NUMMI Tour Tales #5: Nobody is Perfect
While the NUMMI plant would score very highly on any measure of “Visual Management” standards, you can see on a tour that the plant is not 100% perfect in their 5S compliance. In passing, one can see many items that appear to be out of place or shadowed items on the floor that appear to be missing.. Not that the plant was messy, by any means, but it wasn't the “perfection” that you might expect to see.
Our host told a story about how the plant had “gotten away from” doing regular Standard Work audits and that they had to re-implement that (at the urging of a GM person, they said). In discussing their backsliding or problems, the NUMMI people seemed to be quite open in admitting that they are always striving to get better. Good lessons, I think – although you should set goals of perfection, it's very tough to be 100% there. Be open about your problems and be sincere in your desire to do better, without being defensive. That seems to be a good lesson from NUMMI.