Tag Archives: Waste

Learning to See

Remember the Magic Eye pictures? They appear to be computer-generated abstract images but, when you look at them just right, out pops a 3-dimensional (3D) object. The object was there all along, but until you learn how to see it, the image appears totally random. For example, the image below reveals a 3D symbol for recycling. Most people can’t see the 3D objects the first few times they try. They have to make an effort and try different methods, like crossing their eyes or putting the abstract image behind a reflective surface. Sometimes people need to be coached in order to see the objects. In any case, the more you practice, the more you’ll develop your ability to see the 3D objects.

Magic Eye abstract image
Abstract Image
Magic Eye with 3D object
3D Object

http://www.magiceye.com/client/recycle.html

This idea of having to learn how to see also applies to one of the foundational principles of Lean–the elimination of waste. Before you can get rid of waste, you have to learn to see it. This isn’t as easy as it seems, because we’re so accustomed to waste in our processes, we no longer see it. We’re in luck, though, because a framework has been built to help us.

How does a framework help? Take a moment now to look around your room, and list all the materials you see and where they are in the room. Glass – window. Wood – table. Glass – clock face. Plastic – keyboard. Without a framework, you can do it, but it’s hard, you skip around, and it’s easy to miss a lot. If I give you a framework for looking, your list will be much longer.  For example, list all of the glass items you see – windows, clock face, iphone, light bulbs, picture frame, candy jar…. Then move on to all of the wood items you see, then cloth, plastic, and so on. See how comprehensive your list becomes?

In the same way, Lean provides us a framework for waste: motion, waiting, movement, correction, over-processing, overproduction, inventory, and knowledge. When you’re looking at your current state trying to improve your process, take the time to step through the waste framework, contemplating one waste at a time. This will help you find more waste and also improve your ability to see waste in your everyday activities.

 

 

 


Defining and Creating Customer Value

At the heart of Lean is a focus on the customer and a spirit of continuous improvement. In this post, I want to discuss the concept of customer value.

Many people think they have a firm grasp on the concept of value, but in reality understanding how value is created, applied, measured, and translated is a difficult task. This is because each and every person has their own perception of what constitutes value and this belief of what value is changes over time. Though it may prove difficult, identifying what creates value for the customer is the very first principle of Lean; it’s a task that must be completed before beginning any process improvement efforts.

Upon the completion of this task, not only will you know what your customers value, you’ll also have a basis for defining your day-to-day activities. Having that level of definition will help answer 3 important questions:

  1. What should I be doing?
  2. How should I be doing it?
  3. Why should I be doing it?

Everything we do on a daily basis, no matter how small, should create some kind of value for our specific customers. Defining said value forms the foundation upon which you build Lean processes to deliver that value and satisfy your customer. For an activity to be value added, you must meet all three precise criteria:

  1. The customer must be willing to pay for the activity.
  2. The activity must transform the product or service in some way.
  3. The activity must be done correctly the first time.

If an activity does not meet all three value-added criteria, then it’s deemed officially to be non-value-added.  In Lean, non-value-added activities are further broken down into two types of muda (or waste):

  1. Type-1 waste includes actions that are non-value-added, but are required for some other reason. These are typically support activities that allow those critical value-added activities to take place.  These forms of waste usually cannot be eliminated immediately.
  2. Type-2 wastes are those activities that are non-value-added and are unnecessary. These activities are the first targets for elimination.


Many activities may seem as though they’re necessary or value-added, but on closer examination, viewing them through the eyes of the customer, they’re not. For example,  if you are completing paperwork to pass on to another department, or creating reports for your supervisor, the first order of business should always be to define what information is of value to the person receiving the documents you’re creating. You may find that a portion of the information you’re collecting or reporting is of no value to your “customer,” and therefore collecting and documenting that information only serves to create waste in the process. 

Identifying customer value and seeking out and eliminating waste takes effort — it’s a journey that begins with challenging the status quo. If you’re ready to accept this challenge and begin your journey, call the Office of Continuous Improvement at 906-487-3180 or email us at involvement@mtu.edu. We will work with you and give you the tools you need to get you headed in the right direction.

Reference
     — You are welcome to check out this book and others from our Lean Library.
Sayer, Natalie J., and Bruce Williams. Lean for Dummies. 2nd ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2012. Print.

Lean Thinking Aligns with Deliberately Developmental Organizations

This week’s post is a guest post from Theresa Coleman-Kaiser, Assistant Vice President for Administration and campus Lean Facilitator.

I recently read the blog post referenced below that introduced me to Deliberately Developmental Organizations (DDO’s).  Defined by Kegan, et al. (2014), DDO’s shape their culture through dedication to the “conviction that the organization can prosper only if its culture is designed from the ground up to enable ongoing development for all of its people”

The concept that work provides “as essential context for personal growth” (Kegan, et al., 2014) with the flipside being that personal growth or continuous development and improvement are essential to an organization’s success, reminded me of the foundational lean principle of respect for people and the sometimes forgotten eighth form of waste – knowledge waste.

Respect for people is often depicted in both the foundation of the Lean House and as one of the supporting columns, and can be simply described as putting people before products and services.  A DDO demonstrates this culture of respect for people by integrating the work of improving yourself as an essential function of all jobs.  It is visible through an infrastructure involving your own deep and forced reflection (hansei kai), one-on-one sessions with others who can guide your improvement work, and through meetings designed to identify your blind spots and then identify root cause so that appropriate countermeasures can be put in place.  It’s all designed to disallow you from being able to “unwittingly limit your own effectiveness at work.”  (Kegan, et al., 2014)

(Carroll, R., n.d., Box Theory)

In the 8 wastes of lean, Knowledge waste is alternately described as unused creativity, under-utilized people, not engaging all, non-utilized talents, and untapped human potential.  DDO’s are committed to developing employees so that their potential can be developed and fully tapped to benefit both the individual and the organization.  Whether accomplished through formal training or through a reflective, iterative process, the result is a happier and more productive employee.  In fact, DDO’s recognize that creating a no-blame culture where inadequacies are continuously and systematically reviewed as part of the work is in itself a waste-elimination effort since employees don’t have to spend time and energy “covering their weaknesses and inadequacies” and “managing others’ good impression of them.” (Kegan, et al., 2014)

DDO’s approach individual inadequacies as potential assets that have not yet been fully developed.  By putting people first, the respect and commitment shown by prioritizing development and dealing with it in a transparent manner helps to eliminate wasted knowledge and wasted time covering up shortcomings.  Is your organization on its way to becoming a DDO or do you need to shift some mental models and behavioral practices to get there?

References

Carroll, R. (n.d.). Lean thinking for small business – Add value!  The Systems Thinker Blog.  Box Theory.  BoxTheoryGold.com [web log].  (Accessed February 18, 2014).  Retrieved from: http://www.boxtheorygold.com/blog/bid/62547/rcarroll@BoxTheoryGold.com

Kegan, R., Lahey, L., and Fleming, A., (2014, January 22).  Does your company make you a better person?  HBR Blog Network.  Harvard Business Review.  Retrieved from:  http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/01/does-your-company-make-you-a-better-person/