Skip to main content

Do you find change a bit messy?

When you start out on a new path of change it can often be a little messy. The idea you have in your head doesn't always appear when you try the 'new thing' for the first time. As this is so true of many continuous improvements I thought I would share a few of my thoughts on the matter.

When a business identifies improvements in its communication then some form of meeting is usually instigated to improve the said communication issue. I'm a big fan of standardised meetings. These are meetings that are focused on very specific outcomes, are usually as short as they possibly can be, and support the effective routines already defined by the business. Often the first few meetings bring up all kinds of additional issues that the business is facing. This noise can be distracting and it may take a few meetings to get past this confusing stage and into short productive meetings.

Writing Standard Operating Procedures (often referred to as 'SOPs') are another case in point. When you write a SOP for a specific process or product in your business you may face a similar amount of noise. The 'one best way' method that you have defined may run into problems when people try to use it and find it difficult to follow. This may be reflective of the words used, the level of graphics / images in the SOP itself, or the sequence of operations that have been chosen. Whatever the reason is, you can get past this contention and find yourself on the right side of the change, if you work with the feedback.

And what about specific improvement methodologies? When you find yourself using SMED (Single Minutes Exchange of Dies), OEE, visual management, or whatever, the initial attempts may not produce ideal outcomes. The key once again is to persist, learn and eventually get the hang of making the change stick. All of the common improvement  tools and methods work, the question is can you make it work in your business? Your perspective, your business' culture and your team can all make a huge difference. Choosing a suite of tools that suit the way that your business works can make life a lot easier, before you even try to deploy them.

All of these points, of course, lead back the continuous improvement cycle; PDCA. The 'Plan, Do, Check and Act' cycle is all around us. Whether you are involved in continuous improvement, helping a child learn to ride a bike, or reflecting on how you manage your staff, PDCA is lurking in the background. Embracing this simple 'experiment and feedback' loop is critical to seeing improvements through and certainly getting past the messy stage.

So, where do you find yourself on these matters? Is your business happily going into the chaos to come out the other end and reap the benefits that continuous improvement can bring with it? Or, like many businesses, do you need to work with your team to develop its ability to embrace the chaos that it might have to go through in order to get an improvement to work?

I'll leave you with that thought.


Giles Johnston
...fixing MRP systems and re-engineering business processes

Popular posts from this blog

The Kaizen Checklist is here!

Do you want to get better results from your Kaizen programme? Improve your business results quickly with my downloadable kit (including guidebook, workbook and templates) for only $39. Are you looking for a sustainable way to identify and implement improvements across your business? Practical improvement strategies The Kaizen Checklist is a downloadable kit that you can use with your management team to develop a system that suits your business and allow you to quickly implement Kaizen effectively at your place of work. This works great if you use it as the centre piece of your own internal workshop. The kit includes a 40 page guidebook, a workbook, four appendices and three templates. All parts of this kit are designed to get you up and running as fast as possible. If you are unfamiliar with Kaizen, let me stress that this is a simple improvement philosophy that is so much more than just  ‘a Japanese word for continuous improvement’. I’ll cover what it rea

Kamishibai Boards

Available to purchase here. Some tools are incredibly simple to use, and also deliver some amazing results. Kamishibai boards are a great example and are superb when you want some visual control over routine tasks. By the way Kamishibai is pronounced "come-e-she-bye" in case you were wondering! As simple as you could want it, a Kamishibai board is a T-card system that has red cards glued to green cards (so that each T-card has a red side and a green side). The red cards are for the incomplete tasks, where as the green cards symbolise that the work has been done. See the photo below of a board in use. On the red side of the card you write the name of the task that needs to be completed, and if appropriate you can include details of how the task is to be completed. This is not expected to replace standard operating procedures, but can be a good opportunity for an aide memoire. The boards can be organised for daily, weekly and even monthly cycles. They are g

Have you got the right improvement behaviours in your business?

I have heard many business owners over the year complain that change is pitiful within their business. Is this how you feel? I have seen this many times before; that the wrong behaviours get reinforced within these businesses. Their culture simply isn't helping. So, how do you change a culture like this? There are many books written on the topic of culture and changing cultures, but let me offer some of my observations. Getting better is OK Standing still isn't great. Reaching perfection is unlikely. Gaining confidence is great. So why not take some pressure off yourselves and realise that moving in the right direction is good enough at the start of a culture change? Great solutions can be developed by learning There can be so much pressure on people to come up with good improvement ideas. If they aren't used to generating them, this can be a difficult exercise and a lack of confidence doesn't help. Talking with others (especially the boss), without expectation, and gai