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Showing posts from June, 2013

What do you need to understand it?

Improvement ideas are often dismissed. They are not dismissed because they are not a good idea and don’t offer a good improvement, they are dismissed because no one understands the idea.
When you are working with others, people that need to approve an idea before it can go ahead, find out how they work. What do they need to see, feel and hear in order to appreciate your idea?
For some it might be a flow chart, for others a presentation. Some may need to see the proposed savings on a piece of paper. Find out how they work and then present it in the right way.
Taking a few minutes out to establish the right way to put forward your ideas can make a big difference to the level of uptake you experience.

Giles Johnston
Author, Consultant and Chartered Engineer

Three steps to a streamlined office

The other week I was quizzed about ‘what are your top three tips to streamline an office process?’
It’s a good question.
First, I said, was to create a top level map of the process. Knowing the major steps in the process and the interfaces between the steps is vital to improve the flow of the process.
Secondly, establish meaningful performance measures throughout the process. Are key steps starting on time? What is the lead time of the bottleneck operation? Some measures can be yes and no measures, some may be more quantifiable. Know how you process is performing so that the results don’t come as a shock.
Thirdly, design a routine that supports points one and two. Discipline and routine can make the designed benefits of a process come to life. Each and every day certain activities need to take place. Make sure they do!
I’m sure that you can think of additional activities that you could undertake, but these are my top three. I could think of more complete answers with five or seven st…

Improve Your Own Way

One of my clients has been beating themselves up for not improving. Whilst I don't mind people being hard on themselves if it motivates them I have a problem when the issue is 'academic'. The issue in this case is about not being able to follow a specific text book methodology.
It's the results we're bothered about right?
For whatever reason some people just don't grasp a pre-defined methodology. They do however grasp the key principles of what is trying to be achieved. Starting there can help them to create a half-way house when it comes to an improvement approach, one they can build upon.
Your business will have nuances, variations on how it works to other businesses. Whilst the principles of improvement hold for all types of business (flexibility is the key) you can vary the application method.
If you are struggling to implement an improvement process to your business then why not come up with your own version of it? Getting it more or less right and then i…

Business Process Re-Engineering Book Update

For those of you who don't have a Kindle I am pleased to announce that my book 'Business Process Re-Engineering' is now available on multiple formats.
It is primarily available via Smashwords for most major formats, but over the next couple of weeks it will be available on other stores such as Nook, Kobo, iBooks, Diesel and more.


Giles Johnston
Author, Consultant and Chartered Engineer

Scheduling the Bottlenecks

Are you faced with an arrears situation and a growing order book?
Do you find that your teams work on the wrong production orders just when it causes you the most problems?
I witness these kinds of problems a lot and I thought I would share with you how I start to go about solving the problem. The starting point is often to find the bottlenecks in the process. This solution isn’t about line balancing and introducing kanbans, this is about getting results today. After getting some immediate results I agree that you need to think bigger about the whole production system.
Getting a grip of the schedule running through your bottlenecks and ‘micro managing’ the situation immediately before the bottleneck is vital. Sucking in the right work at the right time to keep your bottlenecks primed and working is essential to try and keep on top of your overall schedules.
If you have read the book ‘The Goal’ then you will be familiar with the Theory of Constraints approach. This blog post is about …

The Root Cause Requires Digging!

Root cause analysis is a common phrase in industry. You have a problem and you want to get to the core of the issue and determine a proper course of action. You want to resolve the problem once and for all.
There are many popular tools, including ‘5 Why’, but I keep finding businesses that stop short of the real problem. If you have experienced root cause problem solving then you will be familiar with the idea of symptoms. The first levels of discovery yield only symptoms of the real problem. If you keep digging and poking then you eventually have a real discovery. By real I mean a blinding flash of the obvious (obvious now at least!).
When you get stuck in root cause problem solving you need to go away and get some more information. You need to go and ask the questions that will give you the right answers. Don’t be afraid of asking the foolish questions, you will find that they aren’t foolish if you persevere. Get the facts and get the answers.
When you have a good answer it will mo…

The Good Old Tally Chart

Time and time again the tally chart comes to my rescue. From talking to managers about problems with their processes to the operators struggling with their processes the tally chart can often help.
Tally charts are a great way to observe and analyse what is happening to a process. It is simple to use and can give fast results. The simplicity however may be the problem. It isn't flash, it isn't new and it isn't sexy. The tally chart is basic and easy to learn.
Should this stop you and your team from using it? Absolutely not. Also, you don’t have to use it all the time. Find a problem, identify some repeating issues and then use the tally chart to record the number of incidents for each issue. A quick sort by volume and you have a prioritised list for investigation and improvement.
If you have issues with your business processes then don’t forget the tally chart. It can come in handy.

Giles Johnston
Author, Consultant and Chartered Engineer

Develop an End of Day Routine

I was quizzed the other day about how to make a working day effective, and stop people from working late into the evening.
It was a good question and it got us talking about the essentials of a working day. There are certainly some tasks that need to be completed each and every day. There are also tasks that need to be managed over a slightly longer period of time to match your available capacity. (OK, sometimes you do need to flex your capacity, but I am talking about the longer term here).
If you know the essentials then you can devise a simple 'exit' from your daily working. The notion is that if you can tick these items off your list each and every day then you can wrap up the working day more effectively. If you can do that then you have a good chance of making the working days and weeks more effective.
Have you got an end of day routine?


Giles Johnston
Author, Consultant and Chartered Engineer

Pick the Expert's Brains

A photograph taken at the end of the Barclays 'Pick the Expert's Brain' event.
From the left (with expertise in brackets):
Willard Wright (Commercial / Business Insurance) Les Hare (Accountancy) Graham Pegman (Wealth Management) Steve Wheaton (Marketing) Giles Johnston (Business Improvement) - yes, that's me (too warm for a jacket!) Steve Duncan (Human Resources)
If you were there, I hope you had a good (and informative) time.

Giles Johnston
Author, Consultant and Chartered Engineer

Educate Your Team on the Process

How many times have your team said 'I didn't know that's why we did that'?
It can be a real reminder that just because we know all about the process, it doesn't mean that our team gets it. They may be pressing the right buttons on the computer system and following the instructions, but their lack of understanding hinders improvement ideas.
When you make sure that people understand the 'why' of the system then it can allow them to participate in continuous improvement activities and idea generation.
A little bit of education can make a big difference compared to not enough knowledge.


Giles Johnston
Author, Consultant and Chartered Engineer