During our first class, we got to do our first exercise. This exercise was making the paper puppets. Though I was not involved with the workers or even the timer guys. I was observing the whole operation. The teacher acted like the project manager, and 5 class colleagues were doing the assembly line workers job.
During this exercise, each worker was given a task to be done. The teacher was putting pressure on them as she was acting like the project manager. As a result, they were trying hard to finish as much paper puppets as possible. I was observing the behavior of each worker, since the last three workers were sitting idle until the second worker finishes her job. Her task was a longer task than the rest, thus she was a bottleneck. The class was fun and we have learned a lot.
Some of what we have learned from this class was:
- The way you layout the operations space, is going to influence the production and product quality, it even influences the communication between the workers. During our exercise, though they were close to each other, each worker was only talking to the one right next to him/her.
- During the exercise, the first worker tried to optimize the way he worked but the project manager which is the teacher told him to follow the process. This teaches us that if we ever want to re-engineer a process, we need to talk to the workers. They see the obstacles, they most probably know how to optimize their work.
- During the exercise, the workers found defected paper, but due to the pressure, they passed it on just to finish the process. What we could learn from this, when project managers or management puts so much pressure on workers, workers will have ethical issues and lead to high rate of defected products.
- After we were done with the exercise, the teacher asked the workers how did they feel about their work load. Some said they were doing so much work, others said they didn’t have to do much. It is probably one of most faced issue with operation workers. Work isn’t divided equally among workers.
- We also have discussed what we could have done to help our second worker which she had more complicated work to do, we have came with so many solutions which seemed to help, like hiring one more worker with her. Or distributing the work among other workers too.