Saturday, 30 June 2018

An OTIF Performance Lesson From the World Cup

If you know me personally you will be aware that I am not a huge football fan... but I do love a World Cup.

As with most things that I watch, or participate in, I like to learn something from the experience.

Tonight, whilst watching the Uruguay vs Portugal match I was comparing the set pieces that the teams have prepared with the idea of scenario planning in business. For many businesses scenario planning is something that is in the domain of strategic work and is for executives only. This isn't accurate of course and applying the idea of scenario planning to your operational activities is a great way to drive up your operational performance when the going gets tough.

In football their scenario plans (or, set pieces) are carefully considered. When a certain situation faces a team they can then choose to enact one of their set pieces, hopefully increasing their chances of success. The key point is that these set pieces have been thought about in advance.


scenario planning for otif improvement


In business, most teams walk into the sticky stuff, wonder how it has all happened and then complain about the situation. There is no preparation for this situation, no consideration of how best to tackle this combination of events and performance usually wanes until the 'good old days' return (which may return in minutes, days, weeks or never!).

Scenario planning is usually about optimisation. In my experience it is unlikely that the precise scenario that you plan for will appear, but you will have developed something that you can apply that will give you the best outcome. It is like giving your business gears; some gears are good for going uphill and some are good for economy / fuel consumption. I have clients that are able to flex their team and their approach rapidly because they have thought through the implications of regular scenarios that affect their business (staff reductions, order overload etc...) and they have the performance gains to show that this kind of thinking is useful.

If football teams thinking about scenarios works for them, why couldn't the same approach add value to your business? Scenarios need to be thought out in advance and discussed enough that people know what to do when the time comes, even a visible flowchart detailing the options in the office can work well for most businesses.

If you want the best chance for your teams to win, and the working environment is not consistently perfect, this something worth thinking about.


All the best,

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.


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Wednesday, 27 June 2018

When new systems and processes can't trump discipline

Most of my working life revolves around developing new processes and embedding systems for my clients.

Sometimes, however, I find that these requests for new ways of working are masking a deeper issue - a lack of discipline amongst the senior management team and staff.

Have you experienced this in your place of work?

The logical extreme of this conversation is to automate your processes and take the human component out of the equation. But, if you want people in your business (as they are usually the source of good ideas and innovation, as well as problems...), how do you develop the right kinds of habits and discipline into your daily operations?

There are lots of good ways to consider, including:

The above isn't a definitive list, but a good starter for ten. If you are struggling with discipline within your business then you could use the above as a checklist and see what opportunities you have to improve.

Great processes and discipline go hand in hand. The warning from this post is that if you don't address discipline issues in your business (defined loosely as doing the right things at the right time in the right way) then no matter how much you embrace continuous improvement you just won't get the results that you want.

Something to mull over?

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.

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Monday, 25 June 2018

Do You Set Your Team Up To Win?

I had a great time tonight watching my daughter and her peers at the ice skating competition. Some of the skating was great, some was less so, but every single skater performed which was brilliant to witness.

Every skater, no matter their performance, got several rounds of applause and it was deserved in every case. Everyone wanted to see them win and communicated this with them through their applause.

This got me thinking. I often ask my clients if they set their teams up to win, usually reflecting on a current performance objective or continuous improvement goal. In many cases the conversation raises a few opportunities that my client can look at that can increase the chances of their teams winning at the challenges before them.

Considering this same topic, with the skaters I saw tonight they:
  • Had been given / made time to learn and practice.
  • Were supported by someone that could mentor and guide them.
  • Their objective was crystal clear to them.
  • A clear plan was in place and being followed.
How does this compare with your teams? Are they set up to win in a similar way?

I'm sure that you would rather be cheering on your team instead of scolding them (all of the time).

If you haven't thought about how to set your team up to win, reflect on the above and come up with your own support strategy.

And, if you need some additional ideas around this area check out Making It Happen. Setting your team up to win is lesson 28.

All the best,

Giles


0,Making It Happen


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.


continuous improvement toolkit

Sunday, 24 June 2018

How do you open and close your improvement tasks?

Loose ends... they're a pain aren't they?

Everytime you open up something to improve it you risk having a loose end.

Discover additional ways to manage
change in your business
The more improvements you get involved with the more loose ends you could have.

Too many loose ends can result in confusion, de-motivation and no tangible results.

One option is to limit the amount of improvements you work on at any one time.

Another option is to work in small packets of time where you open and close improvements rapidly, so that you never finish a period of time (say a day, or a week) with the loose ends left, well... loose!

A further option is to design your improvement activities so that they can be fully completed within a certain time period (again, a day or a week are two good options).

The situation that we want to avoid is constantly starting improvement projects and then moving to another improvement without (in some shape or form) landing the project. Completing a chunk of work on an improvement project is usually better than starting lots of projects with good intentions and yielding no tangible results.

