Monday, April 20, 2015

20. Day 1 of 3: Can Lean Tools Work in Coffee?

Apr. 20, 2015 -- West Chester, Ohio (near Cincinnati, OH)

I was stunned when after a full day of our wonderful trainer, Rich Carey, teaching us about the value of using the Japanese terms for helping teams grasp lean tools -- the founder of Definity Partners (and Definity University), Ray Attiyah, said, "better not for coffee." Ray Attiyah is the author of  the book Run, Improve, Grow and a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur. I just know him as the brilliant person who has built a business helping manufacturers embrace lean culture, not just get a certificate. So when he said, "don't use the Japanese and lean terms like "Kaizen" and "Value Stream Mapping" he caught me off guard. "Instead, remind them what their pain is," he continued. "Why will lean help them?"

Ahhh... now I could understand. Talking about solutions that sound foreign will not help companies get comfortable with what you're offering. Talking about problems that are urgent -- like"declining productivity for the crop that earns 80% of your foreign exchange", or "potato taste defect that means you have to reject 20 containers a year." Those are good conversation-starters in the coffee world if we want to also talk about how to "achieve customer satisfaction through the most efficient use of resources." (The latter happens to be one of the definitions of lean I learned today.) As we learned at the beginning of the "day 1" class today -- "you have to remember the why -- why are we doing this?"

This blog, however, is for the brave souls who have read this far and still want to know -- "could lean work in coffee?"  So far the answer is a resounding "yes!"  In addition to a solid introduction to the concept and history of lean, Rich taught us Kaizen events and Value Stream Mapping. For each tool, the program incorporates a walk on the manufacturing floor of the "co-inhabitant" of the building, Upside. Upside manufacturers aluminum stairs and platforms. I love this! Instead of making paper planes or building towers with tinker toys, we are using an actual manufacturing environment as part of our classroom. Twice already we've walked through the plant, learning about processes that are new and strange to each of us. We try to "see with new eyes" and do the Gemba walk -- finding waste.

Then we learned how to draw the two key processes in any manufacturing setting: the production flow and the (reverse direction) information flow. These two "flow" process maps make up Value Stream Mapping (VSM). VSM helps everyone see the time spent on value-add (VA) processes vs. the non-value-add (NVA) processes.

What I liked best today -- the emphasis on involve and empower employees.

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