When a company embarks on the Lean journey, the most important question that they need to continually ask themselves is: “What do we need to do to succeed with this implementation?” 

 It is to assist you in answering this question that we offer you these thoughts. They are by no means comprehensive.


Lean principles focus on the involvement of the people of the company in directly applying the principles and managing their departments and areas of responsibility. They are given the opportunity of not only observing and considering the work done in their departments but also of focusing on their own jobs and how they can improve the productivity and efficiencies of their work. This is a true statement but is must be understood in its correct context in whatever company it is being implemented.

There is also no contest in stating that a company does not need Lean principles to understand the importance of employees doing the work they are hired to do, measuring their outputs and continually improving these outputs based on the results of the KPI’s that are required.

If this is also a true statement, why, then, should a company embark on this Lean journey?


A company can be compared to a well-oiled machine. Every part, large or small, needs to work in harmony, in concert with each other in order for the overall result to be achieved. It is the operation of this ‘machine’ that needs to be looked at to ensure that it is producing the optimum results, not only what it was designed to achieve (its reason for being in business) but more importantly, to ensure that it is operating at its optimum efficiency.

We are aware that a motorcar, a machine, can perform its fundamental task of transporting people/goods from point A to B safely and reliably. However, we all know that in many instances, because of a lack of maintenance, worn tires, not being tuned regularly, that the same car can perform differently depending on the above factors and many others. While maintenance is performed by the owners, there comes a time when expert attention is required.

In a company, the most important measure of efficiency and productivity is how well the supply chain is operating. But, more importantly, how well that supply chain is fulfilling the needs of service, quality, safety and reliability to its customer base and it is being properly serviced by its suppliers.

Companies cannot provide the service/product they are founded to provide unless they can also measure how well the supply chain is providing and delivering the desired results.

Enter Lean principles! 

These principles do not, in any way, decry what a company is presently doing to be successful. But upon self-reflection and in the light of outside influences such as the present world financial situation, increased competition, revealed difficulties in its overall performance etc., your company decided to go a step further and begin the process of re-examining the way in which you do business, your methods and protocols, in order to determine if you are performing to the level that you need to in order to remain competitive and increase profitability.


The Lean principles of manufacturing and management are simple tools to provide this measurement.  While companies are expert in measuring their performance and examining their operations, there are certain measurements provided through the Lean principles that companies are not only not measuring but are also perhaps unaware that there are other important metrics that need to be measured.

The most important measurement that Lean offers a company is measuring the relationship between internal and external customers and internal and external suppliers. This is a measurement that needs to be known by everybody in every department.

Why is this the most important measurement?

As with a motorcar, its performance depends on the synergy that exists between its various parts. Using another analogy that a chain is as strong as its weakest link, nowadays brings the answer into sharp focus. The smooth operation of the supply chain is what enables the company to obtain its desired outputs, to maintain and increase of its customer base, to ensure the reliability of its suppliers and manage a well-oiled process of maintaining a smooth operation.


The introduction of the above measures (charts) for each department is the tool whereby each department measures its effect on their customers whether internal or external and the effect of their suppliers on them, whether internal or external. While departments are aware of shortcomings when they occur and try to fix the issues as they arise, the lack of daily or weekly measures of these occurrences and the lack of embedding the solutions to the issues in their processes so that they do not re-occur, is what is missing in most companies. The result is that the same issues are dealt with over and over again impinging on the efficiency and productivity of their departments and in many cases, their individual outputs.

The ability of a company to manage this inter-relationship between customers and suppliers both internal and external is a fundamental way to improve their productivity and efficiency.

The difficulty with the above tool is that in many respects it requires a cultural change within the company. The obstacles that can be encountered are as follows:  There could be a tendency to see the negative data on the charts as a blame process; or to misunderstand the intent and regard the display of the data as questioning the ability or integrity of the person/s involved. Even more serious could be the misunderstanding that this is a way to eventually gather evidence to remove a person/s from their position.  It can also be misunderstood as a negative reflection on the way in which managers performs their duties.


