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Do You Suffer from the Hockey Stick Curve?

One of the more interesting phrases I have heard when discussing on time delivery performance is the 'hockey stick' curve.

You know the sort of thing I mean (see below). Your business outputs very little in the first couple of weeks of the calendar month, and the last week or two look like everyone is running on rocket fuel! The rate of change in output is huge and once again the business achieves its turnover target.
Interpretation of the 'hockey stick' curve.
Skeptics may say that although work is invoiced it isn't produced until the next calendar month, which accounts for the low levels of output in those weeks.

So what?

The important question is what do you do about it if you recognise this pattern occurring in your business.

Finding out if you have an uneven order book is essential to find out if you have a throughput issue or a loading issue. Loading issues can be rectified easily by balancing out the order book (and coming up with a better 'Contract Review' process longer term).

If you have a throughput problem then you can start working on your bottlenecks, one by one until you achieve a consistent output that meets your production targets.

Either way you need to find out what is causing this frustrating effect and then do something about it.

Realising that there is a problem, however, is one of the most effective first steps in any kind of business improvement!



Giles Johnston
Author, Consultant and Chartered Engineer