How you open and close your projects is partly a preference to how you work and partly a conscious decision to having your eyes wide open about how you manage change within your business.

If you haven't got a preference yet, perhaps today is the day to get one.

Giles

0,Effective Continuous Improvement

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.


Saturday, 23 June 2018

Making It Happen (continuous improvement toolkit) has been revamped - save 50% today

I'm pleased to announce that my continuous improvement course has been revamped, updated and is available as an instant download (all of the tools are now available on day one).

To celebrate this release you can get 50% off the price ($67 USD) by using the code MIH50 at the checkout.

The course is now available as a 146 page PDF file that accesses all 28 of the templates / worksheets / explainers simply (no more file structures to navigate!).

Making It Happen includes all of the original 30 'lessons', the 4 sprint projects and now also includes the 8 Productivity Boost modules. To find out more about the contents of these modules click here.

To get hold of your copy click on the link below and get started today. I offer a 30 day money back guarantee, so what's to lose?

0,Making It Happen

Enjoy,

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.


Friday, 8 June 2018

A Little Bit of Structure Can Go a Long Way

It never ceases to amaze me how casual some businesses are when it comes to organising the way their business operates. It is true, a little bit of structure can go a long way.

There is a big difference between a rigid, bureaucratic, organisation that can't flex or adapt to changing customer demands and one that is loose and wild. Finding a balance is an essential task for most businesses.

With a little bit of structure you can:

  • Run meetings with purpose, that generate the right kinds of actions.
  • Manage results, by ensuring that the inputs and outputs of your processes are 'fit for purpose'.
  • Ensure that your teams know what they are doing and are on track with their performance.
  • Deliver the right level of quality products and services for your customers.
... and more.

Without a little bit of structure you can find yourself getting into a knot, not entirely sure where you are, where you are going to or how to approach the journey.

I like flexibility, but I like it around a structure of some description. When I have managed manufacturing operations in the past it was an integral part of achieving the results that we produced. For my clients it has often been the missing step to help their talented staff to achieve something meaningful.

For you? Is it worth a few minutes reflection to scan your business and ask the question "would a little more structure help improve our 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.



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Wednesday, 6 June 2018

What is an action (that helps improve business performance)?

Action boards are an integral part of effective team meetings.

Constantly capturing actions to remove obstacles from the day to day operations, identifying small improvement opportunities and avoiding having to 'remember to remember' tasks really can help a team to perform at higher levels.

However, the other day I was asked a question - "what is an action?"

I have never had to really think about this topic, it has always come naturally to me (and I probably capture more actions in my to do list system than I need to!), so I came to an agreement with the team.

So, this got me thinking about when is an action actually an action (and when is it something else) and I thought I would share the list we developed with you. If you are struggling to get your team meetings and action board off the ground you might find it to be useful.

Here it is:

The following are not actions

  • The task can be done in less than 10 minutes, directly after the (morning) meeting.
  • The task is part of routine, day-to-day, work.


The following can be considered actions

  • The task is waiting, or stuck.
  • We want to ensure that we don’t forget the task.
  • The task involves a third party or multiple team members.
  • It is a continuous improvement opportunity.
  • Chasing of the task is required.
  • The task isn’t for today.
  • We’re not sure – IF IN DOUBT – ADD!!!
Feel free to copy the list across and adjust it to suit the needs of your business.


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.



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Tuesday, 5 June 2018

A Small Continuous Improvement Consideration That Can Lead to Big Results

Are you like me and want all of your continuous improvement projects to be delivered at once?

The fact is that there isn't enough time in the day (let alone if you have a day job to contend with too!) or enough resource to call up to engage with all of your improvement projects at once.

I am a big fan of effective prioritisation of improvement opportunities and so I thought I'd share with you part of a conversation I recently had with one of my client's member of staff.

In front of us was a number of projects. Each one looked like it would give the business a real boost in terms of tangible results. But, when you listed them out there was a clear priority based on the dependencies.

In this list was one of my hot topics for this business, kitting of orders. I spotted this and naturally became excited; its benefits will be huge for the business.

Then I looked at the other options; cell design, stock control, 5S etc...

The reality is that I could either have my preference now, but not see optimal / maximised results.

Or, I could wait for a few pre-cursor projects to take place and witness the full scale of the results that I wanted to witness.





Being clear about the relationship between the opportunities and their impact was essential in this case to plot out a clear path through the myriad of projects that were available to us.

Two questions for you:

Do you have an effective approach to evaluating your continuous improvement opportunities?

Do you need to consider the relationships and inter-dependencies of your projects to ensure that you get the best return for your efforts?

Mull over these questions and see if you can improve upon your existing approach and get 'more bang for your buck' with your improvements.


All the best,

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.



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Avoid mistakes with your SOPs!