JIT and Knowledge Building LO16463

J.C. Lelie (janlelie@wxs.nl)
Fri, 09 Jan 1998 15:24:21 -0800

Replying to LO16449 --

Hi Doug, you wrote:

> As a Certified
> Quality Engineer (CQE), I've worked with "just-in-time" (JIT) concepts as
> they apply to inventory and process control.

As Certified in Production and Inventory Management(CPIM) I've worked with
"just-in-time" (JIT) concepts also. I usually see these concepts (and
those from TQM, Total Quality Management) as the long-term solution to
logistical problems. In the short term, building inventories, large batch
sizes and controlling one-another work to reduce tensions and problems.
JIT, TQM (and TOC (Theory of Constraints)) offer long term solutions to
addiction cycles involving large batches, high inventory, over-capacity
and low worker productivity.

By applying LO-concepts, like team learning, vision building and mental
model (and off course systems thinking, as you noticed) we was able to ...
i'm tempted to write implement these concepts, but it was more than that,
it was kind of developing a better understanding of these concepts.
Factory workers, material handling people, planners and fore-men were able
to use these ideas, which are, in my opinion, intuitively known.

> I've found that these same
> JIT principles have some interesting analogues when applied to "knowledge
> building" (as opposed to "widgit building").

What's widgit?

[Host's Note: To me, "widgit" is American slang for "some physical
product." ...Rick]

> For example, JIT emphasizes small lot processing as opposed to large batch
> processing. This in turn has a significant impact on the number of
> "inventory turns", improves efficiency and offers considerably greater
> flexibility to effectively meet changing competitive environments. In the
> world of "knowledge building", the old paradigm emphasized batch
> processing of ideas -- at least I think of committee meetings, staff
> meetings and conferences as a kind of "batch processing" of ideas. In
> fact, can't we think of meetings in general as a form of batch processing
> along the road to building knowledge (i.e. performing value-added work on
> information to turn it into something useful in the context of the
> organizational needs)? The "feast/famine" or "hills and valleys"
> dysfunctional processing flow in manufacturing that is characteristic of
> batch processing has some equally dysfunctional impacts on knowledge
> processing. Shouldn't a key principle of the LO be to minimize the batch
> processing of knowledge and to maximize the use of JIT in building
> knowledge? In other words, move knowledge/information around the
> organization in small chunks, rapidly, freely, easily, to just about
> anybody and everybody. The batch processing of knowledge/information in
> face-to-face meetings will not (should not) ever go away; but it can be,
> and is, being powerfully supplemented by JIT knowledge processing via
> virtual teams interacting more or less continuously across networks.

I like the analogue. 'Go with the flow' instead of 'stay by the lake'. It
reminds me of some additions we made in our meeting repertoire: we held
meetings in the coffee-corner, places where the coffee machines were
located. So some times random coffee-addicts participated, but, as it was
located on the factory floor, interactions were fast, short and effective:
an idea could be put to test almost as it was generated (by the way: we
had white-boards installed in these coffee-corners, some times scribbled
with causal-loops, and often interacted standing up: this also increases
participation but also led to spilling coffee on clothes, tables and
floor: don't say you weren't warned!).

Another idea was two planning boards, with the actions written on Post-it
(tm): the first contained "actions to do" (with a name, off course) and
the second one contained "actions done". These boards were also located in
plain view.

> The benefits of JIT in the manufacturing arena are well known; but, what
> about in the knowledge building arena? I throw this question out to the
> LO list in the hopes of generating some discussion. We could all wait
> to meet and discuss this at some future "batch processing" conference;
> however, I would prefer your JIT response.

Well, discussion is typical of comittee-meetings, i'd prefer dialogue.

Kind regards,

Jan Lelie

NB: my provider changed its name: from planet internet, pi.net :-) to
world-access, wxs.nl :( Committee decisions again: the planet's future is
in the net, not in access of the world to the net-her-lands!

Drs J.C. Lelie CPIM (Jan)
LOGISENS - Sparring Partner in Logistical Development  -  
+ (31) 70 3243475 Fax: idem GSM: + (31) 654685114

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