Learning is NOT doing

We need to remember that learning about Lean is NOT the same as doing Lean in our organisations. With the increase in Australian Government funding for skills training, learning about Lean and other business skills has become very common but what are you doing with all of that organisational learning?

I walk into a manufacturing company this week to do a series of information session about 5S and housekeeping so these principles can be introduced into their “end of year clean up”. [NOTE: as we are all aware, good 5S practices throughout the year would mean that the end of year clean up is not necessary, it complexly become another round of Sort-Set in order – shine]  As one of the team ambles into the room, one team member complains “why do I have to do this, I’ve already done 5S”. (I raise an eyebrow – I have spent the last few weeks in their factory and know that they haven’t “done 5S”).

“Excellent!” I exclaim, “then you can share what you know with the group. What have you learnt about 5S?” I get a few mumbles about “Shine” and “putting things close to you” which was a good start and I could draw on those aspects as we went through the session. And the rest of the session went well.

This is just one example of what we have seen in so many places. It is great that companies are training their people; this learning provides a starting point for business improvement. But in itself, training is not enough. We must tap into the potential of ALL of our employees and get stuck into 5S and reducing waste and improving lead times. It needs to be DONE and learnt from and refined and done again. That is what the Plan-Do-Check-Adjust cycle is all about.

So I will ask again; what are you doing with all of that organisational learning?

Shop floor Kaizen in a Pharmaceutical Plant
Robert Chittenden

Author: Robert Chittenden

Robert Chittenden is a Senior Lean Consultant at TXM Lean Solutions