Who’s Winning?

I recently had the pleasure of having lunch with Rick Foreman. Rick frequently comments on this blog and many others.

Rick is also extremely passionate about lean… he’s the sort of fellow that gets you all pumped up and ready to make things better after a few minutes of conversation!

Anyhow, during our lunch conversation Rick shared some examples of how he goes about making lean “real” to the people he works with.

In other words, instead of blabbering away like he’s reading a text book he works hard to find ways to relate lean to things folks are familiar with.

Meeting Resistance

The example he shared with me was related to visual management. Specifically, Rick was discussing the importance of the production board where things such as plan versus actual output are documented.

As he explained it, initially, the operators weren’t thrilled with the idea of writing down what they produced on a daily basis. They didn’t see the point.

But rather than pummel them with lean philosophy and words they’d never heard before Rick went back to his desk, thought about the situation, and then got an idea.

Who’s Winning?

His idea was to find an image of a basketball scoreboard as shown above. After printing this image out Rick went back to the gemba, or the place the work is done, and showed the same operator the picture.

Rick then asked the person a simple question, “Who’s winning the game – the home team or the visiting team?” The operator gave him a funny look and replied the home team was winning.

Rick asked the operator if he was sure. The operator insisted the home team was winning.

Rick asked, “How do you know?”

The operator replied, “Because it clearly says they are winning 113 to 99 on the scoreboard.”

Rick then asked the operator how important it is for basketball teams to know the score. The operator replied, “Very important as it will dictate the strategy used during the game.”

Are We Winning?

Rick then asked the operator, “Are we (their company) winning or losing?”

The operator grinned and finally began to see Rick’s point of why keeping track of plan versus actual is so very important.

The thing about this story that truly inspires me is how Rick works so hard to reach his co-workers on a personal level rather than pummeling them as if he were some outsider with no interest in them or the company.

Well done, Rick. Well done.

What do you think?

What do you think of Rick’s approach? Do you do something similar?

7 Comments

  1. Erin Dodge

    September 2, 2010 - 9:07 am

    What perfect timing. I have really been struggling with the change side of our Lean Six Sigma program. In hindsight, I feel like I am probably too academic in my approach. Thanks for sharing this story. I needed it.

  2. Jeremy Garner

    September 3, 2010 - 7:05 am

    Wow! I like that.

  3. Wilson

    September 3, 2010 - 7:28 am

    Really a nice example.!!! Simplest and faster to apply and show how it is important take care about the hourly production.

  4. Krunal

    September 3, 2010 - 9:39 pm

    Excellent, its like when lean runs in your blood, it comes out naturally the lean way…one similar example from my past job. I was managing the callcenter quality for telecom giant. I used to give more importance to the visual display when the quality score for more than 2000 agents was to be communicated and mainly the top performars was to be appreciated. for this, we started shortlisting the top 10 on daily basis, we got their face pictures clicked, and those face pics were stuck on the charts, sometimes on horse racing background and that way we started appreciating the agents. You wont believe, the enthu level went so high, that the agents were literally pushing their abilities to come on that chart. ofcourse the top 3 performers were given gifts which kept the fire on.

  5. Pradeesh

    September 3, 2010 - 9:52 pm

    Great story! The company Mr Rick works at is very luck to have him.

  6. Art S

    September 16, 2010 - 2:25 pm

    The simplest ideas make the biggest impact. If I was a manager, which I am not, I would recommend my employees subscribe to LSS and read at their leisure, the interchange that is possible in the work place. I am waiting for the interactive lean sigma on my desktop. Enter a keyword and I can find a brain teasing solution…