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Lean Reference Guide > Lean Dictionary

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"R" Terms
from The Continuous Improvement Companion

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  • Random

    Random means occurring by chance. There are formal mathematical definitions regarding probability distributions, but the basic definition is how the typical non-mathematician looks at randomness.

    But even with that simple definition, we often think of things as being random when they really are not. In truth, even something as simple as flipping a coin is not really random. It is governed by the laws of physics. The weight distribution of the coin, the speed of rotation, the force of the flick that launches the coin, the air density, wind, coefficient of friction on your thumb, the hardness of the surface, and a thousand other attributes actually govern where that coin will land.

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  • Rapid Improvement Workshop / RIW

    “Rapid improvement workshop” is another name for kaizen event or kaizen blitz. You may also hear it called rapid improvement project, or “RIP”.

    This type of project is generally a week long and includes:

    • A day of training
    • A day of process walk / initial planning
    • Two days of…
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  • Reaction Plan

    A reaction plan is the series of steps that you would take in response to a specified abnormal condition.

    A reaction plan helps to minimize damage. It reduces the time between the occurrence of a problem and a stopgap.

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  • Red Tag

    The red tag system is simply a communication tool used to identify items that a person has flagged for removal from a work area. While the tagging is most frequently done during kaizen events, it can be done at any time.

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  • Regulations

    Regulations are rules that are established by an authority. While the term is somewhat generic and can be used by any person or group in charge, this discussion will be limited to governmental agencies. In practice, most companies do not call their directives “regulations”. There are more likely to call them policies or rules.

    Governmental bodies at all levels have the power to enact laws. These laws, however, often lack clarity in the fine details. What they do, in many cases, is granted the authority for an administrative agency to create regulations. As an example, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), by law, is tasked with…

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  • Relationships

    A strong continuous improvement culture requires extensive teamwork, and teamwork requires strong relationships.

    First of all, let’s start by defining what a relationship is. And its surface, a relationship is simply the way people or organizations behave toward each other. But there is also a deeper layer to relationships. They also include how the involved parties feel about each other. How a person regards someone greatly impacts the way they act.

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  • Reliability

    Reliability is the ability of a process, machine, or measurement system to perform as intended over time. There is an underlying assumption that at one point, the ability to provide good results existed.

    The most common cause of a drop in reliability is…

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  • Repeatability

    Repeatability is the ability for the same individual or team to get identical results from a process time after time. Essentially, repeatability is the opposite of output variation.

    When processes are not repeatable, the problem falls into three basic categories.

    1. A variation in inputs causes poor repeatability.
    2. A poor process cause poor repeatability.
    3. The tools or measuring devices are flawed.
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  • Repetition

    Repetition is the act of doing something the same way over and over again. Repetition helps provide stable outputs to a process by making the inputs consistent.

    Repetition has a side effect of creating muscle memory—the state where your body acts without conscious thought, much like walking. You don’t have to think about moving your legs. Repetition makes the motion natural. This muscle memory, in Lean settings, helps people follow processes consistently.

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  • Reproducibility

    Reproducibility is the ability of a process to be duplicated by multiple people.

    This concept is understood and highly valued in both the scientific method and when creating measurement systems. In fact…

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  • Resources

    There is a common misconception that Lean is free. The truth is the making improvements requires a variety of resources. That’s not to say you have to spend a lot of money to make changes, but every project does require an investment.

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  • Respect for People (+ 8-Page Lean PDF)

    Respect for People Lean Term on PDF

    Lean requires a great deal of employee engagement to function at its best. Showing respect for people is crucial to getting that engagement. Visit this Lean term page to learn more and download a FREE 8-Page PDF about respect for people.

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  • Responsibility

    Responsibility is the state of being accountable for something. It may be a team, a process, or an entire company. In general, responsibility is the cost of leadership. Being in charge means that a person has to make sure that things go as planned. Responsibility means having to answer for one’s decisions .

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  • Results

    Results are the outcomes or consequences of actions.

    In the continuous improvement world, results are most commonly viewed as the intended outcomes of an operation, organization, process, or project. This is in contrast to unintended side effects of a process.

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  • Rework

    Rework is the act of correcting a defect. Rework is obviously waste, and can be avoided by eliminating the root cause of the problem.

    The further downstream rework is done from where the error originally occurred, the more the problem costs to correct.

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  • Right-Sized Machine

    Production processes require assets to run them. You generally have choices. You can use a big machine that costs a lot of money, but has tremendous functionality and flexibility. These machines, because of their cost, end up being used in several processes or for several products to defray the cost. This tends to disrupt flow.

    The alternative is to buy or build a smaller machine that may have fewer functions. This machine is dedicated to a single process. It can then be located in a logical position to support one piece flow without causing problems for other product families. 

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  • RIPS Cycle

    A variation of the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle (AKA the Deming Cycle), RIPS stands for Review-Implement-Prove-Standardize, and is a proven method of continuously improving Standard Work and other forms of process standardization.

    The RIPS Cycle

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  • Risk Management

    Risk management is the process of identifying risks, reducing them when possible, and making plans to deal with undesirable outcomes.

    Risk management can be done for an ongoing concern, such as a product line or company, or for an individual project, such as rolling out a new software package. Risk management becomes increasingly more important as the size of a project increases.

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  • Root Cause

    It takes a lot of discipline to make sure you do a root cause analysis on problems rather than leaping to conclusions about what is going on. The definition of a root cause analysis is simply the act of going through a systematic process to identify the source of a problem. The most common method is the 5 Why analysis.

    Watch out for this pitfall: Many people think they know how to fix something, and will immediately start working on that problem. If it is not the root cause, they are just working on a symptom. The problem will return.

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  • Rule of Thumb

    A rule of thumb is simply a general process used for a specific condition. This is different from rules, regulations, Standard Work, and other forms of documented instructions. In those cases, the required actions are specified. For a rule of thumb, there is no such formality.  

    An example of a rule of thumb might be “measure twice, cut once.” There is no real obligation to measure twice, but, over time, people have learned to follow this basic piece of wisdom.

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  • Rules

    There are countless quotes about rules, most of them negative.

    Rules are made to be broken. –unknown

    There are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something. –Thomas A. Edison

    Rules and models destroy genius and art. –William Hazlitt

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  • Run Chart (+Video, +9-Page PDF)

    The 5 Whys Lean Term on PDF

    Run charts are a powerful problem solving tool that makes problems visual. Watch a short video, and download a FREE 9-Page PDF on Run Charts.

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