An LEI New Year's Resolution: No Wallpaper!
This resolve is not based on vague anxieties but on what I often see as I walk around the industrial world. I frequently find beautiful Current State maps on the wall next to equally beautiful Future State maps but ... no Future State in reality on the "gemba." (That's the Japanese word for the shop floor, whether the manufacturing floor or the engineering area or the order processing department -- any place that value streams should flow.)
Sometimes the Future State is only wallpaper because of a lack of technical knowledge: the team meant to install a leveled pull system to connect all of the areas of continuous flow but just couldn't make it work. Or the continuous flow cell only flows continuously when the high-priced help come around to see it, because the individual process steps are not capable and the work elements have never been properly analyzed.
But much more often the problem is simply that there is no effective management of each value stream. The maps were done by the process improvement group or the industrial engineers as a special project. But no one took responsibility as a day-to-day manager for actually implementing the Future State, stabilizing it, then treating it as the new Current State and calling for an even better Future State.
When I say "manager" I don't mean another layer of supervision but instead an individual, probably with another functional task, who clearly takes responsibility for the health of a specific value stream and periodically reports on the trend of improvement to plant managers and product line managers. One of the key items to report is how good a job the different departments -- assembly, paint, stamping -- and the different functions -- operations, P C & L, manufacturing engineering, quality, and purchasing -- are doing in supporting the value stream and how their behavior should change.
So ... please don't let me down on my new-fashioned New Year's resolution, and let us know at LEI how you are progressing.
P.S. As an aid to turning your Future State maps into actual Future States, let me suggest the value stream video from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers we've just added to the bookstore on the LEI website. "Mapping Your value stream" explains the concept and application of value stream mapping from current state, to future state, to implementation. Then, the video takes you to the Donnelly Corporation plant in Grand Haven, Michigan, to see how value stream mapping actually improved a real company. For more information, click https://www.lean.org/Lean/Bookstore/ProductDetails.cfm?SelectedProductID=70.
Back to Basics: Jim Womack on Why Managers Need a "Lean State of Mind"
In this classic eletter from 2009, Jim Womack explains the crucial importance of a "lean state of mind" if a lean manager is going to be able to achieve sustainable improvements.
Back to Basics: Jim Womack on Why You Should Never Create an A3 Alone
In this eletter from 2008, Jim Womack (in honor of the then-recent publication of "Managing to Learn") shares invaluable advice for a problem that too many A3 writers get hung up on. Read more to learn why you should never be a hero and try to write an A3 alone.
Working on the Management
Effective daily management is still hard to achieve for most organizations, says Jim Womack. But until line managers start tackling problems first hand as they emerge, rather than deferring and delegating them, basic stability will remain a mirage. Read more in this column from our sister publication, Planet Lean.
- Learing to See the Whole Value Stream: The Power of Value-Stream Mapping
- Sustaining Lean Goals by Taking a (Gemba) Walk
- Forward to Fundamentals
- Managing to Learn: Part 1 - How Lean Leaders Create Productive Problem-Solvers
- The Power of Purpose, Process, and People
- Lean Management & the Role of Lean Leadership
- Lean Solutions