Standing in the Circle


A change of scenery can help everything

According to Taiichi Ohno, something is wrong if workers do not look around each day, find things that are tedious or boring, and then rewrite the procedures. Even last month’s manual should be out of date.

One of the famous teaching methods by Taiichi Ohno is the chalk circle. The method itself is simple. A circle is drawn on the shop floor near a point of interest. A disciple is put in the circle and told not to leave it until he is picked up again by the teacher.

Taiichi Ohno is one of the main drivers behind the Toyota Production System, and hence by proxy, lean production. One of his famous methods was the chalk circle. On the shop floor in an area of interest (but not in the way of the workers) he drew a circle using chalk. A disciple that had a problem to solve in this area was put in the circle. The instruction given to the engineer was simple: “Watch!”

And watch he did. After a while Ohno came back and asked him what he had seen. If the answer was unsatisfactory, the disciple had to watch more. Often, a disciple stood in the circle for hours before Ohno was satisfied. This exercise is also known as Standing in the Circle.

The simple Lean Management process observation technique of Standing in the Circle opens your eyes to new ways for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of your processes.
Good decisions are based on thorough data collection and good data analysis. To find useful productivity improvements go Stand in the Circle to see why things are as they are and look for opportunities to apply Lean methods and Lean practices.

Value is always to be seen from the customer’s perspective, the customer being the person that will use the output. Value adding are those actions and resources which create the value the customer gets from the product. Non value adding is everything done in a process that contributes no value for the customer, but which they are forced to pay for when they buy the product or service. It is anything the customer does not need or will not pay for.

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