I recently posted a Blog on the Butterfly effect. This is the theory of changing one, seemingly insignificant thing in the past, dramatically impacts the future. The theory holds that if a single butterfly change course, the air from its wings would change air currents and eventually create a hurricane in the future. I understand the theory, not sure about the butterfly. This is often applied when people look back at history and play “what if”. This previous week I experienced the butterfly flapping its wings and am now looking to the dramatic impact it will have on Ebsco’s future.
We completed our third Kaisen event. Value Stream Mapping. Impressive sounding, right? It generates some pretty impressive graphs and charts too. Our team spent three days on this event and have one recap day next week. That will conclude the actual event. From where I strand the butterfly was flapping really hard for those three days and there are numerous hurricanes brewing in Ebsco’s future.
The concept of value stream mapping is really simple. We looked at one group of parts that Ebsco makes, all sharing a similarity. We studied each process that part went through on its journey from the original order to shipping to the customer. We timed operations and valued the parts as they worked through the shop. Measurements were broken down by the second. We then compared what really happens verses the “ideal”. Every step was compared for time spent on valued efforts versus on wasted efforts. Looking at our comparison we were able to spot the areas where we can improve.
As we worked through our analysis this led to that and that led to this other, over and over again. “What if we do this?” “How about trying that?” “If we do that then we can…” To say the juices were flowing is an understatement. “Light Bulb Moments” were plentiful. It was an entire week of “WHAT IF”. There were so many ideas, we created a one year project plan to address them. Many of projects will actually launch new Kaizen Events focused specifically on them. It was exciting and exhausting.
We were very proud of our progress and the plans we were laying out for the next year. During the event the boss, Cheryl dropped in for an update, as she often does. We were really excited about one particular finding and shared it with her along with our what if scenarios and plans to move forward. As any good boss does, Cheryl considered it briefly and then said “Great, I want it done yesterday”. She had us immediately bring in several team members from production and present it to them for their input. We are rolling out the first test of the process changes the next week. Not yesterday but close.
So the butterfly fluttered its wings for three days last week. From the Hurricane Prediction Center at Ebsco Spring I am already seeing forecasts for record-setting Hurricanes throughout next year. I guess this Butterfly Theory thing is for real.