Read the part 1, part 2 and part 3 of this lean story by following the links.
After the enlightening session a day back, everyone was ready to identify their problems correct. Allan and his team waited in the meeting room even before Mr. Miyagi turned up, sharp at 9.30 am. Mr. Miyagi was very happy to see everyone in the room and greeted them with a nice smile. There was little bit of ice breaking went on for few minutes and then real brain storming took place. Everyone in the room contributed and not so surprisingly they came up with different set of issues and different list for priorities. Below are the first three priorities they came up with;
- 1. No continuous customer feedback system
- 2. Internal team collaboration issues
- 3. Lack of customer support in the process
List was very long, and they ended up collecting 32 issues, providing a great starting point for the process. Mr. Miyagi, Allan and his team were very pleased with what they have achieved within the day. They were very much motivated and enthusiastic by the end of the day.
Mr. Miyagi started shifting the focus of the group for the next move, which is identifying the root causes to the problem. They decided to attack each problem by their importance. So the first task was to identify root causes the Customer feedback related issues. In the next meeting complete focus was on why “Continuous feedbacks from the customers are not taken?”. Mr. Miyagi used two lean tools, namely the Ishikawa Diagram (Or the Fishbone diagram), and the 5 Why technique. Mr. Miyagi explained how to use these tools to the participants and they were asked for their input for the root cause analysis. Mr. Miyagi started saying “Well, I know all of you understand the purpose of this exercise. In lean, if you do not attack the correct root causes to the problem, instead of adding efficiencies, we will add inefficiencies and we will do worse than we did before. So it is very important to understand the correct root causes to each of the problems we have identified” Mr. Miyagi paused for a moment and then added, “well, let me begin by asking you why do you think you do not have a continuous feedback system”. Team wasted no time, ideas started flowing. The team member assigned to take down the ideas took down all the ideas came out. There were large number of ideas and hence it needed some post processing to find out root causes. So some ideas were clubbed to make a root cause. For an example, shorter lead times for project, no times for meetings with customer, being too busy with day to day work to meet deadlines, were clubbed to under the category of “Lack Of Time For Feedback”. And some of the root causes were categorized in to parent and child depending on their relationship.
For each of the main root cause this process was repeated asking the magic question “WHY?” This lead to identification of the exact roots needed to be attacked. This process was completed successfully, finding eight root causes which need to be eliminated from the system. But Mr. Miyagi knew the process was not over until the customer had their say. Mr. Miyagi said “Allan, we need the input from the customer too. You will have to make this happen. We will need to talk to customers and make them agree for this process”. OK I will try; said Allan, but what are we going to do with them? We are going to do the same thing, replied Mr. Miyagi. OK then, replied Allan.
Allan managed to convince two of their current customers and one of their old customers for the process. Same process took place. They found some similarities between root causes, but found some remarkably different leads from their customers.
By the end of the process, Mr. Miyagi, Allan and his team had a fairly simple set of root causes to be solved, instead of seemingly complex issues. They applied various techniques in the lean arsenal to eliminate the root causes. It was by no means a walk in the park. But it was an interesting one, which Mr. Miyagi in particular enjoyed a lot.
After about six months, Allan’s team members got the grab of the lean process. Allan himself became a very knowledgeable in the lean process. Mr. Miyagi and the team had solved ten problems by this time. Allan and his team saw a significant improvement and it made them to work even harder. Mr. Miyagi planned the hand over and executed the plan. People were trained and allocated roles to push lean initiatives forward. Mr. Miyagi planned to exit by the end of the ninth month. Despite, Allan’s request to stay for long Mr. Miyagi was confident that process is now fit to run by itself and told him he can assist as and when required.
Mr. Miyagi was happy for the improvement he made. As much as Mr. Miyagi taught Allan and his team, Mr. Miyagi learned from them. Mr. Miyagi left the organization confidently. Allan’s team did better and better. Mr. Miyagi visited them on request and gave him expertise.
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