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Stumbling Into Success

Success can seem lucky on the surface, but it seldom is when you dive deeper into it.

Case in point. A few years ago I facilitated a kaizen event in a service center. The main goal was to improve lead time.

In the course of the event, it became clear that one of the obstacles to flow was the maintenance program on the equipment. Much of it was precise instrumentation that needed frequent calibration. Technicians had to regularly take stations offline to swap out pieces of equipment, creating a significant barrier to flow.

Without diving into the statistical details, we found that a bit of math could accurately predict required maintenance intervals rather than just doing quarterly or annual swaps based on a prescribed schedule. In the end, the team stumbled into over a hundred grand in savings.

At least on the surface, it seemed like ‘stumbling’. When you look closer, though, there was quite a bit of hard work that went into it.

  • The management team had to set aggressive targets
  • …that led to the need for an improvement project
  • …that led to the development of the charter
  • …that led to the kaizen
  • …that led to the training
  • …that led to the team developing a process map
  • …that required a waste walk
  • …that led to the discovery of the opportunity
  • …that led to the root cause analysis
  • …that led to the waste reduction efforts
  • …that found the hundred thousand dollars.

When you develop the talent to find waste, the optimism to set lofty goals, and the commitment to improve, good things happen.

Don’t rely on randomness to make improvements. Take luck out of the equation by building a team that can sniff out waste wherever it hides.

Note: Image courtesy of Torsten Henning via Wikimedia Commons.


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