The House of High Quality Articles for Everyone in the World

Jul 25, 2011

Manufacturing Sustaining Lean

The methods of lean manufacturing have been achieving incredible success rates for over 40 years. The first success stories came from the factories in Japan and then advanced to the factories all over North America.

These methods have proven to be a flexible and cost effective way to achieve customer satisfaction. However, there many factories that still perform and look much the same as they did years ago. The reason for this is that sustaining the transition to lean manufacturing can be very difficult.

It’s absolutely necessary to completely commit to the lean concept. Management must commit to the lean efforts continuously and must marry itself to the concepts of 5S concepts and learn to regularly make the required difficult choices.

Many manufacturers consider that their problems are over once they successfully implement lean in some part of their factory that is having problems. The fact is that this is when management needs to learn and apply elsewhere to multiply their successes.

In many factories, boards have been mounted and are displayed on the shop floor to depict their 5S safety and health information and production output. This saves resources and time because graphs, charts, and signs are much more understandable since they are visual, than long computer generated emails and reports.

Also, in order to improve the output and efficiency of their employees, many factories synchronize the flow between their workstations and machines with the workstations and machines that have been repositioned in addition adding a single line of work flow, controlling its processes, and organizing the factory for visual monitoring.

Although there still may be other work to be done, many factories commit to going all the way. Some of these factories have enjoyed a reduction of direct labors by as much as 25% and a 50% reduction of inventory.

To ensure that the employees’ take effect, management should include measurements in the visual sense so that people can gauge how well they’re doing. This puts all the information directly in front of them, without any secrets. If management doesn’t do this, employees will people will simply naturally slide back into their old ways of doing things. Factories that are successful conduct audits regularly to prevent this from happening.

Everybody must make a commitment to lean manufacturing, and those employees who don’t may not survive the transition to lean. This should be expected because those employees are actually part of the problem.

It isn’t management’s fault if an employee resists lean if he/she believes he/she is going to lose his/her job. Lean is not a reason to reduce the workforce.

Lean management needs to understand that they are making an investment. Nobody is trying de motivate the workforce by laying employees off. The concept is to rapidly increase sales and take advantage of the factory’s new lean approach. If an employee becomes unneeded in one area of the workplace, that employees should be moved to another workplace where they will have a positive impact. Lean management should reward their employees for making a contribution to the success of the factory.

Continuously improving and sustaining lean manufacturing is something that any factory can do. Lean management need to keep their employees willing to embrace lean continuously. They should continue to set and achieve lean goals for their employees and encourage them to participate in the success.

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Jul 19, 2011

Quality Control Circle

A small group of employees who come together to discuss with the management issues related to either quality control or improvement in production methods form a Quality Control Circle (QCC). These employees usually work in the same areas, and voluntarily meet on a regular basis to identify, analyze and solve their problems.

It is said that 95% of the problems in workshops can be solved through quality control tools. The Japanese have experienced this! The quality control tools useful for QCCs are Pareto Diagrams, Cause-and-Effect Diagrams, Stratification, Check Sheets, Histograms, Scatter Diagrams, Graphs and Control Charts. Also, logical thinking and experience are a must for solving problems.

The benefits of introducing a quality control circle program in the work place are many.

o Heightened quality awareness reveals faults in the system that might obstruct good practices.
o It improves the quality of your firm's products and services, thereby increasing the value of your brand, and securing your customers' confidence. The quality of customer relationship management can be further enhanced by using help desk software from the likes of
o The people who are part of the quality control circle will feel a sense of ownership for the project. Higher yields and lower rejection rates also result in enhanced job satisfaction for workers, which in turn drives them to contribute more.
o A quality control circle program also brings about improved two-way communication between the staff and the management.
o Finally, the financial benefits will certainly exceed the costs of implementing the program. A study revealed that some companies improved their savings ten fold!

