Mr. Miyagi in the supermarket Part II

If you have not done already read the part I of this story by following this link

Mr. Miyagi was immersed in the problem, even while asleep. He was puzzled first by reducing number of repeat customers to the store, and then with the lean being pointed to as the cause. His brain was working while working, while walking and even in sleep.

Mr. Miyagi, after two days of thinking, is ready to meet Richard. He went on time to meet Richard. Richard was there in his room, and greeted Mr. Miyagi with a smile. Mr. Miyagi went to him and sat on the chair and talked about the past two days. He talked about 5 minutes until Richard told him “OK, Did you do any thinking over our problem”. Mr. Miyagi smiled and said, “Yes, I surely did”. In return he questioned Richard asking “Did you?” Richard was not that happy about the question, but he answered saying “Yes, a little”. Mr. Miyagi wasted no more time. He is in problem identification mode.

Mr. Richard, I need to know about the changes you made with your new lean implementation. What was the problem behind the changes? He questioned Richard. Richard replied, well we wanted them to make our store more profitable in long run. So they wanted us to follow their so called “Lean Formula”. So what is the “Lean Formula” they used? Richard said it was explained in number of slides. So I cannot remember all of them. But that picture on the wall said to represent the basics of lean. Richard pointed to a large poster like picture on his room. Mr. Miyagi understood the picture immediately, but wants to get Richards Input.

So what is this picture Mr. Miyagi asked Richard. I though you will understand just by looking at this, as you are a lean expert, said Richard. This is known as eight wastes of lean, he explained. Mr. Miyagi asked what they are. He just wanted to test Richards understanding on one of the basic lean concepts. They are Muda’s Richard replied. Our aim is to minimize them. If we minimize each of them, we will be ahead in our game, Richard added.

OK, what is that figure of a person carrying something asked Mr.Miyagi, while pointing to a picture of a person moving something from one place to another. Richard wasted no time in replying that question. He said, it is the waste of transportation. We have to minimize transportation so that we can save time, effort and money spend in transportation. So did you manage to reduce transportation of goods, asked Mr. Miyagi. Sure we did, replied Richard. We have scheduled our deliveries once a day, and one vehicle carries multiple items. We talked to some of our key suppliers, and came to an agreement on specific times to keep the stuff ready so that we can collect them on time and get it to the store as per the schedule. So does this happen on schedule, Mr. Miyagi asked. Yes definitely. This is big improvement to our system added Richard. This is one thing lean got correct. Mr. Miyagi saw no real problems in this, so he went on to question Richard. He went on and on, and realized the former lean implementation consultants have done some very interesting improvements. So he was even more puzzled, until he came across a magic word, “Inventory”

Mr. Miyagi paused for a moment and asked “Richard, what is inventory, I mean what it means to this supermarket?” Richard replied, “Inventory is the enemy. It is a waste. We have to get read of it by all means” But isn’t inventory supposed to be a good thing, it prevents stock outages isn’t it? Mr. Miyagi asked. Richard replied, “I am surprised a lean expert to ask that question, but it certainly is not something good. It hides problems and prevents us from figuring and treating the root cause of the problems. So we always live with the problems and costs associated with them”.

Mr. Miyagi asked Richard, “how much of inventory reduction you reached? How did you measure the success?” Richard said, we are practically operating at no inventory. We moved all the inventory to the store racks so practically we do not have a storage area. So we were able to save space, which we used to expand the store and also we managed to introduce the new sections to the store. So this move has really paid. Well that is great, replied Mr. Miyagi. Can I observe the shop floor for few hours he requested? Richard had no issues with this. So Mr. Miyagi started walking around the store. Slowly, observing the customers and sometimes talking to them, always with a smile on his face. He is just observing, doing nothing else.

In today’s story, we have discussed few lean tools in action. Can you identify them? Leave your comments, let me and the world know what are tools being used here and how they are being used.

Read the Part III of this story

We are with you My Japanese Friends

My dear Japanese Friends;

It was horrific to see all the disaster created by the Earthquake and the Tsunami. I just want to let you know that, we are with you! Hope everything get back to normal ASAP.