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.
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