Notwithstanding the reality that the above concerns that need to be addressed and dealt with when implementing Lean principles, the only purpose for introducing the measurement of the relationship between customer and supplier is to determine what is going right, what is going wrong and if so, what the people producing this data can do to fix it.

If a customer is unhappy with what they are being presented with, the unhappiness is not to be taken as a negative criticism of the person/s providing the service or product, but rather becomes the opportunity of ensuring that the customer is not expecting something that was never intended to be delivered and/or to ensure that the person/s did actually provide what they said they would provide.

The charts/measurements simply present a snapshot of what is actually taking place. The way in which the data is dealt with depends on the people who are viewing the data with the understanding that the data is designed to help continuously improve the outputs by resolving the issues.

The QCDSM/SQCDM system implements what is called the Green Room meeting structure to provide this information on a daily or weekly basis. The above charts – Customer/Supplier measures -are grouped under the title, Quality Charts.

The setting up of Cost, Delivery, and Safety charts follow the same principles but is not the subject of this paper.


Mixed in with these measurements, of course, is the opportunity provided for the people observing the data to ask some simple questions: ‘Is this the most efficient way to do this?’ ‘Can we improve on our outputs?’ Et alia.

The most important benefit resulting from the introduction of these measurements is the opportunity that is now provided to the people of the area to offer ideas and suggestions on how to improve, change, eliminate etc. what they are viewing. This is a very practical way of involving the people in taking responsibility for the efficiency and productivity of their areas. The removal of bottlenecks, of stress points, while ensuring proper safety and understanding their responsibilities towards their customers is how Lean principles will be institutionalised in the company.

Ideas and suggestions are the lifeblood of the Lean principles and become THE measure for a company on how well it’s principles are operating.


Let us return, now, to the original question: “What do we need to do to succeed with this implementation?”

The tool that QCD Systems LTD will give you is the structure of different levels of meetings. All the above initially takes place in the First Level Green Room meetings. However, the success of the First Level meetings can only be assured if the leader of those meetings representing the people of that area have a method of escalating what they find to be their concerns which they cannot resolve.

This is dealt with in the Second Level meeting. This meeting is critical to the success of the first level simply because it controls three important and critical factors. Firstly, it manages the performance of the first level. Secondly, it monitors and coaches the first level so that it is performing as it should. The third factor is that it acts as the go-between between the Third Level and First Level meetings.

The first level leaders and eventually their people need to know that the work they are doing is not only appreciated but that they have a forum in which to escalate their concerns and their problems which they know will be dealt with, if necessary, at the very top of the organisation. Without that assurance, the process will fail.

Added to this, is the Third Level meeting. The same principles apply with this meeting but the greatest benefit is that in both the second and third level meetings, the leaders of these meetings are freed up from the details so that they can attend to their own KPIs and those of their departments.  They are able to do this because as a result of their meeting they will know that their departments etc. are being managed accordingly.

Again, this also applies to the 4thand 5thlevel meetings if required. This structure and the templates for the agendas of all these meetings which we provide, is the backbone of the QCDSM/SQCDM Lean process. If this structure is not in place and operating efficiently and regularly, the first levels will eventually collapse. As the level of meetings increase, so the details that used to be part of their meetings are diminished as the whole purpose of Lean is to push the responsibilities down to the level that must deal with the issue.  The upper levels deal will then be freed up to focus on overall policy, protocols, major decision-making issues and priorities.


In over 35 years of implementing these Lean principles in many different companies and countries throughout the world, when asked what is the best way to get this done, our answer is very simple.  ‘Just do it!’

The Try Z Seminar

 We are strong believers in demonstrating what we are describing and recommending!

We have developed a 2.5 day hands-on seminar during which the participants are able to apply the structure and lean principles we are recommending. We present them with 15 plastic units each containing 65 different parts – plastic, nuts, bolts, washers and other items.  The task is to initially give them a flawed procedure to build 15 of these units using 6 operators in a production line. By following the process to the letter after training etc, and measuring the results, the participants are given an opportunity of identifying the issues and of rewriting, amending the original procedure to incorporate what they have learned from the result and the measurements obtained. The results and their performance as well as that of the procedures is displayed on relevant charts.

