Checklist ‘ Goals and Targets’

  1. What are the companies Goals (Targets we should move ahead for)
  2. What are the companies Rules (Lines we should move within)
  3. Are the goals correctly translated for every department, every line, every team?
    • Does everyone knows what the critical targets are?
    • Does everyone knows what the current status is?
    • Does everyone knows what the gap between the current and desired situation looks like (what are the losses?)
    • Does everyone knows the actions to follow to close the gap?
    • Is there a plan to do so?
    • Where and how can we see the progress (or lack of it)
    • What are the priorities?
    • What are the criteria to prioritize?
  4. Are all those parties correctly aligned?
    • Do goals between teams/departments etc. match?
    • Do they positively or negatively interfere?
    • When adding the goals of a lower level, do they add up to meet the goal of the higher level?
    • Are we able to detect sub-optimization?
  5. Is there a visual system to follow the complete goal setting?
  6. Is there a visual system to follow the progress of improvements? 

Being Excellent is just no longer good enough!

Being Excellent is just no longer good enough!

Who was excellent yesterday can be out of date tomorrow….
Because ‘excellence’ is improving every day!

It is our challenge to become excellent in improving.
Only those who can improve faster than the changing environment, can become excellent and stay excellent!
This site wants to give you a platform to put questions and find answers.

Fields of special interest:
TPM – Lean – Six Sigma – OEE – Offices – Kaizen Teams – Process Teams – Visual Management

Good luck!
Arno Koch (Webmaster)

Remember the ‘excellent companies’ in this book?

Where are they today?

Zero Defect, complete process control; is that possible?

Although the old Masters like Deming, Juran and Crosby have been teaching us the same message over and over again (read the book “Quality Is Free” by Philip B. Crosby) it still is an issue that seams to be hard to be convinced about…

Is it possible to have a Zero Defect production system? Is it possible to make your processes completely stable?

Today, in a discussion with highly knowledgeable and experienced manufacturing experts I heard this quote:


“There is a balans point where it cost more money to improve the process than it will generate. At that point you have to stop”


Does that mean “Zero Defect” and “fully stable processes” are Utopia?

a German Delphi Site, producing Zero Defect since 2001, was audited by the German CETPM after they strived since seven years for insourcing and excellent processes;

Zero PPM defects, no accidents and less than 3% illness.

The goal is cost reduction.. or not?

Cost reduction

If cost-reduction is your target, you have an easy job! Close your facility and you’ll have no more cost!

Ridiculous? Indeed. Nevertheless you are probably steering on cost reduction… But low cost is not the goal of your organization!

Think about what ís the goal and achieve this in the most effective way. You will learn that low cost than becomes a logic result of high quality!

You don’t believe this? Do you really (REALLY) know what determines the cost of you services or conversions? Then you’ll also know that most of the cost, are made by non-value adding activities or even non-activities!

As long as you do not know the difference between what is adding value to your business and its stakeholders and what not, you will spend tons of your time and resources on things you might as well not have done. In other words: you are shredding your own profit!

Shocking? Indeed! And it is your task as a manager to create a system that allows your employees to ultimately add value to the one party that brings the stuff that fuels your business: The customer! All the others come and eat from this fuel! Important of course! But only óne party brings the fuel!

So your only added value as a manager is to manage this change towards a loss free organization. And this is never ending, because the customers demand will keep changing, whether you like it or not!


You do not have to be an Einstein to manage an organization, a company, or a process.

But… you DO have to have a deep understanding of the process you try to manage…

And it is even worse: It is NOT your task to keep the process running; the day to day operation should be a given, it should also run when you are out of the office.

So what i­s your task as a manager? Your task is to ‘simply’ manage the IMPROVEMENT of your organization; you are a manager of CHANGE. If not you do not add value to your organization!

Disagree? Chocked? Insulted? Let’s have a look!

How many layers of manager does your organization counts?

  • How many percent of their time do they delight the customer?
  • What do they really do to make the primairy process perform better?
  • What do they do to fulfill legal obligations?

Is there anything (anything!) else you can do to justify your salary?? Ok; lets start adding value then! 

Zen and ‘Being a Professional’

The more I learn about Zen, the more difficult I find it to explain to others, and yet the more clearer it gets to me that it is the basis for Zero Defect – Zero Losses manufacturing- or whatever it is you may do or want to do.

Zen is about BEING. Not just do something,

A touch of what Zen is, can be experienced on a site of the KODAIJI-TEMPLE in Tokyo: don’t just click over it! If you manage to be present, to really experience what the makers try to explain to you, you might get a glimpse of insight in the basis of all modern manufacturing strategies…

Experience Zen

Click on the picture to experience Zen…

ok… you are still here!

What Zen teaches

What Zen teaches us, is to be completely present, concentrated if you like, in whatever you do. To bé what you do. If you shoot an arrow, become the arrow, and you can not miss your target. It is about being completely empty, so the things that matter can fill you completely. I know this might be confusing…

Zen in Workplaces

Let me link this to 5S workplace organisation. If our mind is disrupted continuously because of all kind of abnormalities (tools not in place, lack of materials etc) take place, it is hardly possible to concentrate on the real task, on bringing optimal quality. So the goal of a well performed workplace organisation is to free up the operators mind from unnecessary burdens, to make space for concentration on those parts of the job that can not- or should not be performed on ‘auto-pilot’; in other words, to make it possible for the operator to be fully present in his/her job.

