Production benefits found from standing in the circle

The simple Lean Management process observation technique of Standing-in-the-Circle opens your eyes to new ways for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of your processes.

Good decisions are based on thorough data collection and good data analysis. To find useful productivity improvements go Stand-in-the-Circle to see why things are as they are and look for opportunities to apply Lean methods and Lean practices.

Value is always to be seen from the customer’s perspective, the customer being the person that will use the output. Value-adding are those actions and resources which create the value the customer gets from the product. Non-value-adding is everything done in a process that contributes no value for the customer, but which they are forced to pay for when they buy the product or service. It is anything the customer does not need or will not pay for.

Lean manufacturing helps companies satisfy customers by improving delivery, quality and price. When an organisation has eliminated waste, reduced costs and improved quality, they gain competitive advantage through the ability to respond better and faster to customer needs and requirements.

The simplest way to find opportunities for improving delivery, quality and price is to Stand-in-the-Circle in the middle of your processes.

Standing in the Circle means to go to the workplace and observe for yourself what actually happens.

When it is necessary to get facts about what is really done in practice (as opposed to what the procedure says is supposed to be done) the person making the observation selects a position from which to look and draws a chalk circle on the floor and then stands within it.

The circle signifies that they are observing to collect facts, not to find fault or to check that people are working.

It is explained by management and understood by employees that ‘standing-in-the-circle’ is an act of continual improvement to find ways to help the business improve and not a way to find fault with people and practices in the workplace.

The method is simple. Take a clip board with sheets of ruled paper and a writing pen and pick a spot in your workplace from which to observe. Make the circle and stand in it for 60 minutes. Observe every waste that you can and write them down. Do that once during the first half of the day and again during the second half of the day. Observing two parts of the day allows you to see non-repetitive wastes and also allows activities related to time of the day to be observed.

One approach companies can use to look closer at their wastes is to start with the most costly observation and then do a why-why root cause analysis with a team from the workplace to identify improvements that can be done. They action the improvements in the following weeks by working on them bit by bit, delegating to the appropriate people, or using a Kaizen Blitz. You continue working through the list developed from standing-in-the-circle until the top ten are done and then go back and stand-in-the-circle again and repeat the process to gradually continually improve your workplace.


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