Lean Manufacturing

One-point Lesson: One-point Lesson

By Jon Miller Updated on February 6th, 2019

Sometimes we are so busy that we think we don’t make time to develop the people around us. Instead we fight fires or give direct instructions. This might be effective in the short-term but inevitably small problems are missed. The greatest cost is being unable to teach others how to solve and prevent the problems that we are encountering.

A simple countermeasure to this is the focused education and development method known as the one-point lesson. Originating as part of TPM (Total Productive Maintenance), the one-point lesson is intended to develop the knowledge and skills of the machine operators in Autonomous Maintenance. The basics of Autonomous Maintenance are daily checking and lubricating of machines. With increased knowledge and familiarity of their equipment the machine operators can detect abnormalities and early signs of failure. This leads naturally to problem solving skill development in collaboration with maintenance and engineering staff.

The benefit to the teacher (typically maintenance people in the case of TPM) is that over time less of their time is spent on breakdown or reactive maintenance. As a result the professional maintenance staff can learn more about and devote more time to proactive maintenance such as renewing and restoring equipment to original conditions, improving and correcting design flaws, and enhancing technical skills. Although these examples are from manufacturing equipment maintenance we can apply the same thinking to service industries or even work that does not involve equipment at all.

The one point lesson should communicate one main idea effectively five to ten minutes. Hand-written one-point lessons are just fine and we should follow the 80-20 rule and use 80% pictures and 20% words (or less). An effective one-point lesson should answer many if not all of the 5W1H questions such as:

  • What is it?
  • Why is it important?
  • What does it do?
  • Where do we need to check?
  • Who is responsible for this check?
  • How do we check it?
  • How often?
  • Etc.

There are three typical categories of one-point lessons:

  1. Basic equipment functions
  2. Improvement examples
  3. Actual problems or abnormalities

In each case the purpose is communication and knowledge sharing. he one-point lesson can be used across a very wide range of processes and work environments. Some of the most effective one-point lessons are on whiteboards or posters in the office explaining to everyone how to clear a paper jam in a copier or even basic functions of word processing. This is my one point lesson on one point lessons in this particularly busy time. Where can you use the one-point lesson to make you and those around you more effective?

  1. Cyrus Karanja

    June 27, 2009 - 2:08 am

    Like this format especially the inclusion of a training record at the bottom. Our practice has been to make OPLs, display them on boards and hope that guys on the shopfloor shall take the initiative to imbibe the lessons.
    Cyrus Karanja,
    Process improvement Leader,
    Nampak (K)Limited,
    Thika, Kenya.

  2. sudhir

    May 17, 2010 - 2:28 am

    your format of opl is very good.

  3. gregg spender

    December 2, 2011 - 2:38 pm

    i like to think of one point lessons also as a tool to review and standardise knowledge.When our team signs the Training Record at the bottom we are agreeing to follow the message we have just recieved. If we disagree with the information then we can raise it at the time and as a group review and modify the knowledge and the OPL. But we know once we have signed we have made an agreement we need to honour.

  4. murali.r

    December 17, 2011 - 8:18 am

    One point lesson is simple and its clearly shows through sketch and easily to understand.
    One shot undersatnding

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