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Showing posts from May, 2017

Seeing the Improvement Wood for the Chaos Trees!

How are you feeling about your business the moment? Are you feeling frustrated and irritated by the apparent lack of progress being made with your improvements? If you answer ‘yes’ to this second question, don’t worry, you are not alone! We all feel this way at times and the reason I am writing this article is that if you feel this way right now then I want to reassure you that there is a simple way to get out of this situation. I have been in this situation many times in both my operational life and as a consultant. It is normal and taking a deep breath and stepping back from the noise of the day-to-day is essential. Let me take you through the three quick steps of Stopping, Assessing and Acting. Take stock of where you are right now In order for us to step back and try and see some of the ‘improvement wood’ as I refer to in the title of this article we need to have a simple question to focus our attention. A question I recommend that you ask is: “Do our current proces

Learning at Work Week

Last week I was interviewed for one of my clients, Jasmin Design , as part of the Learning at Work Week . The interview asked me about my thoughts on training in the workplace and why it was worth doing: Yesterday, we heard from Jo from JK Training Ltd about the one-to-one coaching she has been doing with our staff.  Today, we are pleased to share some insights from Giles Johnston, from Smartspeed consulting, who has been working with us to refine our business processes and structures to offer customers the best possible products, services and prices. How have you been working with Jasmin? “The main focus of my work with Jasmin has been to look at the business processes that drive order delivery: assessing everything that happens from an initial enquiry through to delivering the end product to the customer. “The aim was to work alongside the team, look at the whole thing and identify any missing processes and where things could be done better or more efficiently.” What d

Do You Put Enough Effort Into Changing How Your Business Works?

If you're reading this blog post it is a fair guess that you are looking to improve how your business works. So, what do you think about the question I have posed as the title of this article? The reality is that if you could make a change happen with the same amount of effort that you current expend in your business changes would be happening left, right and centre. If you want to make a change stick in your business you need to increase your levels of effort temporarily. Without this increase in effort it is unlikely that the change you want will take place and sustain. I recall when I worked as a Production Manager and the OTIF ( On Time In Full ) performance of our business was certainly not where it needed to be. For years the business had struggled to raise its level of performance; no additional effort had been expended. I planned out sixteen small improvement projects to address this and I got started with the changes. It was hard work at times and the work was on

Tolerance - a Killer of Innovation and Improvement

Being tolerant is a good thing in many situations, such as when people are in training and learning the ropes. However, when we are tolerant of sub-standard working practices, the non-adoption of great ideas and failing to subscribe to formality within businesses this is a different matter. Tolerance in these situations can kill our ability to improve and innovate how we operate and perform. I recall a business that I did some work for where the staff didn't seem bothered about the poor quality of the products. Customer returns were a part of their normal life and apparently it had carried on for years. I was only invited into the business because one of their managers had decided to no longer tolerate this situation. Another client of mine was tearing his hair out because of the poor on time delivery performance of the business. For years this hadn't seemed to bother the business, but this particular manager was relatively new in position and was sick of lying to

What Does it Mean to be Productive?

Whilst driving to a client's this morning I caught a few minutes of a debate on the radio about increasing productivity. It was a very general discussion, of course, but there was one part of the discussion that caught my attention. The host of the show asked the guest (a member of the UK government I believe) why productivity wasn't increasing in the country when we have so many devices available to us to allow us to work remotely and deal with our emails before normal working hours. As you would have noticed, productivity is not  measured as the host indicated: Productivity ≠ everything you do / the length of time taken I'm not sure how widespread this mis-understanding is, but it raises an interesting point about how many people are measuring the wrong things when it comes to either their own, or their business', productivity. When you work in a manufacturing environment calculating productivity can be relatively straightforward. You may measure the t

Five Words to Improve Productivity

At one of my clients I have been running a shop floor improvement project to create a new manufacturing cell with the apprentices. I think that there is always some good learning to be had from improvement projects and I was keen to expose the apprentices to some additional experiences. However, the last few weeks of the project have not been going to schedule and not wanting to miss the learning potential I asked them what they had learned about implementing a project of this nature. They summarised the discussion that we had as being: I wanted them to summarise the discussion as these key 'words' / phrases might stick in their heads a little longer and help them to avoid the same pitfalls in the future. I can't fault the words that they chose and the team nicely linked them together as indicated in the sketch above. I have summarised their comments as follows: Planning Good planning is essential and in particular having accountability and realistic target

The 'Doing' versus 'Decision' balance

When businesses are struggling to deliver their products and services on time I often see the conflict between the doing tasks and decision tasks. It seems to be a balance that most of us have to deal with at some point in our careers and I think that most of us have a natural preference. As we progress through our job roles we move from lots of doing to lots of decision making, and in-between will be that balance where we find that just working harder won't be the solution. However, when there are decisions to be made in a business it is important for us to be aware of which side of this balance we are leaning towards.

'Designing KPIs to Drive Process Performance' now available in paperback

I'm pleased to announce that my popular KPIs book is now available in paperback via Amazon. The book is aimed at Operations Managers and Directors that need to define key performance indicators that will help the business to improve their performance levels. If you need to improve your on time delivery rates, reduce your costs or improve quality levels then this book can help you get you on your way. If done right, your KPIs can help you to react and steer your business in the right direction, not just tell you how bad (or good) things have been! To get your copy of the book please visit: US : UK : Enjoy the read, 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

Most Improvements Don't Happen Instantaneously

Time is a funny thing. As a society we often contemplate it, and some of us (including me!) have written on the topic of managing it as best we can. So, why is it that there are so many improvement, delivery and project plans that seem to ignore the simple maths that lie behind the scheduling of activities?

The Engineering Fellowship has Arrived!

I have some good news to share! Earlier this year I was awarded my fellowship with the Institute of Engineering and Technology.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Personal Productivity

I was reminded last week of a conversation I had with a mentee of mine from a few years ago. My mentee was try to work out how to improve their personal productivity and after reading a number of books on the subject was feeling confused. I gave them a simple challenge to try and it worked remarkably well. Here it is, so that you can try it out for yourself.