Change Management 



An instructional model called Synectics prompts creative thinking and perceiving a subject matter from a variety of different or "new" perspectives. It can be easily adapted to the issue of process improvement to arrive at ways to reduce the number of processing steps. Using the existing manufacturing steps of a product family is an excellent application because is provides a holistic perspective of the value-added process. The presenter asks the students to imagine that they are literally the manufacturing part. The participants are then to envision themselves as the part going through its daily routines. The session leader states the question: "What does it feel like to be a part?" The responses indicate how the participants perceive the procedure from a unique perspective. The word high­lighted in the instruction is "imagine" or empathize with the object. The participants' reactions are recorded. The next step is to have the students respond to the question: "As the part, what steps does the manufacturing facility put you through that you regard as 'dumb,' unnecessary, or inefficient?" The students are again to envision themselves going through the process. The presenter records their insights. This exercise will invariably generate new ideas on how to obtain more efficient and value-added processing.

The session leader now requests the group to break up into small discussion teams to more thoroughly explore their ideas. The presenter later draws the teams back together to obtain consensus on an optimum means to improve this manufacturing process. This teaching model allows the students to look at the complete process from a unique perspective, contribute innovative solutions to an existing problem, and obtain an agreement from the entire group on how to proceed with improvements.

The next active learning exercise utilizes the brainstorm-ing approach to analyze a problem experienced at many manufacturing plants—a bottleneck caused by lengthy machine set up. The first step is to think about set up as a holistic process, not as a group of individual steps. A flowchart must be developed to provide a basis for brain-storming of the problem.

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Figure 3. Functions of a Flowchart

• Visually helps to determine which operations in the process are interdependent

• Eases identification of logical places for data collection or control stations

• Provides ability to easily identify stratification points where several different sources of variation exist

The source of inefficiency in the set up process can develop at various stages of that process, namely, locating tools, releasing the fixture, installing the new tooling, and most frequently in making the final adjustments. The presenter asks the participants to identify the inefficiencies. He or she records the responses. The group then divides into cross-functional teams (e.g., engineers, set up, manufac­turing, and materials) to identify the underlying reasons for inefficiencies and proposes improvements to the pro­cess. This instructional method allows a tremendous number of ideas to surface. It is crucially important not to assess the input at the initial stage because that inhibits participants from further contributions.

Another active learning approach is role playing. The session leader asks several of the attendees to participate in an event. Each volunteer enacts one type of manufactur­ing waste, and everyone else attempts to identify it. This personifies the information, and, thus makes it more vivid and memorable.

Figure 4. Nine Wastes

Processing Over Production Transportation Scrap & Rework Untapped Human Potential

• Delay & Waiting • Motion • Inventory « Transactions

To be Continued


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