Implementation involves the following broad steps:

o Firstly, the management is informed about the quality control circle process that is being planned.
o A committee is formed, and key persons such as a coordinator and in-house coach are selected.
o The scope is defined, and areas of application identified.
o First-line supervisors in the identified areas are given QCC presentations. It is important to make these impressive, and valuable tips on the subject are available at
o This is followed up with extensive training for coordinators and middle management on the process and their roles.
o Employees are invited to become members of a circle, and trained suitably once they sign up. Thus, a circle is formed and begins work. These may give rise to other circles.
o Problems are discussed and solved in a systematic manner in the QCCs. It is very important that solutions are implemented as quickly as possible, to maintain the momentum.

Usually QCC programs must operate in all sections of the company i.e., in the offices, service operations and manufacturing. But remember, while the size of the company is not important to a program's success, the following factors certainly are:

o Voluntary participation.
o Management support.
o Employee empowerment.
o Training programs.
o Team work.
o Problem solving skills.

Generally, a quality control circle program requires the same framework as an ISO 9000 quality standard with regard to the management structure and training. Hence, QCCs should be part and parcel of your company's Total Quality Management (TQM) initiative. For further information on QCCs, you could go through "Cases on Quality Control Circles".

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Jul 14, 2011

TQM As Organizational Change

Moving to TQM is like any other organizational change. It must be managed effectively, and leaders of the change must take into account aspects of the organization's current "culture".

In fact, although TQM brings a number of benefits to those in the organization, you can expect some people to be cynical and resistant to change. Let's face it. Everyone in government has seen management fads come and go.

Thankfully, a well managed TQM organizational change is likely to bring most if not all people on side over time.

Organizational Change Principles
1) Time
Any change (and its attached benefits) will take longer to realize than you expect. Typically, it may take as long as two or three years to have TQM working at its peak.

2 Resistance
Regardless of the objective nature of the change, some (even many) people will resist it because it is unfamiliar. TQM must be introduced so that it maximizes people's enthusiasm and minimizes resistance.

3. Leadership
Any change will succeed or fail based on the ability of the change leaders to lead. People will take their cues about TQM from the management. If management show that they are committed, employees will become so. If management waffles, hedges, and backs off, then employees will see this as just more rhetoric of little importance.

4. Persistence
Nobody is telling you that this process is easy. The worst thing a manager can do is start the process, and when it gets difficult, stop it. That breeds contempt for both the process and the manager. Managers need to commit over the long haul and realize they must be persistent while the rest of the organizations works at "getting it".

5. Consistency
The primary mistake managers make is that they become inconsistent. Perhaps most of the time, their thinking and actions reflect the principles of TQM. However, not all the time. This tells employees that the manager is not serious. As soon as a manager suggests that a poor product or service be delivered, the game is up. Instant lack of credibility.

Consistency also means including employees in the planning of TQM activities, treating employees as the manager's customers, and a number of other things.

People will embrace changes that they see are in their own self-interest. When presenting or deal ing with TQM changes it is important that managers highlight and focus on the benefits to the other people in tt7e organization.

7. Communication
Change will be accepted or rejected based on the effectiveness of the communication about it. Communication must be frequent, of a two-way nature, and balanced (both positives and negatives). It must begin as early as possible in the process.

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Jul 8, 2011

The Reasons of TQM Fails

Yes, Total Quality Management fails. We don't hear too much about those. When it does not bring about improvement in the workplace, it is usually a result of faulty implementation rather than anything intrinsically wrong with the concepts.

Reason #1: Improper Planning
Organizations tend to be so anxious to begin doing "something", that they start off being unclear as to what they are trying to accomplish and how to get there. There is a time to jump to action and a time to insure that the actions are properly planned and considered. Jumping in too early creates chaos, and cynicism as expectations are frustrated.

Reason #2: Management Confusion
Managers need to lead the organization to quality processes. Too often managers have not considered what this means on a day to day level. Many managers will need some coaching on what their roles might be, and how to carry them out, but quite frequently, managers are not prepared for the tasks they face.

Reason #3: Inadequate Support To Managers
So far, there has been a tendency to hire TQM consultants to visit for a half-day or so to start the process. This puts incredible pressure on managers since they have little ongoing access to the expert help they need to make this work. Also, some activities that are part of TQM are best carried out by "outsiders" who bring a different kind of objectivity to the process.

