Tag Archives: Change Management

problem_statement

The rush to solution

The first step in any process improvement initiative is to define the problem or business opportunity. This step is often completed far too quickly and in some cases defines a solution without really addressing the real issue.

Paul was a recent case in point. Paul has just commenced a project-based process improvement programme. He works in an assembly area on a mezzanine floor in a manufacturing company.

Products for assembly are brought to Paul and his team by forklift from the ground floor.

Paul’s project was to install a lift in the area as the team were often waiting on the forklift driver. He was quite frustrated that management couldn’t see this and wouldn’t justify the expenditure.

problem_statement

In fact, Paul had presented a solution without actually defining the problem and the impact on the team. We needed to take some steps back and understand what is actually happening.

The team had recently had to wait for an hour on work from the ground floor.

  • How often did this happen?
  • What was the process for ordering material?
  • How was this communicated?
  • How often did work need to be moved?

There was no data on any of these questions and no real process in place for delivering product.

The forklift was also used to receive purchased items, to load deliveries and to manage stock on the ground floor. Any of these activities could delay transfer of work to the mezzanine unless some notice was given or some plan was put in place.

It also became apparent that there was limited product in the process staged for assembly.

There was a need to map the entire process and understand how the work flowed within the business. Mapping forced the team to think about their process and their commitment to their customers. The links between each stage of the process needed to be understood and the team needed to agree ways of working. This is the 2nd stage of process improvement.

The ‘solution’ of installing a lift is now likely to be superseded by a pull system in the short term giving a clear signal to the forklift operator when product needs to move. In the longer term, the team are now considering a cell-based layout on the ground floor.

Like all good Lean systems, there is no mystery, just simple ways to engage the knowledge and experience of the staff already present in every business.

We are very proud of the improvements that all of our participants achieve in 3 months.

You may be interested in applying Lean thinking to your business and putting these ideas into place?

Enterprise Ireland offer support to clients through their Lean Business programmes. Click here for details.

The ManagementWorks project-based Lean Business programme will run in Dublin in December. Click here for details.

 

customer-experience

Who is responsible?

Imagine arriving at these 2 hotels?

How is your initial impression? How would you describe the experience?

 

If it was your business – how would you like it to be represented? Who is responsible for this representation – the individual or the business?

We can continue to assign our problems to individual error or we can delve deeper and explore the systems and processes that we have put into place.

“Management is responsible for 94% of the problems” – W. Edwards Deming – Out of the Crisis

It all starts from day 1.

Does each person hired understand why we are in business and what we are trying to achieve for our customers?

Do we share our processes? – the best ways that we have found so far to deliver our value to the customers.

Do we train our staff so that they fully understand these processes?

Do we support and encourage our staff to propose even better ways that we can improve on these processes?

The result in doing these things may be represented in the hotel on the right. The result in not doing these things could be represented on the left.

Or you may choose to assign responsibility to the individual in the situation.

Help

Lean thinking is concerned with creating the right environment for our business, our employees and our customers.

You may be interested in applying Lean thinking to your business and putting these ideas into place?

ETAC run Lean programmes for businesses and through Enterprise Ireland, IDA and Skillnets.

Programmes will run this Autumn at various locations in Ireland, leading to QQI awards.

Click here for details on the range of programmes available.

 

Does everyone know the score?

Imagine arriving late to a sporting event to see that there is no score on display. Everyone around you is confused as to the actual current score. Or image a sign telling you that the score will be posted as soon as possible after the game finishes.

Would you lose interest in the game? Would the players have the same motivation?

It is often interesting to ask staff in a business how they did the previous week. The answer may be as general as ‘pretty good’ or ‘not a great week’.

Delve a little deeper to ask for some evidence and the answers may be quite vague – ‘well, we had no major issues’ or ‘things were a bit slow’.

How well is performance tracked across your business? Are the relevant things tracked – those most important to the customers of the business or section?

In Sport, performance tracking is essential to driving improvement. Here are some statistics from last season’s English premiership

Score
statistics from www.whoscored.com

English premiership teams playing West Bromwich Albion should know that this team score more goals from set plays than open play. In contrast, one of the top teams, Manchester United, score relatively few goals from set plays. Could this drive significant improvement actions?

Knowing what to measure in each area of every business is essential. It is an opportunity missed if everyone doesn’t know the score. Continuous improvement is supported by facts and good data collection and review.

 

You may be interested in applying Lean thinking to your business and putting these ideas into place?

The ManagementWorks Lean Business programme will run this Autumn at various locations in Ireland.

Click here for details.

