Lean methods management Essay

Lean places a heavy emphasis on excellent human relations, teaming, respect, consensus building, etc.  Based on the entire set of course notes 1-9 and the assigned reading, please collect all people-related aspects of Lean and summarize them on two pages.

            Management in any form is related to people, because in the end it is the people who use these principles to manage their work. Lean management principle is no different. Each aspect of Lean management is hence related to people in some or the other form. In fact it is better to say that the principles of Lean are cultural principles. A cultural principle is a belief that permeates the idea, customers, skills and practices of all the people in an enterprise. Lean cultural tasks are beliefs suited to the task of people in the process of lean transformation and sustaining Lean enterprise. Mere implementation of Lean in an organization hence doesn’t help. It is important that all the people of the company are first molded towards a Lean cultural enterprise, chiefly the managers.

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            Value system mapping is the actual criterion for qualifying for Lean product development flow. This systems means, in practice, that the company at least has a low level R&D in place, which is not necessarily separate for the flow. The system does not have big gaps or unknowns, with a short cycle of les than 2 years so that there are no rapid technology changes. Each person in the VSM is required to fill in a task sheet to record the efforts spent. The sheet has details regarding not only the person who performs the tasks, but also details of the task itself such as input, outputs, control nodes, systems engineering, pre-planned efforts, which is then compared with the process time. This is used to calculate the waste under different heads. The sheets are analyzed concurrently. When a VSM is in place, the task scopes are iterated on each step so that the each task is understood properly. These iterations are performed by the core team, by analyzing the task sheets, using the Lean SE concept from the task. The tasks are also priority based, and the long tasks are broken down.

            The VSM works on a series of basic rules which need to be followed by the team, to reduce the unknowns by keeping communications clear and introduce a self-check phenomenon. People are hence encouraged to accept responsibilities of what they do. For VSM to be properly implemented in the company, it is important the people of company develop skills such as Leadership, participating actively, people should know how to help in a job, the negotiation skills must be good, marketing their own products and skills is a necessary quality along with good communication skills that help in building consensus and can be used to resolve conflicts, project management skills and last but not the least an ability to look into and understand the big picture.

            The current state VSM can be slowly converted into future state VSM after people are in consensus with the present system. This system has a potential for immense paybacks when correctly implemented, and hence the processes should not be rushed or strictly according to the books. Instead the focus must be on waste, removal, value addition, excellent communication development and integrity. First the older state VSM must be analyzed thoroughly and iteration is then done repeatedly with the core team till a consensus is built. In case the system has a persistent unknown, they are corrected using additional experts rather than wasting time. After these efforts, the final VSM that emerges is simply the best plan for the present program. The program should have a comfortable processing time and must never be rushed, because properly finished VSM definitely is an improvement. The main implementation focus group consists of the core team, suppliers, and the SE engineers, and attendance is mandatory, since the presence of complete team is necessary to build VSM>

            Lean Product development flow proceeds through alternating work periods and integrating even. This brings the team under a proper rhythm, since as the name suggest flow is an uninterrupted and smooth passage of tasks. The deadlines are non-negotiable and common, and the flow is predictable with maximum coordination and minimum waste. This means that the risks are pre-identified and analyzed, and there is a scheme for dynamic allocation of human resources as per requirement. The designs must never be point based and must have comfortable margins, and any trade offs too must be assessed first. The design, development and research must be separated, and iterations must be least though consensus building in the core team is still extremely important.

            There system always works with a plan even if ti is not perfect to ensure coordination and chance for improvement. Each event is checked with the help of instant check lists, which is better than the oral weekly status reports. This not only increases efficiency but also increases coordination. The checklists also help in building consensus, and all the stakeholders starting from suppliers to customer must be a part of the check list. The emphasis of the check list is on reduction of wastes caused due to imperfect coordination, communication, and process time. The check list however is realistic and is based on the current capacity of engineers and suppliers.

            Most of the waste in product development is related in some or the other way to imperfect communication. The focus should be on developing a perfect communications scheme like the military which is one line of information flow, does not rely on human contact and communications are always documented. These qualities along with good leadership are also a characteristic of VSM. Since the number of handoffs is directly related to the percentage of knowledge lost, they must be minimized. Also the draft must be of a pictorial form rather than a memo which no one fully reads. The tasks must have a complete requirement cycle specifying clearly the inputs and outputs. The employees must be aware of every step of the cycle, and it must be planned. The system must run smoothly for the very start, and there must be no iterations.

