Lean control - Relying upon craftsmanship control of basics

Lean Basic Controls 6

Lean Basic Controls 6: Relying upon Craftsmanship control of basics

Rely upon Craftsmanship control of basics

Sitting on the back seat is a difficult position. You are responsible for the direct craftsmanship of safe yet fast driving. It feels like being chased though?

Only if both Management and Foremen respect each others specific roles, conflicts can be avoided. Management can focus upon the managerial role and rely upon the moderating and restraining role of foremen. Notice that few management parameters must be balanced against a very large number of detail parameters; only known to the foremen.


The Foreman Control Challenge

The back seat image is illustrating the perception of a Foreman towards the Management Team. A lunatic tries to steer faster and faster, thus jeopardizing safety and quality. Craftsmanship of the foreman is frustrated because his role feels taken for granted. Each time the work processes are improved bottom-up, gained margins are exploited top-down. And when using the handbrake it may
cause annoyed response from the management? Even the Lean program team mentions it on their whiteboard as “resistance to change?”…


How can we balance the two opposing forces?

Example 1: Teamlead drill upwards, projects

A teamlead is pushed by the project manager to accept aggressive delivery targets. He knows by experience, that his input will be late, such that his

team cannot start according to the planning. His team is forced to make up for earlier time losses. All teamleads would tell the same story.

Twice a year, the company has a town hall meeting. This time, again, the audience is urged that the companies processes are schedule driven. On stage, VP-projects gets into a short discussion
in front of the audience with the VP engineering. VPP: “… engineers should understand that delivery dates are crucial; each late activity is a virus, spreading through the whole project…”VPE: “… we always meet the required throughput time, and 80% of the sub processes, we make up some of the late start impact in fact…” This discussion is stopped fast and the audience is split into small groups for discussions on “engagement”: develop proposals to improve.

Several teamleads ignore the suggestion to mingle and two groups are mostly composed of team leads. First some anger is expressed in these two groups, but soon each group decides to take a
bold decision.

In the plenary session both groups express that the schedule driven theory is nonsense; it just feeds the never ending spiral of being late and being chased. One group articulated that the chasing itself could take some 20% of engineering capacity. The other group shares a dream “imagine each task is at least one day early!”.

The groups were clearly “engaged” and the CEO promised to follow this approach. This town hall meeting was long remembered as a breakthrough.


Example 2: Supervisor drill upwards, production

A shift supervisor works in a chemical 5 shifts plant. A new management team is dedicated to increase performance and after some visionary presentations, the actual shift handover document
is revised. So called “key performance indicators” take a prominent role, and the clarity is initially appreciated as an improvement.

When applying this new handover process, the supervisors notice a drawback. In the previous version their attention was strongly focused upon the reliability of some fast decaying equipment. The
team is proud to achieve high uptimes by being alert to a multitude of hard and soft signals, anticipating maintenance needs, before a problem can develop. The new system addresses these efforts
only in the last paragraph of the handover list. The new system is introduced with such rigour that no one opposes. But a few months later, when one of the supervisors retires, the plant manager has a long talk during the farewell party. The system can be adjusted before dangerous situations and performance drop can occur.

How to avoid the “push harder” response top-down? Respect the craftsmanship barrier and take car not to silence the sound of basic control.

Leo Monhemius
    Vitalizing struggling Lean Six Sigma programmes is what I do. Or starting from scratch! My challenge is simplifying methods to the minimum, thus only keeping the essential. Many projects require a simple tweak to bring success. Apart from academic knowledge and balanced approach, many programs just need raw energy as well. The new training facility in Zuilichem provides an inspiring accommodation for training or reflection sessions. Specialties: The handouts and course material is all full written text (not powerpoint!) and Dutch text. A specialty are the many hands on training tricks, of which the "paper factory" is the most extended one. This factory enables the training of the organisational development of a group, using sequential simulation runs of table top process industry. http://www.dutchsixsigma.nl

    Leave a Reply