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15 Laws for Continous Improvement

15 Laws for Continous Improvement

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03/09/2014

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© Lie Cycle Engineering 2012www.
LCE
.com
R. Keith Mobley, renowned practitioner and author o 22 books, shares his experience and observations gleanedrom a 46-year career devoted to continuous improvement in manuacturing. Keith’s letters contain real exampleso what works – and what doesn’t – in the quest or excellence.
RELECtions on ExCELLEnCE:
R. Keith Mobley’s 15 Laws or Continuous Improvement
 
 | 
© Lie Cycle Engineering 2012
At the cajoling o riends and associates, this is the rst in a series o letters that will share my experience and observations gleaned roma career devoted to continuous improvement in manuacturing. I nothing else, almost 50 years o involvement at all levels o plant andcorporate management has shown me what does not work and hopeully what is needed to be successul and competitive. As the oldest son o a millwright, the ocial start o my career was working the night shit as a maintenance technician to pay or myeducation. I was introduced to the business world by stories my ather shared about his perception o management and how its “balingwires and band aid” mentality destroyed equipment and morale. This perception seemed to be conrmed when viewed through the eyeso an 18 year old engineering student. Ater college, my career evolved much quicker than most – growing rom a rst job as a plant engineer to plant manager at 25, V.P.Engineering and Manuacturing at 30, and E.V.P and C.O.O. at 40. Looking or even more o a challenge, I have spent the past 27 yearshelping clients around the world transorm and achieve their ull potential. Two actors are responsible or my ast-track growth. First, a God-given talent or seeing beyond the surace conditions and trulyunderstanding the underlying cause o problems and actors that limit perormance has been the cornerstone o my growth and success.I have dedicated my lie to honing what was given and using it to its best advantage.The second actor was pure, dumb luck. When I needed it the most, I had the opportunity to meet and work with three gited men whoalso had the insight to understand what companies need to succeed. Dr. Edwards Deming, Philip Crosby and Joseph Juran helped me toocus my vision on how to create a sustainable, highly successul company. I treasure the education and mentoring that these gentlemenprovided to a brash, perhaps egotistical, young man. Without them, my career would have been quite dierent. Now, as I too quickly near the end o my career, it is time to share as much as I can with others and this series o letters is one avenue orsharing what I have learned. As you know, I live to work—nothing gives me more pleasure. At 67 I must ace the realization that no one livesorever, but I am still convinced that we can create legacies that do. While I don’t presume to be on the same level as my mentors, creatinga legacy is important to me. Hopeully, the lessons that I have learned the hard way will help and in some small way be my legacy.In this series o letters, titled Refections on Excellence, I will share my observations o the characteristics common to all highly successulcompanies; how they were able to overcome the myriad problems that limit perormance; and the pitalls that should be avoided in your journey to sustainable world-class status. I think that these characteristics may surprise you. They are not complex or sophisticated. In act,most are common sense and cost nothing to implement.As a taste o what is to come, let me share a recent conversation with a colleague. We were discussing the sources o limiting actorsthat we all ace in business. To prove his point, he cited one o Dr. Deming’s better-known sayings: “85% o problems are caused bymanagement issues.” My colleague was arguing that management decisions, too oten based on opinion, partial or skewed data, oremotions, are at the heart o our inability to be competitive and protable. What do you think? Are 85% o the problems that you aceeach day caused by aulty decision-making? From my perspective, I think that Dr. Deming was an optimist. The contribution o sel-inducedlimiting actors is much more than 85% -- perhaps 90% or more. Let me share an example. A ew years ago we evaluated the perormance o a ood processing plant and ound that their asset utilizationwas 27%. They controlled 70% market share, but with only a marginal operating prot. When we sat down to discuss these and otherissues, the client could not or would not accept that low utilization was a problem. Once this was overcome, we tried to discuss possiblesolutions that would better utilize their installed capacity and improve their operating prot. The client was adamant that nothing could bedone. We suggested private labeled products as a means to increase utilization; exporting to larger markets; and consolidating plants tomatch their ootprint to demand. For each solution the client had 101 reasons it would not work.It took two years o almost constant education, but the client nally moved away rom their “it cannot be done” attitude. They areexporting products, producing private brands or the domestic market and have consolidated plants to eliminate duplication. Theresult is a much-improved operating prot and positive growth trend that should take them to the next level.
MobLEy’s 1
st
Law:
“All things are possible – i you are willing to roll up your sleeves and do it.”
i h ere  leer, i ll hre m erv he chrcerc cmm  ll hghl ccelcmpe
 
