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'Change Point Management' - A key skill for Team Leaders

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

letter blocks spelling our "change"

In a related blog, about the secrets of a great Team Leader start of shift brief, we ended with the following statement:

"A final word on Change Points. In our opinion we can quickly give a Team Leader 3 simple skills, Change Point management being one of them"

Over the years we've spent a lot of time with Team Leaders, Group Leaders, Managers and Directors but worry most for Team Leaders. The front line daily battle for flow is waged relentlessly by these hardy souls who occupy a lonely place in the organisation.  "Them and Us" thinking is bad enough but Team Leaders belong to neither "Them or Us", making them orphans in a broken model. 

How to improve lean skills immediately

We've also had our fair share of, ahem, lively discussions with Team Leaders but the following we know to be true from experience; showing your Team Leaders how to do the 3 things below will yield immediate benefits without needing to resort to books or consultants.

(1) Understand what Change Points are and why they matter

(2) Understand and use the 80/20 rule (Pareto Principle)

(3) Realise that you don't plan to do Kaizen, you just do it

Of course, 3 things can't cover everything to do with People, Product and Process or engaging a team in Kaizen, but it's a start in improving Team Leader skills.

But first, an assumption - your Team Leader wants to be here and wants to make things a little better. We're also assuming that your Team Leader role is, in a nutshell, to "Identify and deal with abnormalities and develop their team members". So, onto Change Points:

What are Change Points in manufacturing?

Change points were a Eureka moment for us. Think about this statement:

Most defects and accidents happen after something has changed

Let us elaborate, If you had the same trained people (Man/Woman) turning up every day, with good quality parts (Material) that arrived on time, manufacturing with the right machines/tools that didn't break (Machine) following strong Standardised Work (Method) with the right lighting and temperature (Environment)'d have less problems that you do currently, right?

Common Change Points (5M1E) with examples

a table of change points for 5M1E

So, changes in Man (People), Machine, Method, Material, Measuring Equipment & Environment cause problems. The picture above shows the most common manufacturing change points. The picture is explained below:

Man (People)

changes to people working in the area that might affect how well things run, for example:

• Absenteeism or holiday

• New Starter


changes to machines, jigs and fixtures that might affect how well things run, for example:

• Significant breakdowns but NOT ALL BREAKDOWNS

• Change to settings of a machine tool

• Ongoing issues - where problem spanned several shifts and we think it’s now resolved.

• Incomplete jobs - had to get machine running but need to put in a permanent solution

• Significant part replacements in previous shift


changes to the way the machine operates or the Standardised Work of the operator, for example:

• Cycle Time change

• Improved Standardised Work in place

• Process conditions altered during the outgoing shift

• Engineering are testing an improvement or Fit & Function


changes to the parts or components (materials) used to make the products you sell , for example:

• Trialling new material with a current supplier

• Trialling existing material from a new supplier

• Material issue that occurred during previous shift

Measuring Equipment

changes to the gauges used for quality assuring the products you sell , for example:

• Torque wrenches going to, or returning from calibration

• New inspection gauge(s) introduced

• Broken gauges repaired and returned to the line or replaced with new


changes to the conditions you make your products in, for example:

• Hot or cold day – known variability caused by temperature changes

5 steps for managing Change Points

We've done this many times with Team Leaders, you can too. The trick is in showing Team Leaders how to...

1. Recognise & anticipate Change Points

2. Get support functions, e.g Logistics, Engineering & Maintenance talking to Team Leaders

3. Use the 5 minute start of shift Team Brief/ Team Huddle to communicate change points

4. Manage them simply

5. Confirm that they're being controlled by walking the patch during the shift

The best way to deal with an accident or defect is to prevent it occurring; this is the fundamental difference between an "abnormality" and a "problem"

If you'd like to learn more about leading your manufacturing business to a "leaner" place, take 5 minutes and complete our lean scorecard to get complimentary, tailored feedback.


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