Enterprise Minnesota Magazine - November 2012
HELPING MANUFACTURERS GROW PROFITABLY
Hands-on, competitive lessons in lean can transform your workforce and your business.
By Samuel Gould and Harry Larson
“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
One of the common challenges employers face on their lean journey is sparking employee engagement. Change, no matter how small, can draw skepticism and pushback, particularly if employees don’t understand the benefits of the change.
To help remedy this circumstance, we drew on the wisdom of Confucius to develop the 5S Value Stream, a new approach that helps employees learn about lean by doing. The 5S Value Stream combines elements of 5S (sort, straighten, shine, standardize and sustain), Value Stream Mapping and Kaizen event processes. Like 5S, it organizes individual workspaces using lean principles. Like Value Stream Mapping, it takes into account both a current state and a desired future state. And like Kaizen events, it all happens in a matter of days.
Participants split into three teams and assume various roles within a fictitious factory. Each must produce as many products as possible within a given timeframe. The catch? The first team begins production without learning how to apply any lean tools. The second team is familiarized with some of the tools before production, and the third team is familiarized with all of the tools. Between the first and final simulation rounds, production typically increases between 800 and 1,200 percent.
This internal competition may seem unfair, but it’s actually a carefully constructed motivator. Members of the first team feel they were set up to fail and want to improve. Members of the second and third teams experience how lean tools aid production, and are eager to apply those tools to their own workspaces. And naturally, all three teams want to be the best. Over the next two to three days, the first team conducts a rapid improvement event in one area of the production floor as the other teams watch. The second and third teams follow with rapid improvement events of their own.
Each of the companies we have guided through the process has reported significant gains, among them cutting lead-time in half, reducing scrap by 90 percent and realizing $250,000 in bottom-line savings. Additionally, more involved calculations will reveal other improvements. Because each team includes a mix of people from different departments, employees develop new relationships that can result in a higher trust levels and better communication between production and office employees, and a team-oriented attitude across the business. As one operations manager put it, “Success is when I go out on the production floor and notice that the guy talking to me is looking me in the eye instead of looking at his shoes.”
If you are considering a lean transformation at your company, or if you are looking for ways to engage your employees in lean activities, 5S Value Stream may be your most accelerated option to consider. We invite you to learn more about 5S Value Stream by visiting www.enterpriseminnesota.org.
Business Growth Advisor Harry Larson draws on his background of more than 40 years in sales and management to help clients reshape operations. Larson has worked with clients in a variety of industries, from woodworking to medical device. He holds an Associates Degree in Sales and Marketing from Alexandria Community and Technical College.
Business Growth Advisor Samuel Gould employs engineering and manufacturing expertise in advising businesses on strategies to improve efficiencies and operational excellence. Gould holds Bachelor’s degrees in Electronics Technology and Applied Mathematics from College of the Ozarks, a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from University of Tennessee, and a Master’s degree in Management Technology from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.
For more information about Samuel Gould and Harry Larson, visit http://www.enterpriseminnesota.org/about-us/enterprise-minnesota-team.html.
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