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'Winning Ugly' with Process Improvement

When we start out on our improvement projects, whether we are 'going lean' or for another reason, we sometimes find that our grand plan of how the improvement is going to progress differs from what we actually experience. An approach often referred to as 'winning ugly' (achieving the result, but possibly not in the way you first envisioned, is a nice way of putting it) is a good one to keep in mind when you are faced with projects (and even individual meetings within those projects!) that aren't going to plan. An obvious point that I see on a regular basis is the amount of detail and planning that is put into the improvement project plans because of the fear of having to win ugly. Now, this is not to say that you should skimp on the details and start with a poorly thought out project, but the phrase 'fit for purpose' certainly comes to mind. Unnecessary polishing of project plans delays taking action. Get the plan fit for purpose and then start taking a

3 Ideas to Improve 'Process Improvement' - Slideshow

Earlier this week I gave a presentation around the subject of improving your process improvement projects. The embedded link below is the annotated version of this presentation. Smartspeed Consulting Limited Taking the frustration out of on time delivery.

Trust MRPII to assist your business (just like your Sat Nav!)

As I was finishing the 'go live' of a client's MRPII system, I found myself explaining to their members of staff that trusting the MRP suggestions is a lot like just trusting the Sat Nav you have in your car. I'm sure you've experienced the time when you're Sat Nav has told you to take the next left but you decided to carry on driving straight ahead. When you get to your destination you often have the insight that you're Sat Nav was in fact correct and had provided you with the best route. Your route was sub-optimal in this example. MRPII systems are very similar, we may not understand why they're telling us what to do, but with a bit of digging, and a little bit of understanding we can understand why it is doing what it is doing. Once this comfortable state has been achieved we can then follow the MRPII instructions and use our new found time savings to better effect, such as our continuous improvement projects (rather than running around like headles

Working with (in)formal production systems

I have just finished reading a book from the 1980s about MRPII implementations, something I found on Ebay a couple of months ago (and something generally hard to come across to buy). One of the recurring themes in the book was about moving away from informal systems (and workarounds) towards making a formal system work. I had to check the date of the book... It's funny how the principles of production and logic are timeless, as are the ways in which people attempt to override them! Giles Smartspeed Consulting Limited Taking the frustration out of on time delivery.

Now you have to put in the hard work

Once we have set up our new processes of working, and have developed our action plans to make the improvements we want in our businesses then it is now time for us to do the hard work. Many times I have seen brilliant plans, and excellent production systems, fail due to a lack of discipline and hard work. As much I like to help people to develop easier ways working there are just some jobs that require a degree of 'grind'. It is one thing to establish and define the daily routines required to make a business function or process work perfectly, but it is another entirely to establish those habits and make the plans a reality. If you are in the position where you have a fantastic process and yet it is not yielding the results you want it to generate, then it might be time to look at how you support the key players in your team and reinforce the message of what is required to happen when. Smartspeed Consulting Limited Taking the frustration out of on time delivery.

Don't (just) accept the status quo

When you are embarking on process improvement activities don't just accept the same old way of working that you always have. If you fail to challenge the things that don't work correctly, you will find that you are unable to make the level of progress you are surely capable of making. Tasks in the business that are there to help work around problems in the system need to be challenged head-on. This may require some root cause analysis work and a dash of creativity when you are undertaking this work. Ensuring that people who operate various parts of your business processes understand the idea of closed loop feedback is essential. We can fix our problems if we don't bury our heads in the sand. Many people in business will accept the way things are rather than get uncomfortable and challenge the way that things are happening. This is especially apparent when people operate computer software systems such as MRP/ERP. Quite often the designers of the software understand your

Lead Time Reduction and 4 x 100m Women's World Records

It was really interesting for me to watch the women's 4 x 100m relay race last night, from a business process improvement perspective. For years I have referred to the way that a business flows work between its functions as a relay race, with smooth transitions being the order of the day. Last night's race was superb to watch, with a flurry of legs and arms with an almost slow motion passing of the baton occurring at the end of each leg of the race. Business can be frenetic, but the passing of work between functions of a business can still be smooth, timely, appropriate and of a high quality. By focussing on the handovers in your business you can reduce the lead time it takes your business to deliver it's products and services and this can improve both the customer service you offer and the profit you retain. Taking this lesson from the American team is certainly worth thinking about. Giles P.S. A video of the race can be seen here -