Lean Thinking : The Problem of Introducing “Doing Better” for Different People with Different Background

 

Having read the A lean journey blog that gave a quote of the week about “Can We do Better?” “YES”, I get so inspired yet give rise to unresolved questions  that coming up to my mind after I read the article.

Maybe, it is better that the unanswered question be described using a small true story that I experienced.

I have a maid, whose job is to come everyday to my house leaving her husband and two kids to clean my house. She will clean every room in my house from living room, bed room, kitchen, until toilet. I have just getting mad at her because she supposed to also clean my bedroom but it appeared that she just passed my bedroom and not doing the mopping, sweeping, and tidying that she is responsible for.

I thought maybe she just have a rough day to get over so I just neglect it. But the next day, the same thing happened again and I confront and ask her for a confirmation. unexpectedly, she is the one who is getting irritated with me because she felt that I accused her for not doing her job while she actually did clean my room. While calming myself from her reaction, I followed up with a probing questions and found out that she in fact thought that the cleaning job that she had done was fabulous according to her.

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That night, I went into reflection and thinking deeply about how that could happened. I learn and passionately searching about Lean that basically doing things better or Kaizen about continuous improvement, but in my own backyard, in my house, I got a person working in my house who is my maid that basically have a different standards compare to me about the definition of  “a clean room”. For her, since she lives in a village, she define “a clean room”.is that room that I call dirty because I live in a city. Thus, we have a different standards about “a clean room”.

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The rising questions is how she could do better at cleaning my room while according her standards she has already done a wonderful job. How to make her realize that what she did actually is below my standards and that she could do better willingly and improve her performance and quality.

This is somehow related with quality perceived by customers. In my country, quality is not the main concern because people is still buying products even not a high quality. They bought it because their standards is rather low, so that when the products that being produced in my country want to be exported, then the gap about standards become a barrier for my country’s products to sell. On the other side, people on my country has no pressure or willingness to do better in production because they still think that it sells well. The labor is not trying to improve the process because without improving it, it still sells even just for local market. Their standards become inertia for their self to reach the next level of doing better and to continuously improvement.

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The question is “How?”. How to make them realize that the standards that they are living in is not fitted anymore and needed to be improve and in fact could be improve if they realize that they need a new standard.

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Kaizen : Through the Lens of Sociological Perspective

Kaizen is all about making a continuous improvement. At a glance, it seems the definition could really easy to catch and understandable. Lean and Quality is apart of Kaizen and both can be sustain if the culture of Kaizen is inside the organization. In plain words, whether it is for a person, a group of people, an organization, or a global company, achieving high quality with low cost, increasing delivery capability ( response and speed ),  and gaining the right level of flexibility ( in terms of variety and volume ) together with an increase of productivity, Kaizen is the answer. It is the root that could make Lean and Quality living in the system.

In this post, I would like to point out that understanding Kaizen philosophy will help us to get started with Lean and/or Quality. However, as experts have warned us against all the too much simplification of Lean and/or Quality, the danger of viewing Lean and/or Quality by neglecting people’s interest and dynamic can lead to catastrophic result. We, both beginners or experts tend sometimes to focus on technical stuff. In Lean Management, this disease is called concentrating only to the methods and not the philosophy. In Quality, this is called the disease of dealing with quality as a product/engineered product quality only and not dealing with the whole quality as perceive by the customer.

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This tells us that in Lean as well as in Quality, the involvement of Human side adds value to the success of it’s movement. Practitioners in Lean have clearly stressed out that culture of providing customers with value by means of eliminating waste has to be begin by a cultural change. On the other side in Quality movement, it is also have been said that Quality engineering is not a complete Quality, and the Culture of Quality First for customers come with the involvement of workers. Both have point out the importance of workers and not just methods or tools or engineering calculation. Thus, it is safe to say that Kaizen needs to take care both Social and Technical perspective for it to success. Both methods and human is technical and social that forms  a sociotechnical systems which refers to the interrelatedness of social and technical aspects of an organization. Thus, in my opinion it is important to think in terms of sociotechnical systems when we want to move forward with Lean and/or Quality.

