“Six Sigma as a problem-solving methodology causes many hang-ups for Japanese managers. Many Americans seeking training in Six Sigma in Japanese organizations face resistance with little explanation as to why. This often leads to frustration and contempt towards management. They write off the Japanese resistance to the training as resistance to change, preventing growth and feeling unrepresented.“
Sourced through Nipponica
Michel Baudin‘s comments: In this post, Ian Moore makes the case that rejection of Six Sigma by Japanese organizations is rooted in the national culture, which is ironic, given that Six Sigma’s Black Belt concept was borrowed from Japanese martial arts with the obvious intent of creating the perception of a connection to Japanese culture.
Our Spanish partner Asenta just celebrated its 25th anniversary in Bilbao with a conference and a party. Brad Schmidt, Jeffrey Liker, and I were asked to contribute short videos for the occasion. Mine, I admit, is the least professionally produced but the only one entirely in Spanish. Jeffrey, in particular, has mastered the art of lighting the scene without having the reflection from the lamps in his glasses hiding his eyes, which I am struggling with.
New office layout at Microsoft
“First there were individual offices. Then cubicles and open floor plans. Now, there is a ‘palette of places.’ New office designs are coming to a workplace near you, with layouts meant to cater to the variety of tasks required of modern white-collar workers. Put another way, it means people don’t sit in just one place. […]The new model eschews the common dogmas of work life: Everybody gets an office, or everyone gets a cubicle, or everybody gets a seat on a workbench. A diversity of spaces, experts say, is more productive, and the new concept is called “activity-based workplace design,” tailoring spaces for the kind of work done.”
Sourced through The New York Times
Michel Baudin‘s comments: Management at companies like GE, IBM, or Microsoft has just made a stunning discovery: office spaces should be designed around the work. Duh! While engineers need to concentrate undisturbed for hours, customer service reps are on the phone all day and human resources needs privacy. Product development teams need collaboration and immediate, face-to-face communication, along with confidentiality, while traders thrive in the noisy, competitive atmosphere of the trading room.
Speaking at the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Kevin McAllister described the company’s use of hackathons to find efficiencies in the process of building airplanes: “We’ve launched some new things that are a little different to our normal Boeing culture, like hackathons, which we borrowed from Microsoft and many others,” McAllister said, explaining that the hackathons “take data scientists and partner them with mechanics on the floor, to find great ideas that we can solve in days, in small investments that help make the workforce and the workflow better.”
Sourced through GeekWire
Michel Baudin‘s comments: Thanks to my colleague Kevin Hop for drawing my attention to this story. From the description, these “hackathons” look like Kaizen Events with data scientists in the team. On the one hand, it seems like a way to make IT a participant in the improvement process instead of the obstacle it has been in the past; on the other hand, it also appears to retain the critical short-termism of Kaizen Events. I assume this is not the last we hear of this.
#Hackathon, “KaizenEvent, #KaizenBlitz, #Kaizen, #Boeing
“Toyota USA shared a nice video featuring an 11-year old inventor, Bishop Curry. His dad, Bishop Curry Sr. works for Toyota Financial Services and he’s also in the video.[…] In the video, some small details beyond his invention jumped out at me. I was looking at his dad’s Toyota workplace.For one, the elder Bishop is shown at his stand-up desk.
I noticed Toyota is setting a good example when it comes to desk practices (beyond the standing desk and the multiple monitors, which are proven to improve productivity).When looking at what some other companies do, I’ve complained for a long time about what I think are misguided “Office 5S” or “Lean Office” initiatives that will insist it’s “Lean” to do things like telling employees they must:
- Put tape around your keyboard and desk items
- Remove family photos as “non-productive items”
Sourced through LeanBlog
Michel Baudin‘s comments: Over the years, Mark has posted several times about misguided efforts at “Office 5S” that don’t improve performance and are resented by office workers. Generally, I agree with him. Tidying up desks doesn’t have much of an effect because most of the work isn’t done on the desk but inside a computer network. Where organization is required is in the databases and software applications an office relies on, more than in the furniture or the copier.
“…As a lean thinker, I can start by asking myself, what are the adjacent processes to my work to which I need to connect and what is the math of the flow between us? That is, who are my allies, whose outputs are my inputs, and who’s using my outputs as their inputs? And how can I formally collaborate to connect these series of adjacent processes to create flow?…”
Sourced through the LeanCor blog
Michel Baudin‘s comments:
“Adjacent” is a good word for all the processes that directly exchange materials or data with one operation and, if adjacency is locally well managed at every operation, you have a smooth flow from start to finish. I will henceforth use this. At the start of his post, Robert confesses to having studied math as an undergrad, which is another thing we have in common besides having both written books about Lean Logistics.
Journalists and other authors who should know better routinely conflate productivity increase with automation and automation with the introduction of robots. “Productivity” covers a set of performance metrics that are increased by a variety of methods, many of which do not involve automation. Automation sometimes increases productivity, but not always. Finally, most of the time, automation does not involve robots. At last Tuesday’s Palo Alto Lean Coffee, I asked Tesla’s Omar Guerrero and Genentech’s Curtis Anderson for examples of changes that had increased productivity in their organizations.
“Given two significant milestones this summer – the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Lean Enterprise Institute and the 10th anniversary of the Lean Global Network (about which, more next month) – I’ve recently found myself thinking about the original promise of the lean movement and the world that Dan Jones and I thought lean thinking could create as we wrote The Machine That Changed the World in 1990 and Lean Thinking in 1996.“
Sourced through Planet Lean
Michel Baudin‘s comments: Jim Womack reflections about his vision’s failure to materialize should extend to the vision itself. He does not, at any point, envision the possibility that there might be anything wrong with his ideas. He thinks he made a “compelling case,” that simply failed to compel because it was not communicated properly. He exhorts followers not to succumb to defeatism and to keep plugging success stories. This is still not compelling. He needs to ask why a few more times and dig deeper.
“Even after decades of affirmative action, black and Hispanic students are more underrepresented at the nation’s top colleges and universities than they were 35 years ago, according to a New York Times analysis. The share of black freshmen at elite schools is virtually unchanged since 1980. Black students are just 6 percent of freshmen but 15 percent of college-age Americans, as the chart below shows.”
Sourced through the New York Times
Michel Baudin‘s comments: This morning’s New York Times contains an article with data visualizations at varying levels of detail that are far more sophisticated than the usual pie charts and stacked bar charts commonly found in the American press as well as in business presentations and shop floor performance dashboards.
The exact meaning of the above chart between the title and the lead of the article is not immediately obvious. After looking at it for a minute or two, you realize that it has a high data-to-ink ratio: it makes a non-trivial point in a flourish-free format that I think Edward Tufte would approve.
The article is about the relative representation of different groups in the student population of 101 institutions, including the Ivy League, University of California campuses, “top liberal arts colleges,” “other top universities,” and “public flagship universities.” The study compares the proportion of freshmen enrolled from each group to their proportion in the college-age population as a whole.