Monday, September 24, 2012

Key to Lean Six Sigma in Oil and Gas: Respect

As a long time karate man who teaches dojo kun, one of the precepts being: “Reigi o uyamon zuru koto” or translated means: “Respect others” I see this philosophy extended to the workforce.

Years ago, when I first learned how to fight in a dojo, my sensei then asked me to bow first before exchanging hard punches and kicks to my opponent. After several minutes, I'd end up with a black eye, bruised ribs or a sore jaw; Sensei would then ask us to bow again before leaving the floor. In the past, when I threw hands or rolled on the dirt scratching, biting and clawing my opponent, the furthest thing on my mind was "respect." I was in college not accustomed to this strange etiquette, but I was open to learning and wanted to understand why this and other teachings were so important to personal development. Sensei went on to explain that kumite or fighting should never be done in anger. Instead replace your anger with respect. When I asked why? He said because he was the instructor and he told me to. Didn't take me long to realize that it was best just shut up and do what he said. Being a hard head, asked to do something I wasn't accustomed to, it took me some time, but learned how to control my emotions and use this concept in the later years to better myself as a fighter, karate instructor and person.

Basically in dojo training, a true martial artist regardless of his feelings must show and make all efforts to respect everyone and everything around him. It is something that a person must feel not think, a sign of humility necessary for an open mind, which it turn helps the process of growth. This opportunity of learning is in abundance, information that can be used for advancement, as well as in battle to launch an attack or defend. In all cases, respect for others open the path for seeing things for what they are in an environment that encourages two-way communication. Perhaps this is why the Japanese in its Toyota Production Services asks all of its employees to “make every effort to understand each other, take responsibility and … best … build mutual trust.”

At the start of each work day, I find myself shaking hands with as many people I make eye contact with, rank and file members who brave the elements and perform tasks that challenge the limits of  their physical and mental abilities.  As a process facilitator, I ask these employees what could they have done better to improve their process: faster, better, easier and less expensive without sacrificing safety.  Ideas: good, bad and indifferent appear, tribal intelligence are revealed.  Had I not made the effort to approach them, these ideas would remain in obscrutity.  Therefore, no matter how slight, I log the ideas offer genuine thanks, and tell him or her that the ideas will be processed.  When they experience this recognition, I see an immediate empowerment. 

“Continuous improvement” I remind everyone and receive a resounding thumbs up.

Not many have the ability to sit down and document ideas that end up being policy or company practice.  As I have these conversations, the opportunity to be heard trumps incentives: The best source of information comes from those that swing a sledge hammer, turn wrenches, operate equipment, weld pieces of metals together, operate vacuum, roper, guzzler and hydro-excavator trucks, climb in and out of confined spaces and abandon wells. 

Even if you’re not in a karate dojo, you should make every effort if not habit to treat all individuals with respect. You'll be surprised with the results.

Friday, September 21, 2012

5S in Oil and Gas

After working in manufacturing and supply chain management for nearly 15 years, I entered the realm of Lean Six Sigma Continuous Improvement process management.  Living and experiencing first hand this methodology as a subset of my job, I encountered multi-million dollar projects that saved tremendous amount of money.  On one example, I was able to lead a 10 well drilling project that saved my then company over five million dollars.  It was destined to fail; had every imaginable obstacle in front of us.  At the time, I learned and practiced several management methods, namely: Management by Objectives, eMyth, and Theory of Constraints.  A close associate of mine who consulted for Nissan Motors sent me several books, one titled:  Toyota Production Services and another white binder book with a symbol that looked like an inclined six.  After burying myself in reading for about a month, I picked up the basic concepts of Six Sigma and Lean used the combination philosophies to create a plan that systematically tackle the impossible and win a big victory for the team.

On my first day on the job, I met with Ezequiel “JR” Rodriguez, one of the foremen who was responsible for the vacuum trucks.  These trucks run on pressure and were used to vacuum or “suck” material from storage tanks, vessels, free water knock outs and so forth.  Prior to my meeting with him, JR attended a class on Lean and 5S and had this great idea of rearranging the tool box that contained cam locks.  Cam locks were used to hook the various sized hoses to other valves, extensions and so forth. 

