Gemba Walk

Go to the place where the work is performed, that is the Gemba walk.  This does not apply just to manufacturing, but also line managers and their respective departments as well as to project management. You want to know what is going on, what could be better, go unto the work space and watch and talk with the people doing the work.

Where the work is performed, depends upon the work.  For example, if you are the manager of a product testing department, the place where the work is performed is likely the lab,  Go where the Hardware In the Loop (HIL) rigs and see how things are going, go to the test rooms where the environmental (hot and cold) and other stimuli (vibration) are administered to the product.  Learn how this work is actually being done. Ask questions about how the work is going.  What sort of things are difficult and why? What can we do to make the … Continue reading

Mura (unevenness)

The unevenness or mura of the work wreak havoc on our work. Project demands fluctuate and working on multiple projects likewise creates or exacerbates the unevenness. In product development work can get heavy around gate reviews as the project must accomplish certain expectations and milestones are reviewed in the gate activities.  One functional department may not be at capacity, but anther may be running beyond capacity.  The arrival of the work from one department stacks up as input to the next department.  This then creates muda as we have waste in the form of over production.  All of this unevenness has impact on schedule and the people performing the work, and sometimes specialized equipment as the demand fluctuates wildly.

Material that our development team will use may also be subjected to this unevenness, think prototype parts, upon which we will test and learn about the product for the next iteration of the development loop.  When lead times are long, we may … Continue reading

Muda – Waste

For those familiar with the lean approach to the work or the Toyota Way, you my already know about the concept of Muda. Muda is one of the three categories associated with lean that impact performance and costs to the organization.  Muda is regarded to have seven waste types or areas or actions that cause waste.

Over Production

Just like it sounds, making more of something than the need for that something.  This does not just mean parts, but also extends to work product deliveries throughout the work pipeline. Think SIPOC (Supplier-Input-Process-Output-Customer), in this case any output from a process (P) delivered before the depending process (C) or work can start, leaving the work product just sitting there.  Another variant of this waste would be working on products that are not for the next work process, but some prioritized work that is further down or upstream.  When this is not coordinated well, we end up with rework, and if changes are required … Continue reading

Value, Scope and Change Requests

Value, Scope and Change Requests

Change requests are part of any development project.  Change requests are sometimes necessary as we learn by building and doing the work.   In my experience, change requests often are born from requirements we thought we understood, only to learn by working with the product or system that we really did not have enough understanding to be able to record this in the form of specifications.  We think we are making things better when we spend an abundance of time documenting the requirements, at least those requirements about which there is uncertainty. That is not to say this is not a worthwhile endeavor, we have been in product development long enough to know there are downsides to delivering a product that has no associated documentation.  The testing and manufacturing portions of the work will make use of these requirements documentation and the errant or lack of documentation makes the work of these areas and more difficult … Continue reading

Instead of No Estimates

Instead of  No Estimates

Instead of no estimates, we should consider adjusting our approach to estimates that eliminate the abuse, and still allows for the answers to the business questions, “does this project improve our bottom line” allowing the business to determine if the company really wants to undertake the project, and if so, do we have the talent and resources to undertake this project.  Answering these two questions initiates the next steps to actually create a project and being planning and doing the work.

Besides the techniques below, we can estimate from top down, estimation comes from managers and executives, or bottom up, that is those doing the work or closest to the work, provide the estimates. There are draw backs and benefits to each of these approaches.

Estimating Techniques

There are many techniques for estimating.  Experience suggests organizations may not use much more than the least helpful, expert judgement.

Analogous Parametric PERT Simulation (Monte Carlo Analysis) Expert Judgement Analogous

Instead … Continue reading

Top 27 Company Culture Ideas from the Pros

Fit Small Business posting on Top 27 Company Culture Ideas from the Pros.  Check out our contribution.

The manager must demonstrate what is the epitome of the expected culture. It helps to be egalitarian regarding power in the organization. Your job title should not dampen the discussion or the ideas from the team. I have had employees talk back to me, never name calling, but assertive and you have to be able to listen to those moments. It is not productive to have your employees suppress their emotional reaction to a crappy situation. Better still, go to that emotional spot with them, give them the space to quickly call the situation for what it is, and then quickly bring the discussion back to solving the problem.

 

Read the key points here:”

https://fitsmallbusiness.com/company-culture-ideas/

Agile Practices Applied to Line Management – Monitor and Control

Having the plan is only partially helpful.  The list of test cases and the expected rate of accomplishment allows us to refine our estimates as we progress through the testing.  We will be in a position to provide the project manager and stakeholders with a better “ETA” (Estimated Time of Arrival) just like the GPS informs us as we progress toward our final destination.

We know must execute to see if the planned rate of accomplishment and expected conclusion date are viable.  We will the monitor and track the progress of the team.  Here is where we take another play from the agile playbook.  Each morning we have a short 15 minute meeting with the verification team members.  Filling a role comparable to a scrum master, we ask:

What did you do yesterday? What do you have planned for today? What obstacles are you encountering?

Notes are taken especially when it comes to obstacles. We can ill afford to have … Continue reading

The Power of Do, Do, Do

We take a break from our requirements management run for this blog.  I was talking to an executive about some training for his organization.  He wanted the training to focus on action, on doing (he, in fact, said do, do, do).  He emphasized this very clearly and repeatedly, the action portion of continuous improvement.  This has led me to reflect on my experience.  To be sure we know that we can improve ourselves and our companies through constant learning.  However, learning on its own, will not improve your lot or your companies lot in life.

It is not enough to learn something new if we do not apply this new learning, the learning was an academic exercise.  Learning for the sake of learning is a good thing.  However, you could argue that the ultimate goal of learning could be to help you set and achieve your goals or the goals of your company.  It can be difficult to find time to … Continue reading

The morning paper…..and failure.

Imagine you are an executive and you are sitting down to your early morning breakfast with the daily paper.  As you read the paper, you find an article about your company and you are stunned to find it is not a flattering article but a description of a traumatic event that has come to a customer using your product.  You are shocked and embarrassed and it is not even 0600 yet.

When you get back to the office, you find out this situation was known by the line management and workers of the company.  They have been wrestling with whether the problem is, in fact, a problem and the magnitude of the problem if it is a legitimate event.  The line personnel wants to determine if it is a problem how to correct rather than make this situation aware and bring the entire company’s resources to bear on the problem.  I have seen this situation a number of … Continue reading

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