and the Columbo approach are the two basic methods for streamlining a process. The facilitator
generally combines these informally and directs the group's attention to the most opportune
areas. This requires considerable experience and instinct about where those opportunities may
Brainstorming is a creativity
enhancement technique that uses group dynamics. The
Columbo approach is also know as "The 5 Ws" or
"The Questioning Attitude." It asks a series of questions designed to stimulate thinking.
When the team is stuck, either or both of these methods, directed at specific elements, are
helpful. Using them formally for every element of the process, however, is time-consuming,
frustrating and unnecessary.
One or two days between the present state mapping and the future state mapping allows time
for gestation, and improves creativity. Likewise, if the team becomes stuck, a break can often
Non-Value Added Events
A facilitator should normally address the non-value added events first. These have
usually been ignored for years, there are many of them and they may be surprisingly easy and
inexpensive to eliminate.
►Moves and Delays
Moves and delays are likely to constitute the largest category of NVA elements. Point out
that these are related. Moves usually have a delay waiting for the move and a delay after the
move before the next event. Batching also produces delays.
The usual remedy for moves and delays is to move workstations together, often in a
workcell. Sometimes process events can
be combined as when a machinist performs deburr during the next machine cycle.
If batching cannot be eliminated, smaller
batches produce shorter delays. If moves cannot be eliminated, smaller more frequent moves
produce shorter delays.
Inspections are also problematic. In some cases they are simply unnecessary. In others,
an inspector does inspections that operators could easily do as part of the process. When
product must wait for an official inspector, there is, inevitably, a batch and delay.
Handling events are infrequent but often easy to eliminate. They usually appear when batches
of mixed product are sorted. It is often possible to maintain segregation of the product
originally and eliminate the sorting.
Storage may occur infrequently but storage and
carrying cost is usually
high. Moreover, accounting systems often do not capture the true
storage cost. Some storages
disappear when operations are brought together. In other situations, the amount of storage can
be reduced by more frequent delivery or kanban.
Value Added Events
Value added events such as turning, casting, soldering and assembly have usually been studied
closely. Accounting and management systems focus on them. Moreover, they often require new
equipment, extensive investigation and changes involving engineering, quality or other
For the above reasons, a team usually addresses such changes in a second phase after
improving the NVA events.
When it is necessary to examine value added processes, this often arises from a need for
multiple, smaller-scale processes for workcells. Quality issues may also force an early
examination of the value added events. Finally, some improvements to value added processes can
be made quickly and cheaply and these should not be ignored.
As facilitator, look for leverage points. These are events that, if changed lead to very
large improvements or untangle a complex situation. Leverage points are often accepted as inevitable and unchangeable. They may be the
conventional wisdom. As a facilitator, you have a unique position to question and provoke new
►Focus on Value Added Events
Ask for additional ideas on the value added events in a formal or informal brainstorming
session. Have the group classify them by whether or not they could be implemented quickly.
Identify value added events that have large improvement opportunities. Such events May:
Have large wastes or quality problems
Create associated NVA events
Need to be scaled down for workcells
Once the various potential improvements are identified, lead the group towards consensus on
the following questions:
►Develop an Action Plan
Help the group develop their action plan. This may include additional meetings or a different