Enough Thinking, Time to Start Doing

Six Sigma – iSixSigma Forums General Forums Implementation Enough Thinking, Time to Start Doing

Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
  • Author
  • #246021


    We’ve created a monster!

    We’re trying a few new things, which has resulted in [gasp] rank-and-file employees coming up with cost-saving and/or effectiveness-improving ideas.

    Now, the trouble is – What are we going to do about them?

    We are launching some corporate-mandated “project management” training. But most of these ideas require less “DMA” and mostly “IC” – in other words, Just-Do-Its. So PM would be overkill for what we’re working on. We just need to execute.

    We don’t have a culture of accountability, nor execution. Not yet. We also have limited resources.

    I don’t want us to fall apart on this. “Oh, we came up with all these ideas, and no one listened to us.”

    This is an ideal opportunity to turn into lessons on how to prioritize, how to take action, how to achieve accountability. But part of me is afraid that people will say, “What’s the point of coming up with an idea? It just means more work for me!”

    Also, people are coming up with ideas that, frankly, aren’t that great. Paying someone to walk the plant to make sure lights are out is swell and all, but the labor to do that far outweighs the energy cost. Now, someone chasing nitrogen leaks – that’s something.

    Anyway, I have a few ideas on how to help navigate this, but I’m open to more. The way I read it, I need two things:

    • “Live” prioritization for good ideas – not a project hopper (because these ideas are ultimately smaller than projects)
    • A way to distribute responsibility for the work, so it doesn’t become an exercise in “Let me pile up work orders and engineering requests”

    Thanks, Internet!


    Mike Carnell

    @AlonzoMosley Wecome to the trap “just ask the people on the line.” As you have already found out 1. just because it comes from someone on the line doesn’t mean it is a good idea 2. if you cannot handle the load don’t ask because asking and not doing anything makes it look like you don’t care and that is actually worse than just plain not caring.

    You have already asked so basically you have screwed yourself. The best way out of this is to explain to everybody how you are prioritizing. The worst thing you can do is not communicate. That is where the discontent starts. If you do not talk to them they will talk to each other about you.

    I was working a new deployment and got somewhat into a similar situation. We were doing SS and somebody else did the Just Do It (JDI) thing. Because I had a project tracker in place for SS the CEO asked me to track the JDI’s passively. Here is the bottom line Just Do It projects Just Never Get Done unless someone is responsible/managing the project. You can do this yourself in your current situation. Track your real projects and put up a board, a very public board for the JDI’s, and watch what happens. This gets people off your back about the JDIs and you buy some time. Give it about 2 months before you step in and start with project managers. It may not be economically feasible (which I doubt) but you started this and you cannot afford to fail. Failing will screw up the real projects.

    Shut off your suggestion program. Do it publicly in a meeting and explain how the initial response was so good you need time to work the pile down. When you start back up you need to run it differently. Rather than just ask for whatever idea is running around in their head show them how to do something like a 5 slide presentation and coach them. You get better ideas and they learn about how to make a business decision. When they do a presentation take the tables out of the room so you don’t get that you on one side and them on the other. Make it a discussion not an interrogation.

    This is a PR problem. How you work your way out is really going to determine any success you have it the future. You will save your butt by communication and transparency otherwise you just become another story that people tell over a beer about management that doesn’t care.

    Stop thinking that asking people on a line to tell you how to fix everything. Let’s use some logic. If you have a process with a Cpk of 1.0 (if it is less than 1 you shouldn’t have to ask anyone what to work on) That means you see about 3-4 defects for every 1000 operations. Think about speed and what you can physically see @ 1000 per hour that is 1 every 3 seconds. Other than MBBinWI I don’t know anyone who can see what is happening at that speed. The presumption is that that person on that line sees those 3-4 things happen, recognizes it causes a defect and understands how to fix it. That is a very low percentage play asking them and creating the expectation you will do what they have asked. If you include that person on a team you get a different result. A more rational result.

    Just my opinion.



    Thank you.

    I don’t know that I agree with your premise that “stop asking the people on the line”. I’d rather have them engaged and thinking, and make sure I had better support systems to manage and prioritize their ideas.