They will be given an opportunity to ‘try out’ their amended procedure in a second build. They will then be given a final procedure to build 15 defect free units in a recognised acceptable time frame using a correct and tested procedure. The object of this 3rdproduction run is to prove that proper training, proper procedures and the correct layout etc. will produce the required result.

It is a remarkable seminar and having presented over 400 of these worldwide, it is regarded by every company we have worked with as the clincher proving why they need the process in their company.

By the way, after every ‘build’, the cars’ performance is tested down a track. Each unit must pass the fifth bollard, in other words, run straight down the track.

 Against your instincts, at times, against your present method of management, etc., just follow the structure that QCD recommended and after you have done it for a while with the understanding that customisations of the agendas etc. will inevitably occur, the company will have a structure in place that will enable it to reach the productivity and efficiency goals that it’s KPI are designed to achieve.

Each manager will have done this by marshalling the remarkable expertise and enthusiasm of the people that make up the company. Each manager will have the confidence in knowing that whatever policy changes, process changes, business decisions that need to be taken that he/she will now have a structure in place which will ensure that the issues will be uniformly explained and implemented.

Please visit our web site: www.qcdsm.com

info@qcdsm.com +64 27 474 3357


QCD Systems LTD has been implementing the QCDSM/SQCDM system of Lean Manufacturing and Management principles into companies on all five continents for the last 35 years. QCD Systems LTD is the New Zealand branch of the company and was registered in 2008.



Over these years we have come into contact with many different systems purporting to be quality improvement and employee involvement systems. Observing their performance we have concluded that the only way to ensure that productivity and efficiency improvements in all aspects of a company’ become sustainable especially after the consultants have departed, is to embed the process where it belongs, i.e. with the people of the company.

Focused on the Employees

True employee involvement means that they become the promotors, controllers and guardians of their work and in this way are able to manage the outputs in their areas of operation. This also applies to the management structure of a company where the responsibility is ‘pushed down’ as it were, to where it belongs. The management structure must facilitate the involvement of the people and uses the same principles to manage their functions.

QCDSM/SQCDM, therefore, focuses on the people of the various departments within a company and sets up a methodology to enable them to measure how well their procedures are performing. One of the other functions, of many, is their ability to measure their customer/supplier relationships within the supply chain of the company by using their ideas and suggestions to continuously improve it. Of course, their safety will be paramount in their decision. The major difference with QCDSM/SQCDM is the methodical involvement of the people using up to the minute data recorded on the charts in their daily, weekly Green Room meetings.


Building strong relationships within the department and between departments is the key to this System’s success. Why this is so important is because the day-to-day management of a department in manufacturing, for example, relies on the interaction between the employees in order to solve the problems and issues that arise. Working together to do this is very important and therefore a free and trustful sharing of ideas and suggestions must be present. The same applies to the administration departments. Another vital aspect is to keep track of and manage/respond to both the external and internal customer concerns. The Green Room meetings are the places where this is recorded and managed.

The Green Room meeting process

QCDSM/SQCDM works in a very simple way. Each department or area – depending on the size and organization of the company – sets up what is called Green Room meetings. These are held daily at the beginning of shifts in manufacturing, or weekly at mutually agreed times in service and administration areas.

The daily meetings are referred to as the 1st Level meetings. The purpose of the meeting is to measure the performance of their processes in producing the product or service since last they met. The visual charts in their meeting place reflect how well the procedures they use are performing within their area. They also measure how well they have supplied their customer/s and how well their supplier/s are supplying them. The system then sets up a method of communication between customers and suppliers to resolve the issues. At the heart of all these methods is the concern for safety and how well the safety procedures are being maintained.

In this way, when negative measures are recorded, the people of the area now have the opportunity of solving the issue/s using their expertise and experience. This is usually reflected in the ideas and suggestions that they offer and which are recorded in a database.

The same process applies to the management structure through the 2nd Level and 3rd Level or higher meetings and so on depending on the size of the company. These are set up according to a set of rules as their purpose is to ensure upward movement of issues and downward support and decision-making.

