How Hard Is It To Create Flow?

Mark DeLuzio

Mark DeLuzio started a discussion on LinkedIn with the following question:

“My Sensei Mr. Nakao once told me: ‘The hardest thing to do in TPS is to create flow.’ What do you think about that?”

It started a spirited debate, with the following participants, in alphabetical order: Bruce AndersenRob Beesley , Vincent BozzoneMark DeLuzioMichael DunneOkan Gurbuz, Shahrukh IraniKerry McPherson,, Gregoire NlemeOkan GurbuzEgidijus KaritonisSunil MalagiPaul Van MetreJerry O’DwyerJohn PeckLuis SaenzRavi VaidiswaranPrasad VelagaRaka RaoSandur SubramanyamMark Warren

Sourced through LinkedIn

 The following is a digest of my own answers, collated before they vanish in the replies-of-replies bowels of LinkedIn.

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More Sophisticated Graphics In Today’s New York Times

Mass shootings versus number of guns by country

Mass shootings versus guns per capita by country

“When the world looks at the United States, it sees a land of exceptions […] But why, they ask, does it experience so many mass shootings?[…] Perhaps, some speculate, it is because American society is unusually violent. Or its racial divisions have frayed the bonds of society. Or its citizens lack proper mental care under a health care system that draws frequent derision abroad. These explanations share one thing in common: Though seemingly sensible, all have been debunked by research on shootings elsewhere in the world. Instead, an ever-growing body of research consistently reaches the same conclusion. The only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America is its astronomical number of guns.”

The source for both charts is Adam Lankford from the University of Alabama. The charts Include countries with more than 10 million people and at least one mass public shooting with four or more victims.

Sourced from The New York Times

Michel Baudin‘s comments: Six months ago, I was bemoaning the absence of scatterplots in business analytics and more recently complimenting the New York Times for the sophistication of its graphics. Manufacturing professionals should not be shy about using scatterplots, as they have learned to do in Middle School. Here, they are used to highlight outliers, which isn’t the most common application. What this article — and these charts — show is how the tool can be used not just to solve technical problems but to inform a political debate as well.-

Objections To The History Of Quality As Told On The ASQ Website

5 years ago, I pointed out several omissions in the ASQ’s History of Quality pages, which have not been corrected. Specifically, I faulted them for ignoring the TPS/Lean approach to quality, the role of interchangeable parts technology, and the Roman philosopher Cicero, who coined the word “quality.” The first page, however, also contains what I think is an error of commission, where it credits the guilds of medieval Europe as precursors in the field, as follows:

“From the end of the 13th century to the early 19th century, craftsmen across medieval Europe were organized into unions called guilds. These guilds were responsible for developing strict rules for product and service quality. Inspection committees enforced the rules by marking flawless goods with a special mark or symbol.[…] Inspection marks and master-craftsmen marks served as proof of quality for customers throughout medieval Europe. This approach to manufacturing quality was dominant until the Industrial Revolution in the early 19th century.”

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Jidoka At GE And Amazon | Marc Onetto | Planet Lean

“[…]The principle of Jidoka applies everywhere, especially if we come down to its fundamental intent: preventing bad quality from going down the line and impacting the customer, understanding the causes of a problem as it happens, and giving the employee the authority (and autonomy) to stop the line when an issue occurs.”

Sourced Planet Lean

Michel Baudin‘s comments: The experience of an executive like Marc Onetto is always a good read. What he recounts, however, has everything to do with the TPS approach to quality and nothing to do with Jidoka. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate its value. I have seen plants where assembly work is continued on units known to be defective, with a repair area to fix them at the end. I have heard managers justify this practice with the mistaken assumption that it allowed them to ship faster and I have seen the improvements that result from stopping it, in line with what Onetto describes.

But we shouldn’t forget that Jidoka is not about employee empowerment but about automation. Regardless of whether it’s translated as “automation with a human touch” or “autonomation,” it’s still a form of automation. Onetto recounts being made to watch Sakichi Toyoda’s Type G loom stopping when threads broke but that’s not all it did. It also had automatic shuttle change, which solved the problem of what to do when shuttles run out of yarn that had bedeviled loom engineers for decades.

See Jidoka isn’t just about “stop and fix”, Jidoka versus automation, or check out Working with Machines

See on <Scoop it link>

There Is More To Data Than Just Numbers

Don Wheeler’s Understanding Variation starts with a chapter entitled “Data are random and miscellaneous” that contains no discussion of any part of its title. Implicit in Wheeler’s book, however, is the view that data consists of tables of numbers, representing either measured variables — lengths, weights, densities,… — or event occurrence counts — defective units, defects, machine failures,…

Many times, I have quoted computer scientist Don Knuth on this subject, saying that data is “the stuff that’s input or output,” meaning anything that can be read or written, and it includes much more than tables of numbers. The data we work with today includes, for example, the following:

  • Unstructured text, like 25,000 incident reports written by maintenance techs all over the world in their versions of English about problems with jet engines, or thousands of product reviews posted by consumers on e-commerce sites
  • Images, like photographs of visual defects on products, or electron-microscope images of integrated circuits.
  • Videos recordings of operations.

Analyzing data about a manufacturing process today means extracting information from all sources. The state of the art, based on automatic data acquisition and databases includes analytical techniques that were unthinkable in Shewhart’s day, known under the labels of data science, data mining or machine learning.

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Why Many Japanese Organizations Think Six Sigma Is A Joke | Ian Moore | Nipponica

“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.

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Our Spanish Partner Asenta’s 25th Anniversary

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.

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By Michel Baudin Posted in News Tagged

Don’t Get Too Comfortable at That Desk | Steve Lohr | The New York Times

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.

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Boeing borrows a tech tradition to build airplanes more efficiently | Todd Bishop | GeekWire

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 Helps a Young Inventor; Look at His Dad’s Toyota Desk | Mark Graban | LeanBlog

“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.

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