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Changepoint Management

Change should not be a gamble. It should be a scientific process. Yet, many gambles on change. We change randomly. We change everything at once.

In TPS, there is this terminology called “Change Point Management.”

There are two types of “Changepoint management.”

First is intentional changepoint management. 【変更点管理】

The second is unintentional changepoint management. 【変化点管理】

Regardless of the type, the essence is simple. Focus on the change point. Do not change anything other than the change points.

Kaizen is continuous change. We are not asking to gamble every day. We are asking for small scientific changes every day.

So what is your change point today?

The two companies came to an identical conclusion. They need to change. They need a new factory with a new culture. One approached drastically. On top of the new factory, they added new products, machinery, and suppliers. The result was that the factory does not exist today. The other focused on new people. They used the same product, machines, and suppliers. The only change was on the man on the 4Ms. The result is that the approach of the new factory became a model for them to open new factories.

We hear many stories of change. The more dramatic it is, they appear in the media. Heroes were born. Myths will be created. Unfortunately, the more non-scientific it becomes, it means nothing to us. We can’t duplicate. It becomes one successful magical story that never happens in real life.

Kaizen is a scientific change process. Some treat it like magic, but it is not. And “Changepoint management” is vital to support Kaizen activities.

There are two types of “Changepoint management.”

First is intentional changepoint management. 【変更点管理】

The second is unintentional changepoint management. 【変化点管理】

The intential changepoint management is strategically introducing new people, products, materials, machines, and methods. The management should have a plan to introduce such changes constantly. Only try to introduce these changes one at a time. Or, if you have to, make sure that the owner of the changepoint is clear. Vaguely defined responsibility will lead to chaos.

The unintentional changepoint management is like absent, change of orders, material switch etc. We should have a standardized process and resources to handle those changes. It can’t be random changes. There should be a process of absent care process and substitution personnel. Change of orders, even from a customer, should follow the rules. Any materials or machine switches should be done only within pre-approved options only. Although the ideal is to focus only on intentional, in the real world, unintentional changes happen. The faster we get out of unintentional and focusing on deliberate changes is what successful change organizations are doing.

Both management highlights the changepoint before the work starts. This means that the standards for everything are clear and precise. Any difference from the standard must be clear. And we only change those inputs that were highlighted. The rest of the process keeps the standard. This way, we can keep control of cause and effect—no need for blaming games.

Kaizen is about making small changes and moving toward significant change. What to Kaizen needs to be highlighted through observations. Once highlighted, we keep the rest of the standard. We change one thing at a time. But because we change something every day, the sum of change becomes significant. Without changepoint management, people won’t be able to focus on Kaizen. If Kaizen is not happening, it might be because there are too many unintentional changepoints. Without controlling those changepoints, it is not fair to expect Kaizen.

So, what is your change point today?

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