The following picture represented an example of one of these tool boxes.



As you can see the various tools were in disarray.

Now see below improvement:




What JR did was bolt steel stems in a slight angle onto the tool wall. As you can see tools were organized, easy to locate and stored in a way that prevented unnecessary wear and tear.

Lean Six Sigma methods were well received by both management and rank and file, especially by those that were hands on.  Small incentives were offered and recognitions announced at regular meetings.  Telltale signs came from the worker with a genuine interest in improvement.  As a Lean Six Sigma facilitator, I met with these people and saw in their eyes, appreciation.  Their self worth elevated as their words were heard, documented and acted upon.  Granted ideas range from the ridiculous to the impossible.  In this hat of ideas, simple and powerful suggestions were implemented (such as J.R.’s).

As I met with more employees, I encouraged ideas through casual conversation.  When I recognized the potential, no matter how slight, I logged it, thanked the employee and told him that I would personally send it through the process.  This small effort showed the employee that they were indeed more valuable than mere workers.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Impossible is Possible

Continuous improvement believes that if something is perfect, someone can always do better.

Recently, I watched the Olympics, have done so for many years and always made sure I never missed the premier event:  the 100 meter sprint.  In the past names like Jessie Owens, Bob Hayes, Carl Lewis come to mind.  Each was Olympic Gold Medalists and World Record holders.  Incredibly and in increments, each man bettered the standards.  They were extra ordinary, the best at the time, and the world waited and expected stronger and faster.  The Games were good for that.  Each venue whether it be swimming, track and field, weight lifting and so forth, records fell and new heroes climbed the podium and sang their national anthem.  These super-like human beings accomplished the impossible.  To match or break records were expected but doing so required talent, dedication, support and hard work beyond comprehension.  Rewards fed the fever and the Bob Beamons, Mark Spitz, Michael Phelps and Usain Bolts appear, demolishing and achieving performance levels perhaps never to be out done.  To many, this is perfection, at least conceptionally.  What this means is that someone now or in the future sees world records only to be broken.

In my other blog http://www.babyboomersensei.blogspot.com I've logged multiple hits on a post I wrote regarding seniors deciding to take martial arts. (see http://babyboomersensei.blogspot.com/2012/03/baby-boomers-and-martial-arts.html)


I did it right by starting martial arts training when I was in college: flexible, strong, athletic and injury free. Now in my late 50's complete with artritic joints and old age, I can relate to the challenges of attempting an activity like karate. Learning or persuing something new as a senior is not that impossible. It's just not as easy as when you were younger. Lean Six Sigma on older established companies face similar barriers. Management and employees adverse to change are like the arthritic joints and atrophied muscles in a badly abused body screaming bloody murder when forced to execute unfamiliar movements and techniques.

As a karate instructor, I noticed parents day-after-day would sit by the side and observe classes, making sure their children were being taken care of. I never could figure it out; it's like they can't tell me how to teach or anything. Later I realize that, as bystanders, they were learning techniques as non-participant observers.  Japanese karate, compared to other martial arts, wasn't that difficult, few variations with a lot of repetition. Once basic kihons and katas were learned, training was routine and at times boring.  So while sitting those many sessions by the side, learning of some sort did occur. 


As time passed when children become adults, parents transitioned into senior citizens saying it's their time after all those years of sitting on the bench to achieve karate black belts as part of their check on a bucket list.


Anything is possible.


As a Lean Six Sigma technician, I've noticed that extra-ordinary and old folks like myself are open minded and willing to take chances and do what it takes to continuously improve and make life and the world a better place. Improvements can be world class, or they can be something small and personal. 


