Understanding Your Production Capacity

Cans on Assembly line
Knowing your production capacity helps you make accurate decisions about resourcing from machinery to people.

What is the production capacity of your business? It is surprising how few manufacturers can answer this question. Even for those who can provide an answer, it is likely to be inaccurate.

Why Does Understanding Production Capacity Matter?

Many business decisions are based on assumptions about the production capacity of your business. For example, your decisions to purchase new equipment, take on new business, add another shift or relocate your business will all be based on your actual or perceived level of capacity. The consequences of not understanding capacity can, therefore, be very serious. You might take on business you can not service, purchase equipment you don’t really need or take on a building that is too large.

Learn How to Improve your Production Capacity “On the Cheap”

How Do You Measure Production Capacity?

There are many ways to look at production capacity in your business. In planning for sales growth you need to consider “demonstrated capacity”. That is the actual rate of output that has been achieved in recent history, allowing for inefficiency. This ensures that if efficiency does not improve your customers will still get their product on time. Of course when efficiency improves you may be able to get ahead of demand. In this case, your increased “demonstrated capacity” will provide further opportunity to grow sales.

When considering investments evaluate “nameplate” capacity to determine the hidden potential of your assets due to inefficiency. If efficiency is poor then focus on improving it through reducing set up time, downtime and defective product. This will provide much better returns for your business than investing in new equipment. Capacity changes over time as you add machinery or improve efficiency. Therefore you need to regularly review your capacity and compares this to your future demand for products. This capacity review usually forms part of your Sales and Operations Planning process.

Consider the Whole Chain When Calculating Production Capacity

For a multi-step process, your production capacity will be limited by the slowest step in that process, the constraint. At TXM we like to look along the entire production process (or “Value Stream”) from supply of raw materials to shipping of finished goods and all the steps in between. We compare each step in this process to a common yardstick called Takt Time, or the rate of customer demand. So if we sell eight units per day from our factory and operate one, eight hour shift our takt time is one hour. Therefore every step in the production process needs to be able to produce at least one unit per hour. A simple bar graph (called a line balance chart) can compare the actual output of each production step (cycle time) with takt time and quickly highlight bottlenecks.

Take Into Account Human as Well as Machine Capacity

There may be many steps where the rate of production is determined by people and not machines. In this case, you need to know the normal rate of production for these processes. “Standard Work” is an excellent process for achieving a consistent output and eliminating waste and inefficiency in processes where people set the pace.

Learn More About Standard Work

People can also be a constraint even when they don’t work on the production line. At one company I recently spoke to, capacity is limited by the ability of administration and engineering staff to process customer orders and design data. This can be hard to measure, but the consequences of overloading these functions will be just as devastating for customer service as a bottleneck in production. Standard work and value stream mapping can help identify and improve office capacity constraints. Understanding your capacity is vital to managing a successful manufacturing business. We can assist you to understand and increase the capacity of your business.

Contact TXM to Learn How to Increase Your Production Capacity

Simple Steps for an Effective Kanban System

Kanban Systems or Pull systems of various types are now common across many industries. They are cheap, simple to operate and can lead to large cost and inventory reductions. Here are some guidelines to help make your pull system work effectively:

accumulation kanban
This board accumulates Kanban cards to trigger ordering of parts.


1. Keep the Lead Time Short and the Interval Frequent

Kanban systems (also known as pull systems) trigger the ordering of materials based on previous usage. The longer the lead time for supply of the parts and the less frequently parts are replenished, the less successful the pull system will be. Implementing pull system goes hand in hand with efforts to reduce batch size and shorten replenishment lead times and order smaller quantities more frequently.