Reason #4: Partial Implementation (Hedging)
Many organizations jump in by implementing only one piece of TQM, usually focussing on the customer, or collecting information from employees. Customer service is only one part of the puzzle, and empowering employees is not likely to bring about change unless other issues are addressed.

Reason #5: Inadequate Marketing
There is considerable cynicism in the public sector these days. Employees have seen management fads come and go without impact. TQM programs that do not communicate the TQM principles, and management intent usually fail. TQM must be explained in ways which show how it will benefit all members of the organization. Then management must lead by example.

Reason #6: Impatience
Any organization change requires perseverance and patience. Management that is not willing to work at it over an extended time will start backing off the principles and become inconsistent in their actions. That destroys their own credibility, and the credibility of organization change in general.

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Jul 7, 2011

Ten Practical Benchmarking Steps with Review Points

Ten practical benchmarking steps and a number of review points (in the form of questions) can help any Lean Six Sigma practitioner involved in measuring of a company's products, services or processes against those recognized as the best in the world.

In a continuous process improvement program, benchmarking is the regular, systematic measuring of an organization's own products, services or processes against those of the recognized best practitioners in the world. The information collected about a company's own processes analyzed in relationship to the best-in-class practices provides insight into the actions the company can take to improve its performance. Indeed, benchmarking analysis can even provide metrics by which an organization can measure its success in adding value to its business and work processes.

Benchmarking is a management tool for process improvement that takes into account an organization's performance measurement. It also is an internal learning and sharing tool that continually improves processes by motivating culture change based on the idea that the company can be among the best in the world.

The Benchmarking Steps
In any benchmarking process, it is essential to follow a systematic and structured approach. It is best if the project is carried forward by trained and dedicated cross-functional teams so that all aspects of the process are properly discussed at all phases and analyzed for any opportunities, and improvement actions can be initiated.

Four phases are involved in a normal benchmarking process - planning, analysis, integration and action. And in the four phases are 10 practical steps that can help any Lean Six Sigma practitioner involved in a benchmarking a process.

1. Planning Phase
Being the initial phase, this is a most important phase. Any mistakes, errors or incompleteness in this phase generally affects the rest of the phases. Sufficient time and attention has to be devoted during the phase to ensure that planning becomes as error-free as possible, and hence makes the rest of the phases more effective and efficient.

Step 1: Identify Opportunities and Prioritize (What to Benchmark) - The involvement of top management in this particular step is crucial. Top management must decide which processes are critical to the success of the company. This should be the top down approach of selecting the projects from the processes. Once a shortlist of processes to be benchmarked is ready, the processes need to be prioritized as per a predetermined set of criteria to fulfill the requirements of all customers, especially the end customer. Customers' ciritcal-to-quality (CTQ) requirements are studied properly to prioritize the processes.

Step 2: Deciding the Benchmarking Organization (Whom to Benchmark) - The next step in the process is to decide the organization whose processes will serve as the benchmark. Obviously some companies, such as direct competitors, will not be available as places to gather certain types of benchmark data. Several organizations should be selected for study. Information on their processes should be gathered from various sources and the most suitable organization selected. It is always important to ensure that more detailed information about the selected organization will be accessible and that comparison with the organization's process will be relevant and useful.

Step 3: Studying the Superior Process - This step is perhaps the most important, most difficult and most time consuming activity in the total process of information collection. Many times the information on processes and procedures followed at another company are confidential, and it is not always easy to gather authentic information, even after making a planned and approved visit at another organization. The preparation for collecting necessary information has to be planned in such a way that either one visit or a proper authentic data collection source can provide all the details, within a reasonable time period.

