Sunday, March 30, 2014

How do you make time for improvement?

Hello everyone, I'm bringing this post to you from where I contribute to the questions there posted by Michael Balle'.   This weeks question is one many ask of me in my sessions.   "Time"!  :)

“How do you make time for improvement?”

When I see this question about time its immediately takes me to countless moments during my sessions when I’m asked this very question repetitively by different levels of leadership.  It’s one of my favorite questions to answer and I do so by utilizing a famous quote from the late John Wooden to help explain my personal thoughts “If you don’t have time to do it right this first time when will you have time to do it over? This ignites my conversation that all companies have the time to do improvements it’s just that they are “choosing” to spend so much of that time doing non-value added activities that have been deemed as the norm.  If someone actually documented for one week how many non-value added activities are taking place it would be alarming to any team.

  I experienced this myself at Toyota during my production tenure and was able to re-align a team leader and team member as a result of studying a yamazumi chart that placed our activities into various categories (non-value add, value add, and ancillary set up work).   It was a great way to differentiate what should be happening (standards) versus what is currently happening and recognize waste in many forms within our daily work.  Remember one of the most overlooked forms of waste is the development of people.  If the workforce isn’t conditioned to see it, waste becomes the norm and that is where your time truly lies.   This applies everywhere not just manufacturing, you just have to learn to see it and not accept it as part of the furniture and develop others in this way at the process (gemba) by constantly asking questions.

I think what happens in most companies that lean is defined a certain way or an opinion has been formed because the purpose of it or the improvement hasn’t been fully explained or related to the key performance indicators of the organizations (value add).  When this doesn’t happen it usually this falls under the umbrella of an add-on, flavor of month, program, extra work or my personal favorite is – lean= less employees are needed.

 The paradigm shift that needs to happen is to uncover what is already there in the form of resources and time.  Leaders have to be taught to lead in a way that recognizes those hidden nuggets out there as the conduit to recondition the mindsets of team members at all levels to see lean as developing the people to see find the “coveted time” in the form of wastes.   Once small successes are experienced and replicated you can begin to see the shift in the culture that becomes more of a pull system for more knowledge than a push.  People will actually ask to be part of the initiative when they see the value.  As leaders we must explain value!   Pushing improvements (lean thinking) on an individuals at all levels without purpose and value explained creates the perfect recipe for reluctance in people to “take on” something else.

Everyone wants a balance of family and personal time to work time, when the scales become tipped it’s time to pull the andon and ask why this is happening.   I can promise you that the time is there you are after, it always has been, and it’s up to you and your team to uncover the treasure!  I learned to never say I didn’t have time to a Japanese trainer, they could always see waste when we thought we had improved it all.

Until next time, 
Tracey Richardson

Saturday, March 8, 2014

What is the place of temporary workers in Lean?

Hello everyone, 
Is it Spring yet?

Im sharing my post from hosted by author Michael Balle'.    The question on the The Lean Edge I answered was:

What is the place of temporary workers in lean?

So being raised at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK), I had the pleasure of seeing our temporary worker program evolve over many years to meet the needs of the company in an ever-changing market. I was also fortunate to be involved in certain areas of curriculum and training in the mid 2000’s for the program. Internally the term “variable workforce” is often used which implies exactly what it is, but for the most part it’s often called the “temp-to-hire” program. There is a purpose often with a good outcome if goals are met, unlike some temporary programs that are developed with different intentions.
So if you think about business models most businesses shouldn't hire their full time workforce based on their highest production volumes if there are fluctuations. This could create certain levels of muda, muri and mura, so it’s best to first understand capabilities and customer pull so proper decisions can be made in regard to the correct number of manpower needed to create the product or service. A basic lean principle often overlooked. So a variable workforce is often used to allow for flexibility regarding attrition, promotions, product line changes, training, and growth – at least from my experience.
I think for the temporaries and for the company (Toyota) they share a “win-win” situation. So the temp-to-hire program was started for the temporary worker to “try out or pilot” what it is like to build a car every 57 seconds for 8 to 9.5 hours per day. In true Toyota fashion it’s common to run a pilot before full blown implementation occurs, this program very similar. I can speak from my eye-opening experience at 19 when I started there that you utilize muscles in your body you didn’t think existed as we ramped up to an average of 540 cars per shift. This program is not just a variable workforce is much more robust. There is a specific hiring process for temporaries which look for specific competencies such as – listening, problem solving, teamwork, initiative and leadership. Those who meet the pre-hiring expectations are then placed into a ramp up program that includes specific TPS curriculum, physical fitness and an interval percentage introduction (25%-50 %….) to 2 jobs on the line. This program protects the team member by arming them with information and standards of how Toyota does business (expectations), as well as keeping them safe ergonomically. So the introduction prepares them for being part of a well renowned team.
This temp-to-hire process can be view as a filtering system for those who decide this particular line of work isn’t for them, which allows for others who find it’s a “good fit” an opportunity to be successful in the overall temp-to-hire program which take 15-24 months on average to complete depending upon some of the factors mentioned above.
Those who complete the criteria (attendance, KPI expectations, curriculum tests, and evaluations) are placed in the hiring pool to become a full time team member. This way when a temporary candidate goes through this process they fully understand the expectations of what it takes to “live” the Toyota Way (Value and Principles) and put into place Toyota Business practices (8 step problem solving).
This program to my knowledge is very rigid, yet easy to do if you are willing to understand that people are the most important asset in an organization and the determinant of the rise and fall of one. So if you don’t start with your future leaders in mind then you are failing as leadership. A Japanese trainer once told me that as a leader at any level that 50% of your job is to develop your people. Developed people can practice problem solving to see abnormality at a glance, when that capability is there we can start to move the pendulum to process versus results. So the training of the temporaries in the temp-to-hire program and the expectations we have of them has a great relationship to the lean principles of respect for people and adding value to our products and services through developing better systems. That starts with developing people.
Until next time
Tracey Richardson