2. Kanban is not “Set and Forget”

Kanban systems need to be maintained. Regularly review (every three to six months) the settings in the pull system to account for changes in demand, changes in the way parts are delivered or packed or changes in suppliers. You may need to add or remove Kanbans, adjust trigger points or change Kanban quantities.

server racks two bin system
Example of a Two Bin Kanban system. When the bin at the front is empty, the bin behind slides down to replace it and the first bin is replenished

3. Good Shop Floor Disciplines are Required

To maintain an effective Kanban system you must develop a culture where things are always returned to the place they come from. Loosing Kanban cards can also be a major problem. If you don’t have those disciplines,  implementing 5S is a good way to develop them. Keeping track of Kanban cards can be a real challenge.

Some good ideas we have seen include: making someone responsible for system maintenance, making the parts container itself the “Kanban” or reducing the number of cards by using a “two bin” system. This means having only two containers of parts per part number, one container you are using while the second container of parts is either full waiting for use, or in the process of being replenished


4. Engage Suppliers in Developing Your Kanban System

If your pull system is designed to pull from suppliers you must talk to them and understand their systems and capabilities. Suppliers can have useful input on how to make the system more effective and forcing a system on them is unlikely to be effective and will damage your business relationship.


Effective Kanban Systems are one of the main elements to a successful one-piece flow production system. There are a number of considerations that need to be taken into action to make sure you have a Kanban System that works and delivers results for your business. Contact TXM If you need help understanding or building Kanban Systems

waste chienmei
Waste is not always as easy to spot as in this factory – but it is always present.

When you walk through your workplace do you find it hard to see waste? Maybe you have implemented 5S so the workplace looks well organized and have a solid order backlog so that everyone seems really busy. In this environment, you may look at your operation and think that the opportunity to improve is now limited. This situation may be superficially satisfying, but can also be quite frightening if your margins are under pressure.

So where do you look for hidden waste when your workplace already “looks” efficient? The best answer is to revisit your value streams and systematically identify and eliminate waste. However, a walkthrough of your operation with lean manufacturing in mind may show up some surprising examples of hidden waste in your operation.

Understand the Different Types of Waste

What is Everyone Doing?

Take some time to just stand in a discrete position in the workplace and observe what everyone is doing. Count how many people you can see and then count how many of those are actually adding value for the customer while you are watching. For example, do your operators leave the line to look for materials? Are there non-value-adding processes? For example, do you pack your product at one stage of the process only to unpack it at a later stage?
Does the product get moved long distances or get put into warehouses to be removed and used again later in the process? The time taken moving stock around and tracking it can be significant and does not add any value to the customer.

Learn About the Seven Wastes in Your Business

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Minding the Machines

waiting time
Employees often spend a lot of time waiting for machines to finish their cycle. Well designed Lean standard work and fixing machine reliability issues can eliminate this.

Another common source of waste and cost is waiting for machines. The cash you have invested in your machines has already been spent, whereas the cost of labour is ongoing. Therefore if your operators are standing around waiting for machines to finish their cycle your machine efficiency might look great, but your profit statement will not be so good.

Design machines to operate automatically or at least have automatic ejection of parts and make sure that your “standard work” has the operator arriving at the machine just after the machine cycle has completed, not just before.

Address the Six Big Losses on Your Machines

Where is the Inventory?

Inventory is waste because the customer does not pay you more for your products when you have more inventory (unless you are in the warehousing business!!). However, inventory also hides waste. If inventory is building up at points on your assembly line this is a sure sign that the work on the line is unbalanced. Inventory will build up behind a bottleneck.
Processes upstream of the bottleneck will have their output restricted by the bottleneck and therefore will often have waste built into their work. This can manifest itself by short wait times while the upstream operators wait for the downstream operators to catch up. Inventory can also hide problems, for example unreliable equipment or long setup times. All of these factors contribute to more waste and inflexibility in your supply chain.

Learn About Overproduction – The Worst Form of Waste

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What is in the Bin?

