Have you ever walked into a meeting and it feels like there were some decisions made that you weren't party to? If so, you've probably fallen foul of what I call the CoffCor, or Coffee Corner to give it its Sunday name. Coffee Corner decision making is quite valued in a lot of organisations and is a skill that some people use very effectively to build their careers but is, ultimately, a great example of hidden waste in an organisation's decision making process.
The CommCell, or Communication Cell, in contrast is a great way to communicate visually and succinctly what the current performance status is, with a complete and inclusive team of people, agree upon the issues and assign action owners and solution teams to resolve the problems. When ran regularly, with the frequency being dependent upon the takt time and interval but likely to be between per shift and per week, these short (around 15-30 minutes), effective meetings will accelerate your decision making in a way that keeps everyone who needs to be, included.
Finally, discussions and decisions will happen somewhere in your organisation and in Lean Thinking we make this happen in a Standardised way at the CommCell, whilst most traditional organisations allow it to happen at the CoffCor. In my opinion, when it happens at the CoffCor it tastes much more bitter!
One of the most challenging issues that I find with the implementation of Lean Thinking is convincing leaders to make their waste visible. What I mean with this statement is that Visual Management is a critical part of Lean Thinking and integral to that is putting in place a MCRS (Management Control Reporting System). Within this system we must make all of our meetings visible, with TORs (Terms of Reference) for each and clear measurement of Meeting Effectiveness, action log completion, attendance, etc.
However, this normally elicits an allergic reaction from leadership, as suddenly the time taken to plan, prepare and follow-up on this activity becomes very visible and the normal response is that we don't have time for this bureaucracy. However, the alternative is to continue with the hidden waste of ineffective meetings, coffee corner agreements and symptom based decisions (versus root cause based decisions).
I've tried to figure out the antidote to this allergy but unfortunately the only remedy appears to be the belief and stamina to endure the criticism whilst you make the system work and start to reap the benefits.
Just don't expect much in terms of recognition for this in the end ...
Maturity, it's an interesting concept isn't it? When we talk about it in terms of human beings, we generally talk about it in a behavioural context, which is loosely related to age but not absolutely.
Whilst writing this blog I came across a T-Shirt slogan that read "Age is just a number, Maturity is a Choice", which struck me as quite apt when also related to Lean.
When you deploy Lean into an organisation, you can employ the tool-kit and will gain some great results very quickly. You'll celebrate the increased productivity and the significant cash release through inventory reduction. However, soon enough you'll experience the inevitable entropy as the improvements decay through a lack of sustainable focus.
The alternative takes more effort but provides a long term transformation into a Lean Organisation and this alternative is to take a structured Lean Deployment Model and utilise it extensively, with discipline and rigour. Only through this approach can you ensure that you deliver the sustainability of the breakthrough results that you will experience, combined with the creation of a Lean Thinking, Continuous Improvement Mindset.
So where does the Maturity aspect come into it? Well the best way to ensure that you are making the right changes and are addressing not only the tool based elements of Lean but also the People aspects is to regularly assess your Lean Maturity and ensure that your Kaizen Events are designed to address all aspects of your Lean Transformation, not only the tangible results.
So choose Maturity when it comes to a Lean Transformation!
Yeats once said: "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire"
I observe a lot of organisations that create 'conveyor belts' of Lean and Six Sigma training; pumping out Lean and Six Sigma Green Belts and Black Belts and proverbially 'filling a pail'. This provides a nice story for the organisation, a clear KPI can be set and measured, say: 25% of all employees must be Green Belt Trained.
However, what we really need is to 'light the fire', whereby it is Quality rather than Quantity that matters and our training plan should provide all employees with foundational problem solving skills, whilst higher level certification is driven by the Hoshin Kanri of the business, identifying the key problem and breakthrough areas and identifying the most appropriate team members for certification. The KPIs should then be set based upon creating this 'critical mass' of certified Lean Experts/Masters and Six Sigma Green Belts/Black Belts. A KPI for the training is then the 'conversion rate', which is the % of people certified versus trained.
Lighting the fire of our organisation's Lean and Six Sigma education is critical to our success in embedding Lean Thinking and so it is essential that we get this right.
"I aim to promote the global sharing of best practices in the application of Lean Thinking."