creating change Capability and Basic Reliability


The first pillar of our model for Kaizen in logistics and supply chain is the foundation of basic reliability. We have already seen that it consist of developing stability in terms of manpower, machines, materials, and methods-the four Ms of any operational environment. This stability also can be measured in terms of trust that our basic resources will work reliably when we need them to execute customer orders.

To have sustainable basic reliability, it is also necessary to develop change capability. By this I mean that the company must start to develop a culture of change or continuous improvement, one that allows new ideas to be put forward, discussed, and tried out on the shop floor. The company needs to develop a growth mindset in order to become a learning organization.

In part one we discussed the need to be able to accept new ideas even when they look like paradoxes, impossible and first glance. It is therefore very important to start implementing continuous improvement culture at the same time as the discussion, design, and implementation of a pull-flow system.

Taiichi Ohno had both a growth mindset and a Gemba mindset. He belived strongly in the kaizen principles. In his book, Taiichi Ohnos workplace Management, he says that all human being are prone to having many misconceived ideas about what does and does not work. He explains that in order to arrive at new solutions, one has to develop a Gemba attitude of willingness to try new ideas without having preconceived ideas about their outcome. If you accept that your ideas may or may not be correct, he says, you will want to try them in order to validate your theories. Doing this will involve your subordinates and colleagues in the project, and they will develop more respect for you when they see that your decisions are based on tested results. This willingness to try out new ideas rather than making decisions based merely on personal opinion or “gut feel” will give your opinions and suggestions more weight.

Another term for this is learning by doing. At the Kaizen Institute we say that too much meeting-room discussion is counterproductive because everybody has misconceptions , and the only real way to know if something works is by trying it out. This is part of developing change capability, and only with change capability can we have reliable processes. This is the type of thinking and environment of acceptance we need to foster if major change projects are to be successful.

Creating a Kaizen Mindset

Before attempting to change or improve something, increase your awareness of it through direct observation. This is part of Ohno’s Gemba kaizen spirir.

Many people are so used to performing certain tasks throughout the day that they don’t consciously think about what they are actually doing. It has simply become a habit. They are like car drivers just going along on autopilot without noticing what is actually happening, following a protocol deeply ingrained in the neurologic circuitry of their brains by many years of habit. It happens to us all.

 This also means that we are often not aware of certain things or variables that are not adding values to our internal or external customers-variables that are important for the competitiveness of the company. Most people who work directly in any operation are not really aware of what I call the critical muda variables.

Acknowledgement: KAIZEN in logistics and supply chain book by Euclides coimbara

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Gemba Kaizen