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Jim Womack’s Top Misconceptions of the Lean Movement

3 min read

This fall marks the 25th anniversary of the Lean movement which continues to revolutionize the manufacturing industry and is now spreading into other industries as well. Jim Womack, former MIT researcher and well-known founder of the Lean movement was a keynote presenter at the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) in Toronto last month.

Womack was introduced by CME president Jayson Meyers, who said he is “someone who has changed the world” by launching the Lean revolution. In response, Womack stated “all I have done is repackage stolen goods, I just tell stories.”

He’s done more than just tell stories though. Womack has authored three books and wrote countless essays regarding Lean. His book titles include:

  • The Machine that Changed the World: The Story of Lean Production
  • Lean Thinking, Lean Solutions
  • Gemba Walks

The growth of Lean over the last 25 years has prompted several non-manufacturing industries to adopt Lean techniques and processes. It’s popularity and progress has actually come as a surprise to Womack.

I’m surprised we’ve made as much progress as we have, with so much misunderstanding of what we [the leading Lean gurus] have been saying.

-Jim Womack

Jim Womack’s top misconceptions of the Lean movement:

Misconception No. 1: “People heard that Lean is a cost-cutting exercise.” Womack wanted to make it clear that the methods his team studied at MIT were geared towards producing more output, with less waste. This was meant to be less time wasted, space, operating costs, capital expenditures, and worker injuries. “People think it’s a headcount reduction system, people heard the less, but they didn’t hear the more,” Womack added.

Misconception No. 2: “People thought it was a book about factories.” Womack felt his first book The Machine that Changed the World, in regards to the Toyota Production System was interpreted to be more about factories than anything else. He went on to point out that his book included chapters on managing customers, how to listen to your market, and running your entire enterprise on Lean principles. “You have to read the other four-fifths of the book,” Womack said if you want to understand that Lean is not just about production.

Misconception No. 3: “Most people think Lean is a within-the-walls activity to fix your company.” In fact, as Womack points out, Lean is at its best when your supply-chain partners team up to reduce inefficiencies and maximize flow as well. “It is impossible for you to get very far when the people in your value stream don’t get any better,” Womack said.

Misconception No. 4: “Lean is an improvement process production can do — management doesn’t have to do anything. Management can ‘check the box’ and move on.” Womack went on to add that lean required continuous co-operation at all levels, with upper management building two-way communications and trust with staff, restructuring to support decision-making at lower levels, shepherding investment in Lean projects, and generally championing Lean initiatives.

Lean isn’t going away, at least not in the foreseeable future, but it is up to those adopting Lean’s methods to truly embrace it’s methodology if they want to have success. There is no reading between the lines with Lean. The proof is in the work laid out by pioneers like Womack and organizations like Toyota who have shown that Lean does equal success.

I am a modest optimist. I think people and societies learn more slowly than they should. In the long-run battle for competitiveness, the winners will be those organizations that get better, faster than anyone else.

-Jim Womack

Information used in portions of this post were from a post on by Rick Spence.

Red Sox Lean Way To Title

4 min read

Red Sox Win Their Way

The 2013 Major League Baseball season came to a roaring end in Boston last week, crowning its 106th World Series Champion on the sacred Fenway Park grounds. For the Boston Red Sox, it was their third title in ten years and eighth overall, fourth behind the Oakland Athletics (9), St. Louis Cardinals (11), and New York Yankees (27). It was also the first time they clinched a title at home since 1918, which made it that much sweeter for one of the most dedicated fan bases in all of sports.

Boston Red SoxBut does this all have to do with Lean?

What is Lean?

Simply put, Lean is about creating the most value for your customers with the fewest resources. There are several processes and methodologies behind Lean that give companies the tools necessary to pursue such goals. However, for the purpose of this analogy, we will stick to the basics and break down how the Red Sox went from worst to first in a little over a year, using the most basic Lean concept of all –eliminating waste.

