Random Access Memories

New Years Day is my favorite holiday because of its hope for renewal and improvement.   Generally speaking it’s also a holiday without religious implications and exclusions, one that is nearly universal in secular society, one associated with a new beginning.    I’m not one to make resolutions, but at this time of year I do tend to reflect on year-to-date and, let’s say, life-to-date performance.  As I do this I realize that there is a growing set of “random access memories” of events that have accumulated in my head over the last six decades.  Unrelated as these memories are in time and place they combine in a kind of mental stew that impacts my reflection process – and they will no doubt be kernels around which future blogs materialize.   What do they have to do with understanding TPS?  At least in my case: everything.   Some might be considered inhibitors, experiences that create caution; others are accelerators, memories that spur me on.

For my New Year’s Eve blog I’ll share a few of these with you, providing proper attribution, but without detailed explanation:

“I know my inventory exactly – to the penny.  If anybody steals from me, I’ll know immediately!”
William Hill, proprietor of Hill’s Seafood Restaurant, my first place of employ, 1962.  (I worked at an outside clam bar, where I observed restaurant employees stealing food and supplies on a daily basis.) 

“The things that we worry about most are the things that never happen.”
My father, Frank Hamilton, first in 1955, and many times thereafter.

“Don’t just stand there and cry. Hit him back!”
My mother, Clara Hamilton, offering a 1950s anti-bullying lesson -- not PC today.

“Follow your passion Bruce.  Be a rock musician."
Ryuji Fukuda, 1989 dinner discussion.

"We got what we got because we did what we did.”
Francis Abrahams, CNC Supervisor, 1995, reflecting on on-going set-up reduction.

“Your inventory should not be above your knees, Mr. Materials Manager. ” 
Shigeo Shingo, 1989 pointing to our stockroom at UE during a visit to the plant.

“You know you’re making progress when it becomes his horse.”
Gifford Brown, former site manager of Ford Cleveland Engine Plant 2, describing the importance of fostering management buy-in and ownership.

“The three biggest obstacles to continuous improvement are top management, middle management, and first-line supervision.”
Roger Milliken, CEO, Milliken Company, 1989 Baldridge Prize Recipient

“Twenty thousand doctoral dissertations on economic order quantity, but not one on SMED!  Why?  Because SMED is too simple and does not make good fodder for doctoral theses.”
Shigeo Shingo, speaking 1989 at Utah State Partners in Business 14th Annual Productivity Conference.

“Always keep your goal in view, don’t let personalities get in the way, and don’t sweat the small stuff.” 
Matt Timm, my trainer for VISTA in Atlanta, GA, 1968  

“I advise my friends not to go into manufacturing.  There are just too many problems.”
Hiroyuki Hirano, speaking in Cambridge, MA, 1995

“We call it the BOHICA method: bend over here it comes again.”
Shop floor employee at a 1992 “kaizen event”, offering his opinion on the process.

"Continuous improvement is 10% tools and 90% people."
Bruce Hamilton, 1990.  Maybe I stole this from someone else, but I think it may have come to me during one of those year end reflections.   This is not to say that the technical aspects of TPS are not critical to success.  (The human body, for example, is 98% water but the other 2% are pretty important too.)

What are your random access memories?  How do they impact your ability to accept change and to lead it? Let me hear from you. 

 -- O.L.D.

This entry was posted in old lean dude, lean manufacturing, GBMP, Toast Kaizen, kaizen, hoshin kanri, TPM, 5S, poka-yoke, lean in healthcare, toyota production system, made in america, shigeo shingo, made in the usa, value stream mapping on December 30 , 2010.