Your understanding of the term value field (which I defined and discussed in last week’s issue) is a mighty lever in your pursuit of motion and therefore your detection of information deficits at work—the invisible enemy. Your value field is where work happens, where you add value. That means when you are not in your value field, you cannot be working—and you are therefore in motion; you are moving and not adding value. Remember the two types of value fields? Type 1 is your primary value field: where work happens. Type 2 refers to your secondary fields: functions that support the work but is not the work.
Discovering the difference between the two can be a quite an adventure—and exactly what happened at Skyworks Solutions, a semi-conductor plant in the Boston area. I was training a dozen Bonding Cell associates in visual order (aka, visual where).
The early step of the process was for operators to notice and track their motion. In part, that meant people had to locate their value field—where each person added value. When asked where that was, to a person, they said: “My value field is my department.” “Very good,” said I. “And so what does that make your motion?” They caught on immediately. “Motion,” they chorused, “is whenever we leave our department.” Perfect. I passed out the memo pads.
Here’s your 3-part action assignment: 1) Notice when you leave the department. Track the times and the reasons—what causes you to leave your value field. 2) Figure out ways to bring as many of those causes as possible back into your work area: Reduce your motion. 3) Put the causes you bring back into excellent visual order: apply borders + addresses + ID labels.
And they did. They discovered seven reasons they left the Bonding Cell: get parts or a special tool or a work order—or wash parts in a nearby vented sink, etc. They brought all but one (washing parts in that sink) into the cell and put them in perfect visual order. “Excellent,” said I and asked: “Are you done? Have you mastered the value field? Have you defeated the enemy?” The room was silent with people thinking. Bernice Santos, a bonding specialist, spoke: “You know, I’m not so sure my value field is this cell. I think my real value field might be…. my workbench. That’s really where I add value.” Nods all around.
BINGO! The group had drilled deeper and re-defined what “value field” meant. Each associate knew what to do next: Track when I leave my bench (my newly-defined value field) and the reasons I leave it. Bring those causes into my value field. Put them into visual order. And that’s just what people did as the new learning rolled over to a finer focus and the principles and practices used in the first phase were applied to the next. Very little coaching was needed. People were self-led.
A few weeks later, we reconvened to appreciate the progress—which was splendid. And the moment came for me to ask the inevitable question: “Are you done? Have you eliminated motion from your value field? Nods all around. “Shall we check?” I asked. So we set up a video and taped Paulette Benedictus, the v eteran bonder who volunteered for the spotlight.
Later that day, everyone gathered and watched the video. What excitement! Would the tape reveal success—or not? All eyes in that darkened room were on the screen, looking to see if Paulette would leave her bench. Would she be triggered into motion? As we watched the tape, we suddenly saw something shocking—so shocking that we all gasped in unison and loudly. What did we see? This:
- Paulette peers into her electron microscope, working away
- Paulette’s hand reaches for something
- Her hand reaches further, fingers straining
- Paulette looks up—GASP!!!!
Paulette was in motion without ever leaving her chair! She looked up! Suddenly, motion was no longer leaving the department. Motion was not even leaving the workbench. Suddenly motion had become losing visual contact with the work. Motion in the Bonding Cell was once again re-defined. In a single moment in that darkened room, with 13 pairs of eyes staring at the screen, every single person understood what they had not known before: That the real value field in the Bonding Department was the postage-stamp size platform at the base of the microscope. All motion had to be measured from there. Let the workplace speak!