Friday, September 23, 2016

Hoshin Planning Benefits the Manufacturing Sector

Hoshin Planning benefits the manufacturing sector
Hoshin Planning, commonly referred to as “policy deployment”, is a method utilized to ensure that the strategic goals of a company are consistently driving development and action at every functional level of an organization. This type of methodology endeavors to remove all wastes resulting from discrepancies of direction and lack of communication in order to get every employee on the same page.

In order to ensure everyone within an organization is on the same page, a facility’s goals, management strategies and employee operational activities must all be synchronized in absolute alignment. The Hoshin Planning method is comprised of seven steps to achieve just that:

1.     Establish Organizational Vision
  • Evaluate existing vision and mission statement.
  • Assess current policies, procedures, and management system.
  • Analyze the present long-term goals of the organization.

2.     Develop a 3-5 Year Strategic Plan
  • Focus on five goals or less; a smaller number of goals makes it easier for companies to prioritize and generate objectives which are “real”, measurable and within reach.
  • Goals and objectives should be primarily defined based on what will be the most effective, rather than the most efficient.
  • Assess growth opportunities, continuously improve operations, and generate activities which will allow for revolutionary change within the organization.

3.     Develop Annual Objectives

  • Break down the overall goals of the 3-5-year plan into incremental objectives which will be achieved annually.
  • Reaching the annual objectives confirms progression and will enable a company to reach their main goals in a measurable fashion.
  • Provides the transitioning point from developing objectives to deploying objectives.

4.     Deploy Annual Objectives
  • Develop top-level improvement priorities; apply metrics to them.
  • Develop second and third level targets which are business specific and are directly correlated to top-level priorities; apply metrics to them.
  • Cascade strategic goals through all levels of the company.

5.     Implement Annual Objectives
  • Identify and solve problems.
  • Implement changes.
  • Execute improvements.

6.     Monthly Review
  • Formally and continuously track implemented activities.
  • Evaluate progression in achieving annual improvement objectives.

7.     Annual Review
  • Assess if the year’s objectives are on track with the overall plan goals.
  • Determine what changes need to be made in the following year’s cycle. 

By utilizing the Hoshin Planning methodology, manufacturers are able to focus on best managing production and inventory to support customer delivery and supply chain operations in the most optimal way possible. 

Benefits of Hoshin Planning include:
  • Ensures the organization is consistently focused on specific strategic directions and goals
  •  Communicated objectives to the entire organization
  • Creates a unified vision across all functional levels
  • Errors are minimized and waste is eliminated
  •  All resources are used optimally and thus, money is saved

The Center

If you’re a manufacturer who is looking to become more efficient, productive and globally competitive, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center can assist you. Click here for a list of our services or contact us at 888.414.6682 or via email at

Friday, September 16, 2016

Positive A3 DMAIC Problem-Solving Culture

All members of a company have a responsibility to solve workplace problems. Effective problem
solving is critical for personal and business success. However, being able to execute solutions in a timely and cost-effective manner is often a challenge. Without a positive Lean problem solving culture, even the best process is less likely to realize results.

Successful Problem Solving Methodology
The key to successful problem resolution is approaching the process with a systematic and logical problem solving methodology. The more efficiently, effectively, and quickly problems are resolved the greater the propensity for improved employee morale, enhanced production capabilities, and realization of fewer dollars lost or wasted.

A structured problem-solving methodology promotes discipline and increases the chance for success. First, problems must be defined. Describing the problem accurately and clearly communicating the problem to organizational stakeholders is critical for successful problem solving.

Problem solving is more than a team exercise. It involves multiple individuals to identify root cause, develop solution alternatives, and finally carry out implementation. Often, people develop solutions and action plans which never get fully implemented. Results from these efforts are frequently mediocre and add more complexity to an already challenging situation. Good solutions will not carry themselves to actual implementation on their own.

Obstacles to Problem Solving
When changes and follow through are not given careful attention, problem-solving efforts fall short of expectations. Major obstacles to solution implementation include:
  • Lack of participatory efforts
  • Lack of communication
  • Resistance to change 
  • No visible management support
  • Time pressures
  • The mindset of “We’ve always done it this way”
Sometimes, employees responsible for implementing the solution haven’t been asked to participate in solution development activities, resulting in resistance and lack of buy-in.

The Power of Effective Leadership
Overcoming obstacles requires effective leaders who develop well-defined action plans which include clearly defined responsibilities and accountabilities. Steps to successful implementation include:
  • Get the facts, find the root cause
  • Enlist and get ongoing management support
  • Provide backup if things don’t go as planned
  • Stimulate motivation by recognizing and rewarding effort
  • Audit, monitor and provide feedback to the changes
  • Celebrate and share success
Effective leaders monitor progress, keep individuals focused, continuously communicate, identify obstacles, proactively tackle the barriers, and lead their teams to successful resolution of problems.