            To ensure that the LPDF runs smoothly the management must ensure that the training of people is enough and thorough, with all being involved in the program. The core team must have ample space to work and place together, with a separate place for the Chief Engineer to plan the activity. His job is to be a facilitator, build consensus, think about the big picture, remain objective and neutral, involve the group and guides their work, and has all the qualities required as was mentioned earlier to ensure good leadership. The research and development groups are separated and a set design is used for the flow. While the iterations can be many they are also optimized with the help of repeated discussions. The flow must be documented using 3D diagrams, released from a single point and must have a single point approval with clear defined and different layers for the different groups of stake holders. Finally, the work distribution must be done according to ability, and no one should be made to work un related to their competencies.

Select one of the Lean Principles (1-6) from the Lean Enablers for Systems Engineering.  Discuss the PD wastes that the Enablers listed under the selected Principle are attempting to prevent

            Lean principle 3 is related to the flow of the processes. It is generally seen that the maximum amount of waste can occur while performing a particular task. Many of the faults done in the past sections come into light only when the process is under progress. Hence, using this principle is extremely important to control waste in product development. In this section two sub-task of Flow principle will be discussed along with the PD waste the particular task is preventing.

            The first sub task of the third Lean principle i.e. Flow, analyzed here is the effective use of communication and coordination. None of the errors committed during a product development process are as severe as the ones occurring due to the lack of this principle. Hence, it is imperative that an efficient control is maintained while doing this particular process. The sub task is divided into 9 activities, each defining the way how effective communication and coordination is practiced in an organization.

1.                  Capturing and absorbing lessons from almost all programs – This means that the employees of a company are in perpetual state of learning. This activity reduces wastes related to waiting time, processing time, motion, and human resources utilization. To an extent the wastes related to scrap may also be managed since if the instructions are clear, the product related errors would also be minimal

2.                  Maximize coordination of effort and flow – This activity creates a close match between the required activity and the tasks performed in flow. Such an activity reduces waste due to waiting time, processing time and also human resource utilization.

3.                  Maintain counterparts with active working relationships throughout the enterprise – This effort is to create a type of network, where people working under a team, or cross functional groups have friendly relations with each other. This activity reduces the waste due to processing time and scrap. To an extent motion, transportation and waiting time can also be reduced, though this is not a direct result

4.                  Use of frequent, timely, open and honest communication – Depending on the reporter and reportee, this activity on a lower level can reduce waste due processing time. In case of communication between cross functional groups waste due to waiting time, scrap and motion may also be controlled.

5.                  Promote direct informal communications immediately as needed – many time the processes in the company are too long and drawn out, hence reducing this communication time is extremely essential in reducing the processing time

6.                  Use single page form rather than verbose memos – Concise information is easier to digest and understand. This activity would reduce waste due to processing time and scrap.

7.                  Report cross functional issues to be resolved to chief’s office in a concise manner – This activity like the previous one also reduces waste due to processing time.

8.                  Clear communications of expectations to various suppliers – Raw materials are the backbone of product development. Hence this activity would result in eliminating waste due to scrap, processing time, waiting time, inventory, motion and transportation.

9.                  Engineers under set framework, can do most of the supplier communication – This is essential because it would reduce the load on senior manages, and would hence reduce the waste in processing time and waiting time

The second sub task of the third Lean principle i.e. Flow, analyzed here is to make the program visible to all. This is done not only for assuring transparency in the work done but also to ensure that everyone is aware of the processes and understands the activities. This sub task is divided into four activities each defining how the organization can ensure visibility of the tasks.

1.                  Make work process visible and easy to understand to everyone including the customer – This process is necessary to ensure that the process is clear to everyone involved the value chain. This activity mainly reduces the waste in scrap, and also saves time, hence reducing processing time, by making the customer also aware of the processes

2.                  Utilize visual controls in public places for best visibility – The management should ensure that the work activities are clearly mentioned in visual format, and are accessible to all. This is essential and reduces the waste in scrap, and also saves time, hence reducing processing time.

3.                  Develop a system making imperfections and delay visible to all – regardless of the efficient way a process is handled, it invariably has some bottlenecks, at least for the first few iterations. Making everyone aware of the limitation ensures that people are aware of the limitations of the process. The limitations of the process may be a possible delay for a particular iteration and the Rework done on a product after it was rejected during quality check. By making everyone aware of the fault, the people are aware of the reason for a particular fault to occur. This will reduce both the rework time and would also prevent the mistake from happening again by other people. This activity reduces waste due to scrap, and also reduces the processing time

4.                  Use visual system, e.g. to report the task status, and make sure that the problems are not concealed. – Using visual sign ensure that the information is passed in a clear and concise manner. This reduces the errors due to waiting time and processing time. The advantage by not concealing the problems is also transparency, which is discussed above, and reduces waste due to scrap, and also reduces the processing time

You have just been nominated the VP in charge of Administration in a medium-size US company of 1000 mostly office employees.  The company has been very traditional. The CEO gave you the following assignment:  implement Lean Office throughout the company.  You studied the company for two months and are ready to announce your new Lean strategy to the employees. Assume that you have a broad freedom of action, short of layoffs.  Your announcement will take the form of a two-page memo. Skip the headings and just begin with the text.  Your career and the fate of a thousand people will depend on how persuasive and visionary your text is. Think big.

