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Lean Reference Guide > Lean Dictionary

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"O" Terms
from The Continuous Improvement Companion

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  • Objective vs. Subjective (+MP3)

    Being able to recognize objective vs. subjective information is an important skill for individuals in Lean companies.

    Objective vs. Subjective Definitions

    • Objective: Information or data that is based in fact. Often numerical. It can be verified by an independent third party. Math tests are generally objective in nature.
    • Subjective: Information or opinions that are open to interpretation. Generally, subjective information is seen through the eyes of the person collecting or presenting it. Literature essay tests are subjective in nature.
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  • Observation

    Observation is an important skill for Lean and other methods of continuous improvement. It is necessary to document the ‘before’ process, identify waste, to conduct audits, and to confirm the effectiveness of audits.

    Observation is simply the practice of watching a process, preferably several times, to learn about the process.

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  • Obsolescence

    Anything product or service you purchase has a useful life. After that, the value of continuing to use it declines until it makes sense to move to something more modern. The most common example of this is computers. Software becomes outdated at a regular pace as new hardware is developed. New programs are written with greater capabilities, rendering the incumbent program irrelevant. Companies that continue to use the aged software often find themselves operating at a competitive disadvantage.

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  • Occam’s Razor

    The common interpretation of Occam’s Razor is that when all other things are equal, the simplest solution is probably right.

    More accurately, but in less common use, Occam’s Razor says that one should choose the hypothesis that makes the fewest new assumptions.

    In either case, Occam’s Razor is a tool that can be used to assist in decision making.

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  • Off the Shelf

    The tools, machines, software, or other resources you use to do your job fall into two basic categories. The first type is the most common and contains ‘off the shelf’ resources. The second category includes custom built or highly modified tools, equipment, or even software.

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  • Office Politics

    Office politics are the unwritten rules of interactions in an organization. Social politics form in any group of people that interact regularly. Families have politics. Cliques in schools are a form of politics. And, of course, coworkers have a set of norms that they operate under.

    Office politics are commonly used to gain a personal advantage within the day-to-day operation of the company. That leads to the generally poor reputation office politics has. Getting the corner office, the first crack at overtime, or virtually any other tangible or intangible benefit fall into this category.

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  • Office Process Capacity Sheet

    Office Process Capacity Sheet

    The Office Process Capacity Sheet is a tool used to determine whether the processes and machines in an operation can meet customer demand.

    Format: XLSX

    Regular Price: Free for Registered Users

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  • Office Process Questionnaire

    Office Process Questionnaire

    The Office Process Questionnaire helps improvement teams plan what they are going to ask during interviews to make sure they don’t miss important information. It als prevent an interview from turning into an interrogation.

    Format: XLSX

    Regular Price: Free for Registered Users

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  • Office Process Recording Sheet

    Office Process Recording Sheet

    The Office Process Recording Sheet is a tool used to document the steps in an administrative process.

    Format: XLSX

    Regular Price: Free for Registered Users

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  • Office Process Summary Sheet

    Office Process Summary Sheet

    The Office Process Summary Sheet is a tool used to document improvements during a project. It contains spaces to record the ‘Before’ and ‘After’ values for a variety of metrics.

    Format: XLSX

    Regular Price: Free for Registered Users

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  • Office Work, Hajek’s Law of

    Today’s Gotta Go Lean article comes from a new entry in our Lean dictionary

    Many office work areas don’t control the flow of work onto people’s desks. As a result, individuals may face a small pile of work on one day, and a large pile of work the next.

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  • Ohno, Taiichi

    See Taiichi Ohno.

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  • One-Piece Flow

    One-piece flow is the method of production in which operators or machines work on single units and pass them along to the next process when requested.

    The most common example of one-piece flow is the assembly line. An operator at each station works on a unit. All of this work-in process (one unit per operator or automatic machine) moves in synchronization to the next station.

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  • One-Touch Exchange of Die (OTED)

    Part of get a changeover improved to the point where it is a single-minute exchange of die (SMED), is figuring out how to do it with less motion. One-touch exchange of dies is an offshoot of SMED, but is far more aggressive in what it advocates. Where SMED is generally considered to be done in less than 10 minutes (actually a single-digit minute exchange of die), OTED says that with continuous improvement, die change should get to the point where they are nearly instant. The one-touch target simply means that the exchange can be done with a single motion rather than multiple steps.

