Lean Six Sigma

A DFSS Expert’s View of TRIZ 2

Dr. Kai Yang is a Professor in the department of Industrial and Manufacturing, Wayne State University. His areas of expertise include Six Sigma, statistical methods in quality and reliability engineering, Lean product development, Lean healthcare, and engineering design methodologies.

Related Podcast and Transcript: Six Sigma’s Voice of Customer

Joe Dager: I also noticed in your product development process that you spend quite a bit of time talking about TRIZ.

Kai Yang:  Well, TRIZ basically is a way to try to improve the creativity of your product development process. Supposedly the TRIZ is you try to condense the inventive principle to a small number of principles. People learn; they can really improve their creativity by learning existing knowledge. Some of the companies are very, very successful at it, as far as I know. Samsung is now is a leading company in electronics. Even now, they still contract TRIZ experts in large numbers working for a couple of years in their headquarters to help them to improve product development. For Samsung, it’s definitely a useful tool. It’s increased their competitiveness. I think that now you hear about more Samsung than Sony Company. So I talk to their product development, some top people. They think that TRIZ really helped them a lot. However, now that every company has the same experience, some use TRIZ and don’t get out a lot. I think this is a tool we need to customize to your own practice. So, it can do wonders, it just needs to be applied correctly.

Joe Dager: I think you’re probably right there, because I always found TRIZ kind of cumbersome. Yet, I’m thinking what you’re saying is that you customize it, and maybe one company will only use a third of it, or half of it, or something like that.

Kai Yang:  I’m thinking about a few things important in TRIZ. One is simplify customize. The other is you have to go with good information searching the IP. So, for example, when people apply TRIZ, one of the common problems they face is, ‘Well I can plug in what the contradiction is, what the problem is. I can find out what principle may be useful for me. But, still, this principle is a general principle. I’m still not able to figure out a particular solution for my design problem.’ So, that is one of the common things.

I found out if people are given relevant information about similar patents, how the people designing similar products resolve this type of problem, if they’re flooded with good examples. They are able to take it. I think that is also one of the reasons Samsung did well in using TRIZ. Only learning it does not make it work. You have to flood it with good information.

Related Podcast and Transcript: Six Sigma’s Voice of Customer

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A Strength Based Lesson thru Visuality 0

Bob Petruska, author of Gemba Walks for Service Excellence: The Step-by-Step Guide for Identifying Service Delighters discussed what he learned (part 2 of 2) about  Sur-Seal Corporation after listening to the podcast (part 1of 1) with Mick Wilz, Director of Enterprise Excellence and Co-Owner of Sur-Seal.

Related Podcasts and Transcription: Lessons in Visuality

I asked Bob Petruska during the podcast, I know you do a lot of strength-based work, how is that applied in Sur-Seal? Where are the strength-based points that you saw in what Mick said?

Bob Replied: I look at pretty much everything that Mick does is strength-based. He’s not focusing on the deficit. He’s focusing on a future, a positive future that people can change. By allowing people to make decisions on the floor, on the battlefield so to speak, he’s allowing people to learn. Too often in organizations we don’t let people make decisions. We say you know what, we’re the boss. We’re going to make all the decisions. But then guess what; you own the outcomes whereas I think what Mick is doing are something slightly different. He’s saying, “I don’t know all the answers. Why don’t you tell us what it is that we need to do?”

As I’ve talked to him and as I’ve learned from him, and you can watch the video on his website sur-seal.com. You can watch the people that work at Mick’s factory, and they’ll tell it to you in their own words. It’s just amazing to watch because there’s such a pride. There’s one gal there that says, “I was part of that.” They’re just so proud of the fact that they got to work on the future. And the model, the Legos model, is a brilliant way to allow people to have the time to absorb it and for them to buy into the whole idea of the change and use it in a way that speaks to their strengths.

Related Podcasts and Transcription: Lessons in Visuality

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An Outsiders View on a Lean Implementation 1

In this 2nd part of 2-part podcast, Bob Petruska, author of Gemba Walks for Service Excellence: The Step-by-Step Guide for Identifying Service Delighters, discusses what he has learned about  Sur-Seal Corporation. Bob Petruska

Bob is working with Mick Wilz, Director of Enterprise Excellence and Co-Owner of Sur-Seal Corporation, on one of the tracks, Keep Your Organization’s Chain Straight., at the upcoming ASQ Charlotte Conference on April 8th, 2014.

In part 1 of the podcast, How Sur-Seal Became a Visual Organization, I discussed with Mick, Sur-Seal’s Lean journey. In this 2nd part, I put Bob on the spot and asked him from an outside perspective (Bob is one of the best change agents, I know) to comment on what Sur-Seal had accomplished.  The insight Bob gives is excellent.


