Mapping the Inefficient Sub Process

Mary discusses how to map processes. Whether the processes are large or small tasks, the steps are the same. They include:

  1. Naming the process
  2. Identifying the start and stop points
  3. Identifying the output of the process
  4. Identifying the customers of the process
  5. Identifying the suppliers of the process
  6. Identifying the inputs of the process
  7. Identifying the top –five to seven high level steps in the process as it currently exists.

This podcast is also available as an article: Mapping the Inefficient Sub Process

Secret to Enabling a Paradigm Shift

Do you have a paradigm? Yes, of course; we all do. Paradigms are what we use as a frame of reference for whatever we do. Paradigms are our boundaries that tell us what to do in order to be successful within those boundaries. Here are some examples of how paradigms can limit success:

“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” – Harry M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” – Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

“There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.” – Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

As you can see, paradigms can be huge inhibitors to success. To enable continuous improvement in our organizations, we need people to shift their paradigms. This can be done by engaging people to work together to see/feel the impact of improvements. Let me show you what I mean.

Let’s say you want your organization to decrease waste. First, put together a team that will lead the change on your behalf. Then invite the team to a Kaizen event and set the stage for the paradigm shift by encouraging people to get to know each other; really get to know each other. By building mutual respect among team members, you are enabling people to shift their paradigms (i.e., those with mutual respect for each other are more open to listening to and accepting new ideas from others).

Another important aspect to enabling paradigm shifts is to engage people to see and feel where improvements are needed. For example, during Kaizen events, people are asked to go out into the workplace to find examples of waste in each of the eight waste categories (defects, overproduction, waiting, non-utilized talent, transportation, inventory, motion, and extra-processing). This exercise alone is an eye-opener for many and their excitement in seeing the wastes firsthand ignites their enthusiasm for  eliminating the wastes. In addition, having groups “see” the wastes by developing value stream maps of the processes solidifies their resolve to improve the situation.

Do you see how we got people to change their paradigm? By teaching about wastes and Lean (in this instance) and allowing people to apply their knowledge by physically searching for each of the eight wastes in their workplace, they experience the waste. Then they look at the wastes in the overall process using value stream maps, all the while interacting and building mutual respect for other team members. There is no better feeling than seeing the shift in thinking from “We’ve always done it this way and it can’t be done differently” to “Wow, look at all the things we can improve to make the process even better.”

With the biggest hurdle now overcome (paradigm shift), all you need to do is maintain the momentum for continuous improvement in your organization.

The Big Lollapalooza: Exposed

Lollapalooza: an extraordinary or unusual thing, person, or  event;
an exceptional example or instance.

When was the last time you experienced a lollapalooza? Well, these days it seems that Lean and Six Sigma are the big lollapaloozas, although Lean and Six Sigma are nothing more than common sense approaches for efficiency. And getting work done efficiently is never an exception to how organizations are (or should be) practicing. Along with effectiveness (doing the right job), efficiency is essential to ensuring productivity.

Efficiency has a long history, starting with scientific management in 1899 with Frederick Taylor’s industrial experiments to Edwards Deming’s Total Quality Movement (TQM) and influence on the Japanese following World War II, to Peter Drucker’s management philosophy in the 1980s and Concept of the Corporation, and, of course, many other influencers in between. Their goal was to enable individuals and organizations to do their best for the least possible cost and maximum gain. Efficiency can save you and your organization time and money, and sometimes in a big way. Let me give you an example.

Client X (not his real name) had a problem with the way his organization’s decentralized branches were managing and delivering services to their customer. Specifically, management felt that branches were duplicating work both within and between branches. One example I was given was that some branches were calling on each other to invite ‘guest staff’ from one branch to speak at another branch for the purpose of sharing vital information that the recipient branch could incorporate into their own processes. Client X clearly needed help.

The first step to solving Client X’s problem was to convene key staff in one room to create a value stream (flow) map of their processes. For this initial meeting, in person attendance was mandatory. Using sticky notes, staff wrote and illustrated each branch’s process(es). When all the sticky notes were posted on the wall, it was clear that branches were duplicating multiple steps that had no value to delivering customer service. In addition, for one process alone, there were six different methods for getting the job done. From here, staff wrote down the time required to perform each step. Then participants had an opportunity to pinpoint areas where delays and complexities were the greatest. With just a few simple improvements, they were able to eliminate 20 processes out of 40, streamline another 15, and reduce waiting time for their customers by 95%. Not bad for a couple of days’ work in the boardroom!

So did Client X and their staff have a “lollapalooza” moment? Sure, they probably did. My take on this, however, is that through Lean and Six Sigma concepts, efficiency and effectiveness have been re-invented in order to help a worldwide sagging economy. We needed something new, something trendy, so that people and organizations would stop throwing time and money away. If you haven’t jumped on the efficiency and effectiveness bandwagon, you must have money to burn.