Post-Its and Visual Management
Right now I’m working with a firm to help improve their production output. They’re suffering from the usual problem - too much work in progress (WIP), caused by a production manager who wanted to ‘get ahead’, by manically over-producing at the start of the process flow.
The line manager I’m working with understands this, and has got his team focused on pulling stuff out of the line, rather than pushing more into the top.
But what’s needed is a system to prevent this kind of situation arising again. So I’ve been working with the team to put in place daily team briefings, based aroud a whiteboard with all the key indicators on it:
- Each team member’s priority for the day
- The team’s overall mission for today
- Health and Safety - accidents and near-misses
- Non-productive time
- Work in progress for each stage of production - with limits to allow for line balancing and takt time
- Progress for the month
- Issues & improvements
- Other news
Now I’d been struggling with the WIP section of the board - the product that the client’s company makes needs individual serial numbers to be tracked through production. And the prospect of filling in the WIP section & moving serial numbers across the board by rubbing out and copying was rather worrying - too many opportunities for errors to creep in.
But then this post (A visual system is worth 1,000 emails) on Daily Kaizen reminded me that I’m a big fan of Post-Its. We use them all the time in workshops for things ranging from strategy planning to SMED analysis & training. Only I’ve never used them in live visual management - mainly because it’d just never occurred to me!
One worry I have is that Post-Its are often not as sticky as we’d like (it’s kinda the point of te glue on them - not so sticky that you can’t remove it!). But of course, you can buy Super Sticky Post-Its for just such situations. They cost a little more than basic Post-Its (and a lot more for own-brand / generic versions), but I think they may make a visual management system even more visual and workable.
It’s a crazy idea, but it just might work!