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Understanding Your Change Management Journey

When we are attempting to bring about a change within our business, whether this is reducing lead times , improving product quality, or changing the culture towards continuous improvement it can sometimes be hard to know where people are on this journey. Knowing where your team is on their journey helps plan for the next step. For those of us planning the changes it can be simple, we can see and understand the whole journey. We know all the pieces of the puzzle and how we expect them to fit together. Other people don't. To become more effective at guiding people through the changes we need to take the time to find out where they are on the journey, in terms of understanding and enthusiasm. By doing this we can undertake the right kind of education and explain how the change will benefit them longer term (hopefully to provide a good enough reason to make the change). If we keep going at our own pace (and neglecting the team's need for understanding and suppor

Keep Lean Manufacturing Simple

Today I delivered a Lean Manufacturing development session with Alan Whittaker from the Manufacturing Advisory Service (on behalf of the South Tyneside Manufacturing Forum). It was a great session and a lot of ground was covered. One of the interesting points, and the reason for this post, was that it was agreed that simplicity needs to be at the heart of the lean approach to business improvement . Finding the right tools for the job is essential when we aim to improve our business' processes, we need to choose a small selection of appropriate approaches and really make them work. Lego parts from the simulation game - ready for the next improvement round! We could spend all of our time testing and trialling new approaches on our business but the basic tool kits can  help us get a long way along the improvement road before we have to consider more sophisticated options. In the session we reviewed approaches such as takt time, line balancing, waste reduction, cont

Sheep Spas International [Guest Post]

I’ve recently joined an entrepreneurs support network. There are five of us; Graeme  Pegman (Vital Wealth Management), Giles Johnston (Smartspeed Consulting), Simon Heal (Simon CGI) and Colin Bell (Paramount Associates) and we get together every month to share ideas and suggestions on how we can each develop our businesses. We cram a lot into the sessions and I always come away from them with lots of great new initiatives to work on. Yesterday when I was giving the guys an update on Sogno I used the phrase ‘we don’t do ‘sheepdip’ training’ and Simon asked what I meant by that. I explained that it is a term used in organisational development to describe the one size fits all, mandatory training programmes that we will have experienced if we have spent any significant time working in a large organisation. Are your staff running away from the 'sheep dip'? Simon shared with us the little movie that ran in his head when he heard the term – sheep being forced into a pen,

Get More Done: Using Meeting Agenda's for Faster Meetings

Do you get stuck in meetings that take too long, don't get to the point and don't stimulate the appropriate actions? I've been in loads of those too. When I told my boss (in a job I had a long time ago) that I wouldn't attend any more meetings if there wasn't an agenda I was told that I was 'a troublemaker'. How I laugh looking back! A clear agenda allows everyone to prepare properly and shorten meetings. Having an agenda for a meeting implies a degree of preparation by the organiser. Circulation of an agenda prior to a meeting allows for appropriate preparation by the attendees. Swift sharing of information based on an agenda, preparation in advance and having a clear focus of what the meeting is designed to achieve can make meetings speed up (and be a whole lot more effective). If you have a regular meeting then 'standard' agendas can work really well, as long as the meetings are punchy and people prepare properly for the

Keep Your Processes Up To Scratch

One we implement a new way of working, or a new process, that is not the end of the story. Just like the commissioning of a new piece of equipment there needs to be the follow up, whether this is training, ongoing maintenance or the creation of a de-commissioning plan. As a minimum for new ways of working we need to make sure that we have some form of auditing in place to verify two things: A simple checklist can help you periodically monitor your processes. 1 - what we said we would do is being done. 2 - the process delivers what it was designed to do, and that this meets the current needs of the process. This needn't be too onerous either, the occasional conversation, attendance at a meeting once in a while, or reviewing of the associated Key Performance Indicators are all examples of how it can be done. There doesn't have to be formal paperwork either, just engagement with the change / method / process. The important issue is that this approach make

There's Never a Good Time To Improve - So Do It Now!

When embarking on new projects with clients one of the first barriers I experience is about timing. Everyone is so busy, and with multiple different pressures on them, that starting a process of change just seems to be at the wrong time. Is it the right time for Continuous Improvement? In my experience there never really is a good time to engage with improvement projects, you are either struggling to cope (when things are going wrong) or struggling to cope (when things are going incredibly well)! So, two things come to mind.  Firstly, carve out some time regardless. There appears to never be a good time, and if you take some time out and improve the situation then you will get a benefit in some shape or form that you can build upon. Secondly, improvement doesn't have to be onerous, it can be short, sweet and effective, just like the method we share in our guide about Continuous Improvement .  If it doesn't feel like the right time to improve your

What is a real delivery 'priority'?

Many businesses have some kind of priority system for identifying orders that need to be given special attention. I realise that having this 'turbo boost' capability for your business is a good thing to have, if it is used sparingly. Sometimes businesses can come unstuck when they fail to agree on ' what is a priority ' and fall into the trap of labelling everything as a priority. If you are in a backlog situation then everything looks like a priority, but the system then no longer serves its purpose. If you are in a backlog situation and use a priority system but aren't getting anywhere then it might be time to rebalance your order books, provide new dates to your customers, and agree on a formal method of identifying and managing priorities within your business. Giles Johnston Author, Consultant and Chartered Engineer