If you have an office job you will recognize this. How much time of the day can you work fully concentrate on the job you are assigned to? Honestly, is it more than 10%? Zen teaches us the path to eliminate everything that makes us ‘not present’. Does that sound familiarly? In World Class Manufacturing techniques we can recognize this principle in eliminating all losses, everything that does not add any value.

If you have been raised in the Zen tradition like most of the Japanese more or less have, it is fully normal to be concentrated and dedicated in everything you do. Of course one can not always be concentrated, but it is possible to be ‘present’ all the time. One can even be present in an interruption.

… And what if something goes wrong??

If during the assembly of a windshield in a Toyota-car the windshield might get damaged, the line is stopped and all team members from previous and next assembly stations rush to help their colleagues to remove the damaged windshield, get a new one clear up the mess and start the line as soon as possible. This is done completely smooth, orderly and concentrated. Everybody knows its task. It is about being present. Nothing is distracting from the main task at that moment: eliminating the disruption to be able to carry on with the normal job.

… Isn’t that tiring?

Is it tiring to be present in your job? Think about it… what day is worse: the day you could do your job without any disruptions where time flies while working from task to task, or the usual day where you run from incident to incident… If your mind is being filled with non value adding garbage all the time, isn’t that the real energy sucker? Personally I gét energy from being able to be present in whatever I do. Sure you are tiered after a days hard work, but that is different from being drained in those chaotic days where you hardly accomplish anything isn’t it?

I’m very curious what others think about this….


The most important basic principles and critical success factors for Kaizen teams (you may call then Small Group Activities, DMAIC teams, KVP teams or whatever) are:

  1. Working according to a structured problem-solving approach, somehow based upon the Plan-Do-Check-Act circle, thus preventing ‘jumping to conclusions’
  2. Working through those steps with a bottom up approach; which is fundamentally different for most of the Western companies where ‘experts’ tend to bring solutions top down into the organization.

What is wrong with top-down solutions?

  • Basically they can be of high quality, but mostly they are not. Since they have been developed by an expert, they carry an expert view, which is not necessarily a 360 degree view of the whole situation. Typically it could be a very technology based solution. Think of the design of a traditional machine: an operator would design it different, a maintenance engineer also!
  • Even if it is the ultimate quality solution, it still can lack commitment of those who have to implement this solution (the famous ‘not invented here’ syndrome…)

What’s different in the Japanese approach?

Generally speaking, our Japanese colleagues tend to work, travel and decide in groups. If a problem occurs, it is almost a natural behavior to consult several team members, but also people of different ‘disciplines’ to get a 360 degree picture of the problem. Unless everybody understands the problem, solutions are not being discussed. Everybody seams to understand there is no use for discussing solutions before that point. For a Western person it can be amazing, even frustrating to see how the group keeps on discussing ‘nitty-gritty details’ instead of quickly fixing the problem…

Once the group has gone through all the details and everybody has given input ánd understanding they come up amazingly easy with sometimes completely ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions or most powerful solutions yet of unknown simplicity. Compare this (again generally speaking) to the Western approach: we would quickly think of a ‘good but importantly quick’ or ‘cheap’ solution, and solve the problematic details later while implementing. The result: increasing complexity during implementation to handle all new problems (not seen before), frustrations (“I knew it wouldn’t work”), running out of budget and time etc. Fighting between disciplines instead of cooperation etc.

Why do Japanese (and many other Asians) work in teams, consensus based?

Until the recent days this was literally a way to survive. Large parts of the country where rural areas where communities where depending on agricultural activities to feed themselves and the nation. Japan has little natural resources like coal, oil, gas, ore. The main food was (and still is) is rice and fish. Catching fish and farming rice are both labor intensive and more important: teamwork is needed. To have a rice plantation one needs access to an irrigation system. The water is floating from terrace to terrace. So if you would have a quarrel with your neighbor you might end up having no water on your terrace next day… In days of too little or too much water it is crucial to find solutions where upstream ánd downstream partners equally participate in benefits ánd risks.

Can you imagine, if year after year you would have to feed 6 or 9 mouth, how delicate this is? If óne jumps out of line, it could be killing… this season to his neighbor, next season to yourselves; a matter of natural selection to become excellent in this ‘skill’ of sharing mutual interests. The success of those communities depended on their ability to share knowledge ánd the benefits resulting from it. This explains why in Japan it is a natural behavior of the individual to put the company’s interest befóre the personal interest. ‘If the company is doing well, that is well for me; if I contribute to the success of my company, I contribute to my own successes’. It seams that somehow in developing those skills during thousands of years they experienced the need to be very careful with their resources.

You do nót change a system, unless you know what problem you are going to solve, how you are going to do so and what the expected results will be. If you make a mistake you might spent to many labor on a solution that does not work. Result: Part of the community will dye by starvation. This may also explain why the Japanese are so fond of standardization. It is their way to make sure that delicate systems with very narrow tolerances to keep them in balance, do not get disturbed, by someone doing something out of the working standard. I don’t know anything about rice-farming, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find all kind of visual indicators about how to act with different water-levels etc. to make sure every body working in the fields would exactly know what to do and how to maintain the optimal water level in every season.

I’m very curious whether there is anybody out there who can give us more insight is this subject??