Taking Pictures of the Area to be Improved Showing Issues

An important pre-event activity is taking pictures of the work areas to be improved. This is helpful in manufacturing when preparing for a 5S event to understand where in the process clutter and inventory buildup occur. It is also helpful to show the before and after of the improvements to demonstrate change. These are very dramatic. In services, an analogous approach is to show screenshots before and after to demonstrate complexity reduction. Or before and after differences between process aids such as templates and work instructions. In manufacturing and service applications, pictures are also useful for showing the general state of equipment, cleanliness of work areas, excess materials, and the relative placement of machinery and people. Other examples that a team understand the issues are management reports, data collection forms, examples of defects, computer screenshots as well as the physical configuration of office workstations. A picture conveys information to help a team quickly understand these process issues to speedily reach a consensus that there is a problem and the root causes for the issues. Countermeasures or solutions to eliminate the root causes of process problems will also be easier to identify once the team can visualize them. Pictures and supporting documentation are attached to a VFM to help document the process.

Obtaining Examples of Process Issues

It is also important that the team collects examples of the issues. In manufacturing, examples include defective products and components, pictures of work areas clearly showing the process issues, management reports, exception reports, screenshots, customer and supplier complaints, and similar information showing how a process is performing. But this information cannot be a substitute for actually “seeing” a problem firsthand.

A process walk-through or physical audit of the work area is required to verify the accuracy of the information the team is provided in advance of their event. In summary, the more information a team has in the way of pictures, physical examples of the issues, and seeing the process problem the easier it will be to reach consensus and deliver the solutions.

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