In every company we have worked in over these years this simple methodology engages the people and especially their managers in controlling their areas. Their productivity and efficiency levels increase remarkably.

Below is an example of a Green Room meeting. Notice the selection of charts. If you recall the main purpose of the exercise is to ensure that their procedures are being followed and are producing the results intended. The Q.C.D.S.M. set of charts is designed to give accurate feedback to the employees of the area.(A  company may decide to begin the meetings with Safety, hence S.Q.C.D.M.)

The Quality charts measure the performance of the supply chain. It contains 4 sets of three charts. Internal and External Customer Concerns (issues from Internal and External Customers and Suppliers), Defects Received and Defects Produced. The Cost and Delivery charts ensure budgets are met and customers are satisfied. The Safety and Environmental measurement charts ensure that the employees are following safety procedures and the Idea/Suggestion tablet becomes the discussion centre for the employees to become involved in problem solving and continuous improvement.

Each measurement in every section, e.g. Defects Received in the Quality section, has three separate charts to record the issue. The first chart is the RAW DATA chart.  This is simply to record the accumulation of issues in a vertical column posted for the next meeting. The vertical axis reflects the number of incidents, e.g. from 0 to 50, perhaps numbered in suitable increments. The horizontal axis shows the days of the week in the months. Each day is a column. (See the next picture below.)  Above is a typical Green Room wall with a set of charts for 1 area of one department. E.g. Finance, HR, Mixing, Packaging etc. Each wall has a section for Idea and Suggestions and also for Environmental issues.


The centre chart in every category is the Matrix Chart. This chart records  any defect from an Internal and/or External SUPPLIER and lists each defect n the left side and itemises each day of the month it was received.. It is a monthly chart and records the days on which the issues occurred. HERE IS AN EXAMPLE OF A SET OF 3 CHARTS.

GRM DefR Web

The next picture is taken from a department in a company and it shows a Matrix chart filled in with data.

Look at the example on the chart referencing: ‘Change Order from Customer Service.’.

The 3rd chart is known as The YTD -Year to Date chart and records every issue each day with a vertical bar each vertical cell is an issue on that day.

The top chart of the 3, the RAW DATA chart, shows the issues every day for the month. The Pareto or MATRIX chart – center chart, defines each issue. The bottom chart summarises the events per month.

The Idea/Suggestion process

Why gather people together daily or weekly and have them discuss their performance? Perhaps the simplest but the most important reason is to give them the opportunity of recognizing the issues that their customers have and whether their suppliers are giving them what is required and that they have the means to rectify these if within their control. They have the option of escalating the issue if they cannot resolve it. This is why the Idea/Suggestion tablet in the Green Room meeting is so important. It is the data that the people of the area need to see to address the issues that they are creating or issues that are being imposed on them and outside their control. The ability to deal with these issues – the data from the charts – and resolve them is the reason why having meetings daily and weekly are necessary.

How does it work?

Every time an issue arises as seen on any one of the set of charts during the meetings, the opportunity of getting the people involved in their resolution is made possible. They cannot deal with every issue in one meeting. They select the top five and begin the process of dealing with these. BUT, the role of the Leader is to ensure that the issues received by the area are monitored and prioritized. Perhaps an issue cannot be resolved, but it surely can be diminished until a full resolution is obtained. This is why the Idea/Suggestion Tablet and process is critical to a well-run meeting and department.

Below is an example of a print out of the database recording the ideas in the Green Room. The colour GREEN shows which have been implemented. Yellow – the ideas are in the process of implementation and examination. Red, not implemented at present but will be referred to at a later date if feasible. The health of the Green Room meeting is reflected in the performance of resolving issues through the direct involvement of the people in the meeting.

Here is an example of an Idea/Suggestion Tablet used in the Green Room.  Each week the raw Tablet on which Ideas/Suggestions are manually posted can be printed out in this format if wanted. Otherwise the tablet will remain in the handwritten mode.

(Click on the blue link below. Another link appears click on that to view the Tablet. Use the return arrow at the top that page to return to this page.

