Mingo Logo Formerly SensrTrx

Developing Effective Processes with Paul Dunlop

Episode Overview

If we focus on the right things, develop the right habits, give thing the right focus, then the results will take care of themselves.”

Paul Dunlop is the Founder of Dunlop Consultants and a world-renowned lean expert. In this episode of Zen and the Art of Manufacturing Podcast, Bryan Sapot and Paul sit down to talk about lean processes, measurements, effective communication, and daily production metrics. Most manufacturers are too heavily focuses on the outcome. Instead, focus on the process and measurements that contribute to that outcome. With that, communication and great culture follow.

Paul Dunlop shares his background in continuous improvement, starting in manufacturing and transitioning to consulting. He emphasizes the importance of understanding tools and developing a passion for lean practices. Paul highlights the importance of building internal capability and evolving systems over time through team ownership and understanding of tools. He highlights the importance of building internal capability and evolving systems over time through team ownership and understanding of tools.

Originally broadcast on May 11, 2021

Start Simple

Many organizations struggle to grasp the concept of tact time, as defined as the rate of customer demand. It can be a challenge to align machine capabilities with actual process performance. Dealing with reality and setting realistic targets for improvement is important for making a plan. Use targets as indicators of process health rather than strict goals. This will encourage a deeper understanding of processes and continuous improvement.

Starting small and simple in organizational change can have a significant impact. Continuous improvement is driven by the power of small wins when forming habits. Engaging frontline employees in identifying and addressing small issues to build momentum and ownership is a key starting point for improvement initiatives. Paul also touched on waste identification, basic process mapping, and the power of visualizing processes to facilitate conversations and drive improvement.

Get Everyone Involved

Sometimes a good idea from the top of the organization doesn’t have the equivalent practicality at the bottom. Paul talked about a recent client who was brought in after a new system failed. “They have a couple of different product lines and five years ago they had a consultant come in. They implemented a Kanban Pull system, probably one of the best Kanban systems I’ve seen. But it was implemented from top down. So there was absolutely no engagement on the front lines or even through middle management no real understanding of the tool. Then COVID hit, volumes went through the roof 200% and the Kanban system failed.”

Daily Meeting Procedure

Implementing daily visual communication meetings is a fundamental habit for successful lean practices. These meetings should emphasize the importance of accountability, repetition, and practice in driving improvement. The structure and purpose of these meetings includes reviewing performance metrics, addressing issues, and fostering team engagement. When engaging with the team, the role of daily meetings in promoting clear communication, a team voice, and performance management.

Tracking and following up on issues raised in daily meetings is important. Laminated cards or whiteboards can be used to document and monitor progress. “I just sort of shine the light on things and be the tool guide so to speak, say well here’s some tools, here’s how these tools work and how you use them but how you make these tools work for you and how they look for you is really up to you.” The emphasis when raising issues is to promote accountability, visibility, and clear communication. This promotes continuous improvement and team engagement in lean practices. The key is to ensure that it is documented, dated, assigned to someone, and followed up within a reasonable timeframe, ideally not exceeding 10 working days. This approach helps in avoiding the perception that nothing gets done and reinforces the importance of accountability and follow-through.

Continuous Improvement

In the realm of continuous improvement and lean practices, the future may involve more companies adopting these principles, with potential evolutions in the tools and digital platforms used. However, the core of lean remains focused on the psychological and neurological aspects of individuals, emphasizing the importance of understanding human behavior and engagement in the process. “The target is a mechanism to help us have an indicator around the health of our process. The outcome is telling us how healthy the process is. Is it working? Is it not? Do we have some problems? And we can get a bit too caught up in chasing that number and feeling bad about the reds and the misses and we don’t have the conversation enough about the process itself.” This shift in focus towards the human element is crucial for the continued success and relevance of lean practices.

Robotics and automation offer efficiencies and cost benefits but they do not fundamentally change the core principles of lean. Human involvement in programming, problem-solving, and decision-making remains essential, highlighting the importance of maintaining a culture that values human contributions within the company.

Connect with Paul Dunlop on LinkedIn.

Alyxandra Sherwood
Alyxandra Sherwood
Digital Marketing Manager @ Mingo Smart Factory I Adjunct Professor @ SUNY Geneseo I Boston Marathoner I Second Street Award Winner I Media Professional with 15 Years Experience