business process improvement

Process mapping forms the basis of how business gets done on a daily basis as well as how the consumer-facing experience reflects those processes. Indeed, for a process to be a positive experience, it should be well-defined from beginning to end; and it all starts with mapping, refining, and codification.  Define the Sequence. For a task to be done efficiently and consistently, each step needs to be defined in a sequence of events that results in a defined goal. Mapping is the organization of how to arrive at a specific goal. Be it just starting your day on the “right foot,” or getting to the moon, it takes a schema of events that creates a chain of planned actions that reach a goal. There can be any number of schemas to reach the same goal. Mapping is the act of choosing the best path to a goal. The Critical Path.…
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Karl Rickman
Most companies don’t understand the effort that it takes to become a Lean company. They all want to be world class but they all want somebody to do it for them, not with them. I constantly get “that doesn’t work for me” or “We don’t have deep pockets like Toyota”. They want to do the same things but expect different results. I’ve heard a million time, “Karl that doesn’t work for me, I tried that!” It amazes me how many of my foreign customers with limited budgets roll up their sleeves, works hard and just “Do It!” It has to start from the top, to get results it’s all about who participates and holds their management accountable. Important things to understand: 1) You have to grasp the situation. 2) You need a clearly communicated vision and targets. It is best for management to be part of setting these targets. 3)…
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Chuck Intrieri
Set high-performance expectation goals & pace of daily support of the new manner of work Engage & empower your people to solve problems Create an organizational structure with readily identified team leaders to allow continuous change to happen Form core teams with strong leader and team members along the path of workflow Breakdown barriers between artificial silos of control so improvements can occur horizontally Foster regular communication within and between workstations within your control as well as outside your department (customer-supplier relationships) Drive reduction in variability by standardizing the work activities, connections, and pathways Implement visual management, with posted daily metrics of value for each work unit reflecting opportunities for change or stability of process Stabilize processes through a continuous focus on waste reduction Move to continuous flow, innovate triggers to ‘pull’ work Identify opportunities for front loading and work simplification Continually push to reduce time waste daily Increase Throughput…
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Business team testing virtual reality headset in meeting
Ron Crabtree The concept of 5S, which is a methodology to reduce waste through a rigorous approach to workplace organization and cleanliness has five steps that loosely translate as Sort, Setup, Scrub, and Shine, Standardize and, finally, Sustain. Until recently, it never really occurred to me that the concept of 5S could be extended creatively to improving processes that have absolutely nothing to do with physical organization. Joann Parrinder is a co-author of our book Driving Operational Excellence and has written a very interesting chapter in it titled “Lean Thinking Applied to Your Idea Development [Life]cycle.” Joann, glad you could join me. Joann Parrinder Thanks, Ron. I’m glad to be here. Let me give you a bit of my background. I have about 15 years of program and project experience and I’m PMP certified in project management. I like to build things, so my projects have primarily been in the…
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Team Of Engineers Having Discussion In Factory
Ron Crabtree We’re going to touch on something near and dear to our hearts in any kind of a business setting. Specifically, identifying an illuminating the sources of business waste. It is my pleasure here to introduce to you in a moment another of the authors of the book, Driving Operational Excellence, Mr. Gary Wickett. In Chapter 14, Gary takes a refreshing look at practical ways to think about waste and a very pragmatic and simple approach to smoking out the true root causes of systemic and process wastes. I like Gary’s chapter so well I included it as reading for the Michigan government process re-engineering program I recently developed and delivered. One of the things I particularly liked about Gary’s chapter is he makes it specific to the service providing industry. He uses a fantastic case study in applying these techniques, so no matter what it is you do,…
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Tokyo, Japan at junction
Supply Chain Management (SCM) and Lean Six Sigma (LSS) have operated pretty much independently of one another as each of the disciplines has evolved over the last 20 years.  What I have found interesting in my work with large and small organizations in the implementation of LSS in operations, and in sales and marketing, is an interesting common thread.  In almost every case as organizations progress down the path of implementing LSS – we end up working on supply chain projects. Why?  It’s really not difficult to understand once we realize that initial efforts in LSS usually focus on internal operations and naturally migrate to look up and down the supply chain.  This most often first occurs when the organization begins to look to increase the component of the Voice of the Customer (VOC) in their activities.  Both Lean and Six Sigma advocate strongly the importance of knowing the customer…
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School Buses on a highway
We recently completed an organizational opportunity assessment for a K-12 public school system in my home state of Michigan.  Implementing Operational Excellence (OpEx) and Lean Six Sigma (LSS) in public school systems is not a totally new idea, but as a practical matter, my research shows less than 1% of school districts nationwide are seriously looking at OpEx as a means to improve. About eight months ago I met a group of school superintendents in Southeast Michigan to offer some ideas on how they could embrace best practices in OpEx and LSS to help them cope with declining funding, enrollments and in some cases, declining outcomes in education for our precious children. I won’t say that the idea that they are probably wasting 30% to 50% of every dollar they are spending to run their school districts was met with much enthusiasm.  In fact, they were not a little defensive.…
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Man using mouse payments online shopping and icon customer network
Bringing new products and services to market quickly, that meet and ideally exceed customer expectations for value utility, needs to be at the forefront of businesses strategic and tactical activities going forward.  In the aerospace and defense arena the need for improvement is being driven by both the government and military as well as by foreign competition (Airbus comes to mind), who are attempting and often succeeding in winning larger market share every year. Although technology can and should be a major area of focus to find ways to collapse product and service delivery times and improve results, I recommend that “good ‘ole Lean” approaches must be carefully integrated in a strategic and tactical manner as well.  In fact, I would argue that if you are not already heavily engaged in leveraging Lean approaches in your product/service design processes, it is reasonable to expect that 80% of the improvements you…
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Marketing Conversion Funnel
Over the last year I have been heavily involved in helping to apply Lean ideas in different service sectors including health benefits administration, medical labs, and most recently, in the marketing and sales arena.  Although there are elements of Lean, Six Sigma, Theory of Constraints and other operations excellence methodologies involved in each case, I continue to find that Lean ideas get the most traction quickly in getting meaningful change underway. Time and again the common theme from businesses in the service sector is: “how can we apply Lean ideas in our situation?”  In the new APICS Communities of practice, I have introduced how 5S can make a powerful difference in service businesses.  We will not discuss it here, but it should be noted that 99% of the time 5S is a great place to start if it is not already ingrained in the culture.  In all service industries, there…
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Lean Thinking, Six Sigma, Principles Of Lean
The ability to reduce lead times is a key differentiator in competitive markets, service industries and the nonprofit arena.  All Lean tools attack waste; and time, specifically lead time, is a key area where waste tends to creep in.  Three Lean tools in particular can help: Value Stream Mapping (VSM), cellular/flow designs, and setup and changeover methods. Map It When we start thinking about reducing lead times, the first step is to build a VSM of the current state processes, recording what is really happening, not what is supposed to be happening.  For example, at a printing company I worked with, the amount of time it took to process a new quote was excessive.  There was a great deal of confusion, finger pointing and guesswork regarding the cycle and what should be done about it.  So, my colleagues and I hoisted a video camera on one shoulder to find out…
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