Muda Walks in September: Guest Article

Hi everyone,
I've been rushing about the last couple of weeks and part of that was to broaden the writer base for Strings, Connections and Links. One of the really interesting and knowledgeable folks I found was Dennis Sowards. Dennis has been working as a lean practitioner for quite a while now and he has what I think is one of the more refreshing viewpoints on lean. I would encourage you to take him up on his offer to conduct a Muda (that's waste for those not in the know) Walk.

Here's Dennis' invitation. Oh yes, you don't have a lot of time, so sign up by Aug 28th. Take it away Dennis.

Muda Walk 2012
Dennis Sowards
How to improve operations? There are thousands of answers to this question and more are developed every day. One simple way to improve is to follow the Lean approach of “Go & See.” Masaaki Imai, a leading expert on Lean techniques, says that in companies
especially noted for implementing Lean, such as Toyota and Honda, managers are expected to spend one hour a day in the operations area watching for wasted resources and ways to improve. He calls it a “Muda Walk.” “Muda” in Japanese means waste.
This is more than the Management by Walking Around technique made famous by Tom Peters. This is not walking around and by work, but watching how work is done long enough to really see what is happening and what barriers workers excounter. Mr. Imai suggests a good hour of watching!
In today’s construction world most senior managers occasionally go to the job site and then spend much of the time in the trailer. The project manager may walk the job weekly, but usually has too much paperwork to leave the office and watch. Superintendents and foremen are too busy managing the details to invest time to see how things get or don’t get done.
One Muda Walk participant said it best: “It is very difficult for most construction people to stand still long enough to observe. We waste plenty of time doing non value stuff, but for some reason we can't spend the time to observe.”
Muda Walk for a Month initiative was started six years ago to encourage managers and leaders to invest time during the month to go and see. It is held in September to honor Mr. Imai. September is his birth month.
How does the Muda Walk for a Month work?
During September, I email participants a weekly theme to use while doing a Muda (waste) walk in their company. The walk may be at a job site, in the shop, office or even a service truck. During the walk, they are to look for ways to eliminate waste and improve operations. The challenge is to do a walk at least one hour a week and, if possible, one hour each day. That may sound like a hard commitment, but those who invested the time in past years have reaped useful results. The service I provide is free, the investment is one’s time to go and see.
Some nice things people have said about the 'Muda Walks'
“It is always of value watching work activities and is a learning experience every time.”
“Absolutely I will recommend this approach. This really helps connect with the processes and their intended approaches. By doing this waste will be identified and taken care of, you cannot see it unless you challenge yourself to see it.”
Read about Muda walks in Contractor Magazine - http://contractormag.com/columns/sowards/muda_walk_find/index.html

This is a free service, but participants must sign up by Aug 28, 2012. The first week of the Muda walk will start on Sept 3, 2012. To register, just email your request to dennis@YourQSS.com
There are opportunities to remove waste if you watch for them. You won’t see them sitting in your office! It’s time to get out and look for waste so you can be more competitive.

1 comment:

  1. Its always great to take a moment and understand the process we're managing. While a young man - I would walk up the Highrises I managed floor by floor - After the first few floors I noticed I sudenly had more time to look at each floor (out of wind) and started to visit and learn a lot from the craftsmen. It was amazing how problems, logistics and efficiency improved as both I and the workers discussed the process on the way up. Any excuse to walk the project is a great idea