A load of old (s)crap, some less valuable things & kansya (#25)

Today’s subject: A deep skip dive into the humble scrap bin with kansya

Twice in the past 10 days my annoyance radar has sparked into life and beeped furiously as pet hates have surfaced in businesses I have supported. We all have pet hates, both at home and in our working lives, but the use and misuse of scrap & defect bins does unhelpful things to my blood pressure. I'll not get waylaid differentiating scrap & defect but will simply call them "defect bins" below.

The photo above shows a defect bin from a new client. Substitute the coke bottle (other waistline threatening carbonated vegetable extract beverages are available) for a crisp packet and you have an identically grim scene that I happened across in a longer term client last week.

These scenes have several things in common, the obvious one being the presence of defects, but this isn't the problem that vexes me. It is the presence of things other than defects, like coke bottles and crisp packets that stretch my patience. The care of defects, to my mind, is a significant cultural marker of whether the business you're currently standing within has a general preference for Built-in Quality or Inspected-in Quality.  Note, that's not simply the quantity of defects, but rather the treatment of them.

Our preference of course is to Build-in Quality & not create defects, a position we incrementally crawl towards as discussed in my last blog (#24). Today though, I'm ferreting around in bins...  

First the obvious stuff: Defect bins, you see, are treasure chests. Each bin should be small (to fill quickly & force a reaction), prominently displayed (problems are opportunities for kaizen) and be without a lid or perhaps transparent (so that a team leader or supervisor can glance into the bin as they patrol their patch to see if defects are building faster or slower than usual, or whether unusual defects are occurring).

Climbing deeper into the defect bin, every defect part should be treated carefully and not left to sustain further damage from being piled on top of others. Each should be simply labelled/identified. These things matter not only to avoid a bun fight with supplier over who actually caused the defect, but to avoid having to diagnose the defect twice upon inspection or at shift end. That's right, the defect bin should be emptied at the end of each shift for ownership of the process and the clarity of starting with a clean slate.

A business that does not look after and display its defects for all to understand & countermeasure is not serious about building in quality (type "Asaichi" and "lean" - morning market - into your preferred search engine to understand a little more). Crisp wrappers, drinks bottles etc discarded in the bin are, to get all philosophical for a second, disrespectful to those who have gone before. Let me explain...

A Japanese friend with a deep lean knowledge introduced me some years ago to the concept of "kansya". I'll let him explain to avoid my clumsy interpretation:

"This is the word “kansya” or thanks. Maybe you know Japanese people say “itadakimas” before having a meal. This is the word expressing thanks not only for a person who cook the meal, but also for people who grow rice and natural conditions that allow us to have a meal. So Japanese parents reason with a child that “Don't forget to express your gratitude” (maybe not “express” but “have”). If we can always have kansya in our mind, we can try to learn something from others"

Those metal defects in the picture at the start of this blog have been created from ore mined from our finitely resourced planet. Geologists, Miners, Engineers & Drivers have toiled to extract, process & transport them to the point where your business can use them. Others in your business have brought them line-side, processed and added value to them. The least we owe these people and our planet, in terms of kansya, is to look after them to understand where all of that effort has unfortunately come to nothing. Not to mention the 'kansya' you owe to whatever or whoever created the defect, for the opportunity to solve the problem and grow your own capability. (assuming of course that that this person/process is not offering you the same opportunity repeatedly!) 

In this sense, respect for defects is a subset of respect for people. So please have your kansya and treat each defect like a baby bird with a broken wing.

Step 1 - this one's easy; put your defect & scrap bins beside the aisle, facing outwards, with no lid so that all can see them without breaking step, searching or having to ask a question.


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