• Bill Greider

Unscheduled Stops and the Sticky Note

One of my most read blogs over the past 8 years is titled "An Index Card: Gateway to a Lean Journey". The post explains that one of the best ways to kick a solid continuous improvement off is to hand everyone an index card, ask them to put their name on it, and answer the following question: "if you owned the company what one change would you make in your job right now?" When they have filled out the card, hand it back to you. Voila, the A3 board is filled with opportunities for improvement. Then, wheteher we like it or not, we need to develop a process to turn these index cards into reality. I've done this hundreds of times, and I never get selfish, self-serving answers. It is always something that screws up their job.

Well, you work your way through all of the index cards, and you begin to mix these suggestions with stuff from MRB, customer complaints, the safety committee, etc. Trust me, your A3 board will never be empty. Keep in mind the A3 process is about building good team players (busting silos) and problem solving capability. People just get better and better at DMAIC, PDCA, root cause analysis, etc. by doing it over and over and over.

Once this process is running well, sprinkle in the unscheduled stop. Remember the genius is always in the simple. Give everyone a 2"x 2" sticky note pad. If you want to get fancy, give different groups different colors (for example, shipping gets green, quality gets red, etc.). When people get their sticky note pad, ask them to simply and quickly jot down anytime there is an unscheduled stop in their work. A few words....what happened? Then ask them to stick them on a wall somewhere with their name on it or hand them in to someone. You can group them into categories, and voila, more ammunition for the A3 board.

One of the biggest challenges is for us to learn to see waste in our own work, and to see it as a problem!. Most of the time, we're conditioned to plow through it and think of the waste as part of the work. We just don't see what we're doing as a problem! There is nothing more competitive than an entire company of people who learn to recognize waste as a problem, and have a process to eliminate it!

Your lean journey....kick it off with an index card, give it a shot of adrenaline with a sticky note!