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Showing posts from December, 2013

Celebrate Your Process Improvement Victories

One of the drawbacks of process improvement is looking at why things don't work (or are sub-optimal). It can be negative and for some people this can wear them down over time.
The successes we achieve as part of our process improvement work needs to be celebrated. I'm sure that your projects have yielded positive results and occasionally it is useful to stop and remember.

When Do You Plan Your Process Improvements?

Is there a good time to plan your improvements?
I'm not sure if there is ever a good time to sit down and do planning; I just know what happens when you don't come up with some kind of a plan - drift. Apart from becoming more susceptible to the effect of the bumps you will inevitably hit, you don't follow up with what you should be doing. The noise of the working day becomes too much and you end up slowing down / stopping / going backwards.

50% Discount: Business Process Re-engineering Book

Just a quick post to let you know that my book 'Business Process Re-engineering' has a 50% discount currently in place on Smashwords.

5W1H and Business Strategy

After an initially confusing conversation the other day with an organisation (who were in a bit of a tangle) I found my engineering background coming to the rescue.
There was debate around what should go into a business plan, particularly with respect to their strategic content.

The Ebb And Flow Of Continuous Improvement

I advocate making continuous improvement part of your daily / weekly work life. This I think should be something that most businesses should work towards if they aren't there already.
However, there are also times when things don't pan out quite as we have hoped to. Unfortunate circumstances, conflict inside the business or unforeseen problems. These take time away from the business and naturally makes it difficult to undertake continuous improvement activity.
There are other times when energies are higher. There are other events that can affect the motivation of your staff and this too can be considered.

Start Your Day With Continuous Improvement

If you don't have time to undertake your continuous improvement projects then why not consider this approach?
If you spend your whole day running around putting out fires then you will probably find that you just don't get time to undertake your continuous improvement project work.
I've been there and I'm sure many of you reading this will feel the same.

FMEA: Your Continuous Improvement Crystal Ball

When businesses are looking for areas to improve, the use of a FMEA chart can often work wonders. In some respects it is a crystal ball to help you predict where failures can happen. This is about being proactive with your continuous improvement projects rather than trying to pick up the pieces when something goes wrong!

FMEA stands for Failure Mode and Effects Analysis.
Basically, it gets you to look at individual elements of a process so that you can think about where the process can 'fall over'. It can also be used for products; looking at which components will fail.

2014 Continuous Improvement Plans

For many businesses this time of year provides a good time to reflect upon the past year's performance and decide upon their plans for the upcoming year.
How about you?
Do you know where and how you want to improve your business during 2014?
If you haven't pulled your plan together then the following pointers could help you to pull your ideas together to get you started:

What's Important To Do Each Day?

All business processes have a drum beat. Certain tasks need to happen like clockwork and the ability for a business to develop these habits can distinguish them from the competition.

My latest book, Sunrise Meetings, shares a step by step process to help capture these routines and make them an integral part of your day-to-day business.
It is free this weekend on the Amazon Kindle (until the end of 16th December 2013 PST).
You can get it here.

Giles Johnston
Author of 'Business Process Re-Engineering', a practical plan to improve business performance.

Is Your Business Boring?

There is a phrase (I’m not sure how common) about good businesses being boring businesses. I don’t know how you feel about this, but I want to work in an interesting business.
But here’s the thing. If your business is out of control then you need to define what interesting means to you. If it means that chasing your tail and always being under severe pressure from customers then I could understand you not wanting a boring business.

Sunrise Meetings: Free Kindle Book

My new book 'Sunrise Meetings' is now available on the Amazon Kindle platform and is free to download between the 12th of December 2013 and the 16th of December 2013 (PST).
Download 'Sunrise Meetings' for Kindle here.

The book is focused on tying up your process management issues into an organised and routine way of working. The Sunrise Meeting is one great way of doing this, and the book takes you through a series of steps to create and define your own effective Sunrise Meeting.
There's more in the book too, helping establish more disciplined and effective habits of working.
I hope you enjoy it.


Giles Johnston
Author of 'Business Process Re-Engineering', a practical plan to improve business performance.

What's The Second Improvement Stage?

