By Jon Miller | Post Date: May 9, 2008 7:44 PM | Comments: 3
Thanks everybody who posted comments, questions and answers to the takt time competition. We are happy to say that you are all winners. Originally the idea was that only couple of people would win a copy of The Illustrated Toyota Production System, but I have changed my mind and we'll send each person a copy. Please send us a note to firstname.lastname@example.org with "illustrated TPS" in the subject line if you are a winner, and let us know where you would like the book shipped.
Mark Nagai is a Gemba consultant who is also the translator for this new book from Gemba Press. We had a review session for book 2 of "The Illustrated..." series which is focused on kaizen techniques, IE methods and other practical aspects of TPS. As we were checking the wording of the various chapter titles, we had an interesting discussion around phrase true work, apparent work and busywork.
In several sections of the text Mark is translating in book 2, the author encourages the reader to develop eyes to tell apart "apparent work" from "true work". This is very similar to the notion of non-value added work versus value added work, and indeed the author uses these terms also. But it is another level of distinction. True work is of course the small amount of work in any process which changes form, fit or function as the customer desires. The author is in fact denying that certain types of activity are work at all. This is reminiscent of Taiichi Ohno's saying "wasted motion is not work". Seeing the apparent work is perhaps the first step to recognizing non value added work and waste.
So apparent work is effort, but not something that adds value. It could be an assembly process that requires a person to turn the part around several times to attach and fasten all components, straining each time it is lifted and manipulated. This is indeed hard work for the assembler, but much of this effort is "apparent work". In other words it appears that work is being done but in fact energy is being expended needlessly as a result of poor product design or poor process design such as a lack of fixtures to secure the workpiece or a poorly though out work sequence.
In contrast to this is busywork, which has a more critical and intentional component to it. People perform busywork in general when they are either idle and do not want to appear so, or when they are trying to fill the time so that it appears that the work should take longer than it does, in order to manipulate standard times and build in some slack.
The former type of busywork is a fairly innocent response by people who want to be busy, and when there is not work they want to appear busy. Perhaps they clean or check parts more than is necessary, or rearrange or stack items while they wait. The correct approach in lean management terms is to instruct the worker to wait when there is nothing to do so that this problem condition becomes immediately visible to supervisors or managers walking the floor. The root cause of the waiting then needs to be addressed so that the work can be rebalanced or improved. The latter type of busywork is more malicious and reflects a lack of trust between the workers and those who manage and supervise them. In both cases, when busywork is spotted this is an indicator that leadership is not performing their job of shop floor management as well as they should.
It is very easy to say "get rid of the waste and non value added" but learning to recognize true work, apparent work and busywork is an important step in accomplishing this.Comments are moderated to filter spam and inappropriate content. There may be a delay before your comment is published.