The following questions can be asked to review the planning phase of a benchmarking effort:

What are the key business processes?
Where exactly are the greatest improvement potentials?
What are the functions where improvements are most essential?
Are all members of the benchmarking project team familiar with the vision, mission, and long-term goals of the organization, as well as its prevailing business environment and the competitive situation?
Have the critical success factors for the organization been identified?
Do all processes require benchmarking, or only the most critical?
Can all or some of the processes be improved without benchmarking?
Have the ways of measuring the process been decided?
Have the owners of the processes to be benchmarked been involved in the project?
Have the processes been prioritized based on the scope of improvement?
Have the set of predetermined criteria for prioritizing the processes been decided in advance, based on the company's success factors and the competitive business environment?
Has a level of benchmarking been decided?
Has the team compiled a list of possible organizations having best-in-class standards to be used for comparison?
Has the information about all possible organizations to compare been collected?
Is the method of collecting information systematic?
Will it be possible to access information about a chosen organization's best-in-class process?
Is the organization's best-in-class process likely to be innovative?
How has it been decided to collect data on the best-in-class process?
How superior are the results of the process of the chosen organization?
To what extent are the practices of the organization with the best-in-class process different?
Are there basic differences in the structure of the process?
How effectively can the process be adapted?
What would be the cost of changing the company's current process and what resistance can be expected?
What are the potential benefits if the process is modified as per the best-in-class process?
2. Analysis Phase
This phase, comprised of two steps, involves the analysis of all the information and data collected in the Planning phase. All the people closest to the process selected for benchmarking should be deeply involved in this phase.

Step 4: Finding Reasons and Devising Improved Processes - The project team should find out the reasons for better results from the benchmarked processes. This has to be done after the information from the best-in-class organization has been collected and analyzed. Based on the analysis, an improved process should be developed.

Step 5: Goal Setting for Improved Processes - The project team's next step is to set goals for the improvement of the company's existing process. These goals can, and probably should, be stretch goals that will result in a process even better than the other organization's best-in-class process.

The review points for this phase are:

Do the project team's members have both analytical skills and creativity and innovation?
Has a gap analysis been done between the performance of the company process and the benchmarked organization's process (look for effectiveness, efficiency and responsiveness)?
Have the performance gaps in the company's process as compared to the benchmarked process been identified and analyzed?
Have the reasons for better performance been brainstormed?
Have the process definition documents for both companies been compared?
After comparing the descriptive process documents, have the flowcharts of the two processes been compared and analyzed?
Have the work processes at benchmarked organization been studied and compared with the company's processes? Have they been observed at the operator level?
Have the impact of the differences in work practices been fully studied?
Does the team have proposals for making changes in the processes?
Has the team been able to develop an improved process?
Have senior management and/or interested parties in the organization been convinced by the project team that the superior benchmarked process should be adapted by the team company?
Has the revised process been tried to ensure the adaptability?
Have the successes of the revised process been documented properly for any horizontal deployment or to replicate it in other processes?
To get senior management's commitment, have the improvements been converted to financial gains?
Has the cost-benefit analysis been conducted on the proposed revision of the process?
Has the team proposed new performance goals, which can be attained with the revised process?
Has senior management confirmed its knowledge and agreement about all of the above?
3. Integration Phase
This phase also comprises two steps. This phase is a connector between the earlier two stages, planning and analysis, and the final phase, action. This phase moves forward only if the results of earlier phases have been accepted by management. This phase also secures the commitment of the management on the recommended action plan. Because acceptance of proposed process revisions by the company is necessary for the success of the project, this phase is obviously important.

Step 6: Communicate Findings and Gain Acceptance - The proposals for the improved processes should be presented to senior management and the head of the departments to gain approval of the proposed changes. Unless total approval and commitment is secured, there will be hindrance in the implementation of the actions plans.

Step 7: Establish New Functional Goals - When the proposed revisions to the processes are accepted, the acceptance of the revised functional goals is the next big logical step.

