Monday, January 16, 2012

How to translate waste to cost - My 1 second lesson!

So as many of you know, I was blessed with the opportunity to learn lessons from my Japanese trainers during the start up phase at TMMK (Toyota Motor Manuf KY) in 1987-88.   I was in production and we had to determine many things ahead of time in regard to standards, 5S, work instruction, and visual controls in order to meet the needs of our customer which was the Assembly shop.   Each of our groups were assigned a trainer or two depending upon the size and they were there to mentor us every step of the way.   At the time I really didn't think it was so interesting or how priceless their presence really was, they could be very annoying and deep down you wished you could have hid from them.  They seemed to ask WHY all the time- go figure!. :) 

  Looking back almost 24 years later I didn't realize how special those times were and if I had to do over again I would see it through different eyes- meaning "picking their brains" as much as they would let me.  One of those famous hindsight things we all think about after the fact.  Ah! to life experiences!

 Their actions and way of thinking did rub off on me and has contributed greatly to the sensei I've become today and how I've led and learned my whole career!  I can't begin to thank them for their time and patience they dedicated to our learning.
There is one lesson today I would like to share with you that really opened my eyes to how important the smallest actions are within your daily processes/work and how that translates to the company long term sustainability and also how can learn to do business.

Let's call this the 1 second lesson:

I can remember this vividly as if it was yesterday because it was a moment in time where the lightbulb came on and I was only 19 years old.  This lesson defined how I looked at things after that moment.  So if know me personally you may say it was the start of my obsession with seeing "muda" or waste. :).  If you have been in any of my sessions before you have heard this story.   I speak about it during my morning Culture session on Day 1.   This story was about our culture and how we were taught as individuals to think and how it benefited us in our work and ultimately the company.  They valued our thoughts on a minute to minute basis!

So one day our trainer gathered us together and said, "everyone, I have challenge for you"!  We were somewhat excited yet nervous regarding what expectation he may put upon us; remember their role was to get us to do what were didn't think we were capable of.  Similar to my role now as a sensei!

   So he requested us to all look for 1 sec of waste in our process, for me when he said that it was like a deflated balloon feeling.  I was saying to myself inside "Is that all"?  "sheesh"!!  "Who really cares about 1 sec?"  So he sensed we didn't share the same passion for the 1 second as he did so he stopped and explain WHY it was important.   One thing that we were always involved in as workers during my time there was understanding the purpose and why we were doing something.    Many companies explain what they want you to do and sometimes even how they want you to do it, often left out in the cold is the purpose/why its important.  See a previous blog post about the WHAT, HOW and WHY!

So the trainer explained the importance of 1 second.   So basically he translated that 1 second to a cost for the company, which many aren't willing to do nor understand how to do.   He stated, "if everyone in the plant saved 1 sec on their process we could make 8 more cars a shift!"   Internally to myself, I was like "WHAT!"  So let's just say that each car was a profit of $1000 dollars (disclaimer** I am making up an easy number for Math) so that is $8000.00 that was "waltzing" out the door that we "rolled our eyes at".  No one should care about 1 sec right? Isn't that too picky? Give me a break right?  Well after that moment, I started saying "wow", 1 shift, how much is that in a week, month, year? --That adds up! That 1 second could be my Job Security one day  Really just 1 second!!  So from that moment I was looking for seconds everywhere.

So how do you translate this to your world is the question?  I ask companies it may not be a second like it was for us, but it could be:
1 hour of time
1 day of lead time
1 penny
1 dollar
1 week
Where is your waste?  Are you seeing it? Can you translate it if you do see it?  This type of thinking is a requirement in my opinion not an option.  How much has to hemorrhage out your door before you care?  "Go Thinking" as my trainer would say!
Until next time
Tracey Richardson