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Do you give your staff time to play with productivity challenges?

Meetings can be pressurised.

Deadlines can do funny things to people’s thinking.

The demands of a business can trim away the perceived fat of being able to stop, mull things over and come up with new ideas.

Is this the same for your business?


Carving out and protecting time during the working week to explore ideas can pay dividends. One good idea can lead to a huge jump in terms of productivity, so why don’t more businesses embrace this approach?

One of the best descriptions of this challenge was in the Stephen Covey book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’. The reference was that of the goose that lays the golden egg. Periodically you need to stop collecting eggs to ensure that the goose is cleaned and fed. Stephen split up the activity as production / production capability.

I have benefited from shutting my door and thinking about production capability.

My clients have benefited from taking themselves away from the hustle and bustle to have a deeper think about how their business is working.

Having a time to think, and to play with ideas, can generate improvement opportunities that are so impressive that you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

I recall a conversation with one of my bosses whilst overseas with work, stuck waiting for a meeting to start. We discussed the problems with flow of production through our factory. It was one of the most stimulating conversations I have ever had and it led us to the trialling of a new target driven shop floor scheduling tool. When implemented it helped us drop our lead time from just under twenty weeks to just over three.

This achievement came without an increase in labour and a drop in overtime. Oh, and I should say that our OTIF (On Time In Full) score rose from the low 20s to over 98% (rolling average).

But, and this is the point, would I have had this flash of inspiration if I hadn’t had some ‘spare’ time to play with some ideas?

Knowing when to have your team with their nose to the grindstone, and when to let them play, is a challenge that we all face.

It is also a challenge that can bear some amazing results.

Giles




About the author
Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes.
Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous improvement toolkit.