Kaizen Story : A Commuter Life in Foreign Country

Being a student in a foreign country leaves me with little choice when it comes to transportation. I studied not too far from Bremen, Germany and have an experience of travelling by carrying bicycle with bus or train. I always feel like bicycle in a train or a bus could draw attention  of passengers especially on the busy hours. The regular bicycle that we carry into train or bus will attract the attention of others due to the space that it will consume that can actually be the space for them.

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In addition, trying to comply with the rules regulated by the local government, a bicycle on the buss or train is subject to a certain price to travel along with us. I think this is because of the reason for space that I mentioned. However, as a student in a foreign country, bicycle is my primary mode of travel. I use bicycle to go to campus, shopping, travel to other cities on the weekend, go to friends house, etc. Basically, for most of them, there will be a combination of riding a bicycle and carrying a bicycle on the train or bus

 

Thinking about saving time and money, I determined to do continuous improvement on myself by investing in a folding bicycle which will leave me free of charge of expenses on train or bus when carrying folding bicycle. I can also stripping away the complexities of urban life faster than before. It offers a healthy and cost effective method of commuting plus the advantage of multi-mode travel versus conventional bikes.

 

 

I think it is not exaggerating that folding bicycles is the most appropriate solution for nowadays busy urban life. I bought Dahon Mu P8 after considering and weighting the effect of changing bicycle from conventional into folding bike. Additionally, Dahon Mu P8 is a really good folding bicycle which comfortable, light and stylish to ride.

Advantages of Folding Bikes
  • Foldable bikes offer flexibility and ease of commuting via train/bus and bike as they can be carried free on public transport.
  • They are virtually thief-proof, a huge advantage in major cities  where bike theft is commonplace.
  • Folders, as they are lovingly called by their owners, fit effortlessly into cramped spaces so are ideal for apartment owners.
  • Used as a commuter bike, they offer a healthy, green method of transport and potential cost savings versus a car when used with public transport for longer journeys.
  • Folding bikes are great as training bikes for cyclists travelling abroad and are super easy to pack as they simply fold into a travel bag.
  • They have a high resale value so are a good investment.
  • Buying a folding bike is pretty straightforward as they generally only come in one size with other parts such as the seat post offering different “sizes” for individual riders.

Read more at Suite101: Why Ride a Folding Bike?: Pros and Cons of Buying a Foldable Bicycle | Suite101.com http://suite101.com/article/why-ride-a-folding-bike-a100289#ixzz24uhr90qR

Folding Bikes that I have…

5 Steps to Personal Kaizen

Kaizen consists of the word Kai which means “change/make better” and Zen which means “good”. But when we put together the words into Kaizen, it expresses a deep meaning of continuous improvement or improving continuously that when applied to our daily life would have developed an increase of our productivity as well as quality of our daily result.

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The secret of boosting our quality and productivity lies in the way Deming’s Circle or Continuous Improvement Circle is implemented in our daily life. Great companies have gained favor from using this philosophy and in this post, you will gain advantage by applying the concept of  Continuous Improvement Circle in your daily life.

Continuous Improvement Circle

Continuous Improvement Circle consists of the Circle of PDCA ( Plan – Do – Check – Act ). Here, the 5 key steps to your personal kaizen are uncovered:

1. Plan Your Activities

To begin with doing a Personal Kaizen in our daily life, planning activities is a very important step. In many Time Management concept, planning your activities has been the most crucial concept. One should try to plan yearly, monthly, weekly and daily. Yearly and monthly planning will comprise the most important events of the year and/or month, whereas weekly and daily planning will deal most of the time with operational issues and projects that we undergo at works or at home.

Thus, it is important to set at least 15 minutes everyday before you sleep to get to know your next day activities so that you can make sure that the following day will be filled with the activities that are actually meaningful not only for your boss or family but also to you.

