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  • Bill Greider

Can't Afford to Wait Until Halftime to Make Adjustments!


I'm not sure anyone would argue that it is probably a mistake not to try and build a culture of continuous improvement in your business. We need to work hard to build a team (and coaching staff) that is capable of making improvements and adjustments on the fly. Not sure anyone would argue that the best sports teams are the ones that can react, and adjust their game plan based on what their competitors are doing. Years ago, if the game plan wasn't going as expected, teams would "re-group" and make adjustments at half-time. Now, the best teams make improvements all game long, and if they don't, they lose and eventually the coach gets fired.


Even as officials, if a member of our crew (the replay official) sees a defect, the game is stopped immediately and the problem is taken care of right then. The andon is a buzz we get on our beepers on our hips to stop the game!


I would argue that the same holds true for our businesses. In my lean consulting business, the one statement that spills out of my mouth that always gets eyes rolling with doubt and disbelief is "we need to be making improvements in every one of our processes every single day!" Maybe a better way to explain this is the fact that when we see problems (that is usually at least half the battle, not seeing), we will implement some countermeasure immediately, so we don't just keep learning the same lessons over and over. Sure, we can put the problem off to the side (in our minds) to keep producing like nothing bad happened (make adjustments at halftime instead), or we can develop our coaches to work with players to implement countermeasures immediately, as they happen (this is andon).

What are the problems that need to be recognized and improved? The 8 wastes! Defects, Overproduction, Waiting, Non-essential processing, Transport, Inventory, Motion and Un-used employee brainpower.


Imagine a coaching staff that hardly ever shows up on the practice field (busy in their office in meetings or managing their computer), or maybe they learn about the problems in the form of a report after the game has long since been played?!?


Imagine if you could stop the game immediately when you see a problem so you can correct it right then and there? In sports, they call that a "time out." Why, in our business, do we knowingly keep playing when we know there is an issue?


The best football teams do the best job of making improvements in real time while the game is being played (often in the middle of an offensive or defensive series). Also, keep in mind that the coaching staff (i.e. management) is TEACHING at GEMBA (where the work is), not screaming at employees or writing people up).


I get it. Our businesses are 1000% more difficult to coach than a football team. Football teams have one game each week, and they have the luxury of 5 or 6 days to do kaizen (get better at practice). For our businesses, game day is EVERY SINGLE DAY EVERY SINGLE SHIFT. We have no choice but to implement a good strong improvement strategy, or the 8 wastes end up costing us way too much time & money!

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