The questions to be asked in this phase are:

Has it been decided to whom findings are to be communicated?
Have finding been communicated to senior management so that its approval can be obtained for the implementation of the recommendations?
Have finding been shared with all the departments involved in the process so that they understand and accept the proposed changes in the process?
Have all suppliers of the inputs to the process been informed?
Has the impact of revised quality of the output of the process been communicated to the customer?
Have different types of communication for different audiences been decided upon?
Is there an effort to ensure that the communication will be understood properly by all concerned and that it has been accepted by all?
Have the revised process and the proposed performance goals been approved by senior management?
Have sufficient steps been taken to find out the gaps in every department that holds reservations or is concerned about difficulties in implementation?
Have all the issues raised been addressed properly?
Has there been any amendment in the proposed process that has been accepted by all?
Have the performance goals been converted to operational goals which are SMART (specific, measurable, aggressive [yet achievable], relevant, timely)?
Have operational goals been prioritized and the direction been set for implementation?
Has the impact of change on those elements prior to and those subsequent to the process been studied properly?
If there are any changes in the requirements of inputs from prior processes, has proper care been taken to change the process to meet the requirement needs?
Has senior management approved of all the points mentioned above?
4. Action Phase
The last phase in the process has three steps. This phase is where the improvement parts have been taken into consideration. Ultimate benefit to a company from benchmarking is judged by how well this particular phase has been carried out. The last step of this phase, "Keep the Process Continuous," implies this.

Step 8: Develop Action Plan for Implementation - After the improved process is accepted by all concerned or likely to be affected by it, a detailed action plan is drawn with all key activities taken as inputs. The detailed action plan should carry the important things like a time line, individuals responsible for carrying out the tasks, any short-fall in the completion of tasks and what stretch targets are taken to compensate the short-falls. Those responsible should be committed enough to ensure that the tasks and assignments are completed on time.

Step 9: Implement Specific Actions and Monitor Progress - While those who must complete assignments on schedule have a responsibility, so does senior management. They must be committed enough to ensure proper coordination of various activities, monitor the progress of implementation of the plan and work as a barrier-remover in the implementation process. When the revised process is in place, a complete report has to be prepared, showing the benefits of the revised process compared with the expectations at the time of approval of the proposed revision of the process.

Step 10: Keep the Process Continuous - The successful completion of one project can lead to an important milestone for the organization. The next step would be bringing in additional and more ambitious projects and benchmarking with the best approach. While carrying out the total activities, a mechanism or a system has to be built in to review the performance of the improved process periodically to ensure that the benefits are retained. The process has to be a continuous one and should move at a constant speed and should never be neglected.

The review points for this phase are:

Has the team developed an action plan to implement the changes proposed?
Has the team written down the changes required for implementing the new process and work practices?
Has the team arranged the activities in sequence and decided the sequence as per the order of priority based on the importance?
Have the tasks and assignments been made to the right people in the organization?
Have commitments from the team members, their superiors and all who will carry out the assignments been secured?
Are there different teams for implementation and analysis of the changes (people good at analysis are not always good at implementation)?
Has the new process been ensured by updating all directional documents, such as specifications, standard operating procedures and work instructions?
Does everyone know that the improvement is permanent?
Has the team or senior management developed a mechanism to review the competitive positions periodically in the total implementation process?
One of the biggest advantages of benchmarking is the extent of improvements the organization makes by learning from the processes of others. A better and proven process can be adapted, with suitable modifications for company requirements, with less time invested for inventing new methodologies. Benchmarking also uncovers new ways of improving a company's own processes by motivating actions learned from studying and experiencing those organizations with best-in-class processes.

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Jul 6, 2011

Blackbelts – Who and How ?

An important, but not comprehensive, role of a Six Sigma Black Belt is that of technical expert in the area of Six Sigma methods. This expertise allows the Black Belt to understand the link between complex customer needs and the critical internal process elements designed to achieve them.

In the fall of 2000, I participated as a subject matter expert on a panel to develop an industry-wide Body of Knowledge for Six Sigma Black Belts. The panel, commissioned by the American Society for Quality (ASQ), drew upon the collective experience and expertise of leading Six Sigma consultants and trainers.