World and personal records aren’t broken by being happy with status quo, it's acheived by believing in the mindset that the impossible is possible, and that unbroken things can be made better.  Of course, if something is broken, use the right tool for the right job to fix it.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Black Belt Ranking


The rankings and levels and what they represented, the Japanese provided a system of indicating growth or advancement through belts.  The story behind this started in a Japanese kodokan or ground-fighting school.  What's now  modern jujitsu and judo system, new grapplers started classes in the winter when snow fell.  They were given brand new gis (white cotton uniforms) with a belt to tie around their jackets to keep it from flailing.  They practiced waza’s (techniques) on the snow and hence soiled their uniforms.  Students were allowed to wash their gis but not their belts.  In the spring, they practiced on the grass where their belts would turn green.  In the summer when the grass would die, they’d practice on the dirt and their belts turned brown.  Then practice would continue throughout the fall where their belts turned black and afterwards returning to a faded white in the winter.  The longer the student practiced, the darker the belt would get and through continued season-after-season practice, the belts would become frayed.  As time passed, the belt torn and tattered became an indicator of how long a student trained.  This was became the today’s system of ranking using different colored belts to signify level or ranking.  The black belt was an indication of someone who has attained a “dan” ranking.

Six Sigma uses this belt ranking system to grade the proficiency of its students in the same manner.  According to Six Sigma, “the term Black Belt has its roots in the exotic realm of martial arts. Like a person skilled in the Oriental sport of karate, the Six Sigma Black Belt is self-assured and knowledgeable, the result of intensive training and real-world experience. The Six Sigma Black Belt is disciplined, purposeful, and decisive, able to lead highly focused efforts aimed at improving a company’s bottom line. And, to ensure continued improvement, the Black Belt works affirmatively to identify and mentor new Black Belts.”

As a martial artist, I learned that the purity and culture that this ranking method represented has meaning beyond the color of the cloth.  Martial arts and the achievement of belt ranking symbolize not only physical excellence, but the mental and spiritual.  As Gichin Funakoshi taught in his classes, the dojo kun speaks of five goals:

Seek perfection of character
Endeavor
Be Faithful
Respect others
Refrain from violent behavior.


Master Funakoshi believed that, for the true karate-ka, the dojo kun should not only be considered a set of rules of conduct in the dojo, but a guide to everyday life.   Everything we learn in the dojo, we should apply to everyday life.

“Jinkaku kansei ni tsutomuru koto”  Seek perfection of character

This is the ultimate goal of karate.   The other four principles of the dojo kun, as well as the entire nijyu kun, all tell us what it means to seek perfection of character—how we can go about pursuing this highest objectives.  But this is the most important thing.  We seek perfection of character from the inside out.  It is something we should do every moment of every day of our lives.

This means we should never stop learning.  Karate training, like life itself, is an ongoing process of growth and personal education, a process that lasts for a lifetime.   It is good to set goals, but as soon as we accomplish them, it is important to set our sights on the next goal, to improve.  To seek perfection of character is to always seek to improve oneself, to always endeavor to learn and grow.

“Makoto no michi o mamoru koto”  Be faithful

To be faithful means to be sincere in everything you do.  Here we are talking about making a total effort, all the time, in whatever you do.
To be faithful of course means that you have to be true to other people, to your obligations—but it also means you have to be true to yourself.  And to do so means you have to do your best in everything you do.
When you are faithful to yourself, others will have faith in you.  This creates mutual trust between people.  Being faithful to yourself is essential to realizing the first goal of being the best person you can be.

“Doryoku no seishin o yashinau koto”  Endeavor

Try hard at everything you do.  No matter what you are doing, whether it’s training, working, having a relationship—give it one hundred percent.  To do anything else is to cheat yourself and others.  If you don’t endeavor to do your best, you are not being faithful to yourself and others, and you are not trying to seek perfection of character.

“Reigi o omonzuru koto”  Respect others

A true martial artist always shows respect to other people.  And it is something you ought to feel in your heart.  Showing respect is a sign of humility, and humility is necessary for an open mind, which it turn is necessary to learn, to grow.  You can always learn something from every person you meet.  Likewise, every person you encounter is a possible opponent of some kind, and that opponent can pose a threat to you, physical or otherwise.  In either case, if you respect everyone, you will more clearly see things for what they are, and you will be able to get the most of every experience.

