Natural born killers (II)
Are you struggling with Lean? You might have a Lean killer in your organization. But don’t worry, the “Natural born killers” series is here to help! Don’t miss chapter 1: “The fireman“. Today: “the Human Computer”
- Signals: Is the process flowing smoothly until somebody takes vacations or is assigned to a different project/area in the company? You might have a human computer in your team. They control the information and limit the access to critical data to others, therefore they become indispensable for the work. Sometimes they are easy to uncover, most times they are not. Even worse: in some occasions managers promote and reward those people because “they are very valuable and always find the information we are looking for”. Oh no!
- Solution: This problem can be prevented with real standardization: all process steps and all critical data must be documented and made available at the place where it is needed. After that, extensive training is needed for all workers / shifts. This is more difficult than it seems, because human computers will not provide the information openly. My first piece of advise is: involve human computers as soon and as much as possible in your improvement work. If they feel they are the stars of the improvement process and will be rewarded for its success then maybe (just maybe) information will show up. Involve human computers in presenting the solution to management: this will make them feel responsible for the new process and will increase dramatically the probability of success. My second piece of advise is: test the solution in all possible ways. After that, test it again. Try different shifts, different people (experts and juniors), different equipment. Try all combinations and force errors to happen. This will reduce the chances of having poor standards and people will get familiar with the new information.
Human computers are a very real problem and extremely harmful, not only because they control the information but also because their behaviour might look beneficial to the process for many.
Next chapter: “the Artist”