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Invest for Success

I shared this experience with some of my contacts earlier this week, but wanted to post it here as well as it might be of use to some of our readers.

At one of my engagements, I got into a conversation with a VP of Operations who asked “Ellis, what’s the #1 thing we should do to be sure our improvement effort gets off on the right foot?”  Well, I don’t believe there’s only one…here are 3 fundamental elements that I gave him to consider for true, long-term success:

  1. Learning – Help employees to gain an understanding of the fundamental principles of Lean and TPM.  This will give them the knowledge base and understanding they need to not only feel a part of the effort, but to contribute as well.  Put together a plan to educate everyone; it will pay dividends long into the future.
  2. Building Capabilities – Leverage natural working teams and give them the freedom to experiment.  We call this ‘bottom-up’ improvement, improvement that happens every day outside of a formal kaizen event.  Be sure to arm your teams with a good problem solving tool (one based in scientific method) allowing them to get to root cause.
  3. Establishing Standard Work – Developing a systemic process to ensure continuous improvement of best practices is a must.  Most all companies have standards; I find few that keep them current and actually adhere to them consistently.  Setting and adhering to standards gives you a baseline from which to improve and a means to measure your improvement success.

If I were forced to boil it down to just one thing, I’d have to say “invest”.  Invest the time and resources needed to set a solid foundation.

Ellis New, Senior Management Consultant

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