It is interesting to note the general similarities between the participating organizations’ training topics. There were, however, two sources of disparity with regard to training:

Some topics were not covered for selected Black Belt programs. For example, a handful of training firms provided only a cursory overview of Designed Experiments and Multivariate Analysis for Black Belts in the services industries, on the belief that those tools were less needed in service industries. These same training organizations tended to ignore Lean Thinking as a viable topic for these clients.
There was disparity on the level of comprehension (i.e. the cognitive level) for some topics.
While there is a credible argument that many Six Sigma projects will require use of only a handful of tools, and that a portion of these will require only rudimentary statistical knowledge, Black Belts nonetheless need to learn these skills. Black Belts should be taught to think critically and challenge conventional thought. Six Sigma levels of improvement require what Juran termed “breakthrough thinking.” Successful breakthrough requires rigorous analysis. Black Belts must be taught to accept ideas and opinions as just that, noting their limitations. They need to learn to use analytical tools to examine these ideas and to find sustainable solutions to the problems plaguing the company. This applies equally to manufacturing and service applications. Statistical tools allow Black Belts to prove concepts with minimal data and process manipulation, so that great advances can be made in a short amount of time. Problems that have gone unsolved for years can be attacked and conquered.

While Six Sigma Black Belts are generally given credit for their expertise in analytical, statistical and problem solving techniques, successful Black Belts must be much more than technical experts. The advancement of an organization from a nominal 3.5 Sigma to Six Sigma represents a vast organizational (and cultural) change. As such, Black Belts are primarily Change Agents.

Effective Change Agents are:

Positive Thinkers: Black Belts need to have faith in management and in the direction of the business and its Six Sigma program. They must be upbeat and optimistic about the program success, or they risk undermining management or the Six Sigma initiative. They need to exude self-confidence, without the pitfalls of being overbearing, defensive or self-righteous. Proper Management support and vision allow Black Belts to both believe in and experience their potential as Change Agents.
Risk Takers: Black Belts need to be comfortable as Change Agents. While ineffective Change Agents agonizes over implementing change, effective Change Agents relish it. They enjoy the excitement and the challenge of “making things happen” and “grabbing the bull by the horns”. They know that change is necessary for the company and the customers’ sake; and that change is inevitable, given the competitive market. Only by leading the change can we hope to steer its outcome. The effective Change Agent wants to lead the charge.
Good Communicators: An effective Black Belt needs to be capable of distilling a vast amount of technical material in an easily comprehensible fashion to team members, Sponsors, Champions and management. Many of these personnel will have only minimal training (Green Belt or Champion level) in statistical techniques, if any at all. The Black Belt that can clearly and succinctly describe to the team why, for example, a designed experiment is better than one-factor-at-a-time experimentation will strengthen the team and shorten its project completion time.Of course, being a good communicator is much more than just being capable of distilling technical material. An effective Change Agent must also comprehend and appreciate others’ concerns. These concerns must be responded to in a thorough, respectful and thoughtful manner. Through the use of the Six Sigma statistical techniques, data can be used to predict the merits of various improvement strategies, and address these concerns. The effective Change Agent will enlist those with concerns to participate in these efforts, either as team members or Project Sponsors. Through participation, these employees learn to understand the nature of the problem and the most viable solution. ‘Buy-in’, a necessary part of sustainability, is greatly enhanced through this participation.
Respected by Peers: It is often said that an individual’s position in an organization can be either earned or granted, but that true power must be earned. Effective Change Agents have earned the respect of others in the organization by their hard work and effective communication. Those new to an organization, or who have not gained respect from others, will find it harder to implement changes.
Leaders: Black Belts will often serve as Team Leaders; other times they need to show respect to others (and true leadership) by allowing them to assume leadership roles. First wave Black Belts will also serve as role models and mentors for Green Belts and subsequent waves of Black Belts.
Many of these Change Agent skills are facets of one’s personalities, but they can be supported through awareness training, management policy, and coaching and mentoring by Master Black Belts and Champions. The best Black Belts are those individuals who show a balance between these softer attributes and the technical skills described in the Body of Knowledge. Many firms demand demonstration of these Change Agent attributes, through work history and personal recommendations, as a pre-requisite for consideration of Black Belt candidates. Depending on the business and functional area, a technical college degree may also be required. For example, a BS in Engineering may be required for manufacturing areas, whereas a Business Degree may be required for sales or business development areas.

