, irregular, variability

Variability can take multiple aspects; different bottle filling levels in a filling line, varying cutting length, or inconsistent color tones in successive batches, etc.

The physical characteristics of a raw material may vary over time or according to different batches supplied; quantity, weight, length, texture, hardness, elasticity, etc. The settings of a machine may vary over time, human practices and actions may vary from one person to another and over one day.

The sources of variability are innumerable and variability generate waste as some of the output must be reworked or even discarded.

Variation in production rhythm often lead to install buffer stocks to smooth irregular flows. Note that acceptance of buffer stocks means creating MURI and MUDA. The Japanese approach seeks to eliminate the causes of irregularities and not hide them with buffers.

By gradually decreasing the size of buffer stocks, causes of irregularities are revealed and it is possible to eliminate / reduce them. The basic idea is that every workflow must flow smoothly like a river. If obstacles are disturbing its course, remove the obstacles, do not add water.

Summing up

Waste come in three major forms; Mura, Muri and Muda, which are sometimes difficult to distinguish from each other. Indeed, some wastage look like one of the seven types of Muda but could be considered a form of Mura (variability) as well. Others lead to discuss their essence is rather Muri (excess) or Muda, and so on.

Just accept that there are not always clear boundaries between them and it is a mere waste of time to discuss how to consider them.

Lean is relentless about removing waste, which is a way to solve problems and improve processes, not waste hunting per se.


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