I always start any project with a few days of information gathering about the operations so that I’ll know a bit of the culture and local language when I get to the leadership planning steps. The info gathering phase is always enjoyable as I get to know the folks within the client organization and tell them what I have in mind. During the info gathering I always come across conditions and situations that, on the one hand, are easily addressed but, on the other, I fear that the client will think, “Is that all you’ve got?” when I bring it up.
I had the latter experience a few years ago. I was strongly encouraging a client to implement workplace organization and visual factory methods in the plant. The thing was, the plant was reasonably clean and organized but just in the usual “decent housekeeping” way that plants sometimes are. The managers didn’t refuse to take me up on my suggestions but didn’t seem to have much energy in implementing 5S. They seemed primarily interested in “cost savings kaizens”. (They couldn’t tell me what savings had come from past kaizens, or even how “cost savings” were to be measured, but that’s another story.)