2. Set Apart Things That You Do Regularly

Getting all the activities is just your first step to enter your personal kaizen circle. having acknowledged your activities, now you can separate those activities that happen most of the time either daily, weekly, monthly or yearly and those activities that are sporadically or spontaneously appear in your calendar.

Kaizen is continuous improvement. Thus the activities that appear regularly will subject to your Personal Kaizen. Setting apart these activities from others will make you focus on doing it effectively with more quality.

3. Create A Way to Make It Better and Standardize

The focus of Personal Kaizen is on small continuous improvement of life processes. Thus, after we know the activities that we do regularly, it is now time for us to seek for a way to do it more efficiently with the help of either doing it differently by using another methods or using technologies to enhance the time to finish the activities.

It is also important to set target for yourself to try to reach 3 activities accomplishment that is not regularly done and try to get it done everyday. This is for the purpose of evaluating your kaizen effort that will be explain in step 5 later.

4. Standardize

The Continuous Improvement Circle cannot be separated from Standardization in which it means that the improvement that we have done will be our current standard and will become a challenge for us to improve to a new and better state. In the future, our challenge is to beat the current standard that we set so that we progressively making improvement to the same activities that we do. Without standard, it is very easy to feel satisfy and perform below standard.

5. Evaluate yourself and back again to point 1 

Evaluating is an ultimate importance and since it is a circle of improvement, I will not call step 5 as the last step, but a precursor to step 1. Your effort now might have been paid off. You can prove if you have done the right and on the right track doing your Personal Kaizen by meeting one or more of these:

  • There are more activities that you can tackle in one day compare to before you apply personal kaizen
  • You become last stressful due to available slot time you have in your day for family, leisure, or your kids
  • You basically feel that you own your life and not your boss or your tasks

How we could increase the number of accomplishment of irregular and regular tasks everyday directly related with how good we are at kaizen. The better kaizen that we do to our regular tasks, the more we can tackle unpredictable tasks with the better quality result and with more freedom of time to do personal purpose activity such as leisure or go out with kids.

One final concern is that even you have already achieved and know the benefits of personal kaizen, I encourage you to do a circle of continuous improvement and not to stop only until step 5 or else the improvement that you have already done will be deteriorate.

Living in Lean Culture: Seeing is Believing

I have remembered how I have been amazed by a discovery in my own country Indonesia. I have gone so long to my reflective side of me after I have witnessed things that I couldn’t imagine to be exist in my country. Considering about the status of my country which categorized as a developing countries and the experience that I have on visiting several factories, I have been startled by a visitation to a factory in which the culture of Lean is very apparent.

In April 2011, I accompanied colleague students of my University to have a field trip to the automotive manufacturer plant which handle the assembly of medium and low trucks. I have had an experience for six months of internship in a quite famous automotive manufacturer overseas in Germany. Therefore, I presumed that the plant that we were going to visit was not possible to have a better management and/or technology than in Germany.

By the time we got there, I verify my assumption with the fact. It turns out at the first sight this plant which located in my country have nothing extra worth to be noted as better when compared to the technology with what the Germans have. It was a very conventional plant. At the site, we gathered together to a short briefing and quickly we were divided into several group and being arranged into route of travel around factory.

We make a start to the first process and go until the latest process in the plant. The tour guide which happens to be the supervisor and a foreman assisting us and generously share their experience about the working procedure, process, and experience. The workers in some areas are very kindly and proudly explaining the things that they are responsible of. I was astonished after we have come to an end. It was amazing to be there that  day and I felt very fortunate to be there.

I saw that  lean management in the factory that actually work. In that moment I totally changed my paradigm when I see with my own eyes that there is a factory runs smoothly by using no automation and high-tech and rely on the management of lean. They are many of lean concept use to manage the system. By concept I didn’t mean just methodology, but people actions and the the artifact of boards that daily updated, and the acknowledgement of suggestion of workers for all factory members. Besides of the Japanese auditor from Japan that always came to the factory to maintain the performance, many interesting facts have surprised me.