Epic Collapse

To understand exactly how the Red Sox went from a laughing stock cellar dweller, to one of the best sporting stories of 2013, you have to go back to the 2011 season.

On August 27, 2011, the Red Sox held a two game lead over their rival New York Yankees in the division and a nine game lead in the wild card (final playoff spot) race over the Tampa Bay Rays. The season was nearly over and looking great when the team literally self destructed. They went on to lose 21 of their final 29 games in what was one of the biggest late season collapses in sports history.

Stories of beer drinking in the clubhouse during games, players who didn’t care, and a manager who had lost control of his team all surfaced throughout the media.

How did management respond?

About half way through the slump they decided to buy all the players $300 headphones and have them out on the owner’s yacht for a private night to “re-group.” Surprisingly enough, this was not the motivation the team with a $161 million payroll needed.

The season ended terribly for the Red Sox. They spent money like it was growing on trees in 2011 and had nothing to show to their fans (customers) for it.

First elimination of waste: Part ways with manager and bring in a fresh face to try and change the culture.


The 2012 season brought new life to the Red Sox. The offseason was spent in turmoil and mostly answering questions about the previous seasons collapse. Needless to say, just getting back on the field again was a win for the club. They were a preseason favorite and with the third highest payroll in baseball at just over $173 million, the fans were expecting big things.

The new manager was tough and hard-nosed, a complete opposite to the previous manager. Upper management felt the club house needed this change to eliminate the “waste” that formed at the end of the 2011 season.

Quickly though, 2012 started much like how the 2011 season ended and was not looking good for Red Sox nation. The 2012 season was looking like a complete waste and the fans were left feeling like they were not getting the product they anticipated.

The Trade

Most trade deadlines in sports come and go in sports with a few trades here and there, but nothing to out of the ordinary. However, on August 25, 2012, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox managed to pull off one of the biggest trades in sports history. The Red Sox sent four players (some of which who were at the front of the 2011 waste issues) to the Dodgers and more importantly, cleared up nearly $270 million in payroll –massive waste elimination.

The team finished in last place and lost its most games in a season since 1965. To some, this trade was seen as a sign that they had given up and were about to enter a long rebuilding phase, but the Sox would have the last laugh. The Red Sox also wasted no time firing their first year manager.  –more waste eliminated.


For the first time in years, the Red Sox were on no one’s radar to win a pennant. They had their lowest payroll in years ($159 million) and a manager that few had even heard of. They stayed away from the big name free agents and instead, brought in pieces they felt could help them win while building a culture that was sustainable throughout a season. The fans had low expectations for win totals, but were desperate for a good product on the field.

What happened next was one of the biggest surprise stories the world of sports had seen in years. Even at the halfway point in the season, skeptics doubted the Red Sox hot start and predicted them to fall out of their first place position before the season was over.

The Sox never did look back though. They finished tied for the leagues best record and stormed through the playoffs, eventually defeating the St. Louis Cardinals four games to two, in route to their eighth and  maybe most unprecedented title in franchise history.

Red Sox and Lean

Free Kaizen Guide

Free Kaizen Guide

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and assume that no one in the Red Sox organization picked up a Lean handbook or attended a Lean conference and decided to start running things differently as a result. However, the idea is still the same. It’s a true testament to how powerful a transformation can be when you start dedicating yourself to eliminating waste and improving the culture around you.










Why Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED)?

3 min read

The path towards continuous improvement in your lean journey is not always as clear as you’d like it to be. Many of the processes and methodologies behind Lean take time before your organization has success with them. It’s a learning process well worth the investment, but can be frustrating at times. Same goes for the Lean process known as Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED). The increased efficiency and reduction of costly inventory that results from SMED, only comes when your organization has fully committed and dedicated the time to fully understand the process.

