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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Storytelling with a Purpose

During the 12th century in Japan, Buddhist monks used a form of storytelling called kamishibai to convey stories with moral lessons.  Kamishibai literally means “paper drama.”  The monks used paper scrolls to tell their audience a story. 

Kamishibai boards are used as a visual control for performing audits within a manufacturing process.  Each audit item is tied to some type of card or signal.  If a card has not been pulled or flipped to indicate “complete” it is obviously an abnormality.  This process moves managers to become proactive rather than reacting after a needed action is brought to their attention. Kamishibai builds in the genchi gembutsu principle to audits.

We have created a kamishibai board for our layered audit process.  Our standardized approach and audit routine minimizes difference between the individual preference, style or attention to detail between managers. This reduces variability in outcomes of audits between different people.

The kamishibai board also focuses the attention of the management on the gemba. In order to do your job properly you need to go to the gemba, go to the board, take and flip the cards, and follow the instructions.

It's quite humbling when you think about it. The kamishibai process standardizes and prescribes the "standard work", if you will, for managers to check and audit.

Each day at 10:00am, our team meets at the audit board and checks to see which “zone” they are scheduled to audit.  Managers rotate between zones weekly.  The plant is separated into thirteen zones to include the office, maintenance area, manufacturing areas, assembly, shipping, etc.  The auditor pulls their audit card and audit sheet.  Each audit card is specific to the zone and audit types change by day.  For example: Today is Monday.  Sam is auditing zone 7, the shipping dock.  Monday’s are “safety” audits for all zones.  Sam’s audit card for Monday gives him a few specific points to audit.  All points are updated according to improvements made during previous kaizen events or corrective actions; this helps us sustain those past improvements. Part of the management routine in a Lean organization is to audit existing standards so that any deviation can be addressed and kaizen action is taken. The kamishibai is a way to make adherence to this process visual on the gemba.

Sam receives a card for the week which has detailed questions pertaining to each area; his card serves as a guide to audit this area.  It is still Sam’s responsibility to keep his eyes open for other potential areas of improvement.  On Tuesday, Sam will audit Quality.  Wednesday is Kanban.  Thursday is 5S and Friday is Standard Work. 

There are three levels to corrective actions for audit failures.  A level 1 correction can be completed by the auditor.  These would include simple corrections or any safety concerns such as a trip/slip hazard.  It is the responsibility of the auditor to not only account for the correction on his/her audit sheet, but to also correct the failure right away.  A level 2 correction is any task which an auditor cannot complete on his/her own and may need an engineer or maintenance associate.  These corrections are accounted for both on the audit sheet and written on the corrective action white board.  The auditor assigns and notifies the appropriate person of the action needed.  These tasks are to be completed within a week from the assigned date.  An example of a level 2 corrective action would be a broken drawer or light out.  For any corrective actions which may need a kaizen event or outside vendor involved, these are labeled level 3.  These tasks are written on the “Parking Lot Pad.”  The parking lot pad is cleared weekly, planning and/or events are scheduled accordingly.
Once an audit is complete and any corrective actions are documented, the auditor is responsible to flip his/her card from “Not Done” (red in color), to “Done” (green in color).  At the end of the day, any cards not flipped to green indicate an abnormality. 

Also, the level 2 corrective action board will only hold a certain number of corrective actions before they fall into the red.  Once they fall into the red, the plant manager is notified and action is taken to complete some of the tasks.  This response keeps the team from falling behind as well as identifies an abnormality in large numbers of corrective actions needing to be completed. 

Audit completion is tracked by person and rolled up into a team completion rate.  Both charts are posted on the board.

Our kamishibai audit board tells a story.  Anyone can look at the board and immediately understand any abnormalities with our audit process.  Have the audits been completed?  How many have and have not been completed?  Of those that were completed, what actions are being taken to complete any corrective actions?  Are the numbers of corrective actions controlled or are we getting overwhelmed and need to put a focus into completing tasks?  What is our completion rate for audits?  All of these questions can be answered with one quick glance at the board.  The board tells us the story of an audit process in which we are the characters.  It is our unfailing responsibilities to give those who are watching the story unfold a pleasant & exciting chronicle of continuous improvement and positive progression through our lean journey! 

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