“Keki no yu o imashimuru koto”  Refrain from violent behavior

This is a reminder to keep calm inside.   Control yourself at all times, from within.   Conflict within is a form of violence.  It leads to violent actions, which is something you should try to avoid at all costs.   A martial artist should always be in control, and that begins with an inner calmness, with peace of mind.  If you are forced to defend yourself as a last resort, then it is all right to do so.  But you will only be successful defending yourself when you maintain a calm, clear mind, in which case using karate technique to protect yourself will truly be your reaction of last resort.

Through the course of Lean training, the purity of a martial arts black belt will provide the core and basis a team leader will need to strive and achieve excellence.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cause and Effect



Cause and Effect.

It’s what we do, each day, everyday, as long as we’re physically able.  We esentially cause an effect good, bad or indifferent, changing or transforming something.  Defect and/or cycle time specific, the goal is to be defects and waste free without sacrificing quality and safety.  A goal is to be flawless each time every time, in effect creating perfect product and service.

Realistically, the laws of physics are against us.  Thank God for something called tolerances.  I like to use the golf swing as my example to illustrate what I mean.  First, I’m lousy at golf.  A good day is when I break 120 (I know, sad).  With that said, it proves that I am far from perfect, but that should not prevent me from trying my best to execute a perfect swing.  Several times in my life I was able to drive past 320 yards and straight as an arrow, or making a 40 foot put knt knowing what I did right (or wrong) to create these “effects”.  Whatever “cause” I created to end up with the desired “effect” was instantly lost in memory eye and hand coordination.  No matter how hard I tried, I could not duplicate this near perfect event (perfect would’ve meant a hole in one, of course, on television, in front of Tiger Woods). 

Resuming the discussion on cause and affect attempts to execute perfectly each and every time is not possible but products and services that fall within tolerance will satisfy customer needs, a least that’s the plan and so far has worked and been working.  Any results outside tolerance will reject parts considered unacceptable.  

So what are these conditions that cause fluctuations in our attempts for perfection?  In a golf swing, it could represent a whole host of things, inherent and unassuming.  In our golf swing example, these are the hand placement, speed and timing, head face-ball contact, small and many nuances that reflect the outcome of the swing. We call these events “common cause variations” as they’re there, identified as problems but not typically significant enough to destructively affect the outcome.  Special cause variation, however, are those that stand out like “sore thumbs” usually intermittent, and require immediate attention as these types normally adversely affect outcomes. Back to the golf swing these are the sonic booms or earthquakes or broken club type of causes.



As we work on Lean Six Sigma projects, we will face defects and cycle time decisions that will have us examine cause and effects and determine which cause variations to address.  Some of them are evident such as replacing a burnt light bulb in a dark room; others may require identification quantifiable metrics and complex statistical analysis to come up with effective and appropriate solutions either way it’ll require the selection of the right tool for the right job from two large boxes called Lean and Six Sigma.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Black Belt in Both Karate and Six Sigma

After nearly 20 years of my life working in purchasing and being really good at it, I took a new position doing something that I really feel can sink my teeth into, working as a Lean Six Sigma technician, in above all industries, oil and gas. Previously, my only experience in oil was working as a purchasing manager for a relatively small company in Santa Maria. My job extended past normal purchasing into finance and some project management. During this time, I recruited the help of reading up on management theories, those being Management by Objectives, Theory of Constraints, eMyth and something I heard so much of called Six Sigma. Prior to this I picked up book called Toyota Production Systems and skimmed through the pages and got enough information to learn words like kaisen, kanban, muda and heijunko. I also picked up some terms like Plan, Do, Check, Act, “see for yourself” and non-value-added. Each of these theories had their own neat method of madness, the one I could not quite grasp due to its usage of forensic and statistical analysis was Six Sigma. After a couple of days, all I managed to retain was the term DMAIC and that this process somehow was able to resolve product defects.

