LeanBlog Podcast #1 — Norman Bodek

norman-bodekHere is my first LeanBlog Podcast, featuring author and consultant Norman Bodek, President of PCS Press.

I have to give credit for the idea to Norman, as he approached me about doing a series of audio interviews as a follow up to and continuation of our Q&A that I posted here on the blog earlier this year. I’ll take credit for turning it into a Podcast, something that I plan on making a regular feature, every month or so. There will be additional conversations with Norman and I also plan on interviewing other lean leaders and innovators.

Click to play:


MP3 File

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LeanBlog Podcast #1 Show Notes and Timeline:

  • Introduction to the Podcast (until 2:22)
  • The difference between kaizen and kaizen events, early history of bringing the kaizen blitz (“kaikaku”) to America (starting at 3:18)
  • Early development of employee suggestion systems (4:18)
  • Difference between suggestion systems and “cost savings systems” (5:00)
  • How Toyota started their suggestion system of “small, little ideas” (5:26)
  • There is a point where the audio is poor, Norman says at 6:00, “…ideas per employee per year, one per month, one per month implemented idea per employee. So, that represented millions of ideas in fact I published a book once…”
  • Norman mentions an early book, 40 Years, 20 Million Ideas: The Toyota Suggestion System, now out of print, but available used through amazon.com, albeit at a rare book price. The, the audio improves again.
  • How do you “manage 1800 ideas” per month? (6:40)
  • Norman’s experiences with Gulfstream and employee suggestions (8:30)
  • How kaizen is not a bureaucratic system (10:40)
  • What are the proper incentives for employee suggestions? (11:40)
  • What are the two pillars of TPS? (13:05)
  • How do you “keep score” with employee suggestions? (14:15)
  • How do you balance between kaizen and standard work? (14:40)
  • What is your role as a supervisor with employee suggestions? (15:40 and 22:30)
  • How has Toyota changed their suggestion system over time? (16:50)
  • Why giving $20 an idea was a problem (18:15)
  • Proof that Toyota sometimes makes mistakes – but improves! (18:50)
  • Focusing on “implementations” as opposed to “suggestions” (21:05)
  • What happens when you criticize a suggestion? (23:00)

Here is a blog entry that Norman wrote about the podcast, with additional thoughts.

If you have feedback on the podcast, or any questions for me or my guests, you can email me at [email protected] or you can call and leave a voicemail by calling the “Lean Line” at (817) 776-LEAN (817-776-5326) or contact me via Skype id “mgraban”. Please give your location and your first name. Any comments (email or voicemail) might be used in follow ups to the podcast.

Here is an amazon.com link to Norman Bodek’s Books.

My announcer is my old friend, Steve Sholtes, a musician from Michigan.

To read the full transcript of this podcast, plus over 20 more discussions with world-renowned Lean leaders and other interesting guests, please consider buying my e-Book or a special package that includes an easy download of all of the MP3 podcast files.


Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please scroll down to post a comment. Click here to receive posts via email.


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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an eBook titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

10 Comments on "LeanBlog Podcast #1 — Norman Bodek"

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  1. Qbit says:

    Great! I’ve been looking for a lean podcast and this is the first one that I’ve found.

    Keep it up!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Mark:

    In this first podcast, in reply to your important (and practical) question of the interplay between implementation of worker suggestions and standards, Norm’s response was that implementation of suggestions had nothing to do with standards. That comment puzzled me when I first heard it and it is still puzzling.

    Isn’t the whole idea of getting and implementing suggestions and having the production workers constantly problem solving a key element of the continuous improvement element of standards? Today’s standard should be changed tomorrow if it is improved—right? If you don’t incorporate implemented suggestions into new standards then you have the makings for chaos—and everyone doing it their own way. Surely, that is not what Norm meant.

    Bryan

  3. Mark Graban says:

    To be fair, Norman said that workers need to check with other shifts when they have an idea, that people can’t work in a vacuum.

    He also said (at approximately 15:10) “If somebody comes up with a better way, you change the standard. Most of these little ideas have nothing to do with the standards.”

    I’ll let Norman explain the difference between updating standards and “little ideas” in a comment and in a future podcast.

  4. Mark Graban says:

    From Norman Bodek:

    This is not a simple issue and something we could address in the next podcast:

    Toyota does standardized work whereby the best way to do some things becomes the standard. Workers are required to follow those standards precisely unless they can come up with a better way. Standards are the way to do things, the procedures, or they are the exact measures, or tolerances, to follow. There are very few companies comparable to Toyota with standardized work. Quick and Easy Kaizen asks every worker to find a way to make their work easiier, more interesting, build their skills and capabiities and to improve the work environment. They might but they rarely affect standards. I published a book titled Forty Million Ideas in Twenty Years at Toyota. Very few of these idea affect the standards. I should not have said, “that implementation of suggestions had nothing to do with standards.” At Technicolor they implemented 17,500 suggestions last year. At Gulfstream they are implementing 2000 ideas per month, very few of trhese affect standards as we know them.

    It really depends on what level you standardize. If you do 100% like stating exactly how the towel is to be folded on the rack, how you are to stand, etc. than yes you must be very careful with new standards but most companies are light years away. At one time Toyota was getting around 70 ideas per worker per year, today they are around 10 in Japan. Still I feel that very few of those affect the standardized work.

    Let us talk more about this.

    Best,

    Norman

  5. Bryan says:

    Hi Norman,

    It seems many of us North American CI zealots are led to believe in many versions of the Toyota story that they do utilize standards that are continuously updated by the workers within an “enabling bureaucracy.” That is, rigid standards are adhered to as a countermeasure to variability, but workers are encouraged to make incremental improvements to the standard through the formal suggestion system.

    Unless I’m misunderstanding your statement you are suggesting this not the case. So the next question is, does Toyota standardize 100% or as you stated: “exactly how the towel is to be folded on the rack”? If this is so, then it is any easy assumption that a change in “how to fold the towel” suggests that a change in the standard work is in order. Take this one step further: if the change is a simple 5S improvement, or safety improvement, or elimination of a step, or simple rearrangement of the work sequence, would that not demand a change of the standard work sheet? Another step further; wouldn’t a standard be required in order to positively transfer the knowledge of the improvement, via Toyota’s famed Job Instruction training methods? Or is this just grand assumptions or wishful thinking of an organizational ideal on my behalf?

    Thanks for your insight,
    Bryan L.

  6. Mark Graban says:

    Thanks for your comment Bryan. I’ve passed that along to Norman and we can maybe address that in a future podcast. Please email me directly, as I’d like to bounce an idea off of you about participating in the podcast somehow.

    Mark

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