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Let's talk Communication Boards

Discussion in 'Lean, Six Sigma and DFSS' started by Candi1024, Dec 18, 2015.

  1. Candi1024

    Candi1024 Well-Known Member

    Jul 30, 2015
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    We have been working on developing these in our manufacturing process, but I tend to get caught up in the details of function.

    First, help me pinpoint the function.

    1. An 8 second review by a higher level manager will reveal where we stand, and if we are on track or having issues (8 seconds was quoted here, but that seems almost silly to me. Unless they are looking for flashing red lights or something. But I get the point)

    2. Issues that do arise are escalated to the people/departments that are able to help solve the problem.

    #2 is what gets me caught up the most. I understand how it could possibly work. A department has a quick meeting to review the board and highlight issues. The supervisor/manager of the department is present during this quick review. An issue is found and noted on board. The supervisor/manager then attends his next level of communication board talks with his peers, and notes the issue so that others could help solve the problem. The manager in charge of that group has a meeting with his higher level peers..... so on and so on in a pretty upward pattern.

    But how do you escalate to the appropriate party when it could be one of many different departments that could help. Not just the managers, but maybe design, or engineering or purchasing. Do the various managers attend each of the other departments boards everyday to gather information? Or does someone for the other departments attend the lower level boards everyday?

    And wouldn't you need to distinguish between, WE NEED HELP TODAY!, as opposed to: if we put in another station it would really help the flow, lets work on this, type of problems. I don't see how the needing help today, or even very soon type of problems would be communicated as quickly as need be.

    Ok, with all that said, Do you use communication boards? How does your company manage information flow?
  2. Reluctance

    Reluctance Member

    Aug 7, 2015
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    There was a time when we used boards similar to what you have described. It wasn't a board with metrics posted or anything like that though. Each individual department had their own board to post issues onto as things came up during the day. As department supervisors or managers came by they could see the issues as they were happening.

    The intent here was to provide a real-time method of tracking issues. If there would ever be an issue that could be addressed immediately, either by the manager of that department or another manager that happened to be walking by, it was expected that they should do so. Response to issues was supposed to be quick, as in less than a day or two.

    After a while we added a weekly meeting where most of the management got together to review the items that had been collected from each board from the previous week. Any items that were still open were also reviewed. Perhaps you can see where this went...

    The list grew to an unmanageable size. Things were not getting addressed in a timely manner and the system began to fall apart. Eventually the whole idea was dropped like so many other business management ideas (fads) that had been poorly implemented.

    In the end we took a whole different tack.

    A core group of people now perform a similar task every day by walking through the factory and talking with the employees. There is one representative from manufacturing, one from engineering, and one from quality assurance. They work to address issues that are limited in scope. Quick fix annoyances are addressed immediately since there is enough management strength within this core group to reach a resolution. Anything that is larger than what they can handle is passed on to other quality system functions (similar to your question about how to escalate items that require multi-department input). They may follow up with the department that had the issue later, but that is not their core function.

    Having a stronger definition of scope for this team has done more for us than the boards have ever done. However, that doesn't mean using communication boards won't work for anyone else.

    I would say you are definitely on the right track by seeking to get a solid definition of what these boards are meant to do. Scope creep isn't just something that affects engineering projects.

    Hopefully this isn't too far off topic to be helpful.
  3. James

    James Active Member

    Aug 31, 2015
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    We've thought about implementing a board, similar to "quality escape boards". Right now we have a shop and safety meeting the third Thursday of each month. We save what's talked about each time and go over it at the next one as needed. We make sure to ask for any concerns there might be like tooling feedback, process feedback, et cetera. A lot of our more regularly occurring stuff is handled on a daily basis with supervisors and such. Our system is still in its infancy and evolving so I'm not opposed to it at some point, but so far we haven't felt a need to be more daily with communication flow down than the once a month meeting with everyone.

    The meeting includes everyone in production down to the newest higher btw.
  4. drgnrider

    drgnrider Member

    Nov 30, 2015
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    Kansas, USA
    Yes, we use "communication boards" (LEAN, ISO, EHS, Quality, etc.)... but ours are one-way information flow. The board owner posts the charts and that is it, no discussions. When ask employees, they "don't read them because it doesn't get product out the door."

    Managements' response, "EVERY employee knows that is how the main communication is done."