Stick your head in the waste bin and see what is in there. It can often be surprising. In some processes end of run production is just thrown away when it will not fit on the pallet. Often in-process quality issues go unreported and the affected product is quietly thrown away. Alternatively, setups can be a source of large amounts of startup waste. Material is usually your largest cost, so using structured problem-solving techniques to find the root cause of why product ends up in the bin can have a large impact on profit.
Also, take note of the amount of packaging in the bin. Again you will probably be staggered by how much packaging is used for the materials you use. Packaging cost will be built into the cost of the product you buy, and, as well, the removal, handling, and disposal of waste packaging in your plant can be a significant source of waste. Investigate reducing packaging or using returnable packaging—you will help the environment and reduce cost and waste.
These are just a few areas where you can look for waste, but they will provide you a start. Then take a structured approach to identify and eliminate waste by using Value Stream Mapping and Standard Work Analysis to quantify waste and develop future state action plans to eliminate it.
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In our other articles related to visual management, we have talked about steps for creating an action plan for real work improvement. We have covered the need for it to be well thought through with responsibilities, resources and a timeframe assigned. Now we want to improve team buy-in and take your action plan to the next level by making it visual. We’ll go into what is a visual action plan, with examples and why it’s important for team buy-in while rolling out the plan to achieve your goals.

What is a Visual Action Plan?

A visual action plan is an action plan that has been taken OUT of the computer system and put on display. It needs to show the key information in a format that can be read and understood from a distance. Colour coding and using simple red/green indications help turn a dull list of actions into a plan that clearly shows what needs to be done, who is going to do it and when it needs to be done by, as well as its current status.

Having a simple written list displayed is a good start.

Display your action list to improve buy in

Taking the action list to the next step, with red and greed magnets indicating which phase of implementation it’s up to. This also makes reviewing and updating the action plan much simpler and more efficient. We often hear that companies don’t have time to hold review meetings and then update the computer files with the review status. Effective review meetings can update the task status in real-time during the meeting.

red and green status for an action plan

These action plans convey so much information, even to the casual observer. They tie the site map and the action together with pictures. This makes it much easier to share what is happening with your team. And an engaged team is much more likely to get the actions completed. It also makes it simpler to convey the status of the project and to share this with other teams and management.

02a IPT Mission project A

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benchmark action plans project overview

Why it is a Visual Action Plan Important?

There are many reasons why having a visual action plan is important. These include:

– engaging the team by making it more interesting

– making it easier to update in real-time

– improving the chance of success by keeping the key tasks front of mind

Transforming your Action Plan from Boring to Visual

1. On Display

01 Create a meeting place for visual controls

Start by taking what you have and displaying it in a meeting location or production board. Create a space if you don’t already have one

2. Engage your Team

03 get team involved_AgQuip_15

Encourage your team to get involved, creating and updating your action plan.

3. Review and Update

team review of visual action plan

Review upcoming tasks in your daily or weekly meetings. The frequency of review will depend on the maturity of your team and the urgency of tasks. Keep them in front of mind and help keep the important actions from getting lost among the urgent, daily tasks.

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In conclusion

We have outlined the important reasons for having a visual action plan and how it improves buy-in, with the three easy steps to take your action plan from boring to visual. If you need any help to get started, then call your TXM consultant today

Developing an Action Plan for Real-World Improvements

This article was written by Robert Chittenden.

When I was much younger, I was impressed with the organisational structure and teamwork of the Scouts movement. We spent several years having fun and always doing activities and camps. The constant message of “Be Prepared” was repeated time and time again. To this day, the “Be Prepared” approach has set my thinking patterns to always have “Have a plan!” Now I realise, after working with many different companies, the importance of knowing how to write an effective action plan that has a clear outline of how to achieve a goal. You can have the very best, most creative and innovative ideas, but without a written action plan to outline the steps you need to achieve your goal, you are most likely to be running nowhere, fast.

steps for a good action plan

Here we will look at the steps I use to take a team through the process of developing an action plan to implement the tasks needed to achieve a goal. This is done after the Future State Mapping activities. The aim of the action plan is to capture the details and outline what needs to be done, who is doing it, when it needs to be completed by and any further information to support the team.

