How to Jump-Start Improvement

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Many companies begin performance improvement initiatives with 5S, a Lean tool that involves workplace organization. 5S reduces clutter in offices, warehouses and manufacturing floors and creates quick, visible improvements to jump start employee engagement in the process.

The best initial workplace organization projects are designed to:

  1. Be highly visible – people need to see what is going on. This builds curiosity and a desire to become involved, so the effort can easily spread throughout the organization.
  2. Ensure success and build support – if you want support for the process, people need to see that it works! Be sure to pick a work location where success is ensured.
  3. Make work life easier – the best projects really make a difference to the people at the point of work by making the process easier and more successful.

Click here to read more about how to get more bang for your improvement buck

 

© 2018 Rick Pay. All rights reserved.

How To Jump-Start Improvement

Many companies start Performance Improvement initiatives with 5S, a Lean tool that involves workplace organization. 5S reduces clutter in offices, warehouses and manufacturing floors and creates quick, visible improvements to jump start employee engagement in the process.

The best initial workplace organization projects are designed to:

  1. Be highly visible – people need to see what is going on. This builds curiosity and a desire to become involved, so the effort can easily spread throughout the organization.
  2. Assure success and build support – if you want support for the process, people need to see that it works! Be sure to pick a work location where success is ensured.
  3. Make work life easier – the best projects really make a difference to the people at the point of work by making the process easier and more successful.

For more on how to get more bang for your improvement buck, read more in my latest Growth Accelerator newsletter.

 

© 2017, Rick Pay. All rights reserved.

Simplify

Many companies start Continuous Improvement initiatives with 5S, workplace organization. This reduces clutter in offices, warehouses and manufacturing floors and creates quick, visible improvements to jump start employee engagement in the process.

Another way to jump start the effort is through simplification. For example, companies can reduce the number of suppliers, the number of SKUs (stock keeping units, or part numbers) and even the number of approvals required to do just about anything in the organization.

When I first started in my prior position as VP, Operations at a rapidly growing manufacturer, I had to approve all purchase orders for manufacturing materials over a certain dollar amount. One day as I sat there signing a pile of POs, I asked myself, am I not going to sign any of these? Will I shut down production because I won’t sign a PO? Is there a better way to control the flow of materials than inserting myself as a roadblock?

From that point forward, I never signed another PO for production materials. The rule was, if the PO is within the plan, issue it. Make sure there are processes, reports and measures in place to be sure we aren’t building inventory or buying parts we don’t need, but otherwise, let it flow.

Even reducing authorizations helps increase flow, and cut costs and lost time. To start continuous improvement, simplify in every facet of operations and supply chain. That way you can begin to accelerate profits and growth.

© 2015 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved

Getting to Great Requires Great Thinking

I am a member of a LinkedIn discussion group for APICS (American Production and Inventory Control Society). Recently there was a post about how to define the most effective inventory investment. Surprisingly, not one of all the industry professionals who responded was thinking “great.” They suggested looking at history, forecasts, customer needs, shifting materials to suppliers and other ideas, all of which are useful and would help their companies be “good,” but none of which will make a company a world-class performer.

Look for Breakthrough Results, Not Just Incremental Change

This means thinking differently about how you do things, not just slowly improving the current methods. To be “great,” companies should try to slash inventory throughout the supply chain. Companies can provide excellent customer service with very high inventory turns. When I benchmark industries, I find the top quartile of inventory turns will be 4x or more what that average is. For one client in particular, best in class is 136 turns. While my client doesn’t expect to get to that number, their old target was 8 turns, and now it is 26.

Doing It Differently
Thinking about breakthrough results creates a climate where people realize they need to do things differently. That is how many of the leading edge techniques came to be. For my client above, breakthrough thinking included:

  • Innovative partnerships with their suppliers
  • New approaches to warehouse productivity
  • Using Lean tools such as 5S
  • Engagement by the company leadership including both the CEO and CFO

Of course, it is important to consider the impact on the customer, but to enact dramatic change, you need to think well beyond your current methods. You need to use breakthrough thinking to be “great.”

© 2013 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved

Leadership Can Be Really Simple

I am currently working with a client to reduce materials costs, increase inventory turns and improve warehouse productivity. We started with warehouse organization and cleanup using a 5S technique from Lean. In the first couple of weeks we filled up an eight yard dumpster and organized and identified the parts that remained.

They are already seeing savings by not reordering parts they previously couldn’t find. They’ve also returned parts to suppliers for credit and re-deployed others to other warehouses where they could be used. All of this in just a few short weeks. The employees are thrilled with their neat, organized work place.

Setting Expectations

As part of the process they posted two signs around the facilities. One lists the 5Ss (sort, shine, set-in-order, standardize and sustain), and the other says “A Day’s Work In A Day,” which means people need to finish the day’s work before they go home. No one had ever told them that before.

Leadership can be simple. Sometimes all you have to do is tell people what is expected. Good employees can then take the reins and go.

© 2013 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved.

The Two Questions to Ask Before Launching Lean

Many companies launch their lean journey by implementing the tools of lean, often starting with 5S workplace organization. But for sustainable results, companies need to begin at the beginning: selection and design of the products they plan to manufacture or distribute.

Eliminate the Waste, or Eliminate the Product?

Lean is all about eliminating waste, but sometimes we find ourselves working to eliminate waste in processes or products that should themselves be eliminated. Product selection and design are of primary importance, and if a product is unnecessary, why spend time reducing the waste associated with it?

Two Questions

When I help my clients improve their supply chains and reduce inventory, we start with two questions:

1) Are we carrying too many products that are duplicates or obsolete?

2) What can we do with product design to utilize common parts, reduce complexity or use lower cost raw materials?

Simplify, Reduce, Remove

The leading place to look for breakthrough lean results is the basic makeup of your product portfolio. Simplifying design, reducing the number of parts and removing extra steps in handling or production can reduce cost and inventory…quickly.

© 2013 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved.

 

 

5S Works – Even In Dirty Environments!

Work place organization (5S) is a basic component of any process improvement methodology.  As you can see from the before and after pictures below, it even works in dusty/dirty environments such as this fiberglass fabrication plant.  After this production supply room was reorganized, productivity went up (workers didn’t have to spend so much time searching for things), inventory went down (they found things they didn’t know they had), and stock-outs almost disappeared.

BEFORE

AFTER

© 2010 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved

Pilot Projects – Vital Part of Continuous Improvement

“We try everything in a little way first – -we will rip out anything once we discover a better way, but we have to know absolutely that the new way is going to be better than the old before we do anything drastic.” – Henry Ford – My Life and Work.

The question of where to start a Lean project often comes up at my clients.  Many companies start with 5S, work place organization, because it is simple, has quick results, and is very visible.  It usually enhances safety and quality, and can improve productivity. But Lean and other process and productivity improvement tools really produce results when you get into the meat of the issue, doing actual work/process improvement projects.  The question again, is where to start.

In the past, I have found it to be very effective to start with a pilot project rather than trying to embark on the continuous improvement journey across the entire operation.  Many discussions have taken place among consultants and managers about where to have the pilot.  Should it be somewhere simple?

I believe that the pilot must be 1) highly visible, 2) have a deep impact on the organization, and 3) must be successful.  You want the employees to see what is going on so a ground swell of excitement spreads across the organization, anticipating their turn to do such wonderful and fun things. You want to measure results that are meaningful and have the charts show great progress.

Above all, it must work!  This takes careful planning and execution of the pilot.  But, that said, a successful pilot will launch a successful transformation of the entire organization, feeding on the results everyone can see.  It proves that continuous improvement can work, and sets the stage for more success.

© 2010 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved