Jasmeet Kohli

Wednesday 29 August 2018

       How to develop a Problem Solving  Culture !!!

It is often seen that many organizations constantly face problems. After one problem is solved, another problem is already there knocking on the door making its presence visible in one form or the other. In such organizations, problems are solved without trying to ascertain the reason behind the problem. 

"Firefighting", as it is commonly known, is a type of negative culture affecting many business organizations which focuses on finding immediate solutions to the problems. Such organizations move from crisis to crisis. A Fireman emerges who douses the fire earning the appreciation of the Top Management. Almost no effort is made to evaluate why the crisis occurred in the first place. Eventually, this becomes the norm rather than exception in the organization and Firemen are given preference over all other people.

The solution to this is to develop a "Problem Solving Culture" in the organization where problems and issues are solved through a structured process by a cross-functional team, who have people with the required skills & training to develop & implement solutions for the problems at hand. Such kind of negative culture can be corrected by making serious efforts & taking some concrete steps: 
•Start solving a problem only when its root cause has been identified
•Discourage Quick Fix solutions. Quick fix solutions should be implemented only after careful evaluation

•Avoid solving individual problems unless it assumes critical proportions
•Train the problem solvers to go for the root cause and not just the visible symptoms
•Encourage developing a mindset of “Preventing Problems” among staff rather than “Solving Problems”
•Discourage rewarding Firefighting persons
•Encourage rewarding persons who practice prevention and systematic problem solving
•Apply solutions only after evaluating their impact
•Prioritize your problems
•Set realistic timelines to avoid last minute hassles
•Develop a structured and systematic way of problem solving

Hurdles in Lean Implementation

Lean has often been discussed as a solution for all the problems afflicting a business organization. But it is also a bitter truth that lean has very often failed also in numerous organizations, due to mainly the following reasons;
  1. Top management itself putting hurdles in lean implementation through pushing the subordinate managers to take up current issues & pushing Lean initiatives in the background thus giving passive encouragement to "Firefighting"
  2. Operational resistance to lean implementation due to fear of "job loss" which increases mainly due to "one way" line of communication between upper ad lower levels in the organization
  3. Launching lean initiatives without explaining its meaning and benefits to the employees or answering their doubts & queries
  4. Cultural differences due to ethnic, language or any other issues which create lack of acceptability among the employees
  5. Lack of adaptability to quickly change as per the market conditions, especially in organizations producing or dealing in a large variety of products in :
  • changes in product portfolios as per customer demand
  • changes in product design
  • quick delivery of customer orders
  • quick liquidation of dead inventory
6. Treating "Reduction in Inventory" as a 'Business Asset loss" due to successful implementation of few lean projects
7. Long decision making processes
8. Limited or no resources for lean projects
9. Communication barriers between different levels in the organization leading to "lack of transparency"
10. Lastly, hiring a Consultant for Lean Implementation but not listening to their advice and giving them unreasonable timelines and targets.

Data not available for your Six Sigma Project - No Problem !!!!

Although data is a very critical requirement for Lean Six Sigma projects, still there are situations like organizations which have just started Lean Six Sigma implementation, where data is not at all available or whatever data is available is very unreliable or can't be verified due to unavailability of process experts.
Many people would say that a Lean Six Sigma approach is not possible due to unavailability of data, still a project can be done through the same methodology by:
  • The Project Charter would comprise of the usual business case, problem, potential goals, project team & SIPOC with high level process map. But the difference would be that the problem & potential goals would be qualitative rather than quantitative.
  • A detailed process mapping exercise could be conducted for detailed understanding of the process, with possible measures & metrics. The detailed process map can be used to do a value stream analysis of the process & collect the relevant data for the same.
  • An initial FMEA could be done by the team to address the process weaknesses & a Cause & Effect (Fishbone) diagram exercise could be done to identify the possible x's. Once the x's are identified, data can be collected for these x's & a MSA can be done using them.
  • Once the data is collected, our project becomes a typical Lean Six Sigma project & can be done using the same DMAIC approach, as used in other DMAIC projects where data is normally available.

Tuesday 28 August 2018

Lean Six Sigma Glossary & Terminologies


What is 5S?
Organize the work area:

Sort (eliminate that which is not needed)
Set In Order (organize remaining items)
Shine (clean and inspect work area)
Standardize (write standards for above)
Sustain (regularly apply the standards)

How does 5S help?
Eliminates waste that results from a poorly organized work area (e.g. wasting time looking for a tool).

Why & where 5S can be used?
5S is a system for organizing spaces so work can be performed efficiently, effectively, and safely. It focuses on putting everything where it belongs and keeping the workplace clean, which makes it easier for people to do their jobs safely and efficiently. 


What is Andon?
Visual feedback system for the plant floor that indicates production status, alerts when assistance is needed, and empowers operators to stop the production process.

How does Andon help?
Acts as a real-time communication tool for the plant floor that brings immediate attention to problems as they occur – so they can be instantly addressed.

Where Andon can be used?
Andon means "light" or "sign" in lean manufacturing where it is used as a signal to highlight an anomaly using a visual system of communication that is often relayed with a lit signboard or stacked lights.  In manufacturing, it refers to a system having an electronic device that uses some form of signal lights to notify maintenance, management, and other workers of a process or quality problem.

Bottleneck Analysis

What is Bottleneck Analysis?
Identify which part of the manufacturing process limits the overall throughput and improve the performance of that part of the process.

How does Bottleneck Analysis help?
Improves throughput by strengthening the weakest link in the manufacturing process.

Continuous Flow

What is Continuous Flow?
Manufacturing where work-in-process smoothly flows through production with minimal (or no) buffers between steps of the manufacturing process.

How does Continuous Flow help?
Eliminates many forms of waste (e.g. inventory, waiting time, and transport).

Gemba (The Real Place)

What is Gemba?
A philosophy that reminds us to get out of our offices and spend time on the plant floor – the place where real action occurs.

How does Gemba help?
Promotes a deep and thorough understanding of real-world manufacturing issues – by first-hand observation and by talking with plant floor employees.

Heijunka (Level Scheduling)

What is Heijunka?
A form of production scheduling that purposely manufactures in much smaller batches by sequencing (mixing) product variants within the same process.

How does Heijunka help?
Reduces lead times (since each product or variant is manufactured more frequently) and inventory (since batches are smaller).

Hoshin Kanri (Policy Deployment)

What is Hoshin Kanri?
Align the goals of the company (Strategy), with the plans of middle management (Tactics) and the work performed on the plant floor (Action).

How does Hoshin Kanri help?
Ensures that progress towards strategic goals is consistent and thorough – eliminating the waste that comes from poor communication and inconsistent direction.

Jidoka (Autonomation)

What is Jidoka?
Design equipment to partially automate the manufacturing process (partial automation is typically much less expensive than full automation) and to automatically stop when defects are detected.

How does Jidoka help?
After Jidoka, workers can frequently monitor multiple stations (reducing labor costs) and many quality issues can be detected immediately (improving quality).

Just-In-Time (JIT)

What is Just-In-Time?
Pull parts through production based on customer demand instead of pushing parts through production based on projected demand. Relies on many lean tools, such as Continuous Flow, Heijunka, Kanban, Standardized Work and Takt Time.

How does Just-In-Time help?
Highly effective in reducing inventory levels. Improves cash flow and reduces space requirements.

Kaizen (Continuous Improvement)

What is Kaizen?
A strategy where employees work together proactively to achieve regular, incremental improvements in the manufacturing process.

How does Kaizen help?
Combines the collective talents of a company to create an engine for continually eliminating waste from manufacturing processes.

Kanban (Pull System)

What is Kanban?
A method of regulating the flow of goods both within the factory and with outside suppliers and customers. Based on automatic replenishment through signal cards that indicate when more goods are needed.

How does Kanban help?
Eliminates waste from inventory and overproduction. Can eliminate the need for physical inventories (instead relying on signal cards to indicate when more goods need to be ordered).

KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)

What are KPIs?
Metrics designed to track and encourage progress towards critical goals of the organization. Strongly promoted KPIs can be extremely powerful drivers of behavior – so it is important to carefully select KPIs that will drive desired behavior.

How do KPIs help?
The best manufacturing KPIs:
Are aligned with top-level strategic goals (thus helping to achieve those goals)
Are effective at exposing and quantifying waste (OEE is a good example)
Are readily influenced by plant floor employees (so they can drive results)

Muda (Waste)

What is Muda?
Anything in the manufacturing process that does not add value from the customer’s perspective.

How does Muda help?
It doesn’t. Muda means ‘waste’. The elimination of muda (waste) is the primary focus of lean manufacturing.

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)

What is Overall Equipment Effectiveness?
Framework for measuring productivity loss for a given manufacturing process. Three categories of loss are tracked:
Availability (e.g. downtime)
Performance (e.g. slow cycles)
Quality (e.g. rejects)
How does Overall Equipment Effectiveness help?
Provides a benchmark/baseline and a means to track progress in eliminating waste from a manufacturing process. 100% OEE means perfect production (manufacturing only good parts, as fast as possible, with no downtime).

PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act)

What is PDCA?
An iterative methodology for implementing improvements:
Plan (establish plan and expected results)
Do (implement plan)
Check (verify expected results achieved)
Act (review and assess; do it again)

How does PDCA help?
Applies a scientific approach to making improvements:
Plan (develop a hypothesis)
Do (run experiment)
Check (evaluate results)
Act (refine your experiment; try again)

Poka-Yoke (Error Proofing)

What is Poka-Yoke?
Design error detection and prevention into production processes with the goal of achieving zero defects.

How does Poka-Yoke help?
It is difficult (and expensive) to find all defects through inspection, and correcting defects typically gets significantly more expensive at each stage of production.

Root Cause Analysis

What is Root Cause Analysis?
A problem solving methodology that focuses on resolving the underlying problem instead of applying quick fixes that only treat immediate symptoms of the problem. A common approach is to ask why five times – each time moving a step closer to discovering the true underlying problem.

How does Root Cause Analysis help?
Helps to ensure that a problem is truly eliminated by applying corrective action to the “root cause” of the problem.

Single-Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED)

What is Single-Minute Exchange of Dies?
Reduce setup (changeover) time to less than 10 minutes. Techniques include:
Convert setup steps to be external (performed while the process is running)
Simplify internal setup (e.g. replace bolts with knobs and levers)
Eliminate non-essential operations
Create Standardized Work instructions

How does Single-Minute Exchange of Dies help?
Enables manufacturing in smaller lots, reduces inventory, and improves customer responsiveness.

Six Big Losses

What is Six Big Losses?
Six categories of productivity loss that are almost universally experienced in manufacturing:
Small Stops
Reduced Speed
Startup Rejects
Production Rejects.

How does Six Big Losses help?
Provides a framework for attacking the most common causes of waste in manufacturing.


What are SMART Goals?
Goals that are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Specific.

How do SMART Goals help?
Helps to ensure that goals are effective.

Standardized Work

What is Standardized Work?
Documented procedures for manufacturing that capture best practices (including the time to complete each task). Must be “living” documentation that is easy to change.

How does Standardized Work help?
Eliminates waste by consistently applying best practices. Forms a baseline for future improvement activities.

Takt Time

What is Takt Time?
The pace of production (e.g. manufacturing one piece every 34 seconds) that aligns production with customer demand. Calculated as Planned Production Time / Customer Demand.

How does Takt Time help?
Provides a simple, consistent and intuitive method of pacing production. Is easily extended to provide an efficiency goal for the plant floor (Actual Pieces / Target Pieces).

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)

What is Total Productive Maintenance?
A holistic approach to maintenance that focuses on proactive and preventative maintenance to maximize the operational time of equipment. TPM blurs the distinction between maintenance and production by placing a strong emphasis on empowering operators to help maintain their equipment.

How does Total Productive Maintenance help?
Creates a shared responsibility for equipment that encourages greater involvement by plant floor workers. In the right environment this can be very effective in improving productivity (increasing up time, reducing cycle times, and eliminating defects).

Value Stream Mapping

What is Value Stream Mapping?
A tool used to visually map the flow of production. Shows the current and future state of processes in a way that highlights opportunities for improvement.

How does Value Stream Mapping help?
Exposes waste in the current processes and provides a roadmap for improvement through the future state.

Visual Factory

What is Visual Factory?
Visual indicators, displays and controls used throughout manufacturing plants to improve communication of information.

How does Visual Factory help?
Makes the state and condition of manufacturing processes easily accessible and very clear – to everyone.

Friday 17 August 2018

    Why Visual Management?

Visual management is a huge part of Lean Manufacturing and the Toyota Production System. It is the ability to manage everything in your factory (and support areas) visually.Visual management is a way to visually communicate expectations, performance, standards or warnings in a way that requires little or no prior training to interpret.
Visual Management provides real time information of workplace through different visual information aids. Visual Management is involved in all the areas of business, related to Quality, Delivery, Cost, KPIs, work methods, material, machine & equipment and above all, manpower.

Wednesday 8 August 2018

How to Create Value for the Customer?

Any business can never survive unless its creates value for its customers. But first, it will have to create value for itself in which having support of its customers is the most critical requirement. 
Value for a business organization  means value in different forms that determine its health & well being. In numerical terms, it can be assets whose value can be expressed in monetary figures & intangible things like patents, copyrights, brands, intellect, etc. 
Value for customers is defined as what the customer is buying or paying for. Value for the customer is the measure of the benefits gained from a product or service relative to the cost paid by the customer. It is imperative that the product or service is made available to the customer with the right quality, right price, at the right place & at the right time. But all this requires answering some very important questions: 
  • What are the important factors for the customer while making the buying decision?
  • What carrries more importance for the customer - cost or benefits?
  • Are you capable of delivering that matches the customer needs?
  • Is your competition capable of delivering that matches the customer needs?
  • Are you capable of delivering more than your competition?

In light of the above mentioned points, a business organization can create value for its customers throuh:
  1. Giving more benefits to its customers than its competitors, at the same or nearby level price. The extra benefits could be a better service, a better buying experience, extra features in product or service, etc.
  2.  Creating Ease of Buying & Ease of Payment for the customer, through multiple ways that the customer can choose as per his requirement
  3. Creating a good image of the company reflecting ethics, honesty & trust with which the customer would like to be associated with by buying its products or services
  4. Valuing the relationship with its partners and dealers & effectively utilizing their knowledge of the market for mutual benefit
  5. Most importantly, providing a product or service that fulfills the customer requirements, with ease of use
  6. Creating Ease of Contact for the customer through multiple  ways that the customer can choose as per his requirement. The customer is easily able to contact the business organization or its representatives for any support or issue. Its imperative that the support is provided to the customer within the committed time and resolving the issue to the customer satisfaction.  

Value for Business & Customer

Value is a result of hashtagbusiness activity for both the business & hashtagcustomer. But value has different perspectives for both - while for business it means hashtagCustomerSatisfaction for more hashtagsales & hashtagprofitability and for customer it means fulfillment of their needs & wants.... hashtag

Friday 3 August 2018

How to Identify the Improvement Project?

