Lean Thinker Challenge #5

By Ron Pereira Updated on May 7th, 2014

no cameraWelcome to another edition of the Lean Thinker Challenge!

The Situation

Your company has been on the lean journey for a little over a year… things have gone well and while there’s been some resistance to change most associates have quickly come on board.

One of the key strategic objectives of your organization is to increase productivity.

And, as it turns out, it’s become obvious that the changeover time of CNC #454 needs to improve.  Your data shows that changeovers on this machine range from 45 to 56 minutes.

You, and your cross functional team, hope to cut this time in half after the upcoming SMED Kaizen Event.

The Challenge

Prior to the event, your team hopes to video tape several changeovers happening.  You have the equipment needed as well as as plan of how to capture the best video possible.

But, alas, there’s one problem.

The main operator, George, isn’t down with the whole idea of being video taped.  In fact, George isn’t thrilled with the event at all even though he’s been asked to be on the team.

What should you do?

  1. Nitin

    May 5, 2014 - 7:37 am

    We need to talk to George to understand his concern on Video taping. And we need to address his concern. Does he believe that we cannot achieve the target? or Does he believe he is not being valued inspite of being the most knowledgeable and skilled in this field? Unless we have him on board, we might miss the objective. One of the options could be to redesign the program if George has some valuable inputs to achieve the objective.

  2. Jason Stokes

    May 5, 2014 - 9:15 am

    Connect with George personally. Is he working scads of overtime? Is he stressed / frustrated? does he not want to be videotaped because he doesn’t want to look “stupid?”

    Have we ever engaged George in the process? I’d look at speaking with him to see if we even need to videotape at this point. Maybe we can make process improvements just by listening to George and the things he hassles with every day.

    Bottom line, George is the key. Go talk to him about his concerns and thoughts on the overall process first.

  3. Eoin

    May 5, 2014 - 2:41 pm

    If George does not have a valid concern and that is understood and if one is in the position to do so; it needs to be made clear that improving is a condition of employment. Deciding on improvements is not up to a whim of one individual. And it needs to be clear that if anyone stands in the way of it without a valid concern will be pushed aside.

  4. Wilson

    May 5, 2014 - 3:10 pm

    Sres, lamento escribir en español, pero creo que será mejor que que lo haga en inglés. El tema con George es muy válido bajo su punto de vista. El lo ha hecho siempre así y ahora vienen con que se puede hacer mejor y más rápido, entonces el piensa que lo que ha hecho hasta ahora no sirve y que si hubiera una forma de hacerlo más rápido el ya lo hubiera hecho. Totalmente valido.
    Como es una planta que ya ha recorrido un año de trabajo, debo suponer que ya hubo resultados positivos en otras áreas.
    Entonces una forma de encarar a George es decirle que el video no es para controlarlo a el y que el estudio de SMED será llevado a cabo por el mimso una vez que concluya la filamción. Es el quien debe hacerse cargo de la situación con ayuda del equipo multifuncional. Lean is about people and they must be involved.

  5. Davey Cal

    May 6, 2014 - 1:52 am

    We need to manage this important stakeholder. We need to understand his reluctance and whilst understanding his viewpoint encourage and develop a more positive mindset. Stakeholder management ios key in any improvement process.

  6. KDM

    May 6, 2014 - 6:15 am

    I agree with all the points above, especially noting Eoin’s. After speaking with George to understand his concern, I believe the next step is dependent upon where the company/site/area is on its journey. It would be so simple to say that we hand George the camera and let him do the videotaping, thus winning him over. I dream of days that are just that easy.

  7. Ron Pereira

    May 7, 2014 - 3:30 pm

    Thanks for all the comments! Really good stuff… keep them coming folks!

  8. John Weber

    May 8, 2014 - 3:18 pm

    Always have a plan A, B & C so the team can move forward and set good examples while positive culture change is taking root. You said the main operator is George. What if you informed George that we really want him on the team and to be in the video but the team also has plan B if he is uncomfortable at this time. Explain that the team can use the secondary operator in his place? Wait for his decision and then let him explain how he feels about that and how can we make it work for him. By giving George a choice he may agree to participate the next event. This is a positive way to change the culture that you want to show respect for people which can reap the greatest rewards in the long term.

