Thursday, July 18, 2013

Improvement Strategies like Kudzu? Cut through the vines.

Is your reliability, lean, six sigma or Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) implementation like kudzu? Does it look green and vibrant on the surface? If you peel back the leaves on the surface do you find withering death and destruction?
Kudzu (shown on the left) is an invasive nonnative plant imported to the US from China that spreads by vine and runners and covers the native plants with broad vibrant green leaves. The problem is that it spreads at a miraculous rate and kills the plants it grows over by starving them of light. So if you go out and look below the surface you see the native plants rotting and breaking down but if you are taking a quick glance it seems green and healthy.
I have spent time in more than a few sites where they work to show corporate how green and vibrant they are. They create a parade or tour routes for executives when they visit where they paint and clean only the areas of the facility that can be seen from the path the executive will travel. They build daily management boards, operator care boards and other highly visible tools of the improvement initiative and put them on the parade route. In the end, the executive sees the green Kudzu and the employees, who are off of the parade route, see the death and destruction that is behind the fresh paint and new staged communication boards.
So how do you cut the vines, allow the light in and build a healthy forest.  Check out this series of post that all address multiple ways to cut the vines and create the health forest and a improvement initiative that is more than just surface deep. Click here to see the series.

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