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Showing posts from January, 2011

Stop trying to leap to the finish line.

When a business is undertaking changes to improve its performance the sequence of steps needs to be understood. Many businesses attempt to leap to the finish line in one fell swoop and this can create huge problems for the business, so much that they may decide that their overall plan is not suitable. If you have worked out your sequence then you will know that the first step is followed by the second step. You must do the first step. Being able to articulate this to the other people in your business becomes easier when you know the sequence. Advanced approaches need the basics to be right before you can attempt the big stuff. The desire and impatience to achieve the results without putting in the effort with the basics shows up time and time again when the new ways of working collapse. One of the common sights in manufacturing is when businesses try to implement slick pull production systems when none of the work required to achieve this result have been completed. Result -

Forming disciplines to get results

Many improvement projects aim to improve the performance of a business in one fell swoop. Many times however the shift that the business undertakes needs to be backed up with new habits and discipline. By discipline I am referring to routines of working. If certain things need to happen every single day in order to maintain the new way of working then we need to ensure that we do what we say we are going to do. There is no magic bullet and we have all seen how quickly habits can be broken. Abdication is another aspect to consider. When new tasks are established in a business and responsibility is handed down to complete the tasks then it is essential that some form of inspection takes place. There are those people who will say that this is not only a waste of resources but that you shouldn't need to do this. The inspection however can be relaxed in its frequency and as long as you ask the right question(s) then it won't take long at all. Abdication of responsibility is

Make it 'really simple'

When our projects at work are taking a long time to come to fruition and our daily lives are complicated, it is a great time to ask ourselves how we can make things 'really simple'. When issues haven't been addressed properly we can end up with complicated solutions that take a lot of hard work and administration to keep on top of. When we ask how we can make it more simple we can usually find a better way to get the work done. If there are lots of people involved with a process in the workplace there is a natural tendency for everyone to do their little bit in their own way. Getting everyone together so that they can come up with a single simple way to perform the work can give your business an immediate boost in performance. Simpler usually becomes faster, and with this you have the opportunity to deliver better customer service. You may even end up winning more business as a result! Keeping it simple makes the overall management of the business easier. S

Achieve your business objectives through agreed standards

When a business is struggling to achieve its business objectives then a review of the standards agreed in the business can make a radical change. Sometimes this change can take place rapidly. One of the simplest agreements we can make is how long a part of the business will take to respond to customers. This gives the people in the business a standard to focus on and (hopefully) the customers a better quality of service. Defining the key parts of the business process and looking at how they affect the achievement of the business objectives can tell you how each part needs to perform. Once this contribution is understood a standard can be set for its performance. This might be lead time, delivery performance, error rate etc.. Having standards is of course a benchmark for beginning your continuous improvement adventure. Once you achieve the standards initially agreed you can ask the question 'how far can we go with improving this business?' Agreeing standards in