Previously I am very disappointed with labor from my country. It is because in my view, labor in my country is lazy and unproductive. However, what I saw that day at the factory could really make me realize the power of Lean. Lean could changed people behavior and culture to the desired one. I felt really happy to be there.

Scientific Management: The Roots of Lean and Quality

 

The scientific revolution that happened roughly 1600 to 1690 has changed our world. Additionally the following blast by the industrial revolution also push further the significant changed in the way we live our lives.

From the perspective of Industry, the biggest change for workers from craftsmanship era to the industrial revolution was the breaking up of work into tasks that were then ordered into an assembly line. The way the tasks is divided among the workers was very detail. However, the method of doing the tasks was not. This was discovered by Frederick Winslow Taylor by the principles of scientific management with the output of his publication of  “The Principles of Scientific Management” in 1911.

In the past the man has been first; in the future the system must be first.
—Frederick Winslow Taylor, Scientific Management, 1911.

He was the first to discover the principle that working smarter—applying scientific principles to improve the quality of tools and work processes— improves productivity, efficiency and quality. This later become different stream of Quality Management and Lean Management. However, as they both came from the same roots, he is known as the Father of Scientific Management.

Here are presented two videos showing the works of Taylor and his contribution to the advancement of the world of Lean and Quality Management.

 

4 Quick and Cheapest Ways to Effectively Learn about Kaizen

For some of us, Kaizen is not uncommon word. Some even live their day to day life by either promoting Kaizen all over the world or  living in the culture of Kaizen in their working company. In spite of this, many of us still have doubts due to confusion when being asked about the meaning of Kaizen and how they applied Kaizen to their job or personal life. Although some people know that Kaizen is a word that come from Japanese with the meaning of Continuous Improvement, they still questioning themselves about their correct understanding of Kaizen.

I have tried to bring a basic understanding of what really is the meaning of Kaizen by presenting in my other post about the Father of Kaizen himself delivering his point of view regarding the fundamental meaning of Kaizen. Additionally, in this post, 4 Quickest Ways for us to effectively learn about Kaizen will be given to enhance our understanding of where to go or what to do when we want to go about deepening the practical knowledge about Kaizen in our life.

1. Movies or Videos

The internet can be our friend and enemy, it can lead us to unproductive works that lead to procrastination or make us more productive by supporting us toward achieving our goals. In the internet, a website that I found most helpful to introduce us to the concept of Kaizen, history and application of Kaizen is YouTube. It can provide a quick overview into the main topic of Kaizen without really have to go through the hassle of going into detail.

2. Amazon

Sometimes people regards reading as a cumbersome ways of learning because of the flow of writing in books which typically more often do not directly go to the main points, but rather go around the introduction and story telling which bore people. But I cannot deny that the positives are more than negatives when it is coming to learning Kaizen through reading books. Kaizen is a philosophy that can be understand only by doing it or by learning from someone who has already doing it. Thus, the best way to learn from those who already began their Kaizen journey is for you to grab a book or just click in Amazon and read the story about the challenge  people try to implementing it and the great benefits of living in it.

3. Online Seminar

Website such as Lean.org has been for decades trying to promote Lean which is also a form of Continuous Improvement to the world. Yes, for some of the Seminars we will need to take some money out of our pocket, but many good recording from online seminars as well as slideshow from the seminar are just there waiting for the interested people to take a shot and download them. This source is very good because Seminars are usually held for them who need to solve a problem in a particular areas of Kaizen. Therefore, the more people interested in attending the seminar in one topic, the more chances that the seminar will be held with that topic. And once the seminar is held, we can know what topic became the concern of Industry about Kaizen.

4. Apply it!!

To be successful people have to think big and start small. This is true and proven to works in all aspects of our life from learning to swim, riding bike, counting, until going to outer space. Understanding Kaizen could not be better learn by practicing it. It is hard to actually implement Kaizen in our office if there is no employees actually aware of it. But, one can always began from themselves. Personal Kaizen is a good start to learn about Kaizen. Simply begin your day with Deming Cycle of Plan-Do-Check-Act so that you could improve and deepen the value of Kaizen in our life.