Once a week the employees gather to review opportunities. These
might be anything from "how to solve a painting issue," to "an idea
for a new product offering." I recently sat in on one of their
meetings. I was amazed to see the humor that was threaded into the
exercise that showed the fun they were having with the process. One
of the team members manned the flip chart. The first thing they do
is review the preceding accomplishments. Nothing (or at least very
little) is left to management to fix or solve. This includes
reviewing items listed on the previous pages of a dog eared flip
chart that resides in the department.
Each year, money is budgeted for contingency tooling needs.
Expenditures within the budget, and individually, under $1000, do
not require other than immediate manager approval. We have given the
motor shop authority to get what they need by never refusing their
requests for signature when they are asking for these opportunities
under $1000. I might also add that, although we have asked for more
detail on a few occasions, we have also never totally refused their
expenditures over $1000, and have authorized several between $1000
and $15,000—all of which have resulted in cost savings to the
business. It's my belief, through observance, that they are more
frugal than management in many instances. Management either trusts
the input or goes through scrutinizing detail to assure proper
expenditures, or even worse, management determines what ideas need
to be pursued based on the exposure they (management) have had to
new ideas and technology regardless of the best answer for the
department. Being held accountable and responsible surfaces the best
planning and scrutinizing behavior.
Back to the flip charts... The motor shop employees have been quick
to list all the issues that hinder their ability to perform quickly,
effectively, and with high quality. More often than not, the fixes
are less sophisticated than you might expect. Typically the answers
are simple and cost almost nothing. These answers were not as chic
when managers were under the gun to perform as the "wonder people."
Under the pressures to come up with "manager's divine intervention,"
solutions tend to be more complicated and expensive, and in our
experience, not any more effective. Simple cost effective ideas are
best conceived by the people closest to the issue. We've seen it
time and time again.
The flip chart discipline is simply a way to organize the
improvements and to gain from the synergy that can come from the
sharing of problem resolution techniques. It has been our experience
that management does have to play a role—making sure the time is
taken to do the flip chart review. It is easy to procrastinate,
especially if there is much work to do. We even have a performance
measurement that measures ideas generated and ideas implemented.
We average two per week, implemented.
As a last capture item on the topic of the motor shop, it is worth
mentioning that problems are not the only items that receive the
flip chart attention. Several new products have resulted from input
gathered from employees. These ideas have added drive units,
electrical controllers, casters, and switches to the rebuild
offering. Volume in related new products has required additional
employees to be hired and profits to be on a trend that few managers
would not salivate over. The flip chart process, as simple as it is,
It is also important to share with you that the process was not
adopted overnight. Many of the workers in the rebuild shop have been
at Raymond for quite some time. Others have been members of similar
traditional organizations. The paradigms of the past had to be torn
down. Management had to provide the catalyst to get "the pump
primed." We (management) struggled with this until we acknowledged
to ourselves that we could not simply leave it to the department to
become empowered. It doesn't work that way, we found out. Management
must feed the model and support the first success. Even then, as we
have found out, it does not mean the next attempt at empowerment
will be any easier. In other departments we have had differing
levels of success. In every successful case, I believe that
management played a significant role in the initial feeding of the
process. We have to show that we are serious about the process and
acknowledge it when it works.
Performance measurements have become part of the inner fiber of the
Raymond Corporation culture. In all facilities, performance review
meetings are held at least weekly with participation from the people
who perform the functions. In Syracuse, at the parts distribution
facility, we hold the performance review on Monday at l:30pm without
exception. It is attended by non-management representatives from
purchasing, materials, accounting, sales, warehouse, and the motor
shop. Management attends as well, but seldom does presenting unless
they have ideas to share as anyone else would. Measurements are well
defined and names are attached to establish accountability. All of
these measures roll up to monthly measures that are reported at a
top management performance review meeting that happens monthly.
Measures are reported by management at this meeting, but even here,
when ideas are promoted for major funding, real people (as opposed
to managers) deliver the request for funding approval, laying out
the benefits, and return on investment. Once again, this keeps
accountability and ownership in the system and assures the greatest
potential for success.
Weekly reported performance measures at the parts distribution
facility include sales levels, backorders, fill rate (measured from
several different angles), inventory turns, material cost variance,
freight cost variance, vendor performance, change control
performance, scheduling of the rebuild shop, warranty, billing and
shipping discrepancies, packaging audits, inventory accuracy, and
several customer service type measures such as price investigation
turnaround time, technical inquiry turn around, shipping performance
better than policy, stock return processing, etc. In all, there are
approximately 75 measures reported weekly. I say approximately
because they change week to week, usually increasing.
It is my experience that there are three stages to performance
measurement: 1. Denial—"Its not me that needs to be monitored"; 2.
Resolve—"Oh, all right, what did you want measured anyway?"; and 3.
Empowerment—"I've realized that there are a couple more measurements
that may be helpful in determining the root cause." It is at this
phase that performance begins to exponentially improve and
management can get out of the way.
To be Continued
For balance of this article, click on the below link:
Lean Manufacturing Articles and go to Series 02
stay current on manufacturing
please subscribe to our weekly bulletin, "Manufacturing. Basics
and Best Practices (MBBP)." Simply
fill in the below form and click on the " subscribe
also send you our Special Report, "6-Change Initiatives for
Personal and Company Success."
no cost of course.
personal information will never
be disclosed to any third party.
what one of our subscribers said about the MBBP Bulletin:
articles. Thanks for the insights. I often share portions of your
articles with my staff and they too enjoy them and fine aspects
where they can integrate points into their individual areas of
responsibilities. Thanks again."
Kerry B. Stephenson. President. KALCO Lighting, LLC
Lean Manufacturing Menu
to Basics" Training for anyone ... anywhere ... anytime
6003 Dassia Way, Oceanside, CA 92056
West Coast: 760-945-5596
© 2001-2007 Business Basics, LLC