Jim Benson’s picture

By: Jim Benson

When we look at a Personal Kanban, its simplicity belies its power. Visualizing our work as individuals, as teams, and even as teams of teams creates trust, reliability, and understanding. When we want to coordinate work, these are serious prerequisites.

The image below is from a construction trailer, they are engaged in a lean construction exercise known as a “pull-plan.” Each color is a different contractor; each diamond is a delivery or a milestone. In this case we have five different contractors whose daily work relies on the completion of daily work done by the other contractors.

A construction team planning work openly and honestly

To spell this out, their work directly relies on people in other companies, every day.

Historically, this had led to predictable delays as different companies worked at different speeds for different reasons. You might recognize this from different departments in your company or different people in your family. Our work often relies on other people who are often simply ignorant of our needs.

Gwendolyn Galsworth’s picture

By: Gwendolyn Galsworth

Some mistakes managers make at the start of a visual conversion are serious and hard to repair. For example, when managers decide to commandeer the task of implementing the visual where—or simply order it into existence. Either way, this is the damaging loss of an opportunity of inestimable value.

Keep your eye on the ball, managers. Stay focused on the three outcomes I discuss in this series. We considered the first in the article, “The Start of the Journey Is the Destination,” with Outcome No. 1: Cracking the time code. Crack the code on time so improvement time can draw breath in your company and grow. In this article we look at the importance of breaking the lock that command-and-control has on the work culture—and how to liberate the power in empowerment.

Kevin Meyer’s picture

By: Kevin Meyer

Most of us have learned that being busy does not mean you’re being productive, and that multitasking leads to being less productive—although I still see that being harped on as a “skill” on resumes and profiles. Leading organizations manage by clearly defined objectives rather than arbitrary and often unrelated work hours, enabling flexible workplaces that create additional value for everyone.

With that said, we still like deadlines and other time constraints. Used properly, they enable progress and force decisions. Used improperly and arbitrarily, perhaps more common than not, they create chaos, stress, lower quality, and poor decision making. Where’s the balance? We often say that a sign of a good leader is knowing when there is sufficient information to make a decision—not too little and not waiting for too much. Under the stress inherent in most organizations, this often skews toward too little.

Donald J. Wheeler’s picture

By: Donald J. Wheeler

Lean production is built on the explicit assumption that each step is operated predictably and capably. Predictable operation can only be achieved and maintained by using process behavior charts. But short production runs and multiple products make it hard to see how to use process behavior charts in a lean environment. So what can be done? This paper will show how to use a zed chart for individual values to track your process while it is making different products.

Unit 12

Unit 12 is used to make Products 1201 and 1202. The final characteristic for Product 1201 has a target value of 19.0, while the final characteristic for Product 1202 has a target value of 8.0. Batches 43 through 72 contain short runs of both products.

Figure 1: Data for Unit 12

Of course a naive approach would be to simply place the data from Unit 12 on an XmR chart as shown in figure 2.

Julie Winkle Giulioni’s picture

By: Julie Winkle Giulioni

If you’re like many leaders, you are knee-deep in preparing strategies and tactics to drive success in the new fiscal year. And that prompted me, in the first part or this two-part series, to pose the question: “What if leaders brought the same thoughtfulness, rigor, and discipline that we apply to business planning to the employee-development planning process?”

People are the power source behind executing all plans. They are the driving force behind achieving all results. Their success goes hand in hand with organizational success. So perhaps it’s time to elevate individual development planning to the strategic level and importance it deserves.

The Un-Comfort Zone With Robert Wilson’s picture

By: The Un-Comfort Zone With Robert Wilson

I recently wrote a column about loyalty, which got me thinking about trust. I wondered who is in my life that I trust, and who that I don’t trust. It didn’t take me long to realize that I trust everyone in my life because I shed those whom I don’t trust.