Problems in business organizations are a common phenomenon these days. Most of the business organizations try to solve these problems with a one off action. But another problem crops up somewhere else in the organization. The problems keep on occurring again and again unless and until the business organization is forced to take some drastic action. Meanwhile, while the problems keep on occurring repeatedly, important organization resources are deployed to keep on solving these problems rather than focusing their efforts towards advancement of business and finding ways to help the organization to grow and expand.
Solving business problems with such actions is like grabbing a balloon filled with air with hands to try to suppress the balloon. One grabs one side of the balloon; the air escapes to some other part and collects over there. Again taking action in that part is repeating the same process again. Hence, it is imperative for a business organization to have a structured way of solving business problems.
Lean principles combined with Six Sigma provide an excellent way of solving all kind of business problems in an organized manner. Business problems should be handled in a structured manner and it is advisable to establish a proper structure to handle these problems and make decision making easy for leaders to decide whether the problem requires a full Six Sigma project or can be solved by just applying the Lean principles. An important feature in this is to have knowledge whether solution for the problem found is known or not known.
Let us understand this with the help of an example. If a particular process is not achieving its target and the problem is known to the management or people working in the project, then a simple exercise of Value Stream Mapping may be enough to solve the problem. It would identify all the Non-Value Added items in the process flow and design steps to eliminate them. Only those steps would remain in the process which are either productive or are required for completion or act as input of another productive step. Similarly, if a problem is occurring and there is no idea about why the problem is occurring, then it is better to undertake a full Six Sigma project in this case. The problem will be completely dissected to come at a conclusion and arrive at a Goal statement. The data so collected will be fully analyzed to arrive at conclusions and implement an action plan to improve the process and eliminate the problems in the process.
Lack of a problem solving & improvement structure in a business organization leads to complacency which may be ok when things are right but can prove to be disastrous when things are not looking good. Establishing such a structure leads to a culture change where every person working in the organization constantly looks to do his job better with improvements. Such a culture eventually makes a small and mid-sized company the leader in their fields of business.

Is Data Really Required in Business?

Have you ever considered how a business takes decisions and make investments running into millions of dollars? How a company spends millions on launching a new product even when there is no guarantee whether it will be successful or not? The answer lies in just one word: Risk.
Risk is often described in business parlance as the probability of loss, negative occurrence or possibility of injury, damage or any other threat that may cause loss to oneself or one’s assets. Still, business organizations take risks as it is a common business practice while taking business decisions. This is because reward is the return for taking risks, it is often said that “The higher the risk, the higher is the reward”.
But do you think that business organizations would be so foolish to take decisions which may cause loss to them and may even threaten their existence? No, this is not the reality because business organizations take risks in business decisions only after evaluating the pros and cons of each factor. What helps the business organizations take such risks is the assessment made by them by evaluating certain factors which is provided by the data. Availability of data helps the business organizations to have confidence in the business decisions taken by them – the more the data is available, the more confidence the business will have about the risks taken by it.
Let us understand this through an example. Suppose we have a glass half filled with water. The entire glass represents our understanding of a business decision. The available water (half filled) represents that data available with us while the empty part of glass represents the risk factor. The half filled glass representing the data gives us the confidence that we have in making decisions as we can evaluate all the factors, taking into consideration all the negative consequences (possibility of loss) and positive consequences (possibility of rewards or profits). Thus we have to assume the factors for the half filled part of glass also (risk) based on our analysis of the part which is filled (data). To cover this risk, it is imperative that we should get as much data as possible to build our confidence.
This is why companies spend millions to collect data from its customers, agents, dealers and others either through its own efforts or purchases the data from specialized companies such as market research organizations. This data is then evaluated and analyzed using specialized tools such as QFD (Quality Function Deployment) and FMEA (Failure Modes and Effects Analysis) to assess the customer requirements and risks associated with the decisions taken by the business organizations for developing products and services for fulfilling these customer requirements. Tools such as QFD and FMEA helps the business organizations have confidence in their business decisions as all the risks associated with these have been carefully evaluated and steps being taken to either eliminate these risks or minimize their occurrence.

Change Management - Identifying Difficult People In many improvement projects, it has been found that improvements either fail to take p...