Last time we left off discussing Kaikaku which refers to a radical change, in contrast to Kaizen, which involves continuous minor changes of a certain area or system. Kaikaku produces a radical change in an entire business. Kaikaku is normally initiated by management as a way of introducing new knowledge, new strategies, new approaches, new techniques or new equipment. While Kaikaku can sometimes be initiated by external factors like market conditions or the emergence of new technology or market conditions, it is normally initiated when management observes that on-going Kaizen work is beginning to stagnate and no longer provides adequate results. Kaikaku takes the form of ‘projects’, and these projects take on one of four different realms:
- Locally innovative, Capital intensive Projects - Such projects are strategically grounded in the realization that they could result in higher costs. An example of such a project might include the initial installation of robots in a factory.
- Locally innovative, Operation close Projects – Such projects typically involve relatively small direct costs. An example might include implementation of Lean Manufacturing concepts.
- Radically innovative, Capital intensive Projects – Such projects are born and implemented around concepts of ‘forward thinking’, being ‘the first’, and ‘making a mark’ within an industry. An example of such a Kaikaku project might be the implementation of innovative new production technologies, not used previously within the industry.
- Radically innovative, Operation close Projects – While such projects may at least appear to be smaller in scope, they are still founded in ‘forward, dare to be different thinking’.
I’m going to take these Kaikaku projects and apply them in Disney-like fashion. Note, I am not saying ‘Disney projects’ used these principles, but this is where, as far as I am concerned, 'attractions' come in to play, for me. (OK, perhaps you now see that my use of "attractions" is a play on words to get your attention.)
An example of a locally innovative, capital intensive project might have been the early-on implementation of the ‘tram system’ at the Disneyland theme park to get patrons to/from their cars and the park entrance. Obviously it cost Disney in terms of both capital expense and operating costs, but it improved the overall experience of the patrons, and in the long run, probably attracted more visitors who said ‘we no longer have to walk almost a mile from where we park to get to the gate.’
An example of a locally innovative, operation close project might have been the addition of a 2nd line at most food vendor locations. One line enters from each direction and both reach a center location where the food orders are taken and fulfilled, then patrons then take their food and exit from that central location. It took a little imagination to go from the old ‘cafeteria line’ philosophy of one person in a single line after the next, as well as a little extra in manpower costs, but again the overall experience of the patrons was enhanced through two shorter lines at each location, rather than one longer line.
Radically innovative, capital intensive projects is of course exemplified in Walt’s idea to go all the way across the country from California, to the middle of a swamp in central Florida, and out of nothing but capital, innovation and sheer will, build Disney World. Not just another ‘Magic Kingdom’ Disneyland copy, but a completely different, unique and first ever ‘theme world’ (really multiple theme worlds) providing an all-inclusive experience.
Disney Florida Project
I can think of ‘a lot’ of radically innovative, operation close projects, and the extent to which they might have been ‘capital intensive’ from a research and development standpoint can be debated, but over the long haul that initial R&D spread from one ‘attraction’ to another. I am of course talking about Disney’s ‘audio-animatronics’ which is a form of computer controlled robot animation that was first used in bringing artificial birds to life in ‘The Enchanted Tiki Room’, and then tears to the eyes of those who witnessed a life-like Abraham Lincoln rise and recite the Gettysburg Address. This technology, in new and improved ways, has gone on to ‘animate’ hundreds of attractions at Disney facilities.
Disney Original Animatronics
Do my four ‘Disney examples’ fit the Kaikaku project definition? In my way of thinking they clearly do, even if Kaikaku wasn’t on the mind of Disney when they implemented such projects. Perhaps the last example, regarding ‘audio-animatronics’ (later shortened to just ‘animatronics’) goes well beyond Kaikaku, for it also demonstrates the ‘use of automation as a feature of machine design (intelligent automation), which is a principle of Jidoka.
I am dating myself again, but back in 1973, there was a science-fiction western-thriller called Westworld, a film written and directed by Michael Crichton, about a theme park full of cowboy robots. The robots in Westworld begin experiencing breakdowns and systemic failures; when a patron challenges the Gunslinger (robot) to ‘a showdown at high noon’, the robot outdraws the patron (contrary design programming), shoots and kills the park visitor. In other words, the ‘safeguards’ that were intended to separate the ‘machines’ from the ‘humans’ were failing. So why do I mention Westworld, because this movie illustrates a lack of Jidoka.
Several years later, in Crichton’s story, Jurassic Park, about genetically re-created dinosaurs in a theme park, one character (Professor Malcolm) would make a remark with flavors of both Westworld, as well as Disney’s animatronic attractions, “But if the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don't eat the tourists.”
Pirates of the Caribbean - Conceptual Rendition
I am certain we have all been to Disney attractions where the sign reads, ‘Attraction temporarily out of service'; even though the parks do everything possible to keep attractions available, they still shut-down attractions when things ‘just aren’t right.’ In all of the Disney attractions the machines (animatronics) and the patrons (human visitors) are separated through distance, barriers and mechanisms, to not only prevent incidents, but also aid in the detection of abnormalities.
Under the principles of Jidoka, the common causes of operational incidents are:
- Inappropriate operating procedures
- Excessive variation in operations
- Human or Machine error
Accordingly, operational control should stop the process when something is wrong based upon:
- health and safety concerns
- quality problem or alerts
- equipment issue(s)
- operational lack or overload
These concepts are fundamental to Jidoka which also dictates a firm process in response to failures in automation:
- Detect abnormalities
- Stop the process/activity
- Fix or correct the abnormality
- Investigate the root cause and implement countermeasure(s)
In this context it's easy to see how we can apply these concepts of 'Lean' to everything from Manufacturing to Project Management and even Theme-park Management. I bet those guys at Westworld and Jurassic Park wished they had followed some of these fundamentals (they might still be in the theme-park business, ha ha.)
Well now you know my 'attractions to lean'. I would bet when you realize that some of your favorite Disney parks, attractions, rides, and features have concepts that are exemplary of these principles, you will have a newly appreciated 'attraction for lean', even if you don't have a thing to do with 'manufacturing, production or warehousing'.