Create the Action Plan

Step 1 – Write out the goal you are working towards. For more information about writing a clear goal, see the article on Defining the Problem. The same principles apply.

Step 2 – List all the step by step actions needed to achieve the goal. Clearly identify which actions will work towards remedying the problem or which will eliminate the problem altogether. It is helpful to review the pros and cons for various results of actions before implementing your solutions.

Step 3 – Refine the action list. Once a full list of actions has been outlined, consider the key actions and delegate the “nice to haves” as subtasks.

Step 4 – Plan what resources will be required and how they will be obtained. This needs to include all resources such as the people to complete those tasks, the time it will take, and any budget or expenses needed to complete the actions successfully.

Step 5 – Review if additional education or training needed. This needs to cover both the actions to achieve the stated goal and any backfilling of people as they move into a project team and others are covering their day to day activities.

Step 6 – Plan to build commitment. Consider how you will communicate to all of the people who will be affected by changes; internal teams and external suppliers and customers. We often see the failure to achieve a goal come from not sharing the plans with people who we initially see as “don’t need to know”. EVERYONE in an organisation is part of the team and has a vested interest in what is going on, so everyone needs to know!

Step 7 – Identify how you will measure the effects of the actions as they are implemented. Define your performance indicators to measure the impact of your actions that were identified in step 2.

Also, consider how you will measure the actions that have been completed. Develop a tracking system for measuring changes in the action plan and performance indicators (for example, include a graph for recording data collected.) Develop a system for monitoring actions against the implementation plan (A check sheet or the measurement plan can work well)

Example –
Goal – reduce water damage to cartons during shipping.
Performance indicator – the percentage of cartons per shipment with damage.
Target by 5% in 2017.

Step 8 Assign responsibilities and due dates for every action.

Step 9 Communicate and share the plan. The more accountability you have with your team and company, the more likely you are to complete the actions and stick to a plan! Display the action plan using the Action Planning worksheet, a tree diagram, a timeline or A3 Plan.

Finally make sure your action plan is complete, clear, and current. Does your draft list all of the action steps necessary to reach your goal? Are the steps clear to all parties involved in the business? Are the actions according to the latest rules, regulations, and technology?

Your action plan will be a breathing, living document, so be open to many changes along the way. With any plan that you have, it is important that you stay motivated throughout the process so that you will have enough energy and motivation to see the plan through to the finish.

Creating a true A3 Plan

Implementing the Action Plan.

This is where the team implements the action plan and tracks actions relative to the plan.

Step 1 – Regularly review the action plan to ensure that everyone clearly understands what is to be done, by whom, and when. Check to be sure you have methods and resources in place for:
• Educating and training involved employees.
• Building the commitment of all involved
• Tracking completion actions

Step 2 – DO the actions.

We often feel like we can’t repeat this enough – DO THE ACTIONS. Don’t make excuse, put them off or try to be perfect to the point that nothing gets started! Get started, take the first step and DO THE ACTION!

There is more and more research around how to implement any type of change to the status quo, we need to act our way to a new way of thinking, not thinking our way to a new way of acting.

Step 3 – Track each action in the action plan. Verify that it was followed and identify the results. Record what was actually done.

Step 4 – Do the troubleshooting as needed to support the implementation of the actions. Take any remedial steps necessary to remove roadblocks and deal with unanticipated negative side effects of the change efforts.

Step 5 – Display completed actions versus planned actions as a record of your implementation.

It is critical that the team record exactly what actions are taken, as this will help you analyse the success of your action plan later.

Checking Results

When the goal has been achieved and the change is in place, the team can now examine the data collected to analyse how the expected results were obtained.

Step 1 – Compare the results against your performance indicators. Display the data.

Step 2 – Analyse the results, noting any effects observed, whether they were good or bad. Translate the improvements into dollar values that are relevant to the business, if possible.

