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How to Apply the 7 Kata

The book, The 7 Kata: Toyota Kata, TWI, and Lean Training, was published in 2012 and authored by Pat Boutier and Conrad Soltero. Pat BoutierIt received the Shingo Award for Research and Professional Publications from the Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence. It discusses the blend of Training within Industry (TWI) with Kata in a very unique way. The book does not require you to be an expert in both fields, but I would suggest a little background in one of the mentioned areas.

Pat, originally a Design Engineer, moved into Manufacture Engineering and eventually, an Engineering Manager and Production Manager. He was also a Group General Manager for Tandy Electronics in the Fort Worth area running three different plants making computers and owned his own company for 12 years designing manufacturing vision systems. For the past 10 years, he has worked with TMAC, helping companies get better.

Last week was the first part of this 2-part series: What is the 7 Kata?

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What is the 7 Kata?

The book, The 7 Kata: Toyota Kata, TWI, and Lean Training, was published in 2012 and authored by Pat Boutier and Conrad Soltero. Pat BoutierIt received the Shingo Award for Research and Professional Publications from the Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence. It discusses the blend of Training within Industry (TWI) with Kata in a very unique way. The book does not require you to be an expert in both fields, but I would suggest a little background in one of the mentioned areas.

Pat, originally a Design Engineer, moved into Manufacture Engineering and eventually, an Engineering Manager and Production Manager. He was also a Group General Manager for Tandy Electronics in the Fort Worth area running three different plants making computers and owned his own company for 12 years designing manufacturing vision systems. For the past 10 years, he has worked with TMAC, helping companies get better.

This is part 1 of 2 podcasts with Pat Boutier on the 7 Kata.

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Lean, Middle Managers, Toyota Kata

My blog through the years has discussed the interaction of Middle Management needs to have in a Lean Transformation. I have always thought the key to a Lean Journey or Transformation resided in Middle Management, Can Lean be driven by Middle Management?  It was also discussed in this blog, If less than 1% of companies are successful with Lean. I have always thought this component was more important than Leadership in the success. In these discussions, I have seldom found many sympathetic supporters and have just accepted it was one of those odd things I believed in.

Mike Rother is an undisputable leader and expert on the subject of Toyota Kata. His work in Toyota Kata is documented in his book Toyota Kata: Managing People for Improvement, Adaptiveness and Superior Results. In my recent foray into Toyota Kata, I ran across this video that actually lends a little credence to my thoughts of Lean and Middle Managers. in it he basically makes the argument that the Lean community should view middle managers as its customers. In it he says middle managers may have more influence on an organization’s performance than any other group.

 What are you thoughts?

How does your thinking align?

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Interfacing Agile with Conventional Projects

Excerpt from a recent Podcast with Jon M. Quigley PMP CTFL a principal and founding member of Value Transformation, a product development training and cost improvement organization established in 2009. He has nearly twenty five years of product development experience, ranging from embedded hardware and software through verification and project management.

From the podcast:

Joe:  Well you’ve actually used Agile in verification and interface it with conventional projects, how did you do that?

Jon Q:   Well what we did is in that instance that was a regulatory project. The talent on deck was fairly seasoned. In this case, we put the specs out, as in we knew what the specs were for the scope of the project, and then assigned — I actually had the team pick based on their talent area the pieces of the specifications that belonged where. There were a hundred different requirements and documents; it was more than 3,000 different test cases. For example, you have a guy testing on a truck, you have a lady testing on the hardware and the loop rig, those kind of things.

They would divide the specs up according to what was best for what spot and here’s the concept of self-directed work team; I did not dictate that. I was more like a scrum master. Okay, here’s what’s on deck. Here are the most important parts, the highest priority things we need to verify. Let’s divide this up and let’s start working it. And we actually had a burned-down chart of the number of test cases per each spec. It didn’t quite work out like a burned-down chart in that it was not over two or four weeks, it was more like a six-week period based on the amount of time we thought it would take to do the entire system.

They got divided up, they ran the test cases, we convened every morning and talked about the three things: what did you do yesterday, what are you going to do today, and what’s in the way? I tracked down, they tracked what they did for test cases, and we plotted that on our burned-down chart, that’s like a burned-up chart I think in that the slope was positive and not negative, instead of ours it was number of test cases conducted.

But they were all kind of elements, stolen if you would from Agile. And this part, this part of the project interfaced with a conventional, more staged gate, definitely a Waterfall kind of project. And every day or two, I would give them, the chief project manager the result of the test cases. As in, here’s our planned course, our ramped up test case per day executed, here’s what we actually did, and here’s what we found in terms of problems and that’s not necessarily an Agile thing, that’s just a test thing.

