Correction Time

correct this

One of the many fun duties I have in my current position is what is called a “CAR Champion”. The acronym stands for Corrective Action Report or Corrective Action Request, depending on your company. What it basically means, is a process or product did not create the desired or required result and something needs fixed. I’m the person who creates the report with evidence of the failure, the requirement that failed to be met and assigns names to the report that become responsible for actions to be taken. Let’s just say, it is a job duty that can make someone not the most popular person in the building. Even though I may be largely an evidence gatherer and assignment messenger, it’s still my name they see in the email from our system saying (in their interpretation) “you messed up now fix it.”

Any established quality system is going to have a corrective and preventive action program. A corrective action is; taking action on a nonconformity that has already happened. A preventive action is; taking action on something that has the potential of resulting in a nonconformity. It is common in my experience that supervisors and managers are not exactly “thrilled to bits” at receiving communication saying they are responsible for either action, as it is only seen as a failure. The aspect that most of them miss, is that taking decisive ownership of a corrective or preventive action request can result in positive improvements in their departments, provide a multitude of leadership opportunities throughout the process, promote team building moments and development opportunities that can identify other leaders in their company.

I have held this type of position in my last two career stops. It’s a position that requires

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Battlestar Voices, the Skirmish with the Fifth “S”

I have been through several 5S training modules during the different stops in my career path.  5S is a methodology generated by Japanese manufacturing to improve the organization of a working area to drive efficiency and effectiveness.  5S stands for 5 stages identified by words that starts with the letter “S”.  These stages are: Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize and Sustain(As translated into English).When fully supported from management down, it is a methodology I fully believe in.  With that said, I’m only touching on one aspect of this methodology in this expose of thoughts from my mind. (scary place, I know)


What has been in my thoughts lately due to situations in my latest career stop is the last stage..…. “Sustain”.  More to the point, how leadership in my experience commonly fails at driving actions to sustain implemented changes, processes, policies etc.   An interesting item I read is that the Japanese word “shitsuke” (translated to “Sustain” to maintain the 5S moniker) may actually be better translated to the word “commitment”. Does this mean I believe leadership has failed to be committed on a whole?  Not necessarily, but from a narrow viewpoint, I do think one of the more difficult aspects of effective leadership is a commitment to sustaining actions after the “crisis” or “action” moments are implemented.

Maybe the cobattlenundrum with commitment to sustaining is that it is boring? Dull? Lacks glitter and glamour? It is humdrum?  It does not bring forth the adventure of something new and of an attainable and tangible goal to concur!!!  In training for 5S you won’t hear about problems with the first 3 steps very often.   Why is that?  Maybe because breaking something down and rebuilding it is a challenge.  Transformation is something that we can visualize the change in, set easy goals that are perceptible in some way to achieve, can be easily celebrated and can make for a great graph or photo placed in a Powerpoint presentation. Sustaining is……..repetitive dedication to adhering to a standard.   Where’s the excitement in that?

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Take a Walk to the Gemba

So that is what the process looks like?

So that is the process?

My company is making a management system change to “Value Stream Management”. VSM’s goal is to align all resources including management into a stream of production. It is not a change that will occur over night and will require patience, open communication and an attitude of staying the course with an open mind.

I was sent to a training session on Value Stream Management and one of the opening directions to those who represent leadership positions in the organization struck a chord with me. The term used was called “Gemba”, which is a Japanese term meaning “the real place” or “the place where truth can be found”. The meaning is interchanged with other terms within the lean manufacturing world, as in “go see” as catch phrases. However the direction given was this when explaining the Gemba to us in training: If someone comes up to you with a problem and you are in your office, get up out of your chair and go see the problem.

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