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Project Sweden - Teaching Lean - A Diary

Helmut Jilling

Auditor / Consultant
asutherland said:
I will be going back to Sweden to start Kaizen/CPI next week.

Feel free to recommend some course of action to improve the thinking of the assembly manager.

This person has been doing the same thing for about 20yrs. He mico-manages his group leaders to the point that they do not know what to do about anything, nor do they do anything unless directed to do so.

What I would recommend for myself is the following;

1. I know that 5 S or any program by itself is simply a program. It only has face value. From my experience, the key to any program is to understand the underlying purpose and phylosophy of why such a program is benicificial to the user.

From this perspective I purpose to tell the assembly manager;

1. This program is not going as well as it should because you do not belive in it.

I also have been in manufacturing for over 16yrs and I have done the same things that you are doing now; focusing on how much you can produce. As a result you are micro-managing your team, running around like a chicken with your head cut off, fixing the same problems today that you have had last week, last month, last year and the year before. From this perspective, you are absolutely no value to this company. I can hire 100 people off the street just like you.
Stop focusing on making parts and start focusing on systems that help you manange the manufacturing of quality products.
2. Stop interrupting the class duing my training excercises and if you continue to voice opposition, and negative defiance to this activity or any other activity that we are working on, I will have no other recourse but to recommend to the managing director, to move you to another position.
3. What I need you to do is; ask questions that support this activity, give positive feed back to your team about this activity, and monitor and support this activity throuth your entire team. - Do you have any questions? -

Any thought here?
What industry is this plant in? What are the current performance results of this plant? PPM, Delivery, Productivity, etc.

I find that arguing opinions gets me nowhere. It's my opinion against there's. However, when I use the client's own data to demonstrate they have poor performance, then there is little basis for them to argue with. Generally, those debates end quickly. (When Johnny is getting D's in school, there is little basis for him to argue he is doing well.) Fortunately for me, plants with managers like that usually have rather below average performance. Kind of a cause and effect situation.
asutherland said:
Any thought here?
JSW05 already said what I was thinking.... more or less word for word. hjilling makes a good point too.

If you confront him head on you are likley to have a head on collision. My advice would be to allow him to save face if possible, and your best option would probably be to leave it to his boss to straighten him out.

I must also add, that letting a person go is a much bigger deal in Sweden than in many other places: Our laws are pretty stringent in that respect, and our unions carry quite a bit of clout (Fortunately, they are not nearly as confrontational as they could be. We have a history of cooperation between company and union).

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I may be in the minority in my view.

As an outside consultant or advisor, I always come to the table with the message:
"Everyone is capable of redemption, even I."

So when I encounter someone with a diametrically opposed view to my plan, I arrange for a little "one on one" to try to understand the guy's position. Whether it is because of
  • faulty understanding of the proposed plan (bash and trash what you don't understand)
  • fear of being displaced (often this is valid and may be true that the person's job hangs in the balance)
  • jealousy or envy at not being the honcho in charge of a change initiative (I usually seduce the guy by making a deal to put him in charge if he helps "sell" the deal to co-workers. I normally don't care who gets the glory as long as I get a big paycheck and I can convince the top management such a ploy is necessary to smooth the transition - AFTER the transition, they can do what they want, but why create a rancorous event to compete with the change initiative?)
Does this seem overly Machiavellian? Yep. I'm probably guilty of that sometimes. - In such cases, I believe the expedient thing is to keep everyone on track until we reach one of many plateaus during the transition. When everyone is celebrating a minor success, they don't seem to notice the transfer of a former naysayer to a remote location, followed by "isolation" to prevent rallying fellow rebels to some sort of foot dragging or work stoppage.

In my view, I didn't "bribe" the person, I merely pretended to succumb to short-term "extortion," while plotting a long-term resolution.
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Jim Wynne

Staff member
Wes Bucey said:
"Everyone is capable of redemption, even I."
But not everyone, in every case, is worthy of redemption.
Wes Bucey said:
I usually seduce the guy by making a deal to put him in charge if he helps "sell" the deal to co-workers.

This would depend, of course, on the scope of your authority as a consultant. It's always a good idea, though, to encourage people to think that it's their idea.
Wes Bucey said:
When everyone is celebrating a minor success, they don't seem to notice the transfer of a former naysayer to a remote location, followed by "isolation" to prevent rallying fellow rebels to some sort of foot dragging or work stoppage.
If no one notices, the person wasn't that big of a problem to begin with. The conspicuousness of the absence will be celebrated, if quietly, and it also delivers the message that management is serious about the change that's going on.


Sounds like good strategy. Thank- you.

hjilling, usually I like to use data as well to support the validity of a good 5 S program. I have seen many times a 4 to 10% increase in productivity just by putting things where they belong, and as much as 80% decrease in PPM by not allowing material on the line that doesnt belong there. Unfortunate, this company does not track productivity by cell. And in-process defects is an alien termenology. They only track products per day and products per week.
They do track in the computer, how much time each unit is in each cell, but only use it if someone is curious. Another problem with this is that each cell knows how long they have to complete their assembly, and if that means taking a 1 to 4 hr break to meet that time, they usually do.

To offset this, I am planning in the welding department, to set up a one piece stock flow throughout the body and tail section. (This product can be broken into 3 sections, body, tail, and assy). This will allow easy visability as to how much wait time there actually is between each process while at the same time establish a pull system based on assembly.
I have already noted that there are 5 extra tails waiting in assembly, just so they can do something, while falling behind in other cells. Easy to see poor balance.

