Like Mark, I’m frustrated today.
Recently I’ve been working to support a quality improvement blitz within a manufacturing facility. The plant is taking a step towards ISPC by establishing maximum levels of defects at the end of each zone. The Quality Inspector and Repair Technician at the end of each zone are empowered to stop the line when certain defects reach pre-determined maximums. Stopping the line focuses everyone in on the quality issue and forces corrective action before the line can be re-started. Each zone is looking at a list of 5 defects – the top issues for those areas taken from data over the last 3 months.
A lot can be said about how this effort does not go far enough. It still relies on the waste of inspection and repair and it is not yet driving the correct mindset that defects should never leave their point of origin (Don’t make it, don’t take it, don’t pass it on). However, this is not the purpose of my post, nor the source of my frustration.
Over the last couple of weeks dramatic improvement has been made on the ‘top 5’ items in all areas. These are solid improvements that are directly correlated to process improvements on the line. A week ago the line was being stopped due to the new process an average of 8 times a shift. Today, there were none. There really has been a lot of hard work put into improvements, particularly due to the intensity generated by having the line stopped.
What I’m discouraged by is a conversation I had earlier today. One of the zones was absolutely flooded with quality issues. The repair tech couldn’t keep up and defects were leaving the zone. The supervisor and his manager were in the repair area and were working with the repair tech to help get as many of the defects corrected as possible.
“Why not stop the line?” I asked.
“Because this defect is not on my top 5 list” was the reply.
Jamie Flinchbaugh talks about this same problem in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean, and I continue to draw from his insight that the disadvantage of managing by ‘Top 10’ lists is that you only address the problems at hand. You don’t get to the root of the problems to discover the reason they exist.
In my example, there are still no incentives to do the right thing. Everyone will be rewarded for eliminating the top 5 issues from each line (and they should be) – but nobody is rewarded for heading off problems before they ever reach a top 5 list. Nobody is rewarded for driving change in the culture. For changing expectations while at the same time empowering and respecting people to do the right thing.
I think part of the problem is that we don’t have a method to measure or estimate the potential impact of problems if they were not addressed. For example, resumes and performance reviews everywhere state measures of cost taken out of the system – not cost that was never put in.
Does anyone have any exposure to or ideas around innovative ways to measure performance from a proactive perspective?
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