Over the past week we have been chipping away at some office kaizen at the Gemba Research office near Seattle. The major activities so far have included a layout change, some 5S and other small improvements. In the 6 years that we have been in this space we have rearranged the layout 10 times. This was our 11th layout kaizen. The picture above shows the before (left) and after (right) kaizen layout.
The moves of the desks (yellow boxes), and bookshelves (dotted line rectangles) were completed in minutes or seconds each, quick changeover-style, thanks to their mobile design. We built all of our furniture with the exception of the black rectangle (desk) and filing cabinets from pipe and joint material. Everything (with the exception of the black desk) is on wheels, easy to move by hand.
The space is about 16 feet by 32 feet. We moved the furniture into the lower half of the layout in order to consolidate and create open space. One storage unit (red box on layout above) was made redundant. Moving the book shelf from the middle of the office to the top of the layout diagram allowed us to store books on both sides, library stack-style, making better use of the depth of the shelf. The book shelf on the top right now has free space and is currently being used as a red tag item area. In the future this book shelf may become redundant or house other useful items.
We freed up about 30% of the space and created a nice open area. The photo below shows it filled with plastic bins and boxes but this because we moved them temporarily in from storage to this area so we can sort through them. Ideas for the future use of this space include a wall-to-wall white board, ping pong table, or the future home of the Seattle Lean Salon (anyone?).
The extra bookshelf space, and the good excuse to do some 5S has given us a chance to go through boxes in storage from 4-5 years ago. Much paper has been put in the recycling, and eight plastic bins have been made available for record storage. Our four filing cabinets are stuffed full, so these bins will come in handy as we target them for the next round of 5S activity.
As a bonus, we found some old reference materials and documents that were in storage and had been forgotten. I will share interesting bits from this in the weeks to come. For a taste, here are some scribbled notes from James Womack’s day-long keynote speech in Seattle in 2004 (or maybe 2005) during the Kent Chamber of Commerce lean manufacturing seminar.
James Womack quoting Taiichi Ohno on lean, “No one ever does this stuff unless they are desperate.”
Toyota operates on, “Brilliant, bullet-proof procedures everyone understands.”
“Honda runs on adrenaline. Toyota runs on cold processes.”
Quoting the late Mr. Iwata, student of Ohno and to the murmur of the 100+ Boeing employees in the audience, “Toyota could build the 747 with half of the resources.”
“FedEx knows exactly where they lost my package. They’re spending billions to know where it screwed up. The lean guy wants to know why it gets lost.”
“Heijunka is Dolby for processing.” Meaning a choppy signal is made smooth.
Value stream mapping helps you see, “Cost per ker-chunk versus total cost, which is what the customer cares about.” James Womack went on to explain that the lowest fill cost of a bottle can result in a large warehouse, and described companies that build right-sized equipment.
Toyota gets “Brilliant results from average people managing brilliant processes.” And went on to clarify that there are brilliant people also at Toyota, and gave the example of the 40-person Operations Consulting Division who tackled tough problems and helped create brilliant processes.
During a gemba walk, “Become a part and ask ‘What happens to me? Why? Where’s the value?'”
“Be junkyard dogs for standard work and standard daily management.”
James Womack said we needed to change our thinking from, “Make the quarter to make the day to make takt time.”
According to my notes the day covered lean accounting, policy deployment, value stream mapping at various levels, the role of the manager, the role of the CEO in addition to all of the gems above. Going through old files has never been so rewarding.
More work remains to be done. Kaizen never ends. Here are some of the problems I saw as a result of this latest office layout kaizen at Gemba.
- The black desk is not easily moved. It is not on wheels. It is an off-the-shelf unit which we did not build but purchased. We will either find a way to attach wheels or move it out.
- The desks and bookshelves are becoming loose. The bolts need periodic tightening. On my action list is to post a basic TPM routine for this.
- On starting up one of the computers I learned that it is extremely slow and nobody could remember when it had last been defragmented. This will also be included on the TPM plan.
- Using tie wraps to bundle loose cables together creates waste. A scissors is needed to cut them when a layout change is needed, the tie wrap once cut becomes trash, and there was a near-miss with the scissors almost severing a cable. The countermeasure is to convert all tie wraps to velcro strips.