  9. William A. Levinson

    May 8, 2014 - 4:20 pm

    George needs to understand that the purpose of video taping is not to evaluate him, but rather his job. A good way to educate him might be to show him Frank Gilbreth’s movies of brick laying before and after the introduction of the non-stooping scaffold. Brick layers were very skilled workers, so the purpose was obviously not to measure them; the movies, on the other hand, show how the original badly designed job wasted almost 2/3 of their time and physical effort.

    Ask George how much time he has to spend walking, and how much effort he has to expend on bending over to pick things up. Maybe SMED can reduce some of this waste motion, so he can contribute more value with less physical effort, and eventually be paid more as a result. You cannot pay somebody to walk, bend over, or otherwise exert himself without adding value.

  10. Al

    May 8, 2014 - 9:05 pm

    This would be a good opportunity to have a conversation with George and learn about his concerns. He may be able to offer valuable insight that would help us make the program more successful. We can also use this as an opportunity to clarify our objectives and address George’s concerns before moving forward.

  11. Ter

    May 12, 2014 - 12:03 pm

    I agree with many of the comments that were made relating to having a open, clear conversation with George to understand where his thoughts on the project. My thoughts were in line with what John Weber said regarding allowing George to remove himself from this video and use a secondary operator for the video. The scenario stated the George was the “main” operator, not the “sole” operator.
    Remember that Lean is about improving processes while keeping respect for people. Forcing George to do this project, and telling him his job depends on it, feels like George may become an even stronger opponent of the changes taking place. When someone is on the fence regarding Lean, try to avoid actively pushing him over.
    Also, perhaps once George sees the project moving forward without his involvement, it will be a subtle message that this company is committed to continuous improvement and it will move forward with or without his blessing. Hopefully he will decide to be a participant in the next project.

  12. Mike Gallagher

    May 12, 2014 - 6:32 pm

    Have George operate the camera while directing another operator. Watch how fast George comes around.

  13. Louis Sylvester

    May 14, 2014 - 1:37 am

    Clarification required for George (That the focus is always on the process not the person) the video is only a tool to help identify the improvements which could be made to the process which could have positive results for George as the main operator. (Reflecting on him favourably) Possibly asking George if he has another or alternative idea on how to review the event or improve the process, together as a team might encourage George to be a part of this Team Event and gain his ‘buy-in’

  14. Pete Lison

    May 22, 2014 - 10:11 am

    I agree with Jason, Mike, and Louis and would take their approach first … talk to George understand his concerns, address them and be ready to propose some thoughtful alternatives in advance of meeting with him such as … would it be ok if we have you wear a small camera so we see what your hands are doing … it’s not your face doing the work it’s your hands. Let him try it out (the next day) w/out telling everyone else so he can get comfortable with it. Then watch the video one on one with him pointing out if you think it would work. . if it works go with it, if not try to work with him. If we value employees they should know it from our actions to work with him on this. He or you will come around to a better solution quicker this way.

  15. Jim Sorbello

    May 25, 2014 - 1:21 pm

    Why isn’t George on the Kaizen Team in the first place? Maybe I’m being too simplistic.

  16. Jim Sorbello

    May 25, 2014 - 1:43 pm

    Ok, the fact that George was not on the Kaizen Team REALLY bugged me, so I feel duty bound to further (?) the discussion.
    The situation described sounds like a giant pterodactyl–the Kaizen Team–came swooping in to fix things. I’ve never understood this mentality in a company. Shouldn’t EVERYONE be a part of Kaizen?
    We all know the problems with “sub-optimization”: the improvement of one cell, segment, etc., at the exclusion of the upstream, downstream processes–or the total business. Hence, so many lean practitioners have developed more suitable metrics of processes that tie to the enterprise KPI’s, dashboards, etc.
    The same idea holds true here: perhaps the structure of the organization can mitigate the threat that George feels. What if HIS performance metric included participation on lean, kaizen, or six-sigma projects? The tension that lean practitioners alleviate by minimizing sub optimization is essentially present in the personnel / human resource function. I don’t mean for this to sound Draconian, but make participation a part of everyone’s job and make it part of their job description. This is a process, as well, and a HUGE culture change that requires the usually tricks and cast, but it is sorely lacking in even the leanest of the lean.

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