Sunday, February 1, 2009

A winning pinewood derby car through continous improvement: Part 1

On Friday night, my youngest son had his last ever pinewood derby race for cub scouts. Both of my boys raced in the local pack race and enjoyed this activity. My oldest sons highest placing was 7th out of 28 cars and my youngest best finish ever was 5th in 2008. This year, we determined to use the kaizen approach and pull out all the stops since this was the final race that we would participate in. I will tell you that this was the best race we ever had in our family! Before I reveal our secrets and how we finished, here is what we decided to do in the final derby of our family:

1) My son had to do over 50% of the work on his car- In my opinion, Dad doing all the work defeats the purpose and spirit of the pinewood derby. Some of the cars that race are obviously built by an adult...my goal was that by doing over half the work he would take interest and ownership in the car.

2) Inter generational project - My dad, myself, and my son all took time to work on the car. My father is a fabulous woodworker with a primo workshop and he helped his grandson cut and sand the body of the car. Our goal is that he remember working with his grandpa and his dad and how much fun it is to do projects with his family.

3) Check listing all the things I learned previously - in all the past races, I learned a few tips here and there. This year, I went back to all the techniques I had heard over the years and followed them in the building of the car.

4) Add my own improvement - this year I added some of my own kaizens of which most I believe helped the cars performance in the race. One didn't work at all...not all kaizens work!

5) Focusing on the process instead of the outcome - the time that I any son spent was building and working on the car to do all the things we knew to make it go fast. We focused on the fundamentals and process of reducing friction in every place possible instead of thinking about winning the competition. If you work on the fundamentals, the results will take care of themselves.

In my next post, I tell all the secrets we learned over the years and how we used them. Unlike so many others charging for pinewood derby car information, we share what we learned for free to benefit everyone that wants to read it.

What have you improved today?

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

1 comment:

Carol said...

I stumbled this post this morning (02/05)...