Will try to make entries every other day or so, so that I dont have to keep you in suspense. Also, so I can get quick responses.

asutherland said:
Will try to make entries every other day or so, so that I dont have to keep you in suspense. Also, so I can get quick responses.
Great.... A running commentary from an ongoing project. This will enable all of us to learn a thing or two. I'm really looking forward to this. :agree1:



5 more days of rest before I begin again.... yea right.

As I reflect over what has already been done, and consider what next needs to be done. I find I am a little disappointed in my up-front analysis to obtain flawless execution of the 5 S project.

The error appears to be very obvious to me. I did a ****-pour job of identifying all of my invisible barriers. I did identify that the "work council" (union) played an important part in the production environment and included a leading member in the pre-roll-out of everything that was to be discussed as well as accomplished before implementation. This resulted in excellent buy-off of what we want to accomplish and buy-off from the "union" before implementation. I also identified "Language" (Swedish VS English) as a major barrier and had every overhead presentation and hand out converted before each presentation. This also resulted in good feedback and response during the events. The union leader was one of the participants in training some of the classes in the "Reason for change" program, which helped to facilitate change. (Other trainers included the Dir of Operations, Welding manager, and Group leaders).

From experience, I know that every environment has their share of nay-sayers. My original arrogant thinking told me that this will easily be overcome by the "reason for change" program.


So, I am faced with two problems. The first, I need to add to my "Invisable barriers" check list, identify nay-sayers in critical leadership positions. The second, correct the mistake of critical leadership nay-sayers that slip in, by having at least one person of authority at the top level management there to assist in buffering public display of nay-saying.

Nothing like another lesson learned.
asutherland said:
I did a ****-pour job of identifying all of my invisible barriers.
I think you're a bit hard on yourself: The fact that you are preaching your gospel in a foreign country shouldn't be underestimated. That is a very big deal. Company cultures differ too. At least you tried to identify them.
asutherland said:
I did identify that the "work council" (union) played an important part...
I also identified "Language" (Swedish VS English) as a major barrier
See what I mean? You got a few things right too.
asutherland said:
Nothing like another lesson learned.
Exactly... and thank's to your tale the rest of us are able to learn too.

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Moving forward.

I have finely decided on what I feel is an appropriate Kaizen event structure.

This company has about 80 shop employees. Their tracking system, what little they have of one, is not used for any benifet.

The goal of this format is to provide a structured approach to CPI through Kaizen activities that provide for idea generation, tracking, completion, and support.

As I have mentioned in the past, I am not fond of Kaizen Blitzes, but that is another story for another time.

Kaizen Training Outline

1. Introduction to Kaizen (Pre-training to participate in Kaizen events)
a. Kaizen philosophy
b. Kaizen tools
2. Kaizen Event / not Kaizen Blitz

Use presentation of philosophy and tools


1. Selecting the Event
a. Kaizen Event Request and tracking
· Kaizen event agenda
· Put on Kaizen event schedule

2. Preparation
a. If 5 S has not been done, do 5 S first
b. If new to Kaizen, schedule Introduction training
c. Schedule Room and room supplies (Flip Charts, wipe board, markers, post-its, copier)
d. Meals

3. Tools (Perform the analysis)
a. Standardized Work Chart
b. Standardized Work Combination Sheet
c. Time Study Sheet
d. Production Capacity Sheet

4. Do the Kaizen

5. Presentation of results
a. Schedule presentation
b. Make presentation (2 to 5 min/Kaizen item)

6. Post results on team board (store previous Kaizen)
a. Mgt meet at site of improvement, ask questions, congratulate team

As you can see by this outline, there are a lot of assumptions. I will try to clarify them.

Regarding the Kaizen Training Outline. I am trying to use KISS system. First explain what knowledge is necessary for process improvement, what tools are to be used and how their used, and how to conduct the event. Again, a reminder, this is not a Kaizen Blitz, it is a CPI event using Kaizen as a base line.

In step 1, selecting the event. The only purpose is to get permission to do an event. Manufacturing is very busy and has limited resourses. We want to control these resourses to provide the best results in targeted areas. (That is why the VSM was completed first). Also, we want to promote the easy wins.

I have completed Kaizens events that have lasted from 4 hours to 3 months. If there are easy 1 day events that do not interfere with production, lets do it.

The next step is to schedule the event so that they do not conflict with other activities that are currently going on in the plant.

In step 2, Preparation..... You can not succeed in a Kaizen event if the area looks like crap. It must be clean and organized. Also, if you are trying to intregrate new people into this event that have not participated in a Kaizen event, they their knowledge is insufficient to keep pace with the rest of the team, resulting in numerous other problems.

In Step 3.... Data, data, data, data. (Of course, included in the Pre-training are the basic 7 tools of Quality, as well as brainstorming, teamwork, etc)

In step 4, now that we have a clean picture of where we are and where we want to go, we just "do-it".

In step 5, this is another reminder that I dont need a group of over-paid bench warmers for half a day listening to people talk. What I need are Managers and leaders that get off their duff, come to the improvement area and see, before and after results. Not imagine them in a room some where.

And finely, ask questions and congratulate the team.

Is this a plan?
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