After this stint, I took a job for an ISO 13485 medical device manufacturer that relied solely on Lean concepts. Working in a sterile FDA regulated GMP environment, Standard Operating Procedures or SOP mandated almost every single activity. Though it didn’t go so far as to instruct the number of times you had to wash your hands after taking care of business in the restroom, it was pretty clear that steps were necessary to maintain order to keep close tabs on product control.

Several reasons had me looking to Bakersfield to change course in my life. First, my mother lived about three hours away and she’s elderly. Oftentimes, I’d see myself making long distance drives to see how she was doing. My son lives in Bakersfield and about 30 minutes away from his grandmother. My daughter lives in Fresno about an hour and a half away from Bakersfield but nearly four hours away from Santa Maria. Without outlining a spaghetti diagram, logic pointed towards me looking for work in Bakersfield. So I sent resumes and spoke to about three headhunters. It didn’t take long before I was invited to interviews, all except one was in the oil and gas industry and for purchasing or supply chain management positions. Knowing about purchasing, it wasn’t hard to sell my abilities. What lacked were my years in oil and gas; so, I faced some challenges.

Then out of the blue, I get this call asking for a phone interview. Like the others, I complied and had a nice discussion about what I bring to the table. One many occasions, the topic of Lean and Six Sigma was discussed. I told the truth about what I knew, how I came to my background, and that I was not “belted.” Not really concerned, I knew that having Lean and Six Sigma knowledge would help my position as a buyer. Well, the time came when I was asked to pay a formal visit to be interviewed. I asked how much the purchasing position paid, the human resource person said that it was filled and that I was being considered for the Lean Six Sigma Technician position.

Okay? What happened here?

She said that they had been looking for someone who had both oil and gas and Lean/Six Sigma experience. On both cases, she was right; I had the qualifications, not my strongest, but there, nevertheless.

I had a couple of days before the meeting, and I knew that I needed to brush up on what I knew about defects management and continuous improvement techniques. One thing I can tell you, if you don’t keep up with these concepts, going over details of scientific management theories and forensic and statistical analysis will numb your mind; it did mine and thanks to some abilities for recall, I was prepared.

Several more meetings and a doctor physical later, I got the job.

It was then to end my procrastination, take the green and black belt tests, and add legitimacy to my new role.

Let me share with you one thing. Lean Six Sigma training is not easy. Knowing concepts and passing tests are two different animals. I skimmed through the Green Belt manual and took the test.  With years of practical experience, I felt I had the information locked, but after taking the test, I barely passed. What got me was that the questions were misleading and the answers that matched were worse. A month later, I prepared for the Black Belt and Lean Management tests much differently and passed with ease though I didn’t learn a darn thing.  This time I studied to pass, not learn. I figured that it was like the time I got my karate black belt in 1982: Right after wrapping that belt around my waist for the very first time, I realized then that it was a new beginning and not an end. 

Moral:  I’ve got some real life Lean and Six Sigma practices to implement and it’s going to be a neat ride.

Haiyaaaaa!

Sensei Domi
Shotokan Karate Blackbelt
Six Sigma Blackbelt

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sustain and Control



A young student entered a small garden.  It was his sensei’s back yard, and it was there where he was to learn his new lesson.  Yaguchi was excited.  For six months, he was pushed toward exhaustion repeating kihon and kata.  Any deviation from his challenging workout sessions was welcomed.  As he entered, the Japanese style garden took his breath away.  It was well manicured, healthy full of color and life, the fragrance sweet with a burst of fresh energy.  He thought of what it would take to create and maintain such beauty.

“Yaguchi!” the voice came from a small tool shed.  It was sensei Tanaka.

The young student hurried to the shack and discovered his sensei with his arm buried into a tub of water.

“Sensei,” the boy said, “would you like me to help?”

“Please come here and see what I am doing.”

The boy stepped closer to find that his instructor was holding down what appeared to be a round ball. 

The sensei pulled his hand out and it was then that Yaguchi saw that the round ball was in fact a basketball as it bobbed up to the surface.  He also noticed that it glistened.

