Team Learning on the Factory Floor LO22394

George Pinckney (
Mon, 02 Aug 1999 06:41:34 -0400

Replying to LO22214

Guten Tag Winfried,

Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. A few questions...

Winfried Dressler wrote:(Snip)

> In the "lean" approach, the flow of sellable goods is in the center of
> improvements. A flow is not a local, but a global, systems property. The
> main waste in the flow picture is overproduction.
> It is here, where the conflict becomes visible (and for the worker
> feelable - unease!). You cannot avoid idle machines without overproduction
> and vice versa. Theoretically, balanced capacity would solve the conflict.
> In practice we have lot sizes, which change the product mix daily. Thus
> balanced capacity is in our case pure planning premise - making
> calculations (cost, ROI, make or buy...) easy, but tend to mess up
> production, especially, when market demand goes up. Not to mention any
> kind of disruptions.

Can't we conclude that balanced capacity is next to impossible to achieve
in the real world - or that engineers only need to aim to get close. I
know Goldratt says that if you don't have workers (and I presume machines)
standing idle at times your system is not maximizing throughput.

> In short, team learning and system thinking is fostered, when the workers
> are asked to improve the flow of sellable goods and to formulate their
> requirements towards the supporting departments (logistics, industrial
> engineering, controlling, development, sales...).

Have you made formal efforts to "teach" systems thinking and team
learning? If so, how is it going? Or, have you just changed the
structure of their work and their responsibilities? I am working on a
project to encourage a systems approach and team learning among the
workers who operate high volume "just in time" assembly lines. In the
past they have worked with what they've been given by management and
engineers - so for them to think about formulating their requirements to
increase throughput requires a shift in attitude and perspective. Of
course this will require a shift in thinking among the engineers and
managers as well. Too often in the past assembly workers have been
thought of as just another station, necessary to do what machines

So... have you directly told your workers that their job now includes
formulating their requirements to increase the flow? If so, how have they
handled these new roles? Smooth transition so far? Are the engineers,
accountants and managers supportive? Lessons learned?

Liebe Gruesse,



George Pinckney <>

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