    I’m not running a suggestion program. I’m working on employee communication – daily roll call meetings in every control room. The result was that people had a chance to share what they were thinking, and they took it. AND… Oh, yeah, the CEO on a global town hall meeting said, “We need everyone to come up with ideas to help cut costs. There are no bad ideas! Let’s hear them!” He should have checked with our small-town (pop. 2938) corn-fed plant, but… He did not.

    I have some ideas on how we can present our thinking around prioritization (a combination of KT’s Situation Appraisal methods and a basic Effort/Impact matrix). I’m curious how others have done anything similar.

    I have project trackers and project hoppers, but they feel like they’re too complex for JDI work. And I am not going to run the work myself. I’m very curious about how others have handled giving accountability back to the people who bring up the idea in the first place. I want them to take charge (and to understand that part of the reason why things don’t get fixed is they take time and effort), but I do not want them to feel like they are being punished by coming up with ideas.


    Mike Carnell

    @AlonzoMosley You asked for peoples input. I gave you my input. I have no obligation to agree with you as you don’t have any obligation to agree with me. Do whatever you want.

    It always sounds good “I am working on employee communication.” If you ask and don’t do anything with the input you just did a huge amount of damage to any future communication. Good intentions mean nothing. It is what you actually do or in your case do not do.


    Daniel Sims

    Have you considered dividing your area into departments/sub-departments and challenging them to propose the best idea as a collective? For example our moulding dept. has about 12 ops per shift plus 3 technical and ~3 supervisors. I could cut this into 3 equal teams. You set a deadline, say a week, and ask them to come together and make the decision on their best collective idea.

    If needs be you could facilitate this meeting by walking them through a cost/benefit analysis etc. You then have an effective hopper of ideas, you have a selection process they run and the outputs are hopefully a tapered list of good ideas. This is then easier to manage. Once the ideas have come to fruition you can give recognition to the best idea in terms of clear results. You then start the process again. Or have it as a rolling focus.


    Jay Arthur

    If you start with data about the when, where, what, how, who of problems and use the data to pinpoint the problem, you can then ask the people doing the work to figure out the root cause and countermeasures. I have found that everyone has a “pet” solution to any problem, but it’s usually off the mark. Yes, fix simple problems directly. Then use data to identify and fix the uncomplicated problems that need analysis. Leave complicated problems until you’ve fixed all of the uncomplicated ones.

    Any suggestion system I’ve ever been around led to a failure to implement them in a timely fashion which led employees to stop trying.


    Jeffery M BYERLEY

    We, it clearly sounds like there is no shortage of issues.

    It’s more now defining your different bucket of ideas.

    1. HSE- items must be done ASAP. So that might involve a few departments.

    2. Quality items, So, feedback feed forward concepts, which is Quality and Operations.

    3. Efficiency- Time study’s in line production, time and speed

    4. Waste- waiting, process reversals, poor quality.

    5. communication to the originator is critical.

    Just an example of the buckets.

    It takes teams or work cells, working together, no one like change or “more work”, if the teams do it, and see first hand the results, the more likely the sustainment of the idea lasting.



    Thanks, Daniel – I like the idea of a competition. The Powers That Be don’t – we’re also in the middle of some sticky CBA negotiations (never a dull moment, as my old plant manager used to say).

    I like the triage idea, Jeffery… And, again, stealing from KT (which Jay is doing, as well, I see!), I’d like some kind of hopper that says, “Is this a problem to solve?” and it goes to a tiger teame; “Is this something we need to decide?”, and then we can figure out if it’s a project or a JDI decisions; “Is this just something to do?” and then it gets prioriized on Impact/Effort.

    Ideally, the originator never needs to be communicated “back to” because he’s involved from the git-go.

    Don’t get so defensive, Mike!  I felt that your advice didn’t match my question. I wasn’t asking for a benefits analysis of asking for peoples’ opinions – I was asking for ways to get them further engaged, without it feeling like “more work”. It’s like when you ask for help with a Windows problem, and someone inevitably posts, “That’s why you should be a Mac, lolz”….

Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.