NUMMI Tour Tales #6: "You Get What You Inspect"


Here is the sixth, and probably final, installment of my tales from the NUMMI tour.

You can revisit them, by starting with Tale #1 and continuing on from there.

Another good reminder from the NUMMI tour was an idea that I have been preaching the past few years – that “Standard Work” and “5S” aren't one-time exercises to be “completed.” The real key is having a living management system to audit, monitor, and improve practices over time. This takes real discipline, a type of discipline that's often lacking. It would be a huge waste of time to document your standard work and then let it gather dust. Standard Work and 5S require ongoing attention.

NUMMI emphasized their standard work audit process. A very visual board is posted in the work area with cards illustrating what jobs have been or have not been audited. A group leader is supposed to audit one job every day.

Our host said their mantra is “You get what you inspect, not what you expect.” If you blindly expect that people are going to follow 5S practices, but you don't “Genchi Genbutsu” (go and see) on the “Gemba” (shopfloor or “actual place”), it might just be wishful thinking. You have to actively monitor the health of your standard work or 5S system, correcting/coaching/disciplining people as necessary.


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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.



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