If you have been following along with our Lean Implementation series you have now completed analysis and assessment in the planning stage and your organization is fully engaged in training, improvement projects and the actual tactical initiatives that support the building of a kaizen culture. By now you are probably seeing some results in very specific areas of your organization and are starting to ponder the thought, "how do we keep all these great changes?" Well that is where stage 3 begins, continuously improving and sustaining the changes. Here we will look at 3 key elements that will support the changes that have already began and help to continue improving your department/organization.
Continue developing and training teams
In the spirit of kaizen we want to ensure that the three key elements of our strategic implementation stays focused on people, processes and the systems or technology the organization is currently engaged in improving, which leads us to the first important tactic of continuing to develop and train teams that are focused on removing waste and transforming areas of the business, in short keep training your teams. Additionally we want to ensure that trainers are trained in order to spread the new knowledge and skills that each individual is currently developing. These types of activities are commonly referred to as train the trainer. By developing leaders that can turn around and develop other leaders you will support a community based culture where everyone can not only understand the dynamic changes occurring around them but can also assist in ensuring the capability of each team.
Utilize a balanced scorecard and make your metrics visual
A balanced scorecard is a list of the financial and operational measurements that can be used to continue evaluating the results of your activities and the organization's performance against those measurements. Generally the scorecard focuses on 4 overarching areas of measurement: Customer perspective, financial perspectives, process perspectives and learning and innovation. Using a scorecard connects the measurements to the goals and objectives and allows you to continuously monitor progress towards the goals. Although the balanced scorecard might not always be streamed across television screens in your shop the key performance indicators that you have set to measure progress towards objectives should be shared with appropriate individuals. When setting your key performance indicators keep in mind that lagging indicators can not be influenced as well as leading indicators which tells us if we are setting indicators for change it may be best to establish a leading indicator in order to influence and change results towards the overarching objectives.
Find a way to share and benchmark
The concept of yokoten can be very powerful in sustaining change. Yokoten refers to the sharing of knowledge or experiences laterally within an organization. Since we are building a lean community and culture sharing can be a very effective and quick way to apply positive results to other parts of the organization. One other aspect of sustainment can be found in benchmarking other great companies. this can be done on three levels which are: process level benchmarking, best-in-class benchmarking and competitive benchmarking.
Sustainment and continuing to improve can be a challenge as it is natural to want to "return" to what you feel comfortable doing, however by establishing measurements, training teams and looking for guidance outside of the bubbles we work in the act of continuously improving or sustaining results can be achievable with some work. Next week we will address the most important aspect of our PDCA based implementation, again.
Last week we left off our Lean implementation with a clearly laid out plan on a 1 year road map. If you remember we first went through analyzation by mapping the organizations "door to door" current state value stream. This value stream helped us to understand what was going on right now not what should be going on. Next we identified the organizations strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats by conducting a SWOT analysis. Having analyzed every portion of the organization it was then time to start the assessment and establish metrics/key performance indicators that would help us gauge our journey and ensure it stays on track. Then after measurements were established to track the course towards our vision we were able to identify some "Gaps," those gaps helped us to plan out the actions needed in order to begin closing the gaps. So, ultimately the output of our analysis and assessment is a clearly laid out plan of tactical activities that will guide the organization towards the vision and objectives. Now we are ready to begin the "Do" stage.
The do stage is all about the execution of the plan we generated in the prepare phase of our lean implementation. There will be 3 key elements that will go into this phase of the journey, which ultimately should begin moving the strategy further ahead.
Training and development
Like any other strategy "training and development" are one of the first big steps for the organization. Employees not only need to know what the strategy is but they need to understand how they can support it so they can do just that. The training should ensure that employees have the necessary skills and experience in order to complete any new roles or responsibilities they will have as a result of the deployment of a new or further initiative. If everyone is setup to succeed the overall strategy will succeed too, think of it like water around a boat as the water rises on each of the sides the boat inevitably begins to rise too and so will your organization/department and individuals.
Very Specific Kaizens
Of course there is no standard recipe for what kaizen event or projects should be deployed, but there is the prepare phases roadmap and assessment that was performed. The specific kaizens that are on your road map are the gaps that were identified in the assessment of the organization, they may also simply be some of the "opportunities" found in the SWOT analysis that you can now move forward with. Your very specific kaizens should be those that were laid out in the 1 year plan of the preparation stage, now it's time to execute each of them. Remember metrics were established not just to gauge the journey but to ensure the tactical events are infact pointing you in the right direction. You will know if they aren't and You will know if they are.
