On this particular day old Joe comes popping out of his cubicle in his Dockers and white polo shirt holding a clip board and stop watch.
Joe then rolls out to the shop floor and spots his victim – a young lady about 22 years old named Sherry.
Sherry is a nice girl trying to do the best she can. She received a whopping 20 minutes training and was set on her way assembling product.
Blood Pressure Rises
The next thing poor Sherry knows old Joe is in front of her fondling his stop watch. He explains he is collecting data for a value stream mapping exercise.
Sherry has no clue what value stream mapping is and can’t take her eyes and mind off Joe’s stop watch. She’s also getting a little freaked out the way he keeps fondling it and smiling (his stop watch).
Joe goes on to explain, “Just work as if I’m not here. I am not timing you… I am timing the process.” Sherry isn’t buying it. She is a shy girl and is now so nervous her hands won’t stop shaking. Sherry is in great shape but begins a nervous sweat down the small of her back.
The next thing she knows Joe yells “START!” She does her best to assemble the product. Once she completes it Joe slams his finger down on the stop watch and quickly writes something down on his piece of paper.
This cycle goes on for what seems like eternity. While Sherry eventually settles down she never performs her job as well as she can. She is just too nervous and anxious.
Finally, Joe collects all the data he needs. He quickly thanks Sherry and rolls back into the land of cubicles. Sherry still has no clue what the data is for and wonders if she did good or bad?
Nonetheless, Sherry breathes and sigh of relief and quickly settles right back into her normal groove (if only he could time me now, she thinks).
While I may be over dramatizing this (maybe not) I’ve been Joe before. Well… I never fondled my stop watch! But I’ve stood in front of many people with stop watch and clip board in hand. And I’m sure I’ve been the cause of lots of high blood pressure along the way.
Then I learned a trick.
Instead of pummeling people with a stop watch I simply went out and over explained what I was doing and why I needed to collect some cycle times.
Then, with their permission, and their manager’s permission, I set up a video camera and let it roll for a few hours. I explained that I didn’t want to make them nervous standing over them with a stop watch and that I’d like their help collecting the data once the video taping was done.
Sure, people are still a little nervous for the first few minutes. But after 10 minutes or so they normally forget all about the camera and begin to work normally.
Once we have all the footage we need I ask them to watch it with me. We collect cycle times (turning the little timer on makes this a breeze) and also talk about how we could improve the process. Most operators really appreciate this once they realize you are there to help them do their job better.
And once you get the operator’s to this point the battle is nearly won. Not only will they let you tape them again and again they will start to think as they work. They’ll think about their every move and how they could possibly do things better.
And while thinking is really good… the best part of this new process is people like Joe will stop freaking people out with all their freaky stop watch fondling.
What about you? Have you had any luck using video cameras? What about stop watches? No fondling I trust?
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