Step 3 – Document any side effects observed (positive or negative) results.

Step 4 – If you did not achieve that targeted results assess:

  • Was the plan adequate?
  • Was the solution to your plan complete and appropriate?
  • Was the analysis of the problem correct?

At this point, the goal is to understand as much as possible about what happened. Even wildly surpassing your goals is meaningless if you do not understand why or how you did it.



This article is to remind you of the importance of thinking through the creation of an action plan, making sure your plan is as good as it can be with the time and information you have at the time and then GETTING IT DONE! And then remember to review and make changes as you need to, to achieve your goal. Good luck!

How to Support a Make to Order Production System

When looking at best practice outcomes across a range of industries, we can see that having a Production System that aims to make only what has been ordered by the customer, can achieve efficient results. When we focuses on Make to Order Production the scheduling is based on actual orders, rather than based on projected volumes. Changing to make to order or “Just In Time” product system has become the foundation step for a lean production system. To assists in this change there are key lean tools to learn and practice as the new systems are developed.

Here we will look at three key Lean Manufacturing tools to help support the implementation of a make to order production system. Each tools addresses a different issue and when done well, they do complement each other. This approach allows scheduling to start as late as possible and for orders to make it all the way through the production stages without minimal delays, quality concerns or increased costs. This builds greater confidence that your people, processes and products can work together to achieve the right outcomes more often.

Let’s explore the three key Lean Manufacturing tools that support Make To Order production.

Load Leveling

Level loading is designed to decrease the overall lead-time from receiving the order to delivery of the products by developing the capabilities to intentionally manufacturing items at the last possible start date and in the smallest batch size that the processes can support. This helps to focus on reducing wastes within a process and support functions to be more agile to changes in volumes or mix. This results in lower inventory levels and reduces long running batches. The benefits of Level loading are identified during Value Stream Mapping and this will generate many actions to address during implementation phase. As you begin to strive for level loading across your production processes, it will begin to highlight problems with quality and your team’s ability to tackle issues as they arise. This is where a quality focus and problem solving become important tools for your team.

You can read more about Level Loading here. 


Quality Focus With Mistake Proofing

Reducing, or preferable eliminating, the possibility of errors occurring in production is a key aim in Make to Order Production systems. It does offer many challenges in the manufacturing world. We can begin by identifying and removing the causes of the error through a number of approaches; by redesigning the component, changing the tooling, checking the right information is available, adding automation into a process or adding software in the appropriate places. While some of these system may be expensive to implement, there are many examples of low tech solutions that can be applied by your team to prevent defects in production.

The key to mistake proofing is in the ability of the production process to highlight any potential issues before the defective products are allowed to be passed on to the next operation, and prevent errors reaching the next process or on to the customers. This is an effective lean tool that can make a big impact on the road to implementing Make to Order Production.

For more on Quality refer to Quality in Lean Manufacturing article.

Quality metrics - TXM

Problem Solving Using PDCA Cycles

As we continue with implementing a Make to Order Production process, many problems will arise and we need to equip our teams with the tools to investigate and fix these problems. The lean problem solving tools are based on the cycle of improvement; Plan, Do, Check, Act. Building this mindset into the way you and your team investigates problems is crucial to reaching your goal.

The core of a PDCA cycle is based on asking the right questions at the right stage. Here are a few questions to get you started while developing this mindset.

The PLAN Phase Questions

What needs to be done?
What are the facts?
How did this occur?
When did it occur?
Who was there?

The DO Phase Questions

What is getting done?
What isn’t not done?
Why has it not happen?
How do we correct this
Do we have new data?

The CHECK Phase Questions

What does the data show?
Why is it like this or not?
What did we accomplish or learn?

The ACT Phase Questions

Why the need to change the plan?
What can we try next or what to keep?
What need to befit to improve the result
What does the data show?