Background of Single Minute Exchange of Die or SMED

SMEDThe SMED process was developed by Dr. Shigeo Shingo in Japan during the sixties and early seventies at Toyota. Dr. Shingo was given the challenge of increasing production capacity without purchasing new equipment. His research at first was mostly spent observing machines in action and trying to understand how to make them run faster. However, this was not giving him the information he was looking for.

To his surprise, his aha moment came when he observed a machine sitting idle. While spending all the time focused on the machine in action, he failed to realize the lack of emphasis on the machine’s cycle time. When a production order was complete the machine would lay idle while workers slowly gathered the materials for the next order. Dr. Shingo then realized that in order to achieve full production capacity, you have to reduce setup and changeover time.

His new focus led him to realize that changing production equipment from the last good piece to the first good piece, should take less than 10 minutes. Which is where the term “Single Minute Exchange of Dies” (SMED) came from.

What Can SMED Do For You?

Most people refer to SMED today as “quick changeover” or “setup reduction.” Even though it was originally developed to improve die-press and machine-tool setups, the concept applies to all changeovers in all types of product setups.

In the book Quick Changeover Simplified, authors Fletcher Birmingham and Jim Jelinek offer six reasons why a quick changeover process like SMED will help benefit your company. They are as follows:

  • Simplify your manufacturing process. A quick setup and changeover program simplifies processes and makes manufacturing jobs easier and more fulfilling for employees. This leads to happier employees, which leads to a lower turn-over rate.
  • Improve the quality of products. When you define, simplify, and control your manufacturing processes, the end result will be a better, higher quality product.
  • Increase throughput. A quick setup program allows an increase in throughput, helping to improve deliveries. Improved deliveries help customers sell more products, thus increasing their need to order more products from you to keep up with demand.
  • Permit smaller lots. The old rule of thumb was to produce goods in large lots because long setup times make it costly to change the process frequently. However producing large lots for this reason has several disadvantages, including:

~Inventory waste: storing what doesn’t sell costs money and ties up company resources without adding value.
~Quality loss: storing unsold inventory increases the chance that it will have to be scrapped or reworked.
~Delay waste: customers must wait for the company to produce entire lots, rather than the quantity they need.
~Non-standardized setups: Infrequent setups often aren’t standardized; thus they are difficult and risky.

  • Make your company more competitive. A quick setup and changeover program reduces the time , cost, and resources associated with switching from one manufacturing job to the next. Any savings you have can then be passed along to your customer to make you that much more competitive.
  • Save jobs. Not implementing a quick setup program makes your company noncompetitive because it needs to absorb the cost of lost potential savings that could have benefited your company and customers.

These benefits of SMED are just the start of the continued improvement you will see to your facility in the long and short term. Stay tuned for more on SMED, including tips on how to implement SMED into your Lean facility.

An Engaged Employee is a Productive Employee

3 min read

Get the most out of each employee

To measure the success of an organization, you don’t have to look much further than the employees that make it go. Are they happy to be there? Do they take pride in their work? Can they acknowledge they’re a part of something bigger? The answer to these questions will more often than not, be dependent upon your employee’s level of engagement.

Employee If you’re a Lean organization, then you know first hand how import an employee’s level of engagement is to your culture and success of your business. Creating a culture where each and every employee is equally engaged is a challenge that few have the answers for, but all are in search of.

So what do you do? First off, you need to have a complete understanding of the dynamics that make up your organization’s population. You don’t need statistics, raw data, charts, or any kind of number for that matter. In fact, just throw the numbers out the window and engage your employees with the same energy that you expect from them.

To get started, seek out the employees who are visibly the most productive and find out what makes them tick. Find the disinterested employee and ask them what’s on their mind. This is the type of information that moving forward, will help you develop the tools to get the engagement you need from each employee and increase productivity along the way.

Easier Said Than Done

Maybe, but in a Lean organization, every employee is a valuable asset and should be treated as such. This type of respect and trust goes a long way when you’re trying to build a culture that everyone feels equally a part of.

