At Intel a lot of people are continually on projects each with a specific purpose: maybe developing a new chip, maybe a new sales plan, maybe a better way of manufacturing a product, or maybe a way to improve the accounting process. While you are on a project team your are challenged, highly motivated to succeed and deliver the project on time. It is invigorating to be part of a new team with specific targets. It gives you a real chance to learn, and grow your skills. However, when the project is ending or over you go back into a talent pool to either start a new project or just wait to be selected to be part of a new team. It could be very nerve wracking waiting to be selected - to know that you have a job for the next period of time or asked to seek employment elsewhere.
There is a process relatively new to America that can invigorate your work life. It is called Quick and Easy Kaizen and should be a part of every work group to stimulate each team member to come up with small continuous ideas.
Over 100 years ago, Frederick Taylor, the father of Industrial Engineering, developed scientific management and the division of labor. The result was to vastly improve productivity. It also brought enormous wealth to American industry, but unfortunately at the same time it treated people like extensions of machines giving them very “boring” work. Instead of a worker being creative and working on whole tasks, like building an entire chair, the worker was given one repetitive task, like standing in front a punch press all day. In fact, Taylor specifically said, “It is management’s job to do the planning and thinking and it is the worker’s job to do the work.”
I can attribute Toyota’s current success to its dedication to continuous improvement and its “Two Pillars:” JIT/LEAN - the elimination of all non-value adding wastes and to “Respect for Humanity.”
“Respect for Humanity” has a few vital parts:
Autonomation - separating people from machines. Traditionally in
America a worker stands, sits in front of a machine loading and unloading with most of
their time waiting and watching the machine process the work. The machine
is adding value while the worker does boring and repetitive tasks.
b. Empowering every employee to stop working when they detect a potential problem. Imagine allowing people to stop working and to also stop everyone else in the plant from working to prevent one defect from being passed onto the customer. At Toyota in Georgetown, in one shift, the process could be stopped 50 times. Normally, the team leader will run over to help the worker and often it only takes a few seconds to get the process going again.
2. Teams – every worker is part of a group working together, producing and solving problems.
3. Quick and Easy Kaizen – empowering all workers to come up with small improvement ideas and implementing those ideas.
Toyota and other Japanese companies around 1970 recognized that the average worker had much deeper talents to develop and they modified and expanded the original Kodak system. Where in the typical suggestion system in America, the average worker submits one idea every seven years, in the average Japanese company the average worker submits two small ideas every month – 24 per year and the average savings per company in Japan is over $4000 per worker per year. Technicolor in Detroit this past year saved over $8,000,000 from the small ideas generated by their employees. They went from 250 ideas in 2001 to over 26,000 ideas last year.
Why in the world isn't every company in
doing this is beyond me?
Delphi, GM and Ford have been attempting these past twenty years to install Lean in their plants without developing their people. Look at the current financial results!
Toyota’s success is based on their relentless elimination of wastes and their constant development of their people. Look at your Kaizen Work Groups in a similar vein. Recognize the depth of creative talents of every single person and challenge them, empower them to make their work easier and more interesting, to build their skills and capabilities from their own ideas and watch the results reduce costs; improve quality, safety and productivity.
So Go and do it!
This is the fourth day of our Project Kaizen event. Each of the Gang of Seven is writing one article a day. Thus at the end of the week there will be 35 articles on Project Kaizen - how you can run project events more effectively. Other bloggers participating are:
Bill Waddell at Evolving Excellence
Chuck Frey at Innovation Weblog
Hal Macomber at Reforming Project Management
Joe Ely at Learning about Lean
John Miller at Panta Rei
Mark Graban at Lean Manufacturing Blog