For further reading, refer to the TXM article The PDCA Cycle

Often with manufacturing problems, the solutions are not simple to find. With complex problem solving, we can use can Fishbone diagram. The fishbone diagram helps to define the problem in the production process and then begins to collect all the possible causes. This fishbone diagram is useful when working with a team as a reference map to build up knowledge and consider every possible angle. The fishbone structure is based on six categories that arrange the potential causes into groups.

The six categories of a fishbone diagram are:
Material and


Once the team has brainstormed the likely causes for the problem being addressed, the team can decided to take the best step to remove or control the most likely cause. In some cases the fix may not be the perfect one, but considering the expense of fixing the most likely cause or that a fix may not be within their ability to complete, may be adequate to meet the team’s needs. For more information on Fishbone diagrams, refer to article here.

In Conclusion

The goal of the Make to Order System that complete the order right first time as per the customer requirements and delver to the customer when needed. To support the implementation of a Make to Order Production system, start small and expand on the outcomes as you begin to level load the production process. This leads to a focus on solving quality issues with simple mistake proofing methods and then use the PDCA cycle, partnered with a fishbone diagram, to work at the larger challenges as they arise.

At a recent Best Practice Network Lean Leaders briefing, one of the amazing line of speakers was expounding the virtues of using PDCA thinking across many aspects of our working lives. As an almost throwaway comment, he mentioned reviewing our visual management through a PDCA lens and it caught my attention and lead me to thinking, how are we doing with embedding PDCA thinking into our boards? Here we will explore what PDCA is, why it’s important to include into our visual management and some examples to support our discussion.

visual control board with PDCA thinking

What is PDCA?

PDCA stands for Plan – Do – Check – Act and is also called the Deming cycle as it was originally created by Deming as part of his Quality improvement process in the 1980’s. It includes a way of thinking to ensure the full cycle of continuous improvement is completed. All too often, we come up with an idea to improve a process or system. Sometimes we get to the step of actually implementing it – which is great. But here the great power of the PDCA cycle is checking and acting on the results that come up for the Check step.

PDCA thinking can be used in many aspects of your business, from the highest level of company-wide continuous improvement, to person reflection on a daily basis. And it’s the reflecting, through the Check phase, and adjusting our behaviour or approach through the Act stage that will lead to the continuous improvement we seek.

Why is PDCA needed in Visual Management?

Building the PDCA cycle into our visual management systems, particularly the checking and acting mindset, helps them to be more effective through continuous improvement. We discussed the importance of considering how we could check a problem has been solved in our Problem Solving article. Similarly, knowing how to judge our daily management as successful will depend on being able to communicate a clear understanding of “Have we had a good day?” with our team. And if we haven’t had a “good day” what actions to we need to take to improve our performance tomorrow? A good visual management system will help our teams answer these questions for themselves, and it will help our leaders know what help our teams need.

Examples of PDCA in Visual Management


Each visual management board includes different aspects of the PLAN phase. These include:

  • Attendance: showing who is available that day, and when others may be away
  • Schedule: sharing your forecast with the team to nearly see the production plan
  • Tee card tasks: indicating the tasks your team has agreed to complete each day

embedding PDCA thinking into our visual management

DO –

Often it is the DO phase that is easily covered by a visual management board. These can be covered in several ways:

  • Task board, schedule or To Do list: allocating resources to jobs, with via people or equipment
  • Tee cards: clearly indicating which jobs need doing and which are complete
  • Job sheets or Work Instructions: outlining job specs

02 PDCA Visual Management Do


Visual management boards are there to help out teams Check their status easily and visually. The elements that may be included here are”

  • Metrics: showing what was achieved and if they met the plan on a regular basis
  • Tee cards: red and green cards allows for an easy check the next day how we went completing tasks and if we need to take additional action today to get any outstanding ones completed
  • Targets met: good metrics make it easy to check if the targets have been met

03 PDCA Visual Management Check


And to close out the PDCA cycle, the Act phase is important to use the information gained through the process to change behaviour. Elements include:

  • Concern strips: once they move to the CHECK, the conner strips highlight further action is needed
  • Top 3 Things: some companies use a “Top 3 things” list on the visual management board to highlight the action that is needed to get back on track

04 PDCA Visual Management Act

Pulling it all together

Great visual management boards have all four elements of PDCA thinking built into them and may be used in combination of all the above mentioned. Now that we have explored what PDCA is and looked at why it’s so important to include this into our visual management, the examples will help you review your own visual management boards and tools. Can you see each of the PDCA phases clearly?  If they are unclear or missing, you can give your friendly TXM consultant a call – it may be time for your Lean check up!

Our continuous improvements are often hard fought and hard won, so we want them to be sustained and shared. Documenting and sharing our lessons learnt are an important part of all continuous improvement cycles. This was highlighted to Michelle Brown, TXM Consultant, during a recent project of introducing problem solving to a team of manufacturing people, and here she picks up her story.

My problem solving coachee was so excited when he felt he had completed his project and solved his problem, that I was surprised to see him looking a little sheepish in our next coaching session. At the end of our last session I had pointed out that while he did seem to have fixed the problem of sensor alignment, which was causing the most downtime on the production line, he still needed to document and share his learning with the team to complete his project.

And so here he was, two weeks later. “What’s happened?” I asked, rather concerned. He grinned slowly and laughed at himself “You’ll never guess what?” “What’s that?” I reply with a laugh of my own.

“Those sensors that I had re-aligned, well they were bumped again and the line went down. The team tried and couldn’t fix them or get the line running again, and when they called me. I couldn’t remember exactly where I had adjusted them too, so I needed to fiddle and with little trial and error (again!) I got it fixed (again!)” I smile and nodded.

“And now” he ways with a flourish as he pulls out sheets of printed paper out of his folder, “I’ve takes photos and shown the rule, so I can see where the sensors need to go. And I’ve talked with the team and put a copy of this into the control box, so we’ll have it there if we ever need it again.”

This is the prefect account that illustrates the importance of documenting and sharing improvements and lessons learnt

1. Why is Documenting Important?

How reliable is your memory? We’d all like to think our memories are infallible but we know that’s not the case (especially as we get older!) and even if our memories are good, we also need our team to have a good memory too, if we don’t document our improvements. It is important to document our improvements for the following reasons.

A. Set Expectations

We want to document our improvements to reinforce the importance of the new process or setting. Having the improvement in writing (and pictures!) reinforces the importance and sets this method as the new standard or expectation.

B. Training

Even if our current team was involved in the improvement, we need to be able to train our new team members, or people from other teams, as to how we work with the improvement in place.

C. Auditing

Down the track we need to audit and check in with the improvement made; are they still working? Are they still relevant and current? With our changing workload and customers, all improvements needs auditing to make sure they still fix the problems we had identified, and haven’t created any new problems.

D. Future Improvements

As improvement is continuous, having documented the previous improvements and trained our team, it makes it easier to improve another step when our improvement is documented. This helps to keep everyone the same page, so we can improve the job for all involved. Plus it also documents why we got to where we did, so our next “improvement” isn’t a step back to the old ways!

documenting and sharing improvements

2. Ways of Documenting

There are many ways of documenting improvements to processes and work practices. Here are a few you can tap into.

A. Using formal documents

Current documentation processes you have in place, like Work Instructions (WI) or Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are often a good place to start

B. Software systems like MEX or MANGO

If you are running a maintenance system, some improvements fall into the preventative maintenance category and documenting their refresh dates in the software may work well

C. With Pictures

Simple photos can often be adequate for documenting a process improvement. With current technology, a simple video is another way of communicating how process needs to be completed.

3. Ways of Sharing

As with documenting our improvements and lessons learnt, sharing these with our team and wider business community can be as simple or complex as you need it to be. Tapping into current forums of daily or weekly meetings, or newsletters, is a great way to provide information and engage people using times were information is already being shared.

