Category Archives: Report-outs

Lessons Learned About Kaizen

As part of our training program to become a Lean Facilitator, the trainees participated in a kaizen facilitated by one of our experienced facilitators. For their kaizen, the trainees chose to focus on the enforcement of policies for employee parking violations. During their report out, they passed on some “lessons learned” that are a good reminder for all of us.

Kaizen Lessons Learned:

  • If a tool isn’t working for you, move on to another one. (They just weren’t getting any traction using a Fishbone diagram.)
  • Just because a decision making tool indicates the “best” choice, doesn’t mean you have to go with it. (The ICE tool (Impact, Control, and Ease) showed that a wheel boot was the best choice, but the group decided against it.) It’s the people who decide.
  • The kaizen participants assumed they know who was doing what during the process they were investigating, but they were wrong. (There was a miscommunication regarding the employee invoicing system.)
  • You’ll understand the tools a lot better if you try to use them. Also, you don’t have to be perfect at using a tool to try it.
  • You don’t have to remember every tool. It’s enough that you can remember there is a tool and look it up.

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Thank you to the now-graduated Lean Facilitators Mary Babcock, Pattie Luokkanen, Angie Kohlemainen, and Todd Van Valkenburg for their insights!


Let’s Ditch the Report Out

We are pleased to present this guest blog post by Robert Hiltunen, Director of Auxiliary Services at Michigan Technological University.

What did you say? Ditch the report out? Are you crazy?

Reporting Out 3A normal feature of organizations that use lean methodology is the expectation that projects regularly “report out.” A report-out event allows the organization to recognize and celebrate the achievements of the various project teams and their members. Perhaps more importantly, others are able to learn from what the project teams have accomplished. In this way, we continuously improve our systems, share and build on knowledge, and reduce duplication or “re‐inventing the wheel.”

After some deep reflection about a blog I read by Dave LaHote entitled “Say Goodbye to the Report Out,” I came to realize that there are different types of report outs. With this headline I am talking about the report out that is elicited from people closest to the work during my gemba walks, when I ask “How is it going?” For those who know me, the first thing that comes out of my mouth is “How’s it going?,” “How’re you doing?,” or “What’s happening?” Of course, not using open, probing questions causes the employee to naturally report out what is going on. Then I will ask how I can help, and the response is “I’m fine; no need for help.” This type of report out causes a transition of problems from the employee to me, and I then offer suggestions that might help solve the problem.

Instead, I should be asking about a specific observation which would lead to follow up questions that would increase my understanding and help coach the employee to solving their own issue. So I must learn to ditch my report-out eliciting questions and take a deeper dive into the real issues at hand.

Easier said than done, so if you see me asking an employee at the gemba “How’s it going?” please remind me that this is not the time or place for a report out.


Report Out Invite!

University Images recently participated in a kaizen event addressing problems in their special orders process.  Special orders are defined as: orders placed by departments and student groups through University Images.  Such orders include but are not limited to department apparel and souvenir items.   University Images has exclusive vendor contracts and can offer competitive prices.  They also ensure licensed, quality Michigan Tech products to their customers.

To learn about the changes made to the University Images Special Order Process, you are invited to attend the Auxiliary Services Lean Report-Out on Wednesday, July 20 at 2:00 PM in MUB Ballroom B3.

Along with the University Images presentation, you will also hear:

–        A teachback on improvement event team member roles

–        A report-out from the Dining Services Batch vs. Flow Kaizen for Invoices

–        An update on the Dining Services Commissary Kaizen

Hope to see you there!!