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Can You Use Lean for a Turnaround? 0

PAS was one of the bottom rung players in providing cost-effective repair and overhaul solutions for the aerospace, oilfield and industrial markets. In the first week of taking over, Bob Weiner implemented Lean training and started weekly Kaizan events with the key metric of turnaround time.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Using Lean in a Turnaround

Excerpt from Podcast with Bob Weiner:

I came on board about two months ahead of that in prepping for the closure. What we did is basically we planned everything. It’s an amazing story. We literally planned everything ahead of time. When July 3rd hit, it was basically we were PAS, and we were PAS running.

To put that into perspective, the organization was put in place and announced on July 3rd or July 5th I guess, the day when we actually started.

We put an organization in on that day and knowing how poor we were from a delivery standpoint, we basically we started in two ways. We were going to put the organization in place, and we were going to go after bringing in new business on the first day knowing that we had a very poor track record.

Lean, I can get into a little detail later, but our Lean system actually started one week later. It was off and running really on the very first day. The very first thing we did is we got all the employees together, laid out the plan and started as soon as we thanked everybody for being part of PAS.

It was amazingly accelerated. My background, I ran engine services for Pratt & Whitney. I ran their engine assembly and test for all their large commercial, military.

I had three other opportunities prior to that where I implemented global Lean Six Sigma systems. And, you could go back over these, and where typically in the beginning, you go back 10 or 15 years, these things take six years to do and then you get them down to four years and then you get them down to two years.

Our implementation was absolutely about as focused as you could ever see anything. And we were done, well you’re never done in Lean, but essentially, we had a turnaround of the whole company in six months. And, it was as accelerated as you can imagine.

We went from industry worst ?? well I wouldn’t say worst. There’s always somebody worse. But one of the worst in the industry to the industry best in all our product lines in ten months and six months on turnaround time which is really the core of it.

And the way we did it and I’ve done Lean Six Sigma, its limitations, and you kind of get caught up into having ten metrics and you get caught up into all different ways of measuring it. And, we did it totally different. This was totally focused on turnaround time. And if you perform in this industry, you grow, and you win. And so, everything was based on turnaround time.

And, turnaround time is basically the time it takes for me to get the part in until you get the part out. And so, it’s very simple, if you reduce the amount of time it takes to turning the part, you’re going to reduce your cost, you’re going to reduce all the waste that’s in there, and then you’re going to grow your business, and you’re going to reduce your cost of the business. And so, it was all centered on that. So, it was just totally focused on turnaround time.

And so, how we did it is basically we just, on day one, which was really one week later, we started. I had to bring some outside help in, and we had our own group that we brought in. Outside was the name of the group. And, we had them and we had our own team. And, my own team was really, I brought in some people, and so we handpicked kind of the people, the key people around the company which we assessed prior to that.

And that and some outside help, what we did on day one is we did training. So, we did the first thing. We did plant by plant. So on the first week we would take our main plant, we did week long training; we broke for a week, and then we did Kaizen events, a couple of Kaizen events in each plant. And, we focused on turnaround time on our main product lines.

And then, we would repeat that every month within that plant. Then the next week we started the same thing in another plant. So, we hit all our plants basically training, Kaizen event, training, and Kaizen event, and then Kaizen event, Kaizen event, Kaizen event in every plant.

And so, the training became off of the Kaizen event, and the Kaizen event became the means of getting the results. And so, that’s how we drove this thing.

And, we just did it for six months straight. And, we may have done Kaizen event after Kaizen event in the same area but ultimately we just focused right across. So, it’s almost too simple but it was very elementary how we did it.

So, it was training, Kaizen event, and Kaizen event. And, every Kaizen event was a follow up behind it. So, it was training, Kaizen event, follow up on the Kaizen event, next Kaizen event, follow up. So, every month there was another Kaizen event and the follow up was a couple of weeks after the first Kaizen event. And so, it became just a routine.

And, you might ask how do you do it, how do you get so focused on it? My role as the CEO was to attend and drive every single event. So, I was at the Kaizen event close out every Friday. And so, it was very regimented close starting at Monday the kickoff, 4:00 every day, a daily report out Friday morning, the report out of the team, very straight forward but no letup in terms of how you did it. So, that’s kind of the high level of how we did it. And, it was just relentless, to say the least. And, it was extremely effective, and it worked very well.

So January one of 2007 we were on our own. And so, I would stack it up against anybody who’s ever done Lean on a global basis to how fast you could do something, how focused you could be in getting it done.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Using Lean in a Turnaround

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What is Workplace Visuality? 0

I asked Gwendolyn D. Galsworth, Ph.D. that question in a past podcast and received a rather in-depth answer. Considered by many a leading visual expert, Dr. Galsworth is the author of a number of books on organizational improvement and workplace visuality, including Visual Workplace/Visual Thinking, recipient of the Shingo Prize for Research. The rest of the podcast was nothing short of the same type of answers.

