Grace Bourke's Blog

  • Kitting reduces setup time

  • Low-hanging fruit

    While I was taking an early morning walk, a patch of ripe blackberries caught my eye – a tasty treat of low-hanging fruit. As I sampled the ripe berries, my thoughts went to a time at work where our team didn’t see the low-hanging fruit.

  • Self-care

    Take a breath…pause for just a moment and take a deep breath. My family is in the final hours of preparing for a wedding, and the days have been long, intense, and emotional. Everyone is giving 100 percent. As we were jumping from one important activity to another, I remembered an experience I had last week of pausing to smell the roses.

  • Perfect takes practice

    Feeling adventurous, I went ocean kayaking. Having paddled before, I thought I was capable. As the professional instructor demonstrated the correct way to hold the paddle, I learned that my grip and arm position were wrong. Adjusting, I was ready to learn to paddle. I struggled with the correct movements, especially a flip back of the left wrist which I kept doing as a forward twist. The instructor coached me a few times before saying, “You’ll get it when you’re on the water.”

  • Step in, step up

    Recently, a team was doing a 5S workshop. A 5S workshop (sort, set in order, shine, standardize, sustain) is an intensive week-long event that is a fundamental step to implementing lean process improvements. It involves letting go of treasure/junk that has accumulated as a safety net. Then, everything is put in place, cleaned, inspected, made predictable, andmaintained through auditing and 5-minute daily touch-ups. The process has been described as “bone crunching” or “gut wrenching” for the teams as they build consensus and make many, many tough decisions. It’s always a challenge.

  • Detours

  • Fail fast

    During a weekend photography class, I had the opportunity to try a unique lens. We took pictures in the morning, critiqued at lunch, took pictures at sunset, self-reflected, and repeated. In the space of a weekend, we had four rounds of experiments using PDCA (plan–do–check–act).

  • Plan–do–check–act (PDCA)

    In the 1950s, Dr. W. Edwards Deming presented the plan–do–check–act cycle[1] for learning and improvement, based on the continuous improvement cycle of his mentor, Dr. Walter Shewhart. PDCA is four steps for applying the scientific method to any size challenge, problem, or opportunity and to learn from the experience.

  • Go and see, again

    Same river as before, but a different day. And I went again the next day, to another part of the river with another dam. Each time, the view and experience were different. This time, there was heavy equipment on the dam doing maintenance. I like this as a reminder that workflows, like the infrastructure of roads, bridges, and dams, need maintenance. “Go and see” means seeing if the workplace is tidy, is standard work being followed, does the standard work fit? Are there new issues?

  • Go and see

    A key concept in lean (which can be used in any part of life) is to go see what is happening and watch to understand. Yesterday, after seeing a video of the river overflowing the dam, I went to see for myself. Persevering over the long trek was worth it; seeing the falls in person was a different experience. The view was bigger in person—360 degrees of view. I could see where the water flowed, how the logs on top were held back to protect the dam, and the new safety fencing. The sound was thundering. There was a crowd of at least 10 people watching and taking photos.