“We’re six months into our continuous improvement journey and, despite some early wins, have hit some major teething troubles. The problems began with our attempt to introduce a 5S campaign.
“We sat the guys down in their teams and spent days training them on the theory of sorting, sweeping, spic and span, sifting and sustain. We showed them the obvious benefits of a clean, ordered working environment on production speed and quality.
“The majority of our guys seemed very enthusiastic and eagerly agreed to kick things off by having a clean out of their garbage. The management team agreed to provide recycling bins and look favourably on requests for new racking and shelving where it could be demonstrated to have an obvious business benefit. We even offered to come and help repaint shabby areas of the factory floor.
“One of the production teams, in particular, leapt at the opportunity. A day later the shift leader, Steve, knocked on my door and had pages of designs and notes. Steve’s team had stayed late to work out a new floor plan. They had calculated a 20% reduction in muda by bringing some key components to a new lineside rack and were eager to smarten their manufacturing cell area up with a lick of paint.
“I was bowled over by Steve’s enthusiasm and didn’t hesitate to sign everything off. It all seemed to be going so well; Steve’s team wielded paintbrushes and screwdrivers and, within a few days, their area looked totally transformed. I had hoped this would lay down a marker to all the other shifts, but the reverse was true. I noticed Steve’s team were sitting in isolation from all the other guys in the staff canteen during shift breaks.
“Furthermore, we’ve become aware of graffiti in the factory toilets which reads: ‘G Shift [Steve’s] are a bunch of kiss arses’. I’m pretty sure I know who the ringleaders are, but how can I solve this without jeopardising our CI programme and further reinforcing Steve’s reputation as a management suck-up?”
To find out how this problem could be corrected, read Kevin Eyre’s answer on the Works Management site. You can also read Prof. Peter Hine’s blog on defining Continuous Improvement.