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Making ‘good (normal)’ regarding the output easy to see, update on learnings.

April 10, 2024
In the news article titled ‘Making ‘good (normal)’ regarding the output easy to see’ on February 8, 2024 I said that I would provide an update in April 2024 with the learnings we’ve had. The site is a large beverage factory and we focused on homogenisation.

(To read the February article, click here.)

What did we learn?

Given learning in our world is defined as:

What happened – What was predicted = What was learned we’ve had lots of learnings!

Making ‘good (normal)’ regarding the output easy to see.

Defining good/ normal in regard to the output was hard! What we thought would be simple created some very robust conversations amongst the participants. We continued to come back to this several times as we learned more. It would have been easy for us to move on without a clear output standard (still grey), but we persisted. During one of our sessions something very left field came up … and I wasn’t expecting it. Personally, for me upon reflection, I realised I initially shot it down (the idea) then during some reflection time (and the drive home) I realised it was outside of what I had predicted, thus the probable reason for my initial response. As the leader/ coach in the sessions and upon reflection with another person I realised my role was not to know the answer (this scares me a lot) it was to (quote from the text the person sent me) Your job isn’t to be the subject matter expert. Your job is to use work standards principles to create conversations that move them away from the red poster towards green.

What I learned was that by following the principles, you’ll arrive at the destination. Easy to say, but hard to do!

As soon as we made the output easy to see, improvements became obvious. Let me illustrate, whilst we were creating the machine standards the required pressures were identified, someone then said, ‘why don’t we put an indicator on the gauge that shows this?’.

I was hoping something like this would come, but I wasn’t sure.

When we captured the machine standard (capturing the machine variables that the operator has control over that impact ‘normal’ in the output) we realised these were very basic. However if the machine wasn’t maintained … there was no way we could meet this standard. We learned that we needed to develop an input standard that defined a ‘well maintained’ machine.

When we created the Operator standards, we realised that the set up of the machine was a lot more detailed than the monitoring of the machine. Where we thought we’d have one standard we had two. When we developed the operator standard someone then raised the fact that this machine was part of a whole process and there was lots of knowledge required to do the job, thus they thought that a knowledge block may assist the learning of the operators (not yet developed … but planned).

Throughout the sessions we repeatedly stated….

The purpose of all our mentoring sessions is to practice following the pocket card; learn by doing …

We’re not aiming for perfection in our documents, we will aim for ‘good enough to apply it and see what happens’.

I know we learned a lot. We learned by doing. Sometimes we wanted to jump a step, not clearly define normal and the reality is we did ‘struggle’, but this struggling actually created the true learning.