Tuesday, January 3, 2012

TQM Training Video - Learn Lean by Stacking Chairs

The video below shows a group of people stacking chairs. The simple task of moving chairs from one spot to another has been broken down into fundamental steps, analysed and improved. The different methods used show how a lean approach and the fundamentals of Total Quality Management can reduce overall cycle time and improve quality.

As a training tool, the video is interesting to watch and should spark some valuable discussion. You could also try it with your own group by simulating the steps shown in the video.

The simulation is broken down into seven steps or phases. Each one demonstrates an incremental improvement in the previous process. I've described the steps below in case you don't have time to watch the 10 minute video, but I encourage you give the video a chance. It has excellent production value and some quirky humour.

First phase:
Free for all. Everyone takes one chair at a time, and adds to the new stack. Each person has to walk with a chair, then walk back to get another one until all chairs are restacked.

Second phase:
Bucket line. Form one line and hand each chair down the line. Reduces walking and improves cycle time significantly.

Third phase: 
Go faster! The participants are "encouraged" to go as fast as possible and not to let any issue stop the line. Result stacks are disorganized and falling over.

Fourth phase: 
Introduce defects and allow the defects to continue through the line. Argument and mayhem at end of line.

Fifth phase: 
Catching defects before they continue. No effect on final quality.

Sixth phase: 
Re-balance work and add two people to bottle neck process, the chair stacking. Significant cycle time improvement with no impact on quality.

Seventh phase:
Realize that there is still too much waiting in system and remove three people. These people are used to set up an additional line, increasing output even more. Shows flexibility of process, since output can be increased or decreased depending on customer demand.

I've added this video to my list of lean videos and since it's a great lean game, I've also added it to my list of lean games and simulations. 


  1. I was surfing net and fortunately came across this site and found very interesting stuff here. Its really fun to read. I enjoyed a lot. Thanks for sharing this wonderful information. Maharashtra Ration Card Status