- Don’t believe that training everyone in the organization will do the trick. In fact, unless there is a meaningful project or set of projects to work on, this is a terrible waste of time and money. There may be a few key people that need training up front, but the rest of the organization will learn much better if they “experience” Lean while on a project where they can get hands-on, practical introduction to Lean business process improvement, and mentoring from an experienced BPR coach. The best news about training the entire organization? --- The vendor makes a lot of money!
- Make sure the leadership of the organization is truly on board. Business transformation and process improvement is not easy and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. It is easy to say "yes" to this “ Our team is going to start doing business process improvement, which will save us time and money. Are you okay with that? “ It is much more difficult to say yes to this: “ Our entire organization is going to embark on a business transformation activity that may take years to show permanent results and will mean that some people may lose their current positions and have to be retrained to do other things. Many people will have to take time off from their regular duties to work on improvement projects. There will be a need to conduct consistent communications and get a strong change management, reward and compensation program in place. You will be a key player in this transformation. We will need your support and the allocation of funds to support the project.” Keeping the real costs in time, money and effort a secret is never a good idea.
- If you haven’t done this before, you will need someone to lead you through the process. An experienced BPR/Lean coach will help you plan the program, analyze your current situation, focus you on the most meaningful approach for your organization and coach your team members. Don’t get caught up in the “we’ll just take a few classes and then bring in a facilitator for a one-day working session” mindset. This is an even bigger waste of time and money than sending everyone to class and hoping that “improvements” will just happen as a result. A big part of a business process improvement initiative is putting the plan together, identifying key players and champions, understanding the goals and expectations of the effort and helping the team identify ways in which to measure their success. Planning time is critical. If you leave off this step, you will be seriously disappointed with the results of your BPR efforts.
- Don’t assume you know what is broken and jump in to fix it without looking at the whole process. Most of the core processes in an organization flow back and forth between departments or teams. Fixing a part of the process within one department is called “suboptimization”, because it does not address the entire process. You could spend valuable time and money fixing a small part of the process that might actually be found unnecessary if the entire process is taken into account. You may also improve one part of the process in such a way that it negatively impacts another part of the process down the line. For example, one group “improves” their part of a process by eliminating the entry of a piece of data because they do not use it in their process. The next group must now enter this data because it is critical to their part of the process. Net:zero.
- Be clear on what you are trying to achieve. Are you trying to save money? Improve delivery times? Reduce redundant activities? Free up people for more complex tasks? Improve morale? You may have multiple objectives, but it isn’t enough just to jump into an improvement activity and hope the improvements will speak for themselves. You may want to decrease costs by $20%, but in the process, you may eliminate a position and now you must either lay off an employee or spend money retraining him for a new position. You may think you want to decrease time of delivery by 50%, but in order to do so, you have to spend money to improve your automated tools. If you haven’t really identified and talked about your goals, the potential impacts on your organization, and what you and your leadership team are willing to do to achieve those goals, the process improvement exercise could result in serious frustration for everyone.
Five Ways to a Better Lean ExperienceWritten by Kathryn Douglass
Five Ways to a Better Lean Experience
Business Process Reengineering (BPR), Lean SixSigma Improvement, and efficiency seems to be on everyone’s mind these days.
I’d like to share a few comments that might help your experience go more smoothly.
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