This is a reprint of a blog post from March 2010 and it still holds true today.
In memory of Norman Bodek, the “Godfather of Lean” 8/12/32 – 12/9/20
I just saw Norm Bodek speak at the ISO 9000/Lean and Six Sigma Conference this week in Orlando, Florida. For those of you that don’t know, Norm has been studying productivity since 1979, has made 70 trips to Japan and has published over 200 titles on Lean. He is a firm proponent of Kaizen and getting great ideas from employees. He is a truly remarkable human being giving us significant insights to the productivity secrets of top Japanese manufacturers.
One of the many things that he shared with the audience I would like to share with you. Norman said to ask each employee to submit one idea per week that would:
- Make their work easier,
- Make their work more interesting,
- Improve their skills and capabilities, or
- Improve their work environment
Did you notice that all of these were focused on the worker? These weren’t improvement ideas that solely only focused on improvements for the company.
I guess this goes in line with what a student of mine called the “25 square feet”. The 25 sq ft represent the five foot by five foot area around the worker. Who knows that area the best? They do of course! The challenge is to ask the employee to come up with just one idea each week to improve things for themselves. Just think of the impact – one idea per week per employee, 50 or so ideas per employee per year. Multiply that times the number of employees; what an astronomical leap in progress for any organization!
I liked that Norm reminded us that respect for people is paramount if you want to have a Lean organization focused on continuous improvement. Check out Norm’s book “How to do Kaizen – A new path to innovation” with Bunji Tozawa from PCS Inc.