Application of appropriate tools
Now your lasered in on specific improvement events and employees are trained in the basic elements of your new lean strategy. You may even have some experienced employees on staff who have been through different implementations before, those individuals can be a great asset. With experience and trained resources we need to give them opportunities to now execute and develop their skill set. This stage will begin to apply tools such as: 5S, VSM, SMED and Poke yoke to the appropriate processes and areas in your organization.
After the application of appropriate tools your organization should be looking more efficient and have noticeably less waste in both the overall value stream and some targeted areas of the organization. Finally after completion of your road map the resources you have may be starting to notice they have more time for improvements after they get through the initial J-curve of the strategy.
Well it may seem like at this point of implementation that everything is done and complete, it's not we're only halfway through our PDCA implementation and a small percent towards the reults years of repetition can bring. Next week we will advance one more stage into the "C" or continuous improvement stage.
A little over sixty years ago, Dr. W. Edwards Deming visited Japan. His purpose in going there was to share what we know today as the PDCA cycle. Based on the scientific method the PDCA cycle works in cyclical iterations, with each step moving the practitioner closer to their objective.
Over the years the PDCA cycle has been used for process improvements, quality projects and developing critical thinkers. In more recent years the PDCA cycle has been utilized with great success at a strategic level. Yes we are hinting that aggregate activities that impact the bottom line and resources can experience transformative results when the PDCA cycle is applied. In today's Tuesday tip, we will talk about the first stage of lean implementation and how continuous improvement can be driven using the PDCA cycle.
Assuming you have a vision established, we are ready to begin. Oh and our apologies but we refer to PDCA in this article as Prepare, Do, Continuously Improve and Again. So let's jump into the first part of implementation "prepare."
What does it mean to "prepare?"
One definition of the term prepare is: to make something ready. In order for us to make our organization ready for a lean implementation we must first look at the current state of the organization. This look at the current state is your opportunity to strategically analyse where we are at. A few key steps in analysing your organization will be understanding what is happening and preparing a plan for implementation.
Step 1- Understand
The purpose first is for everyone to understand exactly where you are. One fantastic tool you can use in your understanding of the current state is a current state value stream map. You will want to map the "door to door" process at a fairly high level (note- eventually you should look at an extended view). The objective of this value stream map is to take a hard look at the organization and identify opportunities to improve.
Step 2 - Take a SWOT at it!
Okay, now that we understand the organization much better we are ready to start fixing everything. Wrong! taking a SWOT at it would not be the best swing at the hundreds of flies you most likely have found, however performing a SWOT analysis will keep you on track. Before we go fixing everything we first should identify what are our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats from both an internal and external perspective.
Step 3 - Measure it
After all of the analysis and understanding we are now ready to establish some metrics for assessing and measuring our journey towards the vision. These key performance indicators should be linked to the strategic objectives that are specific for your organization. Hurry up and take your time establishing these KPI's they will be used throughout your strategic implementation to show performance levels and track progress towards objectives. This is the stage where benchmarking can be very powerful. Some possible key performance indicators you may want to use are; On-time delivery, first pass yield, Inventory turnover, fill rate or even our T.E.M.P. Assessment which takes a broad look at both qualitative and quantitative measures.
By now you should have a very clear understanding of where you are at, additionally your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and the threats that may be creeping up are out in the open and key leadership has been made aware. Finally establishing key performance indicators will help you track progress and notify you of GAPS which points us to the next step of the "prepare" phase.
Step 4 - Plan of attack
Now it's feeling like strategy. We have understanding, Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and gaps and issues that have been preventing us from reaching goals and objectives are all laying on the table ready to be improved. Those gaps may be thinking "let's just close" at this point. Why? Because they are being measured and what get's measured can no longer hide. The last and final step of preparation is to plan your implementation and how the organization will handle behavior and culture changes that will undoubtedly come. This stage is all about laying out the appropriate "tactical activities" that will support accomplishing strategic objectives. A Yamazumi chart like the one shown below will be helpful in laying your plan out and showing everyone where the plan is at.
Remember just as the saying goes if you fail to plan you can plan to fail here too, so be sure that your preparation phase includes a deep analysis of opportunities in the current state and that you have established KPI's that provide a clearly defined assessment of exactly where you are at. In the next Tuesday Tip we will jump into the Do Phase of our 4 step Continuous improvement implementation.