It’s about the right hand
Research shows that most people are right handed. I have heard that as many as 85% to 90% are right handed. Why does this matter you might wonder?
Well, when you think about what happens in a cell we know that first we must pick the product up. Since we have to “aim” so to speak to pick it up we tend to want to use our dominate hand.
Further, once we have “added value” to the product we are ready to simply pass it on to the downstream process. There is not much “aiming” involved with simply placing something down.
So, with this known we can see why having things flow counter clockwise or “left hand inside” makes sense when most people are right handed. We pick up with our right hand (when we need to aim) then put it down with our left (when no aim is needed).
It’s about the horses
While the right hand dominate aspect may be the most common reason for flowing counter clockwise there is another reason that is quite amazing. Have you ever seen a horse race held where the horses ran clockwise? Probably not. In every horse race I have seen the horses run counter clockwise.
The same thing applies for track athletes and race cars. They also move around the track in a counter clockwise manner. You may not have ever given this much thought but there is actually quite a bit of “brain science” behind this. I must give credit to my friend Jon Miller for first explaining this to me. Well, he explained it to a lot of people in this post some time ago. He wrote:
One of the strongest reasons given for the innate “left hand inside” preference for human motion comes from brain science. According to a Professor Matsumoto, since the right brain processes spatial recognition human perception of space is stronger through the left side of vision (the hemispheres of the brain control opposite sides of the body).
When you are running “left hand inside” or counterclockwise, you have better visibility of space on the left side and you are able to run more comfortably, confidently, and quickly.
Here is a little test for you. If you don’t believe this brain science stuff head to the closest track and run a lap headed clockwise and time yourself. Then, take a rest and run another lap counterclockwise and time yourself. Chances are very good that your counter clockwise time will be several seconds faster than your clockwise time.
Of course you should do this a few times to make sure. In addition to learning about lean you will be doing some great exercising… which is lean as well I guess. Yeah, I know, that was a really bad joke.
My cell flows clockwise… am I evil?
So, what to do if your cell or cells flow clockwise? Does this mean you are not lean? Of course not. In fact, I recently talked to some folks who initially designed a cell to flow counter clockwise but after piloting it the operators complained and offered some reasons why they preferred to flow clockwise which the engineers took into consideration and made the changes.
So, take this article with a grain of salt and be sure to test whatever solution you implement. In the end, the folks working on the line need to be comfortable with whatever you come up with.
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