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© Lie Cycle Engineering 2012
I I had a nickel or every time a client has said, “…but you don’t understand, we’re dierent,” I would be a rich man. While it is true thatthere are dierences, this is too oten an excuse we use or not doing what we need to do—acknowledge our shortcomings and admit ourimperections. Then and only then can we overcome limitations and truly achieve our ull potential.This is especially true when it comes to continuous improvement. I have lost count o the times when I have visited plants that haveembraced or adopted Lean, Six Sigma, TPM or one o the other alphabet soup o continuous improvement philosophies only to nd theyreally have not. In many o these plants, the leadership, implementation team, and sometimes even the associates on the foor know all theright words and can parrot all o the important words. But it quickly becomes clear they do not really understand what the words mean orthe real philosophy o continuous improvement.In a recent visit to a large discrete manuacturing plant, I heard the V.P. o Operations espouse the merits o Lean and the value o Kaizen.What he was really taking about was Kaizen Blitz—short duration, high intensity improvements, not Kaizen—a methodical, long-termcontinuous improvement process. When asked, he armed that their transormation rom almost totally reactive to world-class would beaccomplished in a ew months and with no other eort than a ew teams implementing Kaizen. The instant gratication o Kaizen Blitz,even though gains are not sustainable, was his and the company’s preerred solution, rather than a slower, steady journey to sustainableexcellence. How one can expect brute orce changes, such as those created by blitz activities, will survive without changing the culturethat enable the deciencies in the rst place escapes me. Unless and until the enabling culture is changed, nothing is sustainable. As in this example, we have become a culture that is obsessed with instant gratication and short-term ocus. Read any trade magazineor listen to the multitude o continuous improvement consultancies and you will be bombarded with proven solutions to your problems.Although the solutions vary, most share a common theme: the solution is quick, cheap and painless. Some ocus on maintenance; otherson reliability and still others on production improvement. Maybe it is just me, but none o these solutions and their associated gains ringtrue.A statement I hear oten is that maintenance is the sole reason a company cannot capture and retain market share. No matter how hard Itry, the logic behind this escapes me. I one really looks into the “maintenance deciencies” that plague most plants, the true cause is notmaintenance. Most deciencies, regardless o where they are generated, maniest as maintenance issues, e.g. breakdowns, unplannedcost and reduced output. The old saw “One operator can wreck a machine aster than ten mechanics can repair it” is true. To resolve these“maintenance deciencies” one must address the sources o the visible symptoms and that means deciencies in production, operations,engineering, procurement and other unctions whose combined deciencies create them. Anything short o a holistic—a total approach tocontinuous improvement must result in partial, less than desired results.I have learned with absolute certainty that there are no silver bullets—no quick solutions to the complex issues that must be resolved beoreany company can capture and retain sucient market share and margins to assure continuance and protability. Once this simple act isaccepted, one can begin the process o reengineering with some assurance o success. Where should you start? There can be only one answer—everywhere, but with production or manuacturing as the ocal point. Theinterdependency o plants and corporations orces a holistic approach. Think about how you would improve your production organization.The best place to start is to eliminate variability in the way work is planned and executed. I one looks at the results o each operating teamand shit on a day-to-day basis, the level o variability is clear. Next, eliminate the waste and losses by value-stream mapping all o the work activities required to eectively produce the requisite output; create value-added standard processes and procedures and then enorcethem.
Continued on next page
MobLEy’s 2
nd
Law:
“There are no silver bullets; change takes time.”
t relve hee “mece ecece” e mre he rce  he vle mpm  hme ecece  prc, per, egeerg,prcreme  her c...

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