What Is The Metric For People Development? There Isn't One

Contrary to popular opinion, it is not true that only what gets measured gets done. If it were, business, government, and society at large would come to a halt due to the damage done by metrics gamers, and for the lack of the contributions made by people who do not care whether they are measured. Deming is often quoted on this subject, as saying:

  • "It is wrong to suppose that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – a costly myth.” (Deming, The New Economics. p.35)
  • "People with targets and jobs dependent upon meeting them will probably meet the targets - even if they have to destroy the enterprise to do it." It is cited on Brainy Quotes, but without a source, and it may be apocryphal.

As he showed in his "red bead experiments," his primary concern was about people being rewarded or punished based on random fluctuations in metrics that have nothing to do with their talents or efforts, but there are even more fundamental challenges in an area like people development.

You can measure how much dirt you have shoveled by weighing it, but developing people is different. There is not even a single direction. Some individuals are "hedgehogs," who know one big thing like heat treatment, while others are "foxes," who know many things like all the technical and human moving parts of a production line.

There is no metric-- or even set of metrics -- that can reasonably summarize people development, but it is nonetheless tangible and observable.

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More Recommendations on Part Numbering

Three years ago, a previous post made the case for the key approach to nomenclature, as opposed to the obsolete "smart" numbering systems. In the key approach, the only job of a part number is to be a unique item identifier, through which all relevant information can be retrieved from a database. But you still need to think what items you want to have unique IDs for.

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The one thing Lean Six Sigma got wrong about Lean | Erwin van der Koogh | Guest on Lean Blog

"[...]In 2002, Michael George and Robert Lawrence Jr. published Lean Six Sigma: Combining Six Sigma with Lean Speed, a book that started a revolution that quickly took hold in boardrooms around the globe. Total Quality Control and Six Sigma had always appealed to senior managers, but now it came with the added bonus of increased speed and reduced cost. It was a very welcome addition in the post “dot-com bubble” era and was always too good to be true.[...]"

Source: www.leanblog.org

Michel Baudin's comments:

This is a guest post on Mark Graban's Lean Blog.  Like Mark, I agree with enough of what Erwin says to recommend reading it. Approaches like Lean or Six Sigma emerge out of specific contexts where they are successful, but then their boosters go global cosmic.

Six Sigma started out as a modernization of the tools used to achieve process capability in various segments of the electronics industry, with the goal of making statistical design of experiments a common practice, and the belt system was a way to propagate this body of knowledge. Success in this limited endeavor did not justify selling it as a business panacea.

Lean started out as TPS, which is, to date, the best known way to make cars. TPS has a much broader scope than Six Sigma, encompassing management and technology. It includes human resource management as well as designs for welding lines. The "Lean" label for TPS was a way to allow other car companies to apply it without explicitly referencing Toyota, and to package it for use beyond the car industry. While it's clearly applicable in many industries, it's not a panacea either.

What happens when you try to expand an approach beyond its range of applicability is that you drain it of substance in order to make it generic, as has happened to both Lean and Six Sigma, not to mention Lean Six Sigma. All you are left with at that point is homilies.

I have explained my perspective on these matters in the post "MIT article comparing Lean, TQM, Six Sigma, "and related enterprise process improvement methods."

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Organize for learning to make kaizen stick | Michael Ballé

"[...]the Quality Director would ask the nursing supervisor to track the time of first incision in each theater every day and share the results with surgeons. This simple measure increased OR usage by 20% in the first month. It also led to heated discussions among surgeons (why were some late and others on time?) and paved the way for further kaizen. But then one of the crises hospitals are so accustomed to came, and the practice was abandoned. Theater usage went back to what it was before.[...]"

Source: planet-lean.com

Michel Baudin's comments:

The author is missing an essential point: changes that add labor are unsustainable. They will be reversed at the first emergency and rarely if ever reinstated once the emergency is over. Asking a nursing supervisor to track the time of first incision in each operating room meant adding to his or her work, without reducing anybody else's. It was a change all right, but not a Kaizen.

Surgeons in front of Gilbreth's grid

Surgeons with grid used  by Gilbreth to track motion on film

100 years ago, Frank Gilbreth improved the performance of operating rooms by, among other things, having nurses supply tools and instruments to surgeons rather than having the surgeons leave the patient to fetch them. Work previously done by the surgeon was offloaded to nurses for the benefit of the patient, without any net addition of labor. It was a genuine improvement and became standard practice.

The author quotes Ohno as  saying  "Why not make the work easier and more interesting so that people do not have to sweat?" Adding record-keeping tasks does not fit that bill.