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  • One-Touch Installation

    Many people are familiar with the concept of one-touch exchange of dies, an offshoot of SMED. The basically means that there should be a simple, fluid motion to replace dies and fixtures in order to minimize setup time. The concept is present in the real world as well. Consider the straps on backpacks. Many years ago, one would have to feed the running end through a buckle and tighten it back on itself. Now, it is simply a matter of inserting one clip into another. One-touch installation takes that concept to the shop floor with the idea that things should be able to be assembled easily.

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  • Operator Cycle Time

    Operator cycle time is the time it takes an operator to do one unit of his or her prescribed work from start to finish. Note that this is elapsed time. The clock starts when the operator begins his work, and ends when he or she is ready to start the next unit, regardless of whether it has arrived yet. Operator cycle time will include waiting time within the process (i.e. standing by a machine, or waiting for a testing sequence to complete.) The actual time an operator is working, meaning that waiting is not included, is commonly referred to as processing time or touch time.

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  • Operators

    The term “operator” is frequently used to describe a shop floor worker in a production environment. While it seems to stem from the use of the term “machine operator”, it has been shortened and now is used more universally.

    The term is more positive than worker, headcount, or the demeaning ‘body’.

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  • Opinions

    Dictionary.com defines an opinion as “a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to product complete certainty.

    In the world of continuous improvement, people seldom have the luxury of complete certainty. But, unfortunately, they often act with a clear deficit of facts and data to make an informed decision.

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  • Opportunities

    Problems are generally looked at as a situation in which the current condition does not match the ‘should be’ state.

    In the traditional sense, the ‘should be’ state means that something is going wrong. It can occur when customer expectations rise, or when performance slips, but in either case, there is a risk of losing something you already have.

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  • Opportunity Costs (+7-Page Lean PDF +Video +MP3)

    Choosing one option means giving up the benefit of you other options. Learn more about these opportunity costs and download a FREE 7-Page PDF about opportunity costs.

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  • Optimization

    Optimization is the act of making a system as effective as possible by adjusting the controllable variables.

    In a nutshell, optimization means figuring out where to set all the controls to make the company, system, process, or other aspect of your life do what you want it to do.

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  • Order Interaction Point

    The term order interaction point refers to the location in the fulfillment process where a specific item becomes attached to a specific customer. The order interaction point is, in effect, the crossroads of supply and demand. It is the intersection of the sales and the fulfillment processes.

    The term order interaction point is seldom used in practice, but the effect of it on an operation is significant.

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  • OSHA

    OSHA, or the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, is a part of the US Department of Labor. It was formed in 1970 with the mission of assuring a safe and healthful working environment by setting and enforcing standards. It also provides training, outreach, education, and assistance.

    The underlying mission of OSHA is completely compatible with continuous improvement. Providing a safe and healthy environment is part of showing respect for people.

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  • Our Process Is Different (+ 5-Page Lean PDF)

    Our Process Is DifferentLean Term on PDF

    A common form of push back against Lean is that people think that their process is unique, and that Lean won’t work well because of those difference. Visit this Lean term page to learn more and download a FREE 5-Page PDF about why people think their Lean operation is unique.

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  • Outsourcing

    Outsourcing is the practice of sending work to another entity (a second company or an individual not employed by the outsourcing company). The main characteristic of outsourcing is that the work contains functions that, up until the outsourcing, had been done by the hiring company. In this manner, it differs from a standard supplier relationship in which the hired company augments a capability rather than supplants it.

    Offshoring is a specific form of outsourcing in which the company receiving the work is in another country.

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  • Overproduction

    Overproduction is one of the seven wastes in Lean. It is the act of making a product or performing a service before the downstream customer asks for it. Overproduction is one of the leading causes of excess inventory.

    Overproduction is prevalent in push systems where upstream processes build according to a schedule, and then send the product out regardless of whether their customer is ready for it. Lean deals with overproduction by creating pull systems, where products are only built when the downstream customer asks for them.

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  • Overtime

    Overtime is the period when an hourly wage earner works beyond his or her scheduled time, usually for an incremental boost in pay. State and federal employment laws govern how overtime can be used.

    Overtime is a useful tool for managing capacity spikes. When a few extra orders come in on occasion, it makes sense to use overtime to handle the extra work.

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  • Ownership

    Ownership creates responsibility. Whether it is a company, a process, or a desk, people tend to take more responsibility when they are dealing with something that is theirs.

    Pride of ownership is a term that is most commonly applied to homes, but it also applies to processes and work areas. When people feel attached to something, they tend to maintain it better. They put a bit more effort towards making it better, and they are less tolerant when entropy sets in.

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