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Adventures In TPS Learning, Project Management

Mar 4, 2015 | Posted by Ben Thompson


Keep Calm and Kaizen On

Hey blog fans I’m back with another update and tales of how my learning is moving along in the production manufacturing world. This time I am going to be sharing my experiences with project management. Specifically, how I found project management to be extremely difficult in the beginning. It was a lot like the horror stories of an action list turning into an inaction list, where one task seemed to be able to halt the project dead in its tracks. I thought that I was delegating tasks out properly but getting little to no reaction from my team.

I reflected on  the way I was driving the project, and that’s when it hit me. I wasn’t driving the project, I , just like my team members was passively along for the ride. We were going through the motions of a listless dialogue, I’d ask for something, not get it, follow up and hear of how they were to busy to complete my task then I’d reassign it to them or attempt to do it myself. Why was there no sense of urgency to my requests? This project was great for the company, people should be excited to be involved.

I decided the urgency was not present because “I” didn’t create it. There was no clear and distinct timeline being pushed, no due dates set for my team members tasks. My pea brain just then punched up a formula: urgency= accountability. It was not my team members fault stuff wasn’t getting done, I am the captain of the ship, it was my fault.

Step 1 – Assign Dates to Tasks 

It seemed too simple to be true, but work started flowing better. Tasks were getting completed, I started developing a timeline of tasks; like an order of operations for the project. Even when task deadlines were missed, the conversations were more energized, people were speaking towards their obstacles and proposing follow up dates. The dialogues changed from listless to engaging, but something was still missing.

With all these tasks being worked on at different rates in the background, and my own day to day work taking up my time, it was hard to keep in mind the status of all these tasks. How could I know at a glance the status of an assigned task, or furthermore if a task is assigned? I had to be able to streamline my ability to audit the tasks of the project.

I reflected with Matt, my mentor, as we do every week. He once again reminded me “it doesn’t have to be fancy, or smart looking, it just has to work”. Using his guidance I thought back to our A3 ‘s next steps section. Problem/Who/When/Status. So simple, yet almost everything I needed was there staring me in the face.

Step 2 – Develop a Highly Visible Scorecard

holes project

When I say highly visible, I am talking about status and in true TPS fashion that means asking, are we Green or Red. So, without trying to make a fancy system that was complicated and smart looking I designed a spread sheet in excel. As you can see up above I ended up adding a few more colours and categories, but I remained true to the idea that simple is best. Looking at this I know just with a glance that the volume forecast was incomplete and held back the piece price and signing of the Bailee due to inaccurate and incomplete data but has since been completed. Currently, Re quoting the Piece Price and Signing the Bailee are in process once again with no obstacle to being completed. It also tells me which obstacles are in process and warns me that task lacks a due date.

Like all things in this world this spread sheet is not prefect, it will change and/or evolve to better serve its purpose. The point is that it is a leap in the right direction, not only for the project itself but my learning as well, and it helps us to,








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