By Jon Miller | Post Date: April 2, 2007 10:34 PM | Comments: 8
We receive a lot of questions on this blog about something called the Skill Matrix and how to use it. It seems to be an area of high interest so I will write about it more regularly.
The Skill Matrix is a very useful visual management tool. It shows at a glance how much cross-training you have in your organization between different people and different tasks.
This blog entry from 2005 talks about how the Skill Matrix enables the suggestion system, but in truth the Skill Matrix enables a lot more than the suggestion system. Since Lean manufacturing a.k.a. the Toyota Production System is all about kaizen and respect for people, and as they say in Japanese "monozukuri wa hitozukuri" or making things starts with developing people, visualizing skills development through the Skill Matrix becomes essential for Lean efforts to succeed.
Whether you are implementing one-piece flow cells that require multi-process handling capability from workers, starting up a TPM or autonomous maintenance program that requires some basic equipment upkeep knowledge from workers, or simply educating everyone in the fundamentals of the Thinking People System, you can use the Skill Matrix to show gaps in skills development (abnormalities) so that you can correct them.
The first step is to establish standards. The basic questions you will need to answer are these:
1. How many levels of competence will we have?
Creating a simple table like this as a first step, prior to actually filling out a skill matrix, is very handy for clarifying your thinking. The example below shows five levels from zero to four:
I have seen Skill Matrices as simple as two levels (empty circle, full circle) and as complex as having seven sections to the pie. How many sections you will use for the circle is your decision, based on the type of work your are training and how many discreet check points you think you need to get from "cannot do" to "can teach". As with most things, keeping it simple and following one standard across your organization is highly recommended.
So, according to the standard above if I am to maintain my "can teach Skill Matrix" Level 4 instructor status, I will need to post something here on the Skill Matrix or teach it on the gemba at least every 90 days.
Added July 26, 2007: Download free skill matrix template here.Comments are moderated to filter spam and inappropriate content. There may be a delay before your comment is published.