Improve Your Problem Solving: Engage Worker Knowledge and Skills

Improve Your Problem Solving: Engage Worker Knowledge and Skills

Those of us practicing lean supply chain principles are focused on problem solving as a fundamental process to achieve continuous improvement. While we utilize multiple lean tools and processes, there are some fundamental lean principles to drive effective problem solving. At the top of the lean principles list for problem solving is “Engage Worker Knowledge and Skills." We know that waste occurs when we fail to engage the people who do the work for their knowledge, skills, and ideas.

I was very fortunate to experience the power of this lean principle in a problem solving project last year. Our Lean Logistics Center (LLC) sequencing operation processed 24 hourly shuttles per day from the LLC to our customer’s factory. Our Bill of Lading (BOL) accuracy was poor. Accuracy of correct sequence rack numbers and quantities recorded on the BOL is critical to quality delivery and connection to the production line. The lack of BOL accuracy was impacting our customer’s production.

The problem was defined with data and a clear problem statement. We then formed a project team to solve the problem summarized in the following key categories:

  • Team. The team was lead by three team members (who do the daily work) and supported by one supervisor.
  • Standard Work. The current state/actual processes were documented by the working team members. The opportunities for errors were identified. The team then created new and improved standard work.
  • Gemba. All problem solving work was done on the floor where the work is performed. No back office meetings, computers, or complications.
  • Visual Management. The new standard work was communicated to the entire work group and posted for visibility. Daily performance charts were established to measure and record the errors. Real time corrective action occurred daily to eliminate the errors.
  • Celebrate Success. All LLC team members were congratulated with a celebratory lunch and acknowledgment the problem was solved by the people doing the daily work.

Lean doesn't have to be complicated. If you simply engage worker knowledge and skills, the results are dramatic and successful!

Written by Mark Wheeler, Lean Deployment Executive at LeanCor

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Posted by LeanCor Supply Chain Group

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LeanCor Supply Chain Group is a trusted supply chain partner that specializes in lean principles to deliver operational improvement. LeanCor’s three integrated divisions – LeanCor Training and Education, LeanCor Consulting, and LeanCor Logistics – help organizations eliminate waste, drive down costs, and build a culture of continuous improvement.

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