“That’s right.  It has on it generous helpings of petroleum jelly.  Now come on, you try.”

“Try sensei?”

“I want you to push the basketball down the bottom of the tub, and hold it there.”

“Is there a special technique I should be aware of?”

“Not really."
Yaguchi knew that this was a test.  He had to perform this small task to go to the next level and learn new martial arts techniques, possibly a weapons form.  The thought excited him.  He touched the ball that was indeed slippery but not unreasonable.  He knew the task would be a challenge, but nothing that could stop him.

He tried attempt after attempt, each resulting to back to back failure and frustration.  The air made it difficult enough, but the petroleum jelly made it impossible.  “Sensei,” Yaguchi said.  “It’s very difficult.”

“Then let me help you,” sensei Tanaka said as he helped steady the ball underneath the water.  “Now hold it firmly in the center and do not allow it to move.”

Yaguchi complied and, though difficult, was able to hold the ball steady. 

“What did you learn?” the master asked.

“I learned that basketballs aren’t made to be in water.”

The venerable master stifled a laugh but shook his head.  "Yaguchi-san," he said, “Was it easier to hold the ball down and keep it steady?  Or was it easier to start when it was on the surface?”

“In its present position, it is much easier to contol.”

“And that is your lesson,” the aged sensei said before walking back into the beautiful garden.

“Sensei?”

“Sometimes, it takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to reach a certain point in our lives.  It may take help even from others, but when you reach that place, it is much easier to maintain and control that momentum than to let go and start over.”

"Hai, wakirimaska," Yaguchi said and bowed.

"Good," the master smiled, "I think this is a nice place for us to continue our kihon and kata training.  What do you think, master-in-training?"

Yaguchi almost let out a groan, but instead, bowed and said, "Os!"

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Snap Selling

Today’s subject: Snap Selling by Jill Kornrath. A compelling read, I was so impressed that I put its concepts to practice with amazing results.

Jill Kornrath is a top notched, old fashioned, by the numbers, by the book, copy machine sales person who wrote the book as a result of poor numbers and  consequential loss of income. By exercising her own Kaizen, she was able to overcome her demons and failures.  She "defined the problem"  "identified the process" and "determined root cause," after which realizing that tried and true methods and techniques of past were useless and ineffective in this new business environment that faces dire economic challenges, newly structured LEAN management practices, added responsibilities, and electronic wherewithal.

A new set of rules for buying requires change.

Currently I'm responsible for purchasing quality material from the lowest bidder on a "Just in Time" (JIT) basis. Stories where manufacturing scheduled production within hours of a truck rolling in with the raw materials championed this Lean cause. JIT, however, has its consequences and not having when machine and labor are in midstream production is more destructive than having idle job stacks available weeks in advanced.

With that said, Ms. Kornrath says that companies with Lean infrastructures and controls utilize less employees to perform similar functions. One buyer said his staff was reduced to two when, in the past, required six to do the same work.

According to Kornrath, this new customer finds his/her time more constrained (Reference VOC). Decision makers are now “frazzled," and have very short attention spans. A sales person, when in the past was trained to go through this whole “needs analysis” question and answering session, complete with “death by Power Point presentation” and binders of information, has only seconds to get his/her point across. She uses terms like “20 second rule” and “get to the net” to explain this process.  For example when a sales person makes a phone call to a prospect, the customer most likely has a person in his room, is staring at a computer, writing on a note pad, and thinking about who to lay off this week so that he can meet budget, while trying to get home early enough to catch his son's soccer game.

As a buyer, I see myself in the same position, spending less time with sales reps; and if immediate solutions aren't available during that phone call, the discussion ends.  I don't mean to be rude, but there's just way too much to be done in a day's time, idle talk or long winded sales pitches not in the schedule.

Kornrath in her book introduces the acronym:  SNAP.

Simplicity
iNvaluable
Alignment
Priority

Keep your presentation SIMPLE;
Make sure that your pitch has VALUE;
That what you present is in ALIGNMENT with what the buyer needs;
That second…right now…immediately (PRIORITY).