A culture, like any ecosystem has many dynamic parts that are always changing and evolving. In order to understand its needs and help it thrive, you need to be on the ground level to help push it along. You can’t do this from an office or a cell phone, you need to get to the “gemba,” get to the front lines and be the motivator that employees want to model themselves after.

Bring People Together

The difference between the employee who does the minimum amount of work to the one who puts in everything they have every day, may be smaller than you think once you start digging.

These same two employees may despise each other on the job because of their differences in work ethic, but given the opportunity outside the typical work setting, and you might find the two have more in common than they thought.

The more company functions you can promote, will go a long way in building your culture and engagement among your employees. From the company softball team, to the Friday BBQ, these type of events bring employees together that might have never spoken to one another. This allows them the opportunity to engage with one another, building solid relationships that can help motivate and improve effort in the workplace.

Providing opportunities that bring employees together not only builds employee moral, but shows that you care about your employees. You can’t expect an employee to fully engage themselves into your organization if they feel like just another body. Make them feel a part of something bigger and watch the transformation unfold.

Interesting Numbers

A survey by the consulting firm BlessingWhite shows the value of an engaged employee to your organization.

  • 40 percent of employees reported feeling engaged in 2012. A 33 percent increase from 2011.
  • 55 percent said they “definitely” intend to stay in their jobs. With “intent to stay” being an indicator of their commitment to company success. 12 percent said “no way.”
  • 48 percent agreed or strongly agreed that they have career opportunities with their employer.
  • 74 percent of engaged workers agree or strongly agree that they trust their manager. For disengaged workers, the number was just 14 percent.

It stands to reason that managers who develop awareness of trust and how to earn it will have much greater success in engaging their team members.




Eight Steps To Practical Problem Solving

3 min read

The Toyota Way To Problem Solving

The art of problem solving is constantly trying to evolve and be re-branded by folks in various industries. While the new way might very well be an effective method in certain applications. A tried and true way of identifying and solving problems is the eight steps to practical problem solving developed by Toyota, years ago. The system is structured, but simple and practical enough to handle problems of the smallest nature, to the most complex issues.

Using a fundamental and strategic way to solve problems creates consistency within an organization. When you base your results off facts, experience and common sense, the results form in a rational and sustainable way.

Problem Solving Solution

The Eight Step Problem Solving Process

  1. Clarify the Problem
  2. Breakdown the Problem
  3. Set the Target
  4. Analyze the Root Cause
  5. Develop Countermeasures
  6. Implement Countermeasures
  7. Monitor Results and Process
  8. Standardize and Share Success

The eight steps to practical problem solving also include the Plan, Do, Check and Act (PDCA) cycle. Steps one through five are the planning process. The doing is found in step six. Step seven is the checking . Step eight involves acting out the results of the new standard.

This practical problem solving can be powerful tool to issues facing your organization. It allows organizations to have a common understanding of what defines a problem and what steps are going to be taken in order to overcome the problem efficiently.

The Eight Steps Broken Down:

Step 1: Clarify the Problem

A problem can be defined in one of three ways. The first being, anything that is a deviation from the standard. The second could be the gap between the actual condition and the desired condition. With the third being an unfilled customer need.

In order to best clarify the problem, you have to see the problem with your own eyes. This gives you the details and hands-on experience that will allow you to move forward in the process.

Step 2: Breakdown the Problem

Once you’ve seen the problem first hand, you can begin to breakdown the problem into more detailed and specific problems. Remember, as you breakdown your problem you still need to see the smaller, individual problems with your own eyes. This is also a good time to study and analyze the different inputs and outputs  of the process so that you can effectively prioritize your efforts. It is much more effective to manage and solve a bunch of micro-problems one at a time, rather than try and tackle a big problem with no direction.

Step 3: Set the Target

setting goals, root cause analysis

Step three is all about commitment and focus. Your attention should now turn towards focusing on what is needed to complete the project and how long it will take to finish. You should set targets that are challenging, but within limits and don’t put a strain on the organization that would hinder the improvement process.

