You have been reading for over a year about lean improvement through the application of the Toyota Production System in any industry. Improvement consists of seeing and eliminating waste through the application of tools. Sustaining the improvement involves disciplined leadership standard work that manages in a visual environment to make management by exception possible. Are there any predecessors to improving?
Toyota talks about stability of the 4M's as a requirement to developing a culture of improvement. The 4M's include Methods, Manpower, Machinery, and Materials. Let's discuss further:
Can we agree that it would be difficult to improve if we did not have a stable workforce? One that shows up for work, does not turnover 30% of its employees each year, and performs to the safety standards of the organization? This is stability of Manpower.
Can we also agree that it would be difficult to improve with untrained staff, following inconsistent work standards with no accountability? This is stability of Methods.
Next, can we agree that it would be difficult to improve with machinery that is breaks down frequently, or fails to produce parts to to the appropriate specifications? This is stability of Machinery.
And finally, can we agree that it would be difficult to improve with constant part shortages, and poor quality or obsolete parts? This is the stability of materials.
If you are not seeing improvement in your lean efforts go back to the four M's and do a quick analysis. You must stabilize the four M's as a foundation for improvement. To stabilize the 4M's, begin with 5S and visual management. These are the first two steps necessary to stabilize your organization. We'll discuss these two topics in later blogs.