With the amazing technology that is now around, using online platforms like Yammer and  What App are ways to share photos and stories online to a wider community. This works well when you have many sites across the country and around the world.

Remember that any improvement project isn’t complete until we have documented, shared and celebrated the successes. This is what top performing, continuous improvement, organisations. And we hope you will consider doing the same.

If you’d like help with your continuous improvements, problems solving and documenting results, just give TXM a call!



“It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking,
than think your way into a new way of acting.”

This quote has been attributed to several people including Jerry Sternin, The Power of Positive Deviance: How Unlikely Innovators Solve the World’s Toughest Problems and Richard Pascale, Delivering Results. Regardless of whomever came up with the quote, it does provide food for thought regarding lean implementation.

This quote was brought to our attention over the Summer via two podcasts. Podcasts are great ways to expand your horizon and learn new things. We heard two different podcasts with AJ Jacobs (Amateur Hours on NPR Radio Hour and The Tim Ferriss Podcast) where he talks about his experiment of “Living Biblically” and how acting as a nicer person did actually make him a nicer person.

At the TXM office this got us thinking – How can we use 5S and Lean Thinking to help our clients act “as if” they are a world class organisation?

Here are three Lean tools that can help our team act their way to a new way of thinking, acting “as if” they have already achieved their improvement goals, and become a world class organisation. For clarity, when we talk about “world class” we are referring to companies that are continually improving and innovating within their industry.


The first stages of 5S where we start getting organised are a great way to start acting our way into a new way of thinking about workplace standards, housekeeping and safety. Working as a team we can decide how to organise our work spaces and crate visual standards the clearly display our expectations as to how we work and leave an area.

Weekly 5S audits give our team the opportunity to review and reflect on how we are going to these 5S standards; when they are working – that’s great – how can we improve it another step. If we haven’t been unable to uphold our expectations, why is that? what about this ares isn’t going to plan?


Visual Management

Visual metrics and daily meetings also help our team act their way into a new way of thinking about team performance by highlighting what is important and checking that each team member is clear on the focus for the day. It also improves communication and demonstrates that we are a company that shares information with our team and makes them feel part of an organisation, not kept in the dark and viewed only as resources.


Lean Daily Leadership

Daily leadership is a perfect approach to helping your leaders to act their way into a new way of thinking about leading their team to achieve their goals and take responsibility for solving their problems. Daily leadership gives leaders the tools to keep on top of the daily tasks and make good decisions regarding priorities as to how they use their time to best coach their team.

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As we step further along the path of our lean journey this year, let’s consider how we can support our team to act their way to a new way of thinking about continue improvement, using the lean principles of 5S visual management and lean daily leadership.

In our TXM community of businesses, experience has shown that the most effective Lean thinkers have learned “lean skills” from a “doing” mindset, with small repeatable trails, rather than by applying a “know it all from the books” mindset. This year we encourage everyone to approach the lean concepts and start learning. Of course, it helps to have a qualified coach, but the first steps can be taken as you learn and reflect during the initial stages. Developing a lean mindset where you are learning through practical trials is the key to having a successful 2017.

Good luck and if you require any assistance please contact TXM as we can help you get start in the right direction.

There is something about the end of one year and the beginning of the next that allows us to pause and reflect. We know that adults learn best by reflecting on what has worked and what hasn’t worked in our previous endeavours, and use that to consciously decide on what we will do going forward to make a positive change (refer to the Kolb Learning Model.) And we like to do the same!

Here we will reflect on a year of TXM articles and videos; we hope they have helped you reflect, learn and grow your business, continually, throughout the year.

Fun Fact – A total of 25 articles have been brought to you this year, plus 17 videos with Lean Minutes and Case studies.



warehouse signage


Visual Management Board Example

Have fun reflecting and remember, TXM is only ever a phone call away!