When we create cross-functional teams, we move existing job
descriptions, production standards and tasks lists with the people.
Operating instructions for machine tenders are commonly available
but the variety of things done by support, technical and
professional employees typically is not well documented.
Reforming information into goal focused objectives provides an
opportunity to break down old "this is my job" perspectives and
update existing information. It also helps us merge support and
direct labor assignments.
Task descriptions for cross-functional teams take into account the
inter-action of all the jobs that must be done to achieve the
schedule. No one functional specialist, supervisor or manager has
the knowledge needed to put order to the data about purchasing,
material handling, machine operation, quality, packaging,
performance reporting and the myriad other things necessary to
achieve the schedule. Putting it all together needs the combined
knowledge of the entire team.
Select a core group from the team to create a flow chart of the
value-added tasks needed to produce a product or service; use Pareto
to select the most significant end item for your first analysis.
Most of the data collection and analysis should be conducted on the
production floor, in stockrooms and in the offices where the jobs
are done. Plot every step of the process, use examples of documents,
identify machines and individual effort.
Interview people doing the job, get them to share information from
their little black books, and photograph and videotape the action
for documentation and study.
Critically evaluate each element and ensure that only value-added
tasks are included. Resist the temptation of existing standards and
job descriptions early in the process. When the flow chart is near
completion shift the emphasis to the evaluation of old data.
Regularly bring in the balance of the team to review the flow chart
and don't hesitate to verify, then add or remove elements identified
by the reviewers.
Representatives of units upstream and downstream of the unit under
study, your "suppliers" and "customers," have useful suggestions for
improvement of the interaction while identifying things you may
forget. Also, by getting them involved early, you stand a better
chance of having them on your side when you start making changes.
Completed, your flow chart can be converted to prose but don't fall
into the trap of organizing it under traditional functional titles.
Take one objective—"Manufacture Widgets,"—record the earliest point
of action and those that follow to make widgets. Sub-headings like
"Review Next Day's Demand Notice," followed by "Prepare Next Day's
Production Schedule" on through material handling and manufacturing
steps, lead to "Record Finished Goods Inventory Adjustment" when
the production schedule is achieved.
Under each sub-heading list the elements of the task; tools,
materials, information and machines plus the time required to
complete each element to a stated, measurable quality level.
Identify the skills and knowledge required.
After the first, the studies proceed more easily because information
sources are established and some elements repeat. Treat each team
objective as a separate project and assign some different people to
each core group.
Keep in mind you are creating one axis of a skills matrix. Later
you'll add the names of the people on the team and indicate their
ability to perform each element. Record the level of detail
necessary for that purpose.
In this challenging undertaking tasks you didn't know existed are
revealed. Countless opportunities to correct misinformation and
remove non-value-added waste appear. Take the time to make the easy
changes; assign team members to longer term corrective action
Encourage team members to set stretch goals for each study, provide
the time to get the job done, measure progress, praise not the
effort but the results and publicize success.
As team members get involved they learn their jobs from a
perspective they could never have had before. This helps them cast
off the baggage of past jobs, methods and functional associations
and speeds the crystallization of the team to a cooperative working
To be Continued
For balance of this article, click on the below link:
Lean Manufacturing Articles and go to Series 02
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