Related Podcast or Transcription: Discussing Project Methods

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Can Things Be This simple – 4 Steps

4 Step ProcessIf we go back the Charles Allen, 4-Step Process, through Shewart’s PDCA Cycle (later referred to as the Deming Cycle), we discovered a simple process for learning. In the middle of this Training within Industry, TWI, was founded.   This is not rocket science. It is not new. It is simply a proven method that works. In an upcoming podcast with Oscar Roche,  Director of Training within Industry Institute in Australia our conversation continued at the end of the podcast.

Joe:   All right, I’ll cut it there. Thank you very much! You nailed it. I couldn’t have had a better podcast about Job Relations.

Oscar:  That’s good. I believe in it very strongly and the more I practice it and the more I try and help other practice it, the more I believe in it. You know you just see the change in like people who do it well, you can see the change.

Joe:   When you were talking about get the objective, I laughed because I have that pinned up next to me. I remind myself to do that before I schedule a meeting; get the objective.

Oscar:  Yes and again none of this stuff is rocket science. It’s not new, and it’s not rocket science. I think in some ways – I probably should have said this, in some ways that’s its own worst enemy, because people look at it and I’ve had situations where particularly HR people look at it and say, “Hang on, just four foundations and a four-step method on a pocket card. It can’t be that simple…” Well, hang on, maybe it is. Don’t complicate something that doesn’t need complicating.

Joe:   I agree with you. I think the simplicity of it and the breadth of it is so interesting because like I mentioned; “It’s exactly the same way as gamification. We’re looking at how to gamify this and gamify this in sales and marketing. And as I was saying about SaaS companies with onboarding programs. Let’s just get to the basics. Let’s look at TWI and let’s just look at the basics. My most successful programs have really been the ones that have concentrated on these basic processes.”

Oscar:    That’s right.

Joe:   I’m really intrigued by it.

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Can Arguments Help in Collaboration?

Joe:   Can argument mapping help in collaboration?

Timo:   Yes, a lot of us are working — as teacher’s we are working with groups of students, and they built together some argument around an issue. Argument mapping does when you present it with a beamer on a screen or something like that, it makes it possible to have a discussion on issues that can be very precise, and that generates something from a shared thinking process. For instance when you’re working with people who have to defend a PhD and they present their Ph.D. or parts of their Ph.D. to the head of dissertation on a map on a screen and people can be very precise in asking questions connected to some claims people make. The fault is it enables having an argument that before all the people involved, it allows to focus on specific issues and you can be very clear about what you are talking and what not because everybody sees the issue involved before their eyes; so it facilitates a process of shared thinking.

Joe:   One of the things you talk about in Rationale is Essay Planning and being able to build an essay, and that’s like somewhat of a step-off than an argument. What’s the connection there?

Timo:   In an essay, you try to give a contention, a position to defend the position by giving reasons and objections, etcetera and you write it in a form that you hope that the readers of your essay will comprehend what you are saying or what your logical structure is in your argument and have fun reading. Every teacher of writing will explain to you that you should think first before you start writing. What you’re doing in an argument map is making visual your thinking in an argument map, and when you’ve done that, you can export your arguments map into prose by using the essay function within Rationale. And then you have the hardcore of your essay is available within Word or whatever editor you use, and you can build your essay around the argument map you have been exporting. So what you’re doing is, first you think about a subject and you come to a position, you build an argument around it and you think, well this is okay, this is really a good argument for a position you want to defend or to do research in and only then you export it as a text file to your editor, and then you have to edit, the bone structure of your essay is ready, and then you can fill it in, flash it out with all kind of details, background information, things that are fun to read. But the hardcore of your essay, you’ll be making first.

These comments were from a podcast that I had with Timo ter Berg is the CEO of Critical Thinking. They help people visualize and organize their thoughts combining innovative graphic display tools with the latest research on how to make complex thinking more organized and accessible. They host several products called Rationale and bCisive which can be found at http://www.reasoninglab.com.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Organizing Complexity

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30% Time Wasted Looking for Data, 50% Success Rate Finding It

A fact that Kim Robertson , the author of over 100 discipline specific training packages, 3 fiction books and articles for CM Trends and various other trade publications from industrial arts to Configuration Management, stated in a recent podcast.

His latest collaboration Configuration Management: Theory, Practice, and Application is

Excerpt from the Podcast:

Joe:   One of the parts that jumped out of me was some of the statements right away that you made in the heading of the poor handling of data. I think you mentioned that 30% of the knowledge worker’s times are used for looking for data and even at that, there’s only a 50% success rate.