As I pondered trust, I recalled a woman I once dated, who told me she was a widow. Later on, I learned from an independent source that she was divorced and not widowed. When I inquired about this discrepancy, she admitted that she was divorced, but that her ex-husband died a year or so after their divorce, so she figured that qualified her as a widow. If she wanted to consider herself a widow, that was fine with me, but the problem was that my trust was broken, and I started questioning the veracity of all her stories. As Friedrich Nietzsche observed, “I'm not upset that you lied to me; I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.” Unsurprisingly, a month later, we were no longer dating.

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.
—Ernest Hemingway

Naphtali Hoff’s picture

By: Naphtali Hoff

Let’s assume that you want to delegate a task that’s been sitting on your desk since forever. You know what needs to get done and have (finally) found (and trained) the right person to do it. Let’s call this person Sally.

You sit down with Sally to plan the process. The two of you review everything from deliverables to time frame. You work together to set goals and feel like you’re on the same page and ready to get moving. It would great if, at that point, you could return to your desk and just focus on what you need to be doing while relying on Sally to do her work.

But it doesn’t quite work that way. For Sally to succeed, she’ll need several other things from you in the days and weeks ahead.

One is to empower the trainee

If you want Sally to step squarely into your shoes, even for an isolated role, she must be empowered with authority. This may include a change of title, a memo to staff, or an announcement at a team meeting.

Whichever you choose, you need to let people know that you have asked Sally to perform an important task and would like everyone’s support and cooperation as needed. Your backing provides instant credibility and will allow Sally to do her job with confidence. In addition, you’ll need to give her access to required resources and information.

Jody Muelaner’s picture

By: Jody Muelaner

Measurement is often seen as nonvalue-added work. However, if we properly account for the expected costs involved in passing defects on to customers, then the increased value of the product can be clearly shown. This approach makes it possible to make rational, data-based decisions about when to reduce inspection frequency and how much time and money to spend on metrology.

To put it another way, imagine if we didn’t inspect the product and simply sold it without telling anyone that it hadn’t been inspected. By doing this, we’ve saved the cost of inspection and also reduced the cost of scrap because we won’t reject any of the product if we never inspected it. When we initially stop inspecting, the product would still sell for the same price, and so it might seem that inspection doesn’t add any value.

Emily Safrin’s picture

By: Emily Safrin

When Scarlett hung up the phone, she was close to tears. Even more unexpectedly, so was the customer service representative on the other end. How did a seemingly simple inquiry end in two people so frustrated they were on the verge of a breakdown?

Scarlett had called to resolve a mistaken charge on her phone bill, but what she thought was a straightforward question turned into a snafu with no solution in sight. Try as she might to explain the situation, she and the customer service representative couldn’t get on the same page. The two went in fruitless circles for half an hour before the agent finally announced starkly that she was applying a discount to Scarlett’s next three bills.

The problem is, Scarlett wasn’t looking for money; she was looking for an answer. Although the discount amounted to more than the erroneous charge she had called to dispute, she was not only dissatisfied but also hurt. Instead of feeling that her problem had been resolved, she felt that she had troubled the poor agent to the point that the agent felt forced to get rid of her.

It goes without saying that no customer should ever be made to feel this way. So how do you make sure they aren’t?

Harish Jose’s picture

By: Harish Jose

It has been a while since I have written about statistics, and I get asked a lot about a way to calculate sample sizes based on reliability and confidence levels. So today I am sharing a spreadsheet that generates an operating characteristic (OC) curve based on your sample size and the number of rejects. The spreadsheet (there's a link to it at the end of this article) should be straightforward to use. Just enter your own data in the required yellow cells.

A good rule of thumb is to use a 95-percent confidence level, which also corresponds to 0.05 alpha. The spreadsheet will plot two curves. One is the standard OC curve, and the other is an inverse OC curve. The inverse OC curve has the probability of rejection on the y axis, and the percent conforming on the x axis. These correspond to confidence level and reliability, respectively.

I will discuss the OC curve and how we can get a statement that corresponds to a reliability/confidence level from the OC curve.

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