So yesterday did not go nearly as planned. It wasn’t bad—in fact it was a lovely day for the most part. It just didn’t leave me any time to write or take pictures. I’ve really got to get into the habit of writing these things a few days ahead or something.
Anyway! I’ll put up pictures tomorrow for a Wordless Thursday and I’ll write stuff today because I feel like it! And I can! And exclamation marks are wonderful!!!
So yesterday I had Lean Six Sigma training. It’s a tool or strategy or whatever you want to call it that asks people to look at what they’re doing and evaluate whether there are better ways of doing things. If I’ve mentioned 5S here before, Lean Six Sigma is the parent to that tool. I’m a big proponent of 5S because it’s all about organizing your workspace and making it work better for what you’re doing—keeping things clean and organized and standardizing so that it’s easy to follow along and find things. It’s wonderful!
Six Sigma looks at processes and production and how to make it more streamlined and effective, which is also fabulously exciting to me. I love having the opportunity to look at what we’ve been doing for ages and ages and get to ask the question: Is this really the best way we could be handling this? Why are we doing it this way?
Yesterday’s training was all about Value Stream Mapping and learning how to implement it and use it as a Lean tool through simulation.
We built airplanes. Sky Streak airplanes. Balsa wood airplanes. It was so much fun!
What we were supposed to do was construct 10 planes, factory-line style, as quickly as we could. Our first run-though, we had roles and placement on the line assigned to us. It took us 36 minutes to complete all 10 planes. The first one through to completion took us 17 minutes. (I forgot to mention that we weren’t just popping them out and putting them together like is typical. We also had to “paint” the wing by adding a large sticker to the wing, add stars to the wing in a specific place and color order determined by the “customer,” and add a tail number on the tail.) I was in Flight Test (Final Phase) this time through. I had to take the planes outside, wind them up, and make them fly from one point on the ground to another without going off course or running into anything. It’s harder than you’d think! Sure, they all fly, but they don’t all fly in a straight line, especially with added weight to the wing and a gusty tailwind! I’m proud of the fact that I only landed in the pool area once. And I missed the water.
Anyway, we had to then break down the process and examine what we were doing that was actually necessary and how we could make more of the necessary processes more efficient and how to staff the line so that it works better. We broke out into groups to evaluate different parts of the line that were having problems and to look at the whole-picture flow of the process.
I went to the flow-process group. I’m such a nerd that when we broke for lunch in between the simulation and the discussion on how to fix it, I sat and tried to map out how I thought we should do it. So I sat there and tried to convince the three other guys that we shouldn’t even have Flight Test because of course they’re going to fly! It’s a model plane with no possible unseen defects! And it’s one of the part of the process that takes the longest time! Sadly, I was out voted (I may have been the only one in the room of 14) and we kept it in.
We were able to shorten our time to get the first airplane completed down to 7 minutes, though. This time I sat in “Paint” and had to cut out the shape of the wing from the 8.5×11 sheet of computer label that I had. And because of that I sat in the group the next time around that discussed a better way to handle the “painting” process. Actually, I was in charge of the discussion group because I’d asked the question that got us going. We decided that it must be more efficient to attach the wing to the label right at the start, instead of tracing it, and then cut around it.
It would have worked, too, if we’d only had the right tools. Because, as it turns out, the scissors stuck to the label too much and it ended up being more slow that it had in the previous round. But we were still able to shorten our completion time down to 4 minutes.
Anyway, the point of all this babbling was that I really enjoyed the session. I’m probably one of the few people who finds this sort of thing much more stimulating than my actual job. I’d rather spend my day talking about how people are organizing their material flow and information flow than look at my computer and check numbers. I do the number checking because I’m good at it. And they’ll pay me good money to keep doing it. But when I have the chance to do this other stuff, I enjoy it fully.
Except for when I get frustrated because it’s a stupid process taking the plane outside and trying to fly from one tape mark to another and it’s really not necessary to the process of completing the plane! I mean, come on!
Anyway, yesterday evening I got caught up in an organizing project that kept me up later than I should have and occupied much more of my time than I expected it to. Justin insists that we keep all receipts for 7 years just in case we get audited. I insist that if he’s going to do that, we have to keep it organized. Because his method for saving receipts when he moved into his apartment was to stick them all in a cardboard box in the back of his filing cabinet.
When I started saving mine, I also started snagging his current ones and organizing them with mine. And my method of organizing them was to collect them all in a central location (the same door-hanging pocket-thing where we keep the bills) and then, periodically, take them out and file them, by month, in envelopes. Which I keep in a plastic shoe-box for a year and then file with the archive files (because he insists that we keep pretty much everything for 7 years) at the end of a year.
When we moved, I took Justin’s shoebox of receipts and stuffed them all into two manila envelopes. I wrote “Justin’s box of receipts” on them and threw them into a box. When I unpacked that box, I set those files on a shelf in my office. When I cleaned off that shelf over the weekend, I decided that I really do need to take care of that mess sometime soon.
So last night, I sat on the bed with the TV on (Dirty Jobs!) and sorted out all the receipts for 2007. And then I sorted them out by month and put them in envelopes. And then it was after 11:00 and I had to go to bed. But either tonight or tomorrow I’m going to go through and pull out all the 2006 and do the same thing. (Hopefully there won’t be anything from years before that, but I guess I’ll find out when I get there.) And then I’m going to put them all into a manila envelope and beat my husband over the head with it until he gives me chocolate pudding. Because, seriously! If he honestly thought the best way to organize files that he might need for an audit was to stuff several years worth of receipts into a cardboard box (along with several bills and all the information for his phone plan), he and I have to have a long talk about organizat
But I won’t beat him too harshly. After all, I could have just left them in the large envelopes that they were in when we moved and stuffed them into the back of the file cabinet. It’s only my own sense of organization (and insanity) that insisted I actually break them open and sort the slips out by month.
And it all just goes to show how much of a crazy I really am. Isn’t it grand?!