Welcome everyone!

            The purpose of this Memo is to make all of you aware of the major changes that are soon to occur in the company. As we all know, the company traces its origins back to a few decades, and has been successful n its ventures so far. However, with changing times there is a need a change in the way company operates. Since company is essentially a collection of people, the change would be the way in which all the employees in this company operate. It is important that each and every employee of the company taken part in the change, which would be extremely beneficial to the company and by extension, each and everyone working here.

            We, in the company, are aware of the fact that cost of production is on a rise, which has to be controlled, so that the company is successful. However, before going into the cost saving changes, the company wishes to make two things extremely clear. The first thing is that change in no way implies that any employee of the company will be asked to leave the company, for any reason other than performance. This is not the way the changes are to be implemented in the company. Any possible lay-offs are only for the managers of the company, and that too strictly on performance basis, and those positions too would be filled by suitable candidates. The second thing is that the company would need the active participation of each and every employee of the company. It is hence extremely important that each and every employee participates in the change and any discussion related to it.

            The first task which every employee needs to do is to prepare a list of every activity he/she performs in the organization in any capacity. Any task no matter how small, related to the company needs to be written on the list. Further, each of the tasks need to be divided into the following categories – product design, product manufacturing, product quality check, accounts, recruitment, and others. It would be extremely helpful, if the employees can sub-divide the categories, though this is not necessary. In addition, the list a five job activities they wish to be a part of, arranged in the decreasing order of preference. This priority list will be responsible for the final departmental changes. The list format will be handed over to the employees with this Memo. The list needs to be submitted to the personnel department by the end of the day.

The second task is the evaluation of the direct supervisor for each and every employee in the company. If an employee is reporting to more than one manager, there needs to be multiple evaluation forms, each mentioning clearly the name of the supervisor, and the task for which the reporting is done. The evaluation sheet needs to rate the supervisor based on their technical skills for the particular task, interpersonal skills, and management skills. The employees need to spend 20 minutes with the external computer expert, who will assist the employees in filling their forms. The need for computerized forms, and external personnel is to ensure that the survey is fair and anonymous, so each employee is requested to be extremely honest in their responses. Also the management wishes to make it clear that the purpose of training is only to train the supervisors in the necessary skills, and not to remove any of the employees.

The list of tasks will be analyzed by the human resource for a period of three days, along with the supervisor related feedback. All the supervisors would be then requested to fill in the survey form for the tasks they oversee, and rate their subordinates in the same basis. Again it is to be remembered that the feedback would be only used for training purposes of the employees only.

One these tasks are done, the personnel department will make a team based on the list prepared by people. This group will be responsible for creating a flow chart of the particular task which the group performs. The flowchart s need to be send to the managers after detailed analysis. All the employees should take care that the particular activity does not miss out on any task no matter how small. The time taken for this task should not be more than 5 days. After this task is done that charts will be analyzed by the management and the review team, which is brought from an external organization specializing in production activities.

This team will analyze each processes and task activities for a total of 7 days, based on requirements and will eliminate the activities that are not needed. The emphasis is again that the unimportant tasks will be removed, not any of the employees of the company. One this chart is prepared, the group will be called to debate on the chart and suggest improvement. The debate will also act is a pseudo-training point for the way the tasks will be done in the company henceforth. So every employee is encouraged to be actively a part of the debate. However, please remember that any responses should not be starting will the words “but this was the way it used to happen here”, unless the suggestion has some specific advantage. Barring that all discussion points are welcome regardless of the person who suggests the change. The changes suggested will be directly to the review committee. Every employee making a suggestion will be eligible for a token gift on the behalf of the company. Each employee, whose suggestion is implemented, will get a letter of appreciation from the company. The time line for the debate is 5 days.

After this the review team will make an analysis of the departments in which the organization is to be divided. The review team, along with the personnel team will be calling all the employees to understand their skills and preferences, and will assign the appropriate departments and tasks to them. This task will take a total of 7 days

The total time taken for the activity is supposed to be 20-25 days, during which cooperation of every employee is necessary and crucial. After this exercise, the organization is expecting to operate with a new structure and have a new way of working. This exercise has been initiated to reduce the waste processes occurring in the company. The 20-25 days of reorganization will also involve an exhaustive training of all the employees on this new mode of operation by experts. This management exercise is known as Lean. An outline of Lean is given in the paper attached with this Memo.

We look forward for your complete cooperation in the forthcoming exercise!



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