Step 4: Analyze the Root Cause

This is a vital step when problem solving, because it will help you identify the actual factors that caused the issue in the first place. More often than not, there are multiple root causes to analyze. Make sure you are considering all potential root causes and addressing them properly. A proper root cause analysis, again involves you actually going to the cause itself instead of simply relying on reports.

Step 5: Develop Countermeasures

Once you’ve established your root causes, you can use that information to develop the countermeasures needed to remove the root causes. Your team should develop as many countermeasures needed to directly address any and all root causes. Once you’ve developed your countermeasures, you can begin to narrow them down to the most practical and effective based off your target.

Step 6: Implement Countermeasures

Now that you have developed your countermeasures and narrowed them down, it is time to see them through in a timely manner. Communication is extremely important in step six. You’ll want to seek ideas from the team and continue to work back through the PDCA cycle to ensure nothing is being missed along the way. Consider implementing one countermeasure at a time to monitor the effectiveness of each.

You will certainly make mistakes in throughout your problem solving processes, but your persistence is key, especially in step six.

Step 7: Monitor Results and Process

As mistakes happen and countermeasures fail, you need a system in place to review and modify them to get the intended result. You can also determine if the intended outcome was the result of the action of the countermeasure, or was it just a fluke? There is always room for improvement in the problem solving process, but you need to be able to recognize it when it comes to your attention.

Step 8: Standardize and Share Success

Now that you’ve encountered success along your problem solving path, it is time to set the new processes as the new standard within the organization and share them throughout the organization. It is also a good time to reflect on what you’ve learned and address any possible unresolved issues or troubles you have along the way. Ignoring unresolved issues will only lead to more problems down the road.

Finally, because you are a true Lean organization who believes continuous improvement never stops, it is time to tackle the next problem. Start the problem solving process over again and continue to work towards perfection.

Toyota Donates What Money Couldn’t Buy: Efficiency

3 min read

The Food Bank For New York City is one of the country’s largest food banks. Their effort to reach the nearly 2.6 million New Yorkers who experience difficulty affording food does not go unnoticed. Some of the biggest corporate names have reached out to financially support the Food Bank including Bank of America, Disney, FedEx, the Yankees and many more, but Toyota decided to take another route. Instead of cash, Toyota donates what money couldn’t buy: efficiency.

Kaizen in Action

Rather than sign over a big check to the Food Bank, Toyota decided to step in and get their hands dirty. They offered up something that few in the food industry have ever heard of –Kaizen. The Food Bank was a little hesitant at first with the Toyota offer. But after presenting the Food Bank with the details of kaizen, the Food Bank for New York City was more than happy to hear what Toyota could do for them.

Kaizen is the Japanese term for continuous improvement which Toyota has mastered and made world famous in the manufacturing industry. The idea behind continual small improvements is that they eventually add up to larger benefits for both the company and the customer.The primary objective is to remove waste in all areas, while ensuring quality and safety at the same time. The end result — improved efficiency.

The Food Bank helps provide 400,000 free meals a day for New Yorkers and the engineers from Toyota were determined to help make the process more efficient. Long lines of hungry people waiting for their next meal to the lengthy processing times for workers to fill food boxes was the target of Toyota’s attack when they first assessed the Food Bank’s operations.

Toyota Donates What Money Couldn’t Buy: Efficiency

The aftermath of the Toyota Production System Support Center (TSSC) team’s work:

  • Soup kitchen in Harlem- The average wait time for an individual to receive a meal in this particular kitchen was close to 90 minutes. After the TSSC team revised the kitchen and the process in which the customers were fed, the wait time was down to 18 minutes!
  • Staten Island Food Pantry- The average time it took the workers there to fill a bag of food for donation was 11 minutes. After the TSSC team revised the process the workers were using the bags were filled on an average of 6 minutes!
  • Warehouse in Brushwick, Brooklyn- Volunteers worked long hard days to fill boxes of food and supplies for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. The average time it took before TSSC was 3 minutes, after  11 seconds!

