Top Five Non-Lean Things Gemba Did In 2006

Inspired by the “tag” idea from Mark Graban over at the Lean Blog, from our hansei list here are the top five non-Lean things Gemba did in 2006:
1. Trying to do too many things. How hard is it to walk the talk? Take Hoshin Kanri. Really hard. Wow. Letting new and interesting things distract me / my organization from the “critical few” was really easy. We did not take on projects “one piece flow” style. In 2007 we will focus on three breakthrough areas only. You heard it here first. Ask me “how are you doing with those three areas?” in 2007.
2. Building up inventory. We had a minor hiring spree in the beginning of 2006 to ramp up for some large projects in our “forecast”. Well, forecasts are always wrong (and a signed contract is not money in the bank) so this caused some problems. New strategy in 2007: heijunka for consulting / training work, flexible and cross-trained consultants, and customer service policies supporting heijunka.
3. Off-shoring some of our IT work. We did this for cost reasons, or more because there is a lot we wanted to do (see 1 above) and a limited budget (see 2 above). Quality has not suffered, as many off-shoring operations do, but lead-times certainly did get longer. We are doing more with less (this is Lean) and I’m happy with the decision overall, but paying a higher price for faster service in some cases may have been more Lean.
4. Choosing to “batch” print. We will set up and print 3,000 copies first run rather than go the “on demand” route for printing Taiichi Ohno’s book Workplace Management. We fought that fight, but some economies of scale are alive and well, driving us to make non-Lean short term decisions.
5. Traveling to the ends of the earth. Japan office consultants leading Lean projects in Canada, U.S. office consultants leading Lean projects in China, China consultants all over China (big place)… etc. “How does that work?” You might ask. Not as poorly as you might think, since most of the jet lag hits you when you get back from the trip rather then while on site. It’s not Lean at all but someone’s got to keep the airlines in business.
We do quite a few of the small things very Lean at Gemba, but the big things are still a challenge. The full and complete list of hansei for Gemba in 2006 is long and scary, but we can be grateful that we know what to do when we find a problem.
A Happy New Year to everyone.