She said that if a salesperson makes the mistake of attempting anything different he/she will end up in the dreaded “D” zone; “D” meaning “decide” “delay” “delete” “diminish” “don’t know” "don't call me, I'll call you."

As simple as it sounds, the process is not easy. It takes work. A salesperson has got to be:

More organized;
Prepared to add more steps to his already lengthy sales process (especially in the ALIGNMENT and PRIORITY phases) to include strategic e-mails, faxes, mail-outs, webinar invitations, newsletters, copies of appropriate news articles, voice messages, references;
Creative with a "less is more" attitude; and
Able to communicate clearly and to the point, recognizing the best and right time to ask for the order (VSM).

Sales and marketing have a great deal to learn about SNAP Selling as it provides a distinct solution to their “D” diminished sales. (Reference: Define the problem/identify the process (which could be broken); Measure the CTQ factors; Analyze root cause (current arcane sales methods); Improve by implementing SNAP principles; Control by sustaining gains from new sales.

A must read for success in this new business world.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Brainstorming

It’s said the best ideas come from those whose hands are the dirtiest. Unfortunately, these people are likely not to share ideas in fear of reprisal, fell their ideas aren’t worth the effort, or didn’t think their words would be considered much less heard. Discussion and conversation are part of a process called communication. It requires open and impartial observation, the less influence the better. This is where brainstorming comes into play.

 Brainstorming is perhaps the most useful and underrated tool in Lean. I’ve read different methods, participated in both personal and group sessions: Had many benefited, seen some that ended up in disaster.

 Asked the question, how is this possible?

 Simple.

 Make sure that brainstorming is just that: Throwing ideas out without prejudice and structure. I call it throwing dirty socks on the wall. Doesn’t matter which sock or how destructively filthy it is. What matters is that it’s thrown on the wall, any part of it that makes a statement: good, bad and indifferent.

My worst brainstorming experience came when the proctor who lead the group manipulated the session so that it sway an outcome .  For example, the group would throw out suggestions, good, bad and everything in between. He would write it on the board and prejudice the answer by either writing it small or placing it far away from the center or not near a group of ideas that he felt were important. Note the words “he felt were important.” I’ve seen it where the proctor would write in bold letters and circle an answer. Others were written but selectively set apart as if errant red headed step children. I believe that mind maps, fish bone analysis can follow the same caustic paths.

Key is that the team leader who stands in front of the white board offers no opinion. I participated in a session where no one was allowed to speak in the first phase. Instead, participants were to write their ideas on a piece of paper. These ideas were thrown into a box. The participants were then asked to pull a piece of paper out of the box and then write the idea on the board where it could fit on the fishbone diagram. No one was permitted to speak until all of the ideas were on the board, spaghetti written, somewhat chaotic, but on the board with no ego controlling the flow. As the board fills, creativity mind melds among the participants and the real discussions begin.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

DMAIC


Years ago, I managed an insurance claims paying office.  It was important not only to pay the claims correctly, but on a timely manner.  The contract has provisions that if they weren’t we were penalize a fee that had to be paid back to the customer.  The company serious with this intent had management participate in a seminar that addressed this issue.  It was called Management by Objectives by Peter F. Drucker.  I remembered learning this in college, then a blur, remembering bits and pieces.  This four day seminar dissected the concepts and introduced practical applications.  Little did I know, this class introduced me to Lean concepts before it was popular and it helped provide the base of what I needed to enter into the realm of Lean.  Those of you who don’t know, Ed Deming learned from Drucker.  Deming was hired by the Japanese to improve their car manufacturing production lines in a company called Toyota.  I didn’t know this till I started taking classes in JIT Toyota Production Systems that it fell into place.  Of course it led me into learning more about Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints, Gerber’s EMyth, and Motorola’s Six Sigma methodology that there rehashed and fortified in my American Production and Inventory Chain Society (APICS) classes.  Without saying, there was a tremendous amount of information that micro-managed every single aspect of running a business, any business.  Some use it in politics, others in dealing with personal life’s issues. 