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Toyota's car factory of the future | Autocar Professional

"Toyota says it has has completely re-thought the way its future car factories will operate. Its plans for the new-generation factories – nicknamed ‘simple and slim’ – are well advanced. Toyota claims they will be 25 percent smaller than existing plants, require 40% less investment and emit up to 55% less CO2. Toyota also plans to re-engineer the production lines so they can be shortened or lengthened in less than 80 minutes. It’s claimed that a standard line can be shrunk from a 100,000 car-per-year capacity to just 50,000 cars, or vice versa. This would allow capacity to be easily reduced or increased depending on demand"

Source: www.autocarpro.in

Michel Baudin's comments:

Thanks to Rob van Stekelenborg, a.k.a. Dumontis, for this scoop, which, again provides more specifics on Toyota's plans, including surface-mounted conveyors, smaller paint shops, laser screw welding, what sounds like induction heating of sheet metal for stamping, and a variety of energy saving techniques.

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Toyota's Shared-Parts Strategy | IndustryWeek

"Toyota said the move, aimed at cutting development costs by 20%, would start with mid-sized, front-wheel-drive vehicles this year. It wants half of vehicles it sells globally by 2020 to fall under the new platform strategy."

Source: www.industryweek.com

Michel Baudin's comments:

Specifics are trickling out about Toyota's plans. It seems that they want to make more different products from fewer components and have plants that are competitive even at low volume.

Readers' comments on the idea of having fewer platforms and more common parts are focused on the risk of extensive recalls, and the way such recalls can wipe out any savings achieved by the strategy.

It really is a matter of degree and of execution. Having fewer dashboard options might reduce the attractiveness of your products, but using fewer types of proportioning valves will not. Also, it is easier to ensure not only availability but quality as well for fewer components, making recalls less likely.

With regards to volume in a given plant, Toyota's strategy seems a continuation of their work on the Global Body Line, in which the same infrastructure and fixtures could be used for robotic welding at high volume and manual welding at low volume.

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Toyota Unveils Revamped Manufacturing Process | Yoko Kubota | Wall Street Journal

"Toyota broke a two-year silence on a revamped manufacturing process—built on sharing components among vehicles—that it says will produce half its vehicles by 2020 and slash costs. But its unveiling follows a path blazed in recent years by German rival Volkswagen AG—a reversal for the Japanese pioneer, whose production system was for decades seen as the gold standard, giving the world such manufacturing concepts as 'just-in-time inventory' and 'continuous improvement.'"

Source: www.wsj.com

Michel Baudin's comments:

Other than that Toyota has a plan, the article does not directly reveal specifics. As several readers pointed out in their comments, sharing components across models is not a new idea and is not risk-free, even if executed perfectly, as it reduces the differences between your standard and luxury models in ways that customers may notice.

The most revealing parts of the article, to me, are (1) the reference to VW, and (2) the keyword "modular assembly." I don't believe that Toyota has borrowed much from VW since the look of the 1947 Toyota SA, a dead-ringer for the already dated but yet to be successful beetle.

Modular assembly sounds self-explanatory but it isn't. It is a specific approach to assembling cars brought to VW by former GM purchasing executive Jose Ignacio Lopez in the 1990s, in which up to 90% of the work traditionally done in a car assembly plant is done by suppliers and all that remains is the final assembly of large subsystems.

The Porsche plant in Leipzig, for example, does not stamp, weld, or paint car bodies. It receives them ready to assemble, in a spotlessly clean facility that customers are encouraged to visit.


The Porsche plant in Leipzig

The whole site is in fact dominated by its visitor center, complete with a fine-dining restaurant overlooking the plant and where new buyers can receive an hour's worth of training on their new cars on the test track. In the same spirit, VW has set up an assembly plant in downtown Dresden, with glass walls to enable passers by to watch cars being assembled.

Modular assembly was used by GM in Lordstown, OH, in 1999, and then by VW in Spain, and by DaimlerBenz for the Smart in Hambach, France . At the time, Toyota evaluated the concept and passed on it. Apparently, Toyota's production leaders changed their minds.

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Questions from Croatia about 5S

Following is a list of questions by Stjepan Sinko, from Croatia, about 5S implementation, with my answers:

  1. Are there any risks associated with the implementation of the 5S program?

    Yes. A clumsy, poorly timed 5S implementation can backfire, hurt management's credibility with the work force, and make it more difficult to try again later.

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Tradition, Tradition, Data Visualization, and Pareto Charts

Some of the standard charts used in manufacturing for decades don't meet today's criteria for effective visualization. But using them is now a tradition; they are taught in school and their value is unchallenged, but it is time to challenge it. If we were to see these charts for the first time in 2015, would we consider the information they provide useful, and would we want to use the classical formats? This post suggests answers in the case of the venerable Pareto chart.

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Lean Engineering Case Study | Pascal Chaloyard (PDF)

"Potain, a manufacturer and supplier of tower cranes in La Clayette, France, where it made all the mechanical and electrical systems, safety devices and cabs for cranes manufactured in Europe. The diversity of components manufactured was wide and production was in small runs, indeed in single units.

The factory, on a hill, had a handicap in terms of flow as, each time the business grew, a new building had to be built at a different altitude from the others. The organisation was by trade, which penalized production flows.

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