From the Archives of a Common Sensei – Volume 14: Learn by Doing

In volume 13 we discussed an example of how management at a Toyota facility standardized their meeting (and communication) scheduling in a standardized rhythm.  The meetings we discussed are inclusive of those with primary responsibility and those who are primarily affected by the decisions. In this blog (volume 14), we show you a “standardized” approach to assuring consistency of safety, quality, and timing in process operations.

Please note that the emphasis here is training verification within a process (operation) whenever either a new Associate joins the team, or when an existing Associate moves from one process to another process they have not previously performed.  Instead of describing creation of a process instruction sheet here, the emphasis is on a method of “instruction and verification of an Associate’s capability” to perform the necessary work within the bounds of safe operation, and with the expected quality and time standards.  This process pulls together the primary team of involved people, Associate, Trainer, Team Leader (TL), and Group Leader (GL).  The form captures the: Date Training step is completed, the initials of the Associate indicating understanding of the process, and the initials of the trainer confirming that the Associate has successfully completed the required training to the standard (including safety, quality, and time).

In the mindset of “train/do, train/do, train/do”, the attached forms provide a place where the trainer can initiate indicating the Associate has successfully repeated the process cycle 10 times with appropriate overall quality.

On the second page of the attached form, in step 12, the Leader decides if the process instruction is complete.  If the answer is “yes”, the Leader will then check the Associates performance twice a day and record the performance, safety, and quality.  This will be repeated for 5 days!  If a problem is found, the Associate will be retrained, and the monitoring will be repeated.  This is followed by confirmation by the Group Leader to make sure the Team Leader has followed all the steps.  If a deviation to the standard training or expected results is found, the problem is to be corrected immediately.

This method of training emphasizes the development of a standard method to achieve process (safety, quality, time) assurance.  Select key processes within your organization and apply this method!  Yes, it takes time in the short term, but saves injury, poor quality, and lost time in the not to distant future.  In addition to raising Associate moral, this type training will also reduce operating expense.

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From the Archives of a Common Sensei – Volume 12: The Basic Thought Behind Toyota Operations Regarding Associates

While scanning through my archives, I came across the document below that provided a fundamental principle regarding their Toyota Industrial Equipment (TIEM) Associates during its’ start-up (1988-1990’s). This document was created and delivered by one of my most admired Sensei’s (Kanamaru-San) in which he spells out basic thinking of process design, process flow, and the proper utilization of associates.

I would be negligent if I did not emphasize a few CRITICAL points!

  • Customer does not mean only the end user; it also means from one process to the next
  • Production activities are not only direct production activities, also include all OFFICE jobs
  • Reduction of idle time does NOT mean to terminate Associates and/or make any Associates job harder; it DOES mean to use that freed up time to either work efficiently/effectively in another area of need or work in areas to aid in the organization market growth
  • Involve Associates in process analysis and experimentation of change ideas

The document below was not just words on paper, or words delivered in a presentation. These were an expression of the fundamental belief behind building an organization which valued its’ Associates and what could be accomplished as a complete team! Of course, there were debates as process analysis took place, but they always involved those involved Associates and Management. Once agreement was reached, a standard was created to which future situations could be compared. If future variation to the standard occurred, it became readily noticed. If this occurred on the production line, the involved Associate would pull the Andon signal to stop the line so that the appropriate correction could take place. Such correction generally involved the affected process Associate and the Associate from both the feeder process and the Associate from the next process operation. If in the office area, the involved Associate would recognize any noticed deviation to standard and alert the Manager and jointly they would correct the deviation.

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