The Toyota Difference

The Harlem Kitchen was by far the most significant number the TSSC team was able to reduce. The kitchen could hold up to 50 people at a time and would start dinner at 4 p.m. daily. Once all the chairs were full inside, a line would then start to form outside. When 10 chairs would open up, the staff would send in the next ten customers to eat. Again, the average wait time — 90 minutes!

Toyota made three big changes. The first was to eliminate the 10-at-a-time system. They allowed diners to come in one by one once a chair opened up for them. The second, was to allow diners to wait inside in a new waiting area where they would be closer to the food trays. Finally, a staff member was assigned to the floor to spot an empty seat, as it would open up they would call the next in line out. New average wait time –18 minutes!

 Meals Per Hour

Toyota wasn’t done with the Food Bank yet. The company announced its Meals Per Hour campaign which was promoted through the use of a short documentary film (shown at the bottom). The company would donate one meal for every view the video received, up to 250,000. It didn’t take long for the film to go viral though. Shortly after release the video surpassed the original target goal and Toyota decided they could still do more.

The auto maker decided to step up and donate an additional one million meals in addition to the 250,000 meals they had already donated. The film currently has 1,014,408 views at this time.

Since 1992, TSSC has been helping companies and organizations around the country increase efficiencies, streamline processes, and better serve their customers with the Toyota Production System. They have recently launched a national campaign to support up to 20 community and non-profit organizations in using the TPS to help improve their operations, extend their reach and increase their impact.

The Vacation Paradox

2 min read

Sunshine Daydreams

You’re 48 hours away from that dream vacation you’ve waited all year for. Soon the ocean breeze will calm your soul and wisp away any worries of your day-to-day life while your toes bask in the warm sand and Bob Marley tracks play in the background. But wait, remember you still have 48 hours left, which means two full days of work and a ton of stuff to get done! –Enter the Vacation Paradox.

Suddenly an urgency to itemize and strategically plan your remaining tasks before you leave comes to the forefront of your activities. You feel a need to accomplish your tasks in an orderly fashion in order to not leave behind any troubles for others to deal with while your gone.

David Mann, author of Creating a Lean Culture, describes this feeling as the Vacation Paradox phenomenon. That is, the ability to break down your day with a feeling of suddenly having more time in your day to do more, to work on improvement steps and accomplish your normal business activities

For those that embrace this time with a cool head instead of jolting into panic mode is key to not only the Vacation Paradox, but in your overall improvement as well. Mann believes that these “pre-vacation” times allow us to get a lot more done at home and at work than usual because you are using your time more efficiently.

There is a lot more time to get small things done when they are clearly identified and scoped and there is reason to get them done.

-The Vacation Paradox

Capacity For Improvement

The capacity to use this time in such an efficient manner has always been there. The motivation is what was lacking. The vision of the vacation and the desire to “leave your troubles behind,” allows us to tap into this capacity we seldom use. Sustaining this sudden boost in improvement and efficiency is exactly what it takes to be a lean guru.

So how do we tap into this capacity for our day-to-day improvement?

By reinforcing process focus and driving improvement, daily accountability actually creates increased capacity for improvement via the vacation paradox.

-David Mann, Creating a Lean Culture

Daily Improvement is Possible

Mann’s Vacation Paradox phenomenon connects the value in time management and the results that come of it. The difference in leaders that have a focus on their time management and accountability and those that don’t makes a major difference in your lean growth.

The ability to build new capacities and act on the ones we’ve untapped are crucial to your lean culture and continuous improvement. The impact leaders and supervisors in a value stream can make in as little as 20-30 minutes a day is huge in the improvement process.

