Sacred Cows and Silo Waste

Sacred Cows and Silo Waste

By Discovery Lean Six Sigma

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A3 is about a slow, steady, continuous march toward flow. Instead of "doing" continuous improvement when you have time, or every once in a while (an event), A3 is about developing a new process in your business so smaller improvements occur daily by pretty much the entire company.

When you first adopt this new process, everyone is excited. A3 becomes a really easy way to implement hundreds of employee suggestions. The people who actually DO the work feel like they have a say in how their work is done. Hours and hours of non-value added work (the 8 wastes) is eliminated and morale improves. 

The idea is that we start A3 using employee suggestions, and then graduate to problems like customer complaints,  recurring defects, late orders, and even some long standing sacred cows that some managers dig their heels in to defend. Usually it involves a silo that should be "serving" operations. Think IT, Sales, Quality, EH&S, HR, Finance, Purchasing, Maintenance, Senior Leadership, sometimes even the "lean department". As people become better at seeing waste, they become more and more frustrated with silos making waste and the managers in charge of these silos. 

Inevitably, someone who has been doing their part by willingly leading improvements in operations will become sick and tired of living with silo waste and will become determined to lessen the impact. This is usually where all the enthusiasm and high-fives from A3 turn into long faces and feet dragging. Even though nobody in their right mind would argue that said silo waste needs to be improved, this is where managers tend to defend a bad process that causes waste (defects, overproduction, waiting, non-essential processing (sign-offs), transport, inventory and/or motion). The problem with A3 is that it makes waste (including) silo waste way too visible. A3 is good enough to go after waste on the factory floor, but not in the silos?

This is where senior leadership really needs to actively get involved and help the company over this hurdle. Once the silo waste starts to get eliminated, THEN everyone starts to see that management means what they say and really are committed to lean thinking!

By: Bill Greider
Posted: November 18, 2018, 9:23 pm

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