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Kaizen for Personal Development

In the pursuit of self improvement we can look at many different areas. An area I have been interested in for a few months has been business, particularly the practice of Kaizen.

Kaizen literally means "To become good through change". It comes from the Japanese words "Kai" meaning school and "Zen" meaning wisdom. It has been adapted throughout the world across many businesses and has been used for years. I remember when I worked as a production operator at Hughes Micro-electronics they used the Kanban Kaizen system.

What is Kaizen?

Kaizen was created after World War 2 as a way of continuously improving the work place. Masaaki Imai is considered the father of Kaizen after releasing the book Kaizen: The Key to Japan's Competitive Success. Kaizen is not a case of the management getting together once a month; it involves every employee in a company putting forwards suggestions for improvement. At Japanese companies, such as Toyota and Canon, 60 to 70 suggestions per employee, per year are written down, shared and implemented.

I didn't really get it when I was working at Hughes as I was there for the money and for partying at the weekend. However having looked at it again it is an interesting concept.

Wikipedia has this to say about Kaizen:

"The goals of Kaizen include the elimination of waste (defined as "activities that add cost but do not add value"), just-in-time delivery, production load levelling of amount and types, standardized work, paced moving lines, right-sized equipment, etc. In this aspect it describes something very similar to the assembly line used in mass production. A closer definition of the Japanese usage of Kaizen is "to take it apart and put back together in a better way." What is taken apart is usually a process, system, product, or service.

Kaizen is a daily activity whose purpose goes beyond improvement. It is also a process that, when done correctly, humanizes the workplace, eliminates hard work (both mental and physical), and teaches people how to do rapid experiments using the scientific method and how to learn to see and eliminate waste in business processes."

Kaizen for personal development

I am working with the idea of Kaizen for personal development. I believe it would be good for all areas of life. One of the principle ideas of Kaizen is to change the easiest things first.

Now that I have read about and absorbed the ideas of Kaizen I have started to introduce one area and implement an action plan every 2 weeks. The first one I have implemented is the wasted amount of time spent on the computer.

At the moment I spend 5 -7 hours on the computer per day. I spend around 3 hours working on my own blog and working on the one I manage. So it leaves me about 4 hours spent "surf without thinking" (SWT). It's a case of surfing and reading blogs on areas that interest me but for no other reason than for personal pleasure. I also work and

SWT together, so I might work for half and hour, SWT for half an hour, work another half hour, SWT for 1 hour etc.

So what I have done now is work first, get all the work thing out the way. That would include writing articles, submitting them to article sites, submitting to social bookmarking sites, promoting the blogs etc. I have found doing it this way I work for longer, so instead of working 3 hours I work for 4 hours. Then I spend two glorious hours SWT. What I have noticed so far is the SWT time has become more focused on work. The SWT time has been cut to two hours as well which saves me 1 hour per day to work on other areas of my life.

When I started wiring this article I began looking for other articles on other blogs mentioning Kaizen and I found a few great ones.

Jason Thomas over at has a great one and discusses how he has implemented into his life. has an interesting article written by Jon Minerich

Kaizen in your life

To implement the practice of Kaizen in your life, pick an area which you think might benefit from change. Look at the process closely and ask what changes could you make to make it better or quicker or have less wastage.

I have found you can implement it in every area of life, from doing the housework to spending more time with the children.

It is a slow process so I wouldn't go head long into this. I would look at one area at a time and build it up from there. The frequency at which you implement changes is obviously up to you however I would space it every few weeks or every month.

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Jul 5, 2011


Some failures are more critical than others, and the audit should highlight those critical failures most deserving of attention and scarce resources. Failure Mode, Effects and Criticality Analysis (FMECA) is one way to spotlight critical (or potentially critical) failure opportunities.