We underestimate the value of small daily improvements and sometimes get caught up putting out major fires instead. Don’t get me wrong putting out the fires is extremely important and necessary to a successful operation, but setting aside a little bit of time every day might help put out the fires before they start.

As this becomes a daily habit, your ability to sustain lean principles and provide continuous improvement to your organization will grow.

3P and Lean

3 min read

Lean on Steroids

If you’re looking for a way to boost your lean and take your lean team to the next level, then look no further.

3P (Production Preparation Process) is typically seen by lean experts around the globe as one of the most powerful and advanced manufacturing tools you can add to your lean methods. It’s a rigorous, structured process that allows organizations to focus on eliminating the possibility of waste through product and process design.

While it might be a bit overwhelming for someone just getting their minds wrapped around the lean methodology, 3P can however, be beneficial to anyone who has already successfully implemented lean methods and is looking for more.

Leaps and Bounds

Ultimately, 3P is designed to meet customer requirements by starting with a clean product development slate. From here you can quickly create and test potential product and process designs that require the least time, material, and capital resources. It’s a method that typically results in products that are less complex, easier to manufacture, easier to use, and easier to maintain.

While kaizen and other lean methods focus on continuous, incremental improvement over time, 3P is designed to make drastic improvements rapidly. The idea is to have a system that can potentially make leaps and bounds in your design improvements, allowing you to improve performance and eliminate waste at a level beyond what your existing process provides.

The 3P Method

3P is an event driven process involving a diverse group (3P team) of individuals who generally gather for a few days with a singular focus on a particular task. The goal of the 3P event is to develop a process or product design that meets customer requirements best, in the “least waste way.”

Alan Coletta, author of the book The Lean 3P Advantage: A Practitioner’s Guide to the Production Preparation Process is major advocate for a lean and 3P collaboration. In a recent interview Coletta discussed the benefits 3P offered.

Previously, lean had been largely relegated to fixing existing problems in our manufacturing plants. 3P takes lean principles upstream in the new product development arena, and applies them liberally at the point in the process where they can have the most influence on both product and operation.

-Allan Coletta

Coletta’s award winning book provides great insight into the process of combining the lean and 3p ideologies. He includes case studies that help explain how and why the 3P Lean Design Process is an extremely effective tool to have.

The following is an example of the 3P method in action:

  • Define Product or Process Design Objectives/Needs: The 3P team seeks to understand the core customer needs that need to be met. If a product or prototype is available break it down into component parts and raw materials to assess the function that each play.
  • Diagramming: A diagram or some type of illustration is created to demonstrate the flow from raw material to finished product. The 3P team then is able to analyze each branch of the diagram or illustration and brainstorm key words (e.g. roll, rotate, form, bend) made at each branch.
  • Find and Analyze Examples in Nature: Your 3P team can now look for examples of each key word analyzed in the natural world. The team places a heavy emphasis on how nature works versus how the current process works and studies the information accordingly. From here, the team has the information to discuss ways to implement the natural process into the given manufacturing process step.
  • Sketch and Evaluate the Process: New sub-teams are formed and each new member is required to draw different ways to accomplish the process in question. Each one can then be analyzed to determine the best possible mock-up.
  • Build, Present, and Select Process Prototypes: The team can now focus on the mock-up and evaluate the chosen process, taking the time to work with different variations of the mock-up to ensure it will meet expectations.
  • Hold Design Review:  After a concept has been selected for additional improvement, it can be presented to a larger group (including the original designers) for feedback.
  • Develop Project Implementation Plan: If at decision is made to move forward with the project the team picks a implementation leader who determines the schedule, process, resource requirements, and distribution of responsibilities for completion.

3P provides an atmosphere that promotes rapid learning, collaboration, and innovation that other ideologies can’t provide. Whether your trying to improve an existing product or develop a new one, regardless of the size, 3P can help.

For more information watch the video below from the Gemba Academy on 3P and healthcare facility design and good luck with your 3P and Lean integration.

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