Related Podcast and Transcription: What is Visual Thinking?

What is Workplace Visuality?

Gwendolyn D. Galsworth:  Yes, I’d be happy to. Workplace Visuality is a term that was coined by a friend of mine at Rolls Royce. Workplace Visuality has to do with embedding information into the physical environment of work into the physical landscape of work, and this is vital information for work.

So the information is there at your fingertips, when and as you need it. You simply pull it form the environment the way that we pull information from the roadway when we travel along. We’re in a new city. We’re trying to find our way. We have a map.

We don’t have a GPS system; let’s just say that right now. Although that’s a very good visual system but let’s just say that that we’re depending on the roadway signs and the indicators and on the other devices, the stoplights, the speed bumps, to get us where we’re going on time and safely.

The information is built into that environment. We call that the value field, because when you’re driving, really the roadway is as you drive along you’re adding value. You’re doing your tasks, your accomplishing your goals.

It’s the same way in a work environment in a company of any kind; it could be a hospital, a factory, it could be a bank, and it could be a mine, an open pit mine. It’s a workplace. And there’s information that you need right now that you don’t want to go into a room or even into your computer to retrieve. You need it at the point of use. Really instantly so you can act upon that information. The visual workplace is about that.

This creates many, many business benefits and equally robust cultural benefits. The visual thinking part is that when you become a visual thinker, I discovered you have to really look at your physical work a different way. You have to look at it from the point of view of what information is missing that needs to be there. You have to notice this thing, this enemy I have named??I call it motion.

You have to notice your motion. It’s one of the seven deadly ways that Toyota gave us. But I chose motion, because it’s something that it’s physically attached to our body. Motion is defined by Toyota as "moving without working."

So you’re moving. You’re getting the information you need. You’re getting the work order you’ve misplaced. You’re getting the supervisor you need. You’re getting the information in order to proceed, but you’re not actually doing the work. You’re getting the information you need to do your work, but it’s not yet work…

And visual thinking is about noticing that, noticing the information deficit, noticing your motion, and then taking the next step. This is to create visual devices that eliminate the information deficit, and therefore eliminate the motion that that deficit triggered. That’s visual thinking.

It has tremendous roll-up impact, because it is really living on micro level of transactions. These are micro transactions that we barely notice ourselves, let alone others. It just looks like busyness. So that’s what it is.

Related Podcast and Transcription: What is Visual Thinking?

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Improvement should be based on the Customer View of Value 0

My discussion with Mike Bremer,President of The Cumberland Group focused on understanding what really drives and sustains improvement. Mike had some great perspectives and I have included just one of them below. The entire transcript and podcast is available at The Improvement Trap.

Joe:  Well, you started out with something that I just thoroughly believe in and one of these things that  just jumped out at me. Whether you call it customer focus or customer value, it’s your value proposition in your customer eyes that have to drive your improvement to make a difference. That says a lot.

Michael:  Well, it does, yet it’s funny when you, let’s just talk about Lean, the Toyota Production System which is a very powerful improvement methodology. Most people, when they’re doing an improvement project, they’ll do a value stream map or process map. They certainly look at the steps that add value from the customer’s eyes for that particular process. And, they’ll go back, and they’ll try to eliminate the waste.

But, how often do you do that for the overall business? What are we doing with the business? I mean; most people focus with the staff on a project by project basis, not really what’s the best thing we can do for creating value.

Let me share just a mythical story. I was not here for these conversations, but here are two stories about creating value. There’s this company in Asia, and somebody comes up with the idea that wow, look at what these baby boomers are doing. They’re buying a lot of new, hot cars. We really don’t have any cars like that. Maybe we should do some kind of car that the baby boomers want to buy. They’re talking about it, and they decide, they’re going to do that.

Somebody else in this company says well; you know, the way that people buy cars really, it’s an ugly process. People just don’t like buying on the car dealer and coming in and doing all those negotiations.

While we’re doing this new car thing, let’s create a whole new buyer experience. We’re not going to do this through our existing distribution chain. We’re going to create an entire new chain to do this. Lo and behold, you have Lexus. They completely redefined the customer buying experience.

Now, there’s a competitor of Lexus that’s in Detroit, and they see what Toyota’s doing and they say, “Well, wow look at those guys. They did this new luxury car thing. Maybe we should do a luxury car thing in our business.” Somebody else says, “Oh, my God. No, we can’t do that because that would hurt Cadillac if we do that.

