The Pilot Area is the designation of a single process or work cell. The purpose of designating a Pilot Area is to use it as a testbed for the implementation and application of LEAN principles and concepts.
As a testbed, the Pilot Area will be your space to learn and understand how to approach the implementation. This is often described as experimental since we will be applying the scientific method , in making our application more practical.
Although we do want to start achieving your desired results from the implementation efforts at the Pilot Area, the underlying theme is to experiment so that we may develop a new way of thinking in doing things.
Experiment so That We May Develop a New Way of Thinking and Doing Things!
With this in mind, consider the following criteria for selecting a Pilot Area:
- A Process with Quick and Rapid Cycles
- A Bottleneck Process and/or One that is Strategic to the Business
- Representative of the Business, and what you’re doing
- An Area Where Measurements Can be Made Throughout the Implementation Efforts
Because new methods and solutions for doing things can show others the way as you deploy your efforts, the Pilot Area is also referred to as a Lighthouse; a source of knowledge and inspiration for the implementation and application of LEAN principles and concepts. Meaning, it can be an example and a guideline for how things should work, including the roadmap or path to getting there.
The Pilot Area Should Be Used as a Testbed for Implementation and Application of the LEAN Principles and Concepts... and Should Serve as a Source of Knowledge and Inspiration
Insight from a Master Sensei
As you consider your continuous improvement activity, always think about where the Pilot Area may be. Where will it allow me and the team to make the small initial steps in my process, and evaluate each step to better understand:
- What are we doing?
- How are we doing it?
- What is working?
- What is not working?
- Why are we doing it?
- And how do we change and improve what we are doing?
- How are we going to apply PDCA  to our continuous improvement activity?
Choosing a Pilot Area is critical to your success! Because it should not only deliver your desired results, but it builds momentum and proves what can be done and what is possible.