Materials of Lean To a casual learner, Lean might seem very material focused. Using SMED to develop Poka-Yoke devices to speed changeover times, the practice of TPM to maintain machines and increase skill levels, applying 5S to a workstation to remove clutter and safety hazards; all these tools seem to be centered around physical materials but this view neglects the biggest part of Lean and Kaizen philosophy.
“Kaizen Green is PEOPLE!” My apologies to Charlton Heston for the butchered quote, but the point stands. Kaizen and Lean needs to focus on people. They are the true engines of progress. Implenting 5S might look impressive, but we can be drawn away from the core concept. Kaizen is continuous improvement. That doesn’t just mean constantly upgrading software, it means tapping into the creative power of your employees to improve their work.
Retaining the Focus Are your current practices truly People-focused? Ask yourself, is the form you fill out more important than the idea it represents. Does the process for improvement encourage or discourage participation? Are the procedures within your facility driven by people or machines?
Lifelong Practices While several children play musical instruments in school, only a few continue playing music in their adult lives. Research has found that one of the key factors in whether or not that person will continue playing music had to do with the type of music they played as a child. If they learned music they enjoyed listening to, they continued to use their instruments into their adult life.
Enjoying the Work Similarly, if the practice of suggesting and implementing ideas in the workplace is an enjoyable experience, your coworkers will continue to do it. They will carry those values of continuous improvement throughout their career, but that will only happen if their experience with Lean is people-focused. To learn more about Kaizen philosophy, click here to check out our course on the value of a Kaizen workshop.