Virtual reality as a solution to an inconsistent Lean approach

solution to an inconsistent Lean approach

In the final video of the series, Peter Hines, an award-winning Lean expert, goes over the importance of virtual reality as a tool used for tackling the inconsistencies that exist across organisations in their understanding and approach to lean.

VR learning applications

What are top 3 challenges you hear executives struggle with the most when helping with their Lean transformation roll out?

Some of the issues we find is the inconsistency across different sites in the organisation, some are going fast, some are going much slower. Sometimes we also find there's problems with tracking individuals’ progress as they go through the training program and the third would be training staff across different geographies. It's a big challenge if you try and do it in a physical environment with different trainers on different continents. That's why the VR approach is particularly useful.

How do you tackle inconsistent understanding of Lean across the company?

Lean is probably something that's typically not particularly well understood across the whole organisation, across the different functions and certainly at different levels. For many people at the front line, lean often even has a bit of a negative overtone of job losses and cutbacks and so forth. The starting point is to understand what is lean all about. If we say that lean is simply making a better tomorrow than today, that's probably a good starting point. But if we think about a better tomorrow than today, better for who? Better for the company? Better for the customer? Better for the individual working there? And possibly better for the local community. If we take all of those, the one that’s going to engage people the most is better for them themselves. So if we start by thinking about how do we create a better tomorrow for the individuals themselves and what does that mean; how do we improve from that, that’s probably how I would define lean and get people to think about it in those terms.

How to track lean transformation progress?

If we’re trying to track how lean is going in an organisation, obviously we can do that through classic project management tools and that’s probably useful. But it's also useful to gain some key metrics in doing that. To give an example of an organisation we worked with that has received a Shingo prize recognition after only 4 years of their lean journey:  One of the first things that they were trying to do is to engage every single person in the environment in having bottom up ideas against what they were trying to achieve in their team so we actually then measured the percentage of people that were coming to a daily huddle meeting and bringing suggestions into that. The first one was a quantity measure in terms of the number of people involved in the activity. Once we achieved that we then started looking at the quality so how well were these teams actually making improvements. We developed an audit score out of a 100, so not only did we get a 100% of people involved, we wanted to see how well they’re doing that. Then we had a really good, future-orientated measure looking at quantity and quality of improvement going on. Of course, the results were shorter lead times and less inventory that we wanted. Starting to look at those lead measures was really important.

How to address the challenge of training staff at the same time across different geographies?

One of the challenges is in training staff in the organisation. What I firmly believe is that what we should be trying to do is train them in the Gemba. In other words, train them in the environment that they’re working in. Sometimes, that’s very easy if you’re a one site, in one particular location. But probably for most of you, you’ll have multi sites, maybe on different continents. That’s one of the reasons that we’ve started to take the Gemba concept into the VR world. Using this tool, you will not only be able to train people in a type of Gemba, but you can actually do it together. You can go through a learning cycle with a standardised approach, same learnings and achieve very good results, right across different locations.

For many organisations, there is a fairly inconsistent approach to lean. That might just be a legacy or history, where particular manager from one site went on some training course at a University, another got a black belt from a consultancy or training organisation. Often it’s a fairly piecemeal approach. What we find with the organisations is, along this journey it’s usually really good to standardise the way of thinking about lean in the organisation. What we found as a really good way is to actually do the training using the same sort of platform. That's one of the reasons we developed a VR product that’s actually based on a virtual Gemba that you can actually understand in a virtual environment, take staff from different locations, different functions on the same journey and record how well they are doing again that, whether they truly are learning.

Tracking lean transformation

What we find with lean courses is sometimes some people turn up, some people do half the course or sometimes if you're doing an open course in a physical environment people start drifting off, making phone calls and they're not really concentrating, they're not getting the most out of the course. In our VR approach, what we have looked at carefully is not just monitoring whether people are attending, are they going through the different modules, but actually how well are they attending? Are they doing the exercises? We are then recording that, so you can actually look at all the staff that are going through the course, how far away through, are they doing the exercises, are they actually getting the right results, so you can see whether or not the consistent approach is really happening in your organisation.

Why Gemba VR?

In your organisation, if you find that there is inconsistencies in people's understanding of lean, if you find things don’t sustain, if you find people don't buy in, I consider thinking about creating a sustainable approach by taking the VR platform, where you can get consistency across different sites at different levels of the organisation. That's why I think the VR platform we’ve developed might be just the thing you’re looking for.

What’s your favourite part in the Gemba’s Masterclass “Developing Lean Leaders?”

Myself and colleagues recently had a great time producing this for VR product, we hope you enjoy it. I suppose the bit that I really liked was working on the voice over, different scripts. I think my particular favourite was some of the Gemba exercises, particularly look out for the hospital exercise, it's really nice.

Gemba lean leadership training

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