There are many continuous improvement projects that get broken down into stages, whether we realise this or not.
The key to appreciating this is to think through the work you are doing now and understanding what you will have to do next. Very rarely is the first stage (or activity) the only stage.
For example, if you are implementing a lean improvement approach and are deploying a toolkit, what happens next? Do you have to restructure people's time to be able to use the tools? Do you have to adjust the supervisory roles so that they can support the approach?
Thinking through the improvement project and asking yourself 'what happens next?' can help you to imagine what the subsequent stages are.
Just like the new piece of machinery that is installed there is usually planned maintenance to define, SOPs to write, training to deliver, commissioning to complete etc...
If you are planning improvement projects then please think through the subsequent stages to make sure that you …

Are Your Production Peaks Hidden?

One of the biggest reasons that a business delivers late is due to an uneven order book. Huge peaks in some weeks and next to nothing in other weeks. Getting a grip over this situation can make a massive difference in your quest for consistent on time delivery (without the headache).
There are usually two steps to resolving this situation; balancing out what you already have and stopping it from happening again.
The first step, re-balancing your order book, can be straightforward or a large task, depending on the type of work you produce and the complexity of the process it has to go through in order to complete the work. Whatever situation you are in it is essential that you complete this exercise to its logical completion. Many businesses re-balance the first few weeks (which contains overdue orders that have built up over time) and leave it at that. A few more weeks down the line and these businesses are back to where they have started (they just moved the biggest peak back a few …

Continuous Improvement Toolkits

When you are trying to get your Lean / Continuous Improvement activities moving it is vital that you get the buy in and support from all areas of the business.

If your area of specialism is in facilitation and / or business improvement methods then the toolkit that you are currently using may be far too advanced for newcomers to this way of working. Developing a simplified toolkit for your team is often a great way to let people dip their toes into the water, but still yield excellent results.

To simplify this process further I recommend considering your simplified toolkit as being divided into three sections:

1. Seeing It Choose a group of tools to help your team to see the problems and opportunities that they are facing. 2. Solving It Choose a root cause problem solving method that is straightforward to use. 3. Doing It Choose a simple way to track and monitor progress.

Existing well known tools such as 8D or A3 can be a great help in this regard. It may also be the case that you wa…

Try Pushing On Open Doors

When you are faced with a list of continuous improvement opportunities there is a good deal of sense in prioritising them.
One of the simplest ways is to rank them in terms of:
EaseCostImpact If you get really into this you can score and prioritise them based on their total score (similar to the FMEA approach).
There is of course another factor that might be worth considering. Motivation. Sometimes the ideas are good, but the people who need to buy in to the ideas just aren't interested. This brings in the 'open door' factor.
Sometimes pushing on an open door is the right thing to do. Find those projects that the individuals who you need to get involved want to do. Hopefully they will be near to the top of your list too, and the aim is to get them interested in the 'right' improvements next.
Sometimes it makes sense to go with the flow...


Giles Johnston
Author of 'Business Process Re-Engineering', a practical plan to improve business performance.

Does Your Improvement Plan Look Good On Paper?

A lot of time can be invested in creating an improvement plan. If you subscribe to the PDCA (Plan Do Check Act) approach to continuous improvement then I am sure that you will too.
There is a drawback to the planning stage however.
There will be certain things that you can only find out, and learn, by undertaking the doing part (the D in PDCA).
The more experienced you get at planning the better your plans will be. There are also other things you can do to improve the quality of your planning (by using the FMEA approach for example), but fundamentally the reason that the continuous improvement cycle is a cycle is that you will gain additional information each time you attempt the improvement.
If you feel that you are getting stuck at the planning stage then it may just be time to get into the doing phase and see what happens.


Giles Johnston
Author of 'Business Process Re-Engineering', a practical plan to improve business performance.

Another good practice falls away!

When you get into a process improvement conversation there is always the chance of recovering old ground. The great idea that you have just had may well be something that has already been tried, but stopped working.
Most of these 'failed' ideas are only a tweak away from being brilliant solutions. If you recall the PDCA (Plan Do Check Act) improvement cycle then you will know what I mean.
When a new way of working falls over the PDCA cycle gets you to consider why it fell over. It gets you to consider how to make it work better, and then urges you to make the necessary corrections.
I have seen countless improvements that have ceased to be because they didn't work the first time. A little encouragement, and use of the feedback as to why it fell over, is all it can take to implement a really good improvement.
How is it going for your business? Do you need to share the PDCA approach with more people?

Giles Johnston
Author of 'Business Process Re-Engineering', a practi…