Kim:   Yes, that’s a problem across industry. That one actually came from another book that I got that information from. Basically, we don’t have the data linked. So for example, if you have a subcontract; with the subcontract you have a purchase order, you have a statement of work, you may have some specifications. After that, you have data that they’re going to send it to you which is usually supply chain data lists. Nobody is hooking those together within their product data management or product life cycle management systems. They can tell you every piece part and who the vendor was that goes into the buildup of the final item, but they can’t tell you where the data was, what the receiving’s factual report actually said about the information or much else. That’s very bad when you’re trying to do any type of quality assessment on why things aren’t working the way you thought they would within test before you field something. Or in the case of things like the switch the GM had, where did you go wrong with that piece of it and basically that gets back to one of the premises that if two things don’t look the same, aren’t of the same quality, don’t look alike, don’t keep the same number and we find that that goes on quite a bit. There have been cases of airlines where it’s time to replace an engine and they order a new engine for the jet aircraft, the engine shows up and it doesn’t fit on the wing because they made a change, but they didn’t change the top assembly number.

We have all of those types of activities that we need to take a look at and integrate them together somehow. We have this problem with the Lean-type activities as well. Lean Six Sigma is something that is very popular right now. Lean Six Sigma I believe says you’re going to have two bad parts after every million or so. A couple of years ago, there was a company that ordered a couple million resistors all of the same value from another company and they had a Lean Six Sigma requirement and the company they’d ordered from, the supplier kept saying, we’re going to have to hold off a couple weeks, giving you this last supply data management report. I said well okay, and so then eventually the report came in and there was a shipment of resistors and there were two resistors typed to this note on top of it saying, we didn’t know why you wanted two bad resistors, but it took us eight weeks to find them, since they were working at an Eight Sigma level. So a lot of that, you have to know what your suppliers are capable of before you let your requirements on them because otherwise you may be forcing them to do work and costing you money that you don’t have to spend.

Joe:  I think about the data, I think that the inaccuracies that you point out in the data and the lack of cross-references and coordination between all these data, and from a layman’s standpoint it sounds like here we are back to this old file cabinet thing that 80 to 90% of whatever we put in the file cabinet, we never retrieve again. What we did retrieve, a lot of it was inaccurate and though that was in the paper world, is data much better?

Kim:   One advantage you had with the paper world was at least you could retrieve it. What we see a lot with the information technology, these activities are that some people make uninformed decisions that the data isn’t required, and so they may dispose of it. We’ve had some cases where I was involved in a program where the decision was made, we’re just paying too much for backing up servers and so we’re not going to back anything after three months. We’ll backup nightly, we’ll back up weekly; we’ll backup monthly. We’ll save three monthlies and then when we save the fourth; we’ll throw the first one away. Lo and behold an entire program’s worth of data went missing and it happened four months or more before it was discovered and the customer was asking questions because the units were still on the field, and nobody could find any of the information. As far as data retention itself goes, I don’t think that we’re much better because the IT organizations and the programmatic aren’t really communicating or understanding if they are talking what the actual requirements are and often its retention for 10 years after disposal of the last unit which with an automobile maybe 40 years from now. On a space asset, some of them would have been up there 35 years. Voyagers have been up there almost 30 years I believe, and it is still going. All of that data is still being retained some place.

Which brings us to a secondary problem is what happens, because the computers are going and involving so quickly. You’re talking about possibly having quantum computers now which would give us something besides buying a recode because you’d end up with 16 possible states for an answer making things not black and white or ones and zeros but shades of gray or Technicolor if you would. So we have some of the missions where we actually archive the computers, the operating systems, the software and everything else because 15 years from now, all of that evolve and there will be no way to actually communicate with a spacecraft that was in orbit. The same thing is going on, on the ground. The last launch of the space transportation system, they were sourcing all 86 boards off of eBay to keep the systems running in order to make that last launch because the hardware was so old, and we have the same thing going on with the data. How do you keep it current and we’ve been struggling with that for a long time. The portable data format or PDF has been a great help with that because PowerPoint and those types of things, when you move them from one server to a lesser cost, storage type of retention sometimes get corrupted and you can’t ever retrieve them again, but PDF’s still seem to be good.

Joe: Configuration management is supposed to help us with all these problems and to me, it sounds good but how does configuration management or what are the keys there to make all these things right as we just talked about?…….

Related Podcast or Transcription: Configuration Management

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