FMECA, like Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA), is usually performed during the reliability apportionment phase. Also like FMEA, FMECA consists of considering every possible failure mode and its effect on the product. However, FMECA goes one step beyond FMEA in that it also considers the criticality of the effect and actions which must be taken to compensate for this effect. Typical criticality categories are similar to that grouped under the heading of "defects," e.g., critical (loss of life or product), major (total product failure) and minor (loss of function). Preferably, FMECA will result in a design modified to eliminate unwanted seriously deleterious effects. A contingency plan will be prepared for dealing with those effects that cannot be removed from the design. (Pyzdek, 1996)

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), for example, uses criticality analysis as a way of categorizing non-conformities discovered during the course of both its Process-Product Integrity Audits (PPIA) and Supplier Process-Product Integrity Audits. (See Appendix H for an in-depth look at NASA’s Supplier Process-Product Integrity Audit [SPPIA].) For both PPIAs and SPPIAs, audit findings are categorized by criticality in the following manner:

Category 1—Instances where hardware or work product was produced using incorrect work instructions, specifications or drawings with no subsequent inspection operations or tests. When such instances are identified, immediate steps must be taken to identify the problem and allow the normal material review reporting system to be invoked.

Category 2—Instances where hardware or work product was produced correctly, but the work instructions, drawings or both were incorrect. Correction is required before the next application of the operation.

Category 3—Audit findings that were to be incorporated at the next normal revision. Such findings include better practices (enhancements rather than corrections to the engineering, requirements definition, or work instructions) and changes that require further study.

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Jul 4, 2011

Accuracy Improving SOPs

Discover a simple technique overlooked by most writers of standard operating procedures (SOP) which automatically, as if by magic, turn the average employee into a top practitioner in their job. With this simple accuracy improving device built into tasks you will be sure of the right outcomes, you will train people to be top performers in half the time and your people will be known for great results!

The Accuracy Controlled Enterprise –Quality Made Easy
The removal of defects and failures from business processes is the final frontier for controlling unplanned production stoppages. Seemingly random events that combine to cause a breakdown can now be controlled with a new methodology - ACE.
Definition of Quality
o Quality is short term. It is the degree to which a commodity meets the requirements of the customer at the start of its life. In manufactured products quality comes from its design definition and manufacturing accuracy.
o Quality is design specification driven
o Quality is measured at start of life – percent passing specification
o Quality is observable - the number of rejects from production
The Importance of Quality Systems
o Meet customer satisfaction
o Remove process variation
o Standardise manufacturing approach
o Detect non-conformance – identify defects against standard
o Measure performance to compliance
Why Quality Systems Don‟t Work in Most Operations
o Installed for the wrong reason – To meet ISO 9000 demands from customers
- For marketing purposes
- To satisfy senior management initiative
- Because competitor had one
o Not ingrained into the culture – quality is seen as someone else‟s domain
o No training system to lift people to the necessary level of skills and knowledge
o No quality manager who‟s prime duty is to own the system and make it work
Original system documentation falls out of date and becomes irrelevant
o Not set-up as a self-sustaining system that automatically operates.
o No CEO and Executive Manager involvement
Can Quality Results be met without a „Quality System‟?
o Quality aim is repeatable consistency to design specification
o Design specification is a target
o The target specification is built into the operating procedure
o Variation is controlled by use of tolerance around the target.
o Conformance is achieved by measuring if commodity is within specification
o Quality can be achieved without a „quality system‟
Error-Proofing (Poka Yoke) Operating Procedures
If all work done by operators and maintainers is to the approved standard operating procedures there should be no cause of errors. But most SOPs are written by the wrong people and confuse readers so much that they don‟t know when they are no longer following instructions. Error proofing SOPs is the removal of causes of defects and failures from business processes. It is the new frontier for controlling unplanned production stoppages. Seemingly random events that combine to cause a breakdown need to be controlled with poka yoke methodology.
o „Go – No Go‟ proof testing
The Accuracy Controlled Enterprise System
o „Target, Tolerance, Test‟
Accuracy Control is Easier and Cheaper than Quality Control
o Once in the procedure it becomes a the procedure user‟s responsibility
o Self-sustaining as it is a job requirement
o No longer needs a separate quality manager
o Less involvement from line-managers and supervisors
o Focus becomes system quality improvement not task quality control

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