So they’re quiet for a little bit. Then somebody says, “Well, we’re pretty bad at doing small cars, let’s do this to small cars, and we’ll create this whole new customer buying experience with small cars.” With all due respect, to the people at Saturn who busted their butts to try to do the right job, the strategy is doomed from the start. And why is that?

Well, what do the margins look like on a luxury car? I mean; they’re like a foot high. You make a lot of money if you’re selling a luxury car. If you’re selling a small car, the margins are in the pennies. You’re looking at pennies on the car. The strategy is doomed. Now, let’s go back and talk about what are we trying to do to improve the business?

Well, if I’m focused on the right value, what it is that we were doing, and the organization can make money on it; we’re… I can think have improvement projects that are going to relate and will do well. Whereas if you’ve got a value proposition there, the probability of its working is so low, you can’t improve it enough.

Most people they don’t link their improvement projects to that value proposition. We find things to improve, but it’s not really driven by a strategic perspective for the customers. Long answer but that’s how you think about it.

Related Podcast and Transcription: The Improvement Trap.

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Is Training within Industry Back? 0

Jim Huntzinger has been an advocate of Training within Industry (TWI) for many years. His most recent effort has been the development of a learning website centered on introducing TWI to the masses. I encourage you to take a peek at http://www.whatistwi.com/.

Jim Huntzinger has researched at length the evolution of manufacturing in the United States with an emphasis on Lean’s influence and development.  He has researched and worked to re-deploy TWI (Training Within Industry) within industry and uncovered its tie with the Toyota Way.  He is also developing the history of Ford’s Highland Park plant and its direct tie to Toyota’s business model and methods of operation.  Jim is the Founder and President of Lean Frontiers

I did a podcast with Jim a while back that discussed TWI and asked him: You did a lot of research on the evolution of Lean’s influence and development in manufacturing in the United States. I saw an article from you back in 2002 about TWI, or Training Within Industry and you called it, “The Roots of Lean”, or “The Origin of Kaizen”. Could you tell me how you got involved with TWI?

Entire Transcription and Podcast: Training within Industry

Jim Huntzinger

I guess my nature; I’m an engineer as far as education, career wise I’m an accountant, but I guess I’ll define myself as a curious engineer. When I was going through my Lean implementation early on, we were doing a lot of things that a lot of companies were doing. In the early nineties and still now, a lot of companies are going through it today, which is implementing flow manufacturing along with that you have, you want Standard Work put in place in order for those lines to function consistently. You know based on TAKT time. Well that was always a problem.

We actually would put together standard work and spend a lot of time. The engineers worked with the operational people, the operators; the supervisors and department managers to work out good standard work based on the same methodology that Toyota used. The interesting thing was we still got a lot of inconsistencies for a variety of reasons. I just always felt that there is something missing, but I didn’t know what that something was, something was missing that Toyota or the group companies, were using, that made them more effective at it.

I thought; they’re humans like everybody else; it’s not like they’re any smarter; there’s just got to be something missing. When I stumbled upon the TWI, actually I read something about it, in a couple of books that just mentioned it briefly, and it was this World War II program called Training Within Industries, but I kept thinking what the heck does some World War II program have got to do with the Toyota production system?

I spend about another year or two trying to find out actually what TWI was and then when I finally did start getting some information on it. It was a report written about it by the folks, who did it during World War II. This report from 1945, I was just shocked by what I was reading. I was going, “Oh my gosh, this is the very thing that this guy had gone through, was some of the stuff that I’ve gone through when I worked for The Toyota Group Company.

I’d gone through some of the early; the original Kaizen workshops done by the Productivity group originally back in the early 90?s called Five Days in a Night Workshop, and this was verbatim the same thing they’re going through. What I discovered by continuing research in this that TWI was developed in the United States to help us in the war effort, to help us build up our own armaments. It was a massive success and when we deployed it to Japan during the occupation that it got institutionalized in Japan and the industry.

They’re still using it today and in particular, specific to Toyota. It was actually the very thing that Toyota had grabbed onto to help drive the methods they were trying to drive. They had actually spent nearly seven years trying to make changes in the machine shop to change it from a batch to a flow environment, and they actually struggled, like all the rest of us for quite a few years.

TWI became the; I kind of called it the vehicle that they used to really leverage and drive these changes through the machine shop, through Toyota and originally out in their supply base, and it evolved into what we call today, Standard Work and Kaizen. They evolved it at Toyota because they’ve using it for about 50 years. But the job instruction, which is how you train people, is still based very much in the same format as when it was deployed back during the occupation.

This was this thing I’ve been looking for that really makes Standard Work much more successful, much more powerful in an organization. It also becomes just a building block on developing, you know Toyota’s big on developing people, this is also one of their foundational building blocks they used to develop people.

Entire Transcription and Podcast: Training within Industry

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