When this learning was reinforced by my current company not only having me take refresher courses in Lean but implementing these concepts in our daily operations to maintain our ISO Certification, I needed to simplify it into its basic form.  Kind of putting it into a 25 or less word sentence type of thing. 

My thoughts:  Impossible.

So I started taking notes and reading everything I could find.  Of course it got worse instead of better.

When I finally reached a point of exhaustion, I flipped the pages on my screen and found a colored graph that had the acronym DMAIC.  Funny, because in my classes and pages of reading, the term “De –MAY- IK” was said and referred zillions of times.  I even said it, but in my context, it was just saying it to be like others.  It meant nothing because I was dissecting single celled portions of the theories that the heart and soul did not set in. 

Define problem and identify the process
Measure Critical to Quality metrics
Analyze root cause
Improve by implementing solution
Control by sustaining gains.

Biddy-bang-biddy-boom.  There it was.  Took me 30 seconds to say over again and memorize.  I mean,I had Catholic prayers that strung a list of ten times more words. 

And for some reason, when this acronym etched in my brain, things started to fit into play.  I started remembering things like:  5S, fishbone, statistical analysis; DOE, ANOVA, PCE, VA, NVA, VSM, Takt, Time and Motion, C&E, CTQ…list goes on and on.

Now I’m not going to say I’ve all of a sudden turned into a know-it-all, but certain revelations are satisfying and this start has opened my eyes to a world that I lived in but didn’t realize it ramifications. 

Definitely, I’m going to dig deeper. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Tim Wood: He’s Costing Your Company Money.

• Written By: Six Sigma Training Assistant
• 5-3-2009
• Categorized in: Six Sigma Implementation

The effectiveness of such things as mnemonic acronyms cannot be underestimated in the delivery of Six Sigma training and office philosophy. Some Six Sigma programs take this too far – most of us can probably speak of a time when we have been sat in a meeting or in a training seminar and the amount of jargon and management-speak became simply too much to deal with. It can cause people to become cynical about the whole process as they feel they are being talked down to.

So when you introduce them to Tim Wood, make sure your workers are ready to see the underlying message.

Who is Tim Wood, you ask?

Let me introduce you.

Transportation.  Waste is something that affects a number of businesses. The amount of time wasted taking documents and information, along with other materials, from floor to floor, office to office, really eats into the time that could be spent doing real work.

Inventory Waste is a problem that affects all businesses. At times, some parts of the business may well be redundant.

Not in the frightening, unemployed sense, but in the sense that they are sitting around waiting for more work. If work is scheduled more effectively, people will always be working towards something important and allowing the work to flow.

Motion Waste is a classic kind of waste that can disrupt the effectiveness of a business. Leaving one’s desk unnecessarily – to ask a question that could either wait or be asked via e-mail, for example – cuts into the effectiveness of working time.

Movement from your desk is not motion waste – it is common sense. Movement from your desk to ask how to spell something is motion waste.

Waiting Waste is something that comes to us all. Wasting time is something which will cause problems in any business. It can stop a project being completed on time, and it can block the commencement or the advance of other work. If things are scheduled and streamlined, it need not happen.

Over production is something that a lot of people view as helping effectiveness rather than hindering it. If you have a surplus, goes the theory, then that means less work later on. But by overproducing you will be making extra work for someone else, so efficiency is harmed.

Over processing is another example of seeming efficiency actually hiding something that hinders the efficiency of a working process. By combining documents and putting them into a larger folder, then taking time out to transfer that folder, a worker uses more time than if the person for whom the documents are intended was a few feet away – where if that were the case, the documents could just be passed as they were processed. 

Defect waste is simply the weight of errors that necessitate correction, increasing cost and time wasting. If the same mistake is being made again and again, stopping that mistake at source will mean less time needs to be devoted to correcting it.

Less time, less expense, greater efficiency.

So, say hello to Six Sigma's Tim Wood.

And now say goodbye.