In the end, problem solving is meaningless if solutions are not implemented. This requires a collaborative approach to problem-solving which focuses on consensus as the preferred approach to deciding on, and implementing, a solution. If team members do not adopt the changes, then nothing has been accomplished. The challenge of working with cross functional team members to solve problems is time. All stakeholders must be involved in a meaningful way in order to get sustainable results.

Get to Know the DMAIC
An A3 DMAIC problem solving approach helps achieve sustainable results DMAIC can be broken down to:
  • Define: Problems must first be defined. Describe the problem accurately and communicate the problem clearly to organizational stakeholders. This is critical for successful problem solving. 
  • Measure: Quantify the gap. Solutions appear more quickly when you define the gap between the current and desired state of affairs. By defining that gap in measurable terms, you focus your efforts where it counts the most. 
  • Analyze: Uncover the cause. You can identify an effective solution only when you have accurate information about the cause(s) of the problem. Without relevant data, your efforts may address the symptoms of the problem but not the source. 
  • Improve: Create options. Generating a range of possible solutions makes it easier to find one that not only closes the gap, but also satisfies all your stakeholders. 
  • Control: Decide on the solution. The solution you choose affects people beyond your team. Involve the right people in the right way to increase their commitment to the success of the solution they choose. Create standard work, train, coach and follow-up audit all stake holder in the new standard work.
Company Culture
Good ideas don’t implement themselves. They require a comprehensive plan specifying the who, what where, when and why of it all. Once efforts are underway, it’s critical to evaluate how people are doing, make needed adjustments, and celebrate accomplishments. Collaboration is an essential ingredient for creating a supportive, problem-solving environment. How well people work together to solve problems depends largely on the culture of the organization.

A positive Lean problem-solving culture:
  • Builds trust. Lack of trust compounds any problem through hidden agendas, poor communication, and widespread suspicion. Where trust prevails, people find it easier to work together and approach problems objectively. As a result, people are more willing to make the collective effort necessary to solve shared problems. 
  • Encourages innovation and active risk management. True breakthroughs rarely occur in an organization that punishes sincere, but failed, attempts at innovation. When people are encouraged to try new things and when mistakes are treated as opportunities to learn, then creative problem solving becomes the rule and not the exception. 
Without a positive Lean culture, problem-solving is often ineffective. Together, a positive Lean culture and an effective A3 DMAIC Problem Solving process can encourage a problem solving environment which produces results.

The Center
If you’re a manufacturer who is looking to become more efficient, productive and globally competitive, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center can assist you. Click here for a list of our services or contact us at 888.414.6682 or via email at

About Us
Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at on the web at

Friday, September 9, 2016

Create a Culture of Continuous Improvement with Kaizen

Create a Culture of Continuous Improvement with Kaizen
Most manufacturers would assume their organization follows a continuous improvement approach, where they improve their products, services and processes in efforts to sustain success. However, according to the Kaizen/Lean Philosophy, Continuous Improvement is much more complex. A continuous improvement process is one of ongoing incremental improvement, where a business continues normal business activities while constantly seeking out new opportunities to add value to their products, services and processes, even when it “isn’t needed”.

In the world of manufacturing, there are multiple factors in the macro and microenvironment which could unexpectedly affect products, services or processes. Continuous Improvement identifies opportunities and executes changes accordingly, formulated to prepare for these unconditional factors and ensure operational processes are never vulnerable to “breaking”.

According to Kaizen, continuous quality improvement accomplishes major change over time and is driven by the input of employees. By practicing Continuous Improvement, companies learn internally how to pinpoint areas of their business where value is added, where value is absent, and how to dispose of invaluable waste. Manufacturers can learn and adopt the continuous improvement process through training programs and scheduled events known as “Kaizen Events”, where traditional Lean manufacturing tools are improved upon and company goals are made specific and measurable.

The Benefits of Kaizen
A manufacturer who adopts the continuous improvement approach will see immeasurable benefits, including:

·       Increased productivity and quality
·       Lowered costs
·       Decreased delivery time
·       Improved employee satisfaction/morale
·       Lowered employee turnover rate

Team Reliance
The overall effectiveness of the Kaizen philosophy heavily relies on a facility’s management team. Management must establish an environment which recognizes employees as valuable assets for continuous improvement and not only reinforce/support their contribution, but require it! Under Kaizen, all employees are responsible for identifying the gaps and inefficiencies at every functional level and suggesting where improvements can be made.

Continuous Improvement is not a destination, but a journey of ongoing processes. Manufacturers who practice Lean manufacturing/Kaizen philosophy can see “breakthrough” improvements within their organization on a daily basis.

The Center
If you’re a manufacturer who is looking to become more efficient, productive and globally competitive, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center can assist you. Click here for a list of our services or contact us at 888.414.6682 or via email at