Archives for category: Muda

There is an increase drive to eliminate reports in large organizations. So much time spent putting them together and who is looking at them let alone is there anything actionable being address or even triggered. It goes without saying that as systems gain the ability to track more, the more is usually noise not signal. I have been in meetings and discussions about rationalizing reports but I find that the discussion looks at quantity and who receives it. All good stuff but I think there are other questions that need to be asked.

What are the metrics and information that drive the business? This is a different question than do you use this report and, if so, what do you look at. Driving the business and the risks to that business are the only items that should be tracked. This type of discussion, across the organization, will create metrics that everyone shares and needs to be focused on. This takes longer and multiple parts of the organization need to be at the table but this will create a discussion and understanding across the organization. Total Landed Cost is one that can unite multiple parts of the team. This will create better meetings and better decisions across the supply chain. This will eliminate 50% of the reporting requirements and streamline discussions.

How much time and/or resources are required to generate these reports? This is better than discussing the number of reports or different types. This recognizes the fact that reports aren’t free and that making them “personalized” for each “leader” is a waste. How many times have you experienced someone stating that they focus on this set of metrics or I like mine in columns versus rows? Does the leader have to defend this to the wider organization? Do they work with their peers to find the format that works? Rarely. What work does this eliminate? This is a question I ask before I put together any report. If it is going to be business as usual, I recommend that the report does not get developed.

What are you going to do with the information? What is actionable? This is better than what do you do this report. So many reports are related to FYI reports or nice to know. I know there are reports that leaders think are actionable. “Johnny, this number stinks. Fix it.” That is not actionable. Actionable means that you having triggers that once they are reached, there are corrective actions and countermeasures as well as root cause analysis that need to set up to support the report.

The report problem needs to be solved but not by making them easier or doing fewer of them. You need to decide what is important, track it and develop improvements when needed.



I have been on vacation for a couple of weeks and did some reflecting on some of my past triumphs, few and far between, and some of my not so brightest decisions and actions. One came up related to my role as a plant manager a few years ago.

I was focused on creating quality instead of inspecting quality into our product. We had made very good progress on TPM / RCM, standardizing work across shifts and lines and putting people in the right roles with the right tools to move forward. One item was bugging me, though. We still had QC on the lines inspecting and writing down too much information and, at some points, slowing down the process. Do to this, I found that some of what the QC techs were doing was redundant or even over-processing of equipment and product. One was related to crimp checks that were performed hourly to ensure that the product was safe and that leaks would not occur in the package or in the consumer’s hands. What if, I imagined, we had the filler operators do this check and sign-off? They were already setting up the line and doing a majority of the PM’s. They were right there to do the checks. The QC techs were at the other end of the line and if there were some quality issue, they may not be able to take the check anyway. Great fit, right?

So the supervisors and I along with safety and quality developed a process along with paperwork and audit checklists to ensure the change would be air tight. It came down to the launch of the process. We, I mean I told the supervisors to have the meeting because I was too “busy”, went out there on Thursday morning before start-up and have them review the process and documentation. Within 15 minutes the meeting turned into Monday Night Raw with the supervisors coming back with blank stares and no color in their cheeks. What had gone wrong? Let me count the ways:

  1. By looking at the QC role as over-processing or may be Business Non-Value Added Muda – Waste, I did not think about who else could do the check. The checks would still need to be audited and verified by someone. Who was I going to have do that? The supervisors?
  2. The filler operators had taken on more responsibility than any other group in the site and how did I reward them? Put more on their shoulders – Muri – Over-burden.
  3. Did I involve the Filler operators in any of the process other than just go do it? No. They did not even know what the meeting was about. Ridiculous!
  4. Did I go to the meeting? No. I was doing more “strategery” or something else. I should have at least been there to take the ownership and criticism. My supervisors felt like they got beat up with no backing and they were right.
  5. Did I work with Maintenance and Engineering to develop a mistake proofing process or at least a more visual way to tell if there was a problem before we released product to the rest of the line? No. That would have been way too difficult and time consuming. Better to shoot from the hip and waste everyone’s time as well as emotional bank account.

I am sure there were other items that could be added to this but suffice to say, I learned from that point on to balance work and to get involvement instead of taking a dump on a department or individuals. Also, eliminate the need for the process in the first place instead of handing it over.

How did it all turn out? Not too bad but far from Ideal. I went out to do the damage control and to take full responsibility for the situation. We put the process back into QC’s hands and then worked on controls that were more tied to the number of units produced instead of time. We also worked with Maintenance to develop a better rebuild and installation strategy that improved the length of time that there would be an issue. Once again, for me at least, reflection and correction have helped move forward.