I&S Status

Another example:

ICC:ECC Stabi copy.png

The Try Z seminar

This is the Unit

As with all methods or systems, there must be a starting point. Our starting point is the presentation of a 2.5-day seminar called Try Z during which the participants are able to actually use our LEAN methodology in a classroom environment. www.qcdsm.com

By focusing on building 15 plastic model cars in a production line (these models are made up of 68 different parts for each model) the focus on productivity and efficiency improvements is on the development of efficient, simple and all-encompassing procedures which are tested, trained and monitored to ensure a Lean supply chain. The purpose is to set up a production line with 6 operators to produce 15 units with no defects and which run straight down a set up track – repeated 3 times.

The seminar incorporates many opportunities to understand how the removal of waste enables higher productivity and efficiencies, for example, how workplace organisation is essential; how the interaction between customers and suppliers is critical for a smooth operation and finally how Safety and Environmental practices enhance the process. In every group we have trained the quality improvements are in the region of 90-100% after 3 attempts. After each production run a Green Room meeting is held and the charts displayed on the wall of the training room reflect virtually every aspect of the production run. These charts record not only the time per unit, but also the time per station, the quality at each station etc.

Productivity improvements are between 25 – 33% percent. Groups that have had absolutely no previous knowledge on how to assemble or ‘fix’ these models let alone set up a production environment have achieved the improvement.  They are able to witness that their involvement in writing the DPS (Detailed Process Sheets) documents and training the operators to perform their procedures can and does result in improved quality together with improved productivity and efficiency at the same time.

The Try Z Seminar, while using a production type model, is applicable to each and every department in a company. This learning trains and utilizes many Lean tools. It reveals to the participants how practical it is to control their areas and how their expertise, accompanied by expert knowledge, is able to help them to continuously improve the work they are performing. It also reveals how important the customer/supplier relationship of the supply chain is within the company as well as between their immediate and external customers and suppliers where applicable. After this initial first step, the company will now have a group of employees and managers who have experienced how Lean tools work and will be able to use this experience and knowledge in their own areas. This is where a company can move to the second step to set up the process of QCDSM/SQCDM in their facility.

As a company, we regard our commitment to implementing this methodology to be very important. We have a long record of continuous involvement with companies we have worked in. We look forward to the opportunity of working with you in your company and presenting you with a methodology for continuous improvement through direct employee involvement or assisting you in maintaining and sustaining the process after a period of implementation.

Below are a few of the measurements used to indicate to the participants the process of QCDSM/SQCDM. {Please go to our web site – www.qcdsm.com– and click on the tab – Try Z Seminars.

The final run: The World record – 0 Defects 1066 seconds.

The chart below sees the incremental but remarkable improvement from the 1stProduction run. No one in the group had seen or worked with these units. They are made up of 68 different parts – plastic plates, nuts, washers bolts, ball bearing wheels etc. and they had to develop procedures to build 15 of these units with 3 production runs. They are allowed 6 operators and each production run there must be 6 different operators.

PowerBar, January 28th, 1999.

The first attempt results were: 2557seconds with140defects;

2nd run -Reduced to 1846 seconds with  45defects.

They rewrote their procedures:

 3rdrun     1066 seconds with 0 defects.

 The World Record has not been  broken yet from PowerBar in Boise, Idaho.


QCDSM to provide training support online

We have used Skype and Hightail. The latter enables us to manage customer’s projector from our computer using the WiFi process. We then conduct the training to the assembled people.  This is a very good option also for follow-up and maintenance.

In today’s highly competitive world every company is seeking ways to reach out to their customers, improve their market share and grow their businesses and finally, are very concerned that they have their people fully involved. No matter what decisions are taken to achieve these goals, little progress can be made in their implementation without the full participation of ALL members of the company. Empowering and enabling employees to not only share their goals but to actively participate and promote them is the greatest challenge to this success.

Consistent Quality, Competitive Cost, On Time Delivery, Excellent Safety and High Employee Morale are goals that are obtainable provided you have the process in place to achieve it. QCD Systems has developed this process and has had over 35 years experience in transferring this expertise to companies in many countries. We are very eager to share this process with you, contact us today to find out how we help you take your company to the next level.