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Re: Five S's and Poka Yoke
I have to apologize for being a bit behind in reading some of my e-mails. I just read Burton's thoughts on the Five S's and Poka Yoke topic. It definitely brought a smile to my face. I am responsible for pollution prevention training for our corporation and will be incorporating his jargon translations (or a variation of them) into our training programs.
I am always looking for ways to cut to the heart of the matter and explain things in terms everyone can understand - from the boardroom to the shop floor. Thanks Burton for some common sense insight.
David Williams, CHMM
Manager - Env. Affairs
American Home Products Corporation
1 Campus Drive
Parsippany, NJ 07054
(973) 683-2269/(973) 683-4066 (fax)
>>> Burton Hamner <firstname.lastname@example.org> 01/09 12:02 PM >>>
This is not really a technical contribution but I just can resist.
Yesterday I was at Seattle University's Business School at a World
Resources Institute on teaching environmental management in business
schools. The keynote speaker, a consultant, went on for a while about some
of the big "P2 lightbulb" stories like how Xerox found $200 million in
extra profits by design for environment and recycling copier parts.
In the audience was a younger skinny fellow, with a goatee and a tweed
coat, obviously an ivory-tower-in-training type. At the end of the speech
his shot his hand up in the air, and practically stood on his chair in his
distress to make his question: "Look, I am a trained economist! These
kinds of inefficiencies are not theoretically possible!" he cried (honest I
am not making this up!). "The laws of economics drive companies like that
out of busines, there is no way that this can be happening all over like
you say it does!"
A few minutes later some older souls gathered around the poor lamb to give
him comforting reasssurance, some tranquilizers perhaps. I actually heard
one guy in his sixties, who said later he has spent 30 years on shop-floor
TQM, say: "It's ok son, eventually you will get better". I thought I was
going to die giggling.
I share this anecdote in response to the post earlier that someone had read
that TQM is out of favor. TQM is only out of favor with those who always
thought it was just the latest flavor of the month, another management fad.
Real TQM has not worked in lots of American firms because the management
would not really let go of their hierarchical control over processes and
process workers, and TQM tools give workers the power to understand and
improve their processes without needing the boss to tell them how to do it.
Considering how many businesses have the same level of democracy as Nazi
Germany it is not surprising that such approaches threaten some managers
right at their core "values".
Lots of economists are still around training business managers and they
tend to create a mindset in their trainees that somehow the managers are
being optimally efficient because they have a business degree, so why try
all these other "fads".
It seems every five years or so another aspect of TQM gets discovered and
announced as the latest great thing, last week it was Fortune Magazine
announcing the miracle of 6-Sigma (keeping defects less than six standard
deviations from mean, which means about 3.4 defects per million if I
recall). Motorola has been using this approach for ever it seems, now
others are looking at them like they just fell down from the moon or
Here is an attempt at translating jargon for the benefit of economists and
managers, and to suggest what might be in the basis P2 tool box for anyone.
Six-sigma = statistical process control = process charting = measure your
5-S = keep your shop clean, organized and efficient to work in.
Poke-Yoke = design it right so it can't screw up.
Pareto analysis = figure out what the biggest problem is and fix it first.
Just-in-Time = don't buy it until you actually need it and then don't leave
it lying around (minimize work in process)
Loss Control = pollution prevention = waste minimization
Activity-Based Costing = Lock the accountants in the closet and let the
workers figure out what their core activities actually cost.
Re-engineering = take the time to figure out what you are really doing, and
then figure out whether what you are doing is actually what you are
SUPPOSED to be doing. Hey, this sounds just like P2 Planning!
Economics = substituting theory for reality.
gee maybe I am getting a little cynical here.
Let's organize an annual business buzzword hunt and keep a post of
translations, so we can help fad-following managers and economists
understand that the basics of thinking about what you do every day still
have some relevance.
- Adjunct Professor, Asian Institute of Management, Manila, Philippines
- President, Hamner Associates, LLC
4343 4th Avenue NW, Seattle, Washington, 98107
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