 

Lean

Presentations are for managers

There is often a perceived ‘glass ceiling’ by frontline workers. Presentations, meetings and often systems are in the arena of management and many staff are uncomfortable in these areas.

One of our recent programme participants was adamant from the outset that he would not be delivering a presentation in front of ‘strangers’. Furthermore, the concept of running a meeting was alien and presenting work on a ‘computer’ was work normally done by office staff.

Following a lean structure, encouraging all project leaders to clearly identify their issues, engage their team and implement changes based on sound data, the results can be amazing.

3 months later, our participant delivered a 30-slide, 12 minute presentation. He outlined the background to the issues that he wanted to address in his business to a room of ‘strangers’ through simple diagrams and lots of photos. The work and ideas of his team were explained.

The result of the effort was a re-organisation of the workplace, reducing product transportation by over 800 metres per unit and a saving of 3 hours labour time per unit.

The confidence in the presentation delivery gives us huge satisfaction in seeing the personal transformation of an individual now using meetings, data and presentations to drive continuous improvement.

Like all good Lean systems, there is no mystery, just simple ways to engage the knowledge and experience of the staff already present in every business.

We are very proud of the improvements that all of our participants achieve in 3 months.

You may be interested in applying Lean thinking to your business and putting these ideas into place?

The ManagementWorks Lean Business programme will run this Autumn at various locations in Ireland.

Click here for details.

 

Top 10 lean tips for business transformation

1         Focus

Ensure that your lean program

a)      Delivers Customer Value

b)      Is aligned to your business strategy

c)       Delivers bottom line results – verified by your Financial expert!

2         Leadership

Your lean programme should be sponsored by senior leaders

They should be actively involved in the programme.

The programme should be reinforced through regular communications

3         Process Oriented

The lean approach is to systematically optimise your processes.

Begin by understanding your key processes and where value is being added.

The aim is to minimise or eliminate non-value adding process steps

4         Data Driven

Without data, you are left with opinions.

Make sure that all decisions taken to optimise processes are based on sound data.

This assists in taking the emotion out of key decisions and promotes acceptance

5         Performance Tracking and Accountability

Track performance and make results visible.

Real time data tracking is best.

Ensure all processes have key measures and review them regularly

Lean Business Transformation Team

6         Team Based Implementation

Ensure that effective teams are created to optimise processes.

Involve process owners.

Track team performance and reward success

7         Human resources

Ensure that your program is adequately resourced.

Bring in expertise if required.

Establish a proven training program for staff

8         Change Management

Lean programs question the ‘norm’

This can be difficult and involve changing established practices.

In this case, ensure that the team gives adequate attention to HR / Change Management.

9         Benchmarking

Visit other successful lean implementations.

Companies are often delighted to present their lean implementation.

Network with other companies implementing lean.

10     Don’t celebrate too early or give up too soon

Lean is a journey.

When you’ve optimised your process – start again!

The aim is to build a culture of continuous improvement

Start your Lean journey NOW

Building a lean culture

Very often, identifying waste and improvement opportunities is the easy part of a lean programme. Sustaining the effort and winning the hearts and minds of people is often a much bigger challenge. This is particularly true for well established companies and public services.

The lean culture change is usually driven from the top. So what is the role of the business leader and management team in shaping the lean future of the company?

Gemba – Management walking the business process and listening

To keep this simple, the lean leaders must have

  1. A vision for the company – “It is better to grow into profitability rather than to shrink into profitability”(ref: The Lean Toolbox – Bicheno/Holweg). Employees are unlikely to support a cost cutting programme and must see a vision of growth and opportunity for their company.
  2. Strong communication channels. The company may have fine ideas and strategies but fail to communicate them to all of their workers. Structured management forums and regular workforce briefing should be supplemented by a presence in the processes. Management teams need to get out among their workforce and actively listen to feedback to keep in touch with the real operational issues in the business.
  3. Key measures. A real-time and well communicated measurement system is vital to ensuring that the business stays on track. If the employees don’t get this information, it is the equivalent to a team competing in a game without knowing the score.
  4. Systems for resource allocation. Allocation of resources must be based on real-time customer demand and systems must respond quickly to the signals generated by the lean business processes.
  5. Good processes to monitor performance and assist in removing roadblocks as required. There should be a sense of urgency to tackle problems straight away and to escalate unresolved issues quickly.
  6. Methods to “Catch” people doing the right things and recognise them for the good work that they do reinforcing the lean thinking within the company.

These issues often take far longer to get right than implementing lean tools. I’d be interested in feedback from lean leaders and a discussion on the key priorities for business leaders in a lean transformation.