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If it's broken, please improve it!

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C'mon! Just write the SOP!

We all know that we need to write things down. Available from Amazon This could be meeting actions, objectives, ideas for the future... or the knowledge we have in our heads. Let me focus on the last point, knowledge. For many organisations, this means capturing our experience so that others can use it. If you find your business growing then this is critical. You can't use telepathy! Often referred to as Standard Operating Procedures (or, SOPs), defining the one best way to do something is a great way to share knowledge in your organisation. But, why do so many people not bother to do this? Here are a few of the common issues I hear on my travels: They think it will take too long to write. They are worried that they'll get it wrong. Why bother? No one will read them. I've not done this before. Let's review. You don't have to spend hours writing SOPs. Even a few bullet points will move you in the right direction. If you are worried about getting the information wron

Stop firefighting, start performing!

Another weeks passes and another example of unnecessary fire fighting demonstrated by a business I have been to help. If you have this taking place in your business, let me ask you a few questions: 1. What keeps on happening? Regain control with this practical book Can you pin down what it is that you keep having to do, to get out of trouble? If you can't, is there a pattern you can observe? 2. Do you want it to stop? Is it causing you enough of a problem that you want it to stop? If the answer is yes, keep reading, if not park it for another day. 3. Find out what is going on Do you know why you are having this issue? If you aren't sure where the issue is arising from, then take a few minutes to have a look around. When you have some idea, go to the next step. 4. Cause and effect Do you know what is truly causing the fire fighting situation? If you spend the time to get to the root cause of the situation , you have a good chance of permanently eliminating this situation. Most p

Are your teams clear?

I have recently finished working with a team that were struggling. They were struggling to meet their production schedules. They were struggling to respond to customer enquiries on time. They were burnt out and frazzled. After some prodding and poking it became clear what their issues were. In particular, it became obvious that expectations of the team weren't clear or defined. Defining what you expect from teams is a standard management approach. The problem with most teams is that leadership describe the standards in vague terms . So, what happens if you get the standards crystal clear? You should expect to see the team produce the right outputs. They should produce the outputs at the right time. And, they should produce them in an agreed way. Be clear with your teams. Ask the question: What does good look like? If you want to get some more ideas on how to define effective standards and visions, get your copy of my book today . What does good look like? is a practical guide to h

Kaizen improvements need to be specific

Do you find that your Kaizen improvements don't always go to plan? If you do, then you're with the majority! Whilst there is great deal of 'trial and error' there is a simple approach that can help. Available from Amazon Being specific about critical parts of your improvement can uplift your results. So, how do you go about doing this? The most direct route is to be clear about which parts of your improvement are critical. From here you can explain, in detail, what you want for those items. This might take some practice as many of us have become lazy in this regard. We take it for granted that our team 'get us' and will know what they need to do. If you ever feel that something basic is missing from an improvement ask this question: "What does good look like?" The answer should put you back on track. About the author: Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes and

Don't lose your improvement gains!

When you make an improvement in your business, how do you finish it? Do you have a checklist of tasks you carry out, or do you claim that you're done? Many businesses take the latter approach. The question is, when is your task really finished? Having a close down approach to your improvements is key to sustainable benefits. If you recall PDCA (Plan, Do, Check and Act), this is very much an 'Act' issue. You've planned your improvement, you've delivered it and checked the results. Unless you need to improve the change, tying it into your business is critical. The risk, if you don't do this, is that you lose the improvement. People are busy. Minds are busy. Trying to remember the new method of working is at risk (I find that many changes disappear within two weeks). This is the case when the new method isn't a daily task! What can you do to help tie in your improvement to your 'business as usual'? Two practical options are: Develop a fo

Where to start with Kaizen, if you just aren't sure

Kaizen is a great word. It is a word that can unleash the potential of both a business and an individual. Kaizen means more than just continuous improvement. It is a word that is linked to: Confidence Growth Exploration Courage Many people I speak to, that are new to improvement projects, aren't sure if they are on the right path when it comes to embracing the spirit of Kaizen. If you are also one of these people then let me share with you a few thoughts that can help you feel at ease about starting and leading change. Start with your concerns A great place to start your improvement life is with anything that isn't right. Getting your concerns out into the open really is the first step for most of us. If you aren't happy with something, raise it. This isn't only a great place to start, but something that you shouldn't give up. Whenever a standard is not being met, or not even defined, get vocal and then do something about it. Start small The intention of Kaizen is