Lean Roadmap Newsletter
Becoming a World Class Organization
35th Edition  
The topics for this edition are: 
  • How to Make Structured Problem Solving Part of Your Organization's Culture 
  • The 4th and 5th of Five Strategies for Competing in the U.S. and the Global Economy for SMMs - Innovation; Within Boundaries, and Clean Sheet of Paper

Certified Lean Facilitator Training

This standard Certified Lean Facilitator training session (also known as Lean Lead) will be hosted by Alliance Laundry Systems in Ripon, WI.  
You can attend just one class or start the journey to becoming a Certified Lean Facilitator by attending all 3 weeks.
Session dates are:
Week 1 - July 19, 2010
Week 2 - August 16, 2010
Week 3 - September 13, 2010
For more information, click here, or for scheduling, call Gloria at 260_637_8064 or email gloria@wcmfg.com
How to Make Structured Problem Solving
 a Part of Your Organization's Culture
Most organizations struggle with integrating Structured Problem Solving into how they do business.
by Vince Fayad 
One of the most difficult things for an organization to learn is how to integrate structured problem solving into the culture. There are a number of reasons for this. The number one reason is everyone believes or thinks they know what the problem is and have already figured out how to solve it. Now they may be right, but they may also be wrong. This shortsighted thinking does not allow the organization to explore all the potential possibilities that exist and thus stifles creative problem solving. Implementation of a possible solution is also difficult to implement because the people involved in the process had no input into the solution. Here are a few ideas that may help your organization make the transition to use structured problem solving without even realizing the change.


#1.  Whenever people in your organization start to discuss a particular problem, issue, or improvement opportunity, ask the following questions:


         What process is responsible for the problem or improvement 


         Who owns the process?  [be specific]

         Who is the customer of the process?  [be specific]

         What is the output of the process?


and most important of all,


         What are the customer's requirements?


For example, if the organization has a discussion on errors in the system regarding customer orders, we must have the discipline to ask the above questions. We might find that we are referring to an Order Entry Process. During the exploration of this issue we might find that this process cuts through several departments, such as Customer Service, Scheduling, Sales, and Purchasing, and that no one person owns the problem. Consequently, we get into much finger-pointing and nothing gets resolved. For every process, there must be one process owner ... one throat to choke!


As we continue to answer the above questions we find that the manufacturing manager [Bill Hard2Find] is the customer of the Order Entry process. After all it is his team that has to fill the order correctly. The output of the Order Entry Process might be a Work Order and a Bill of Materials. The requirements for the Work Orders and Bills of Materials might be that they are complete and accurate 100% of the time.


#2.  The very next question people should ask is:


         How big is the problem?

         What is the goal?


Remember, "In God we trust, valid data required by everyone else!"  A nonconformance is a requirement not met. If there are no requirements, there cannot be a nonconformance. The requirements are complete and accurate Work Orders and Bills of Materials. So, the next step would be to have the necessary metrics in place to determine how often we receive Work Orders and Bills of Materials into manufacturing that are not complete and/or inaccurate.


Once we have complete, accurate, and reliable data we can now set a goal to improve. This goal can create a sense of urgency and can create a team of people to achieve the desirable outcome. People tend to be goal oriented.


#3.   It is now time to ask questions that will eventually empower a team to prevent recurring problems:


         Who are the people that have the most to gain by reducing or eliminating

               this problem?

         What are the process requirements?

         What are the supplier requirements?

         What procedural changes do we need to make to achieve our goal? 

         [document new process]


Put together a team of people who will systematically attack every aspect of the problem. The process owner or his delegate must be on the team. The process owner and the team will be responsible for implementing the team's solutions.


The team will most likely use Value Stream Mapping to identify the current state, and through brainstorming, develop a future state Value Stream Map.


#4.  Once the team has developed an action plan to make the Future State Value Stream Map a reality, the following questions could be used in summarizing their action plan:


         Have we verified that the new process will achieve the goal? [pilot the 


         How are we going to communicate procedural changes to those who 

      need to know that changes are being made? [customers and suppliers 

       of the specific process]

         Who needs to be trained in the new process?

         How are we going to verify that people are following the new process? 

      [audit process]

         Can we verify, through measurements, that the new process has 

      achieved the goal?


Have your team pilot the new process to ensure that the new process is in statistical control and is capable. Be sure to communicate, communicate, and then communicate some more. People involved in the process and suppliers and customers to the process need to know what is going on. All people involved in the new process must be trained to ensure conformity. Audit the process to ensure everyone is doing things the same way, on all shifts, in all departments. Then measure again to ensure the goal has been obtained. Then repeat the process in the spirit of continuous improvement.



Now Available

 A3 Kit
The 4th and 5th of Five Strategies for Competing in the U.S. and the Global Economy for SMMs - Innovation; Within Boundaries, and Clean Sheet of Paper
Innovation when combined with desirable end product
differentiation = greater market share & greater

by Larry Rubrich 
Some Thoughts on Innovation 
  • Roughly one in seven ideas are commercial successes 
  • Innovation comes from either "market pull" or "technology push"
    • Tier 2-4 level companies use technology push
    • Tier 1 companies use both 
  • Most failures are a result of marketing issues versus technical issues:
    • Not enough customers
    • Too many competitors
    • Not enough differentiation to justify price 
  • Companies spend lots of time/money on development and very little time on market research 
  • Best ideas come from customers/users
    • This means staying close to your customers and your competitor's customers
    • Be open to new product ideas (i.e., Toyota expects 50% of new ideas/improvements to come from customers) 
  • Internally, innovation thrives at companies when:
    • Everyone is encouraged to come up with new ideas
    • Small improvements are considered - as  well as the huge improvements
    • Collaboration across the organization is encouraged (win as a team, lose as a team)
    • Innovation is part of the company's vision and culture
Innovation Within Boundaries
The best example of of "Innovation Within Boundaries," is the Apollo 13 lunar mission. In this real life drama, the lives of the astronauts, riding back to earth in the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM), were being threatened by a build up of carbon dioxide in the LEM (the LEM had not been designed to carry the astronauts back to earth). To save the astronauts, engineers on the ground were required to quickly "innovate" a new carbon dioxide filter using only the material that was available to the astronauts in the spacecraft. The engineers were successful in creating the filter and the rest is history.
Innovation With Boundaries includes:
  • Design a product family/system for a range of applications (ultimately customers decide which will be the best seller) 
  • Design with the maximum use of common/standard components across the family (the use of common filters would have prevented the Apollo 13 emergency) 
  • Product or service customization ("one ofs") is an important strategy here because:
    • It could indicate the need for new models or products
    • When accompanied by short lead-times is "China proof"
    • "Lean flexibility" is an important part of this strategy 
  • Product modularization can support mass customization (the Dell model) 
  • Innovation includes developing proprietary processes that lead to product differentiation
Innovation - Clean Sheet of Paper  
For SMM's this strategy represents: 
  • Highest risk and cost
  • Potentially unknown markets and customers
  • Potentially unknown levels of capital expenditures to develop
  • Costs and selling prices are probably unknown
  • It's what engineers like to do and will do if they are not given guidance
Larry Rubrich
WCM Associates LLC
2010 WCM Associates
Join Our Mailing List