Four Challenges of Managing in a Lean Environment, Part 3
Challenge: Knowing when our work is meeting customer needs in quality and quantity
The final task of the Lean Manager is to monitor and maintain performance by measuring it. You may have heard the adage, “what gets measured, gets done.” Unfortunately, the measures typically in place in government are overall costs and little else. Using total cost or total FTEs as a blunt instrument, budget reduction efforts may ensnare your organization in a cost-cutting spiral without a way to defend yourself. What you need is a way to tie outcomes to process measurements. Thankfully, this is how to improve performance as well.
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Four Challenges of Managing in a Lean Environment, Part 2
Planning - The Eye of the Storm
Challenge: Maintaining a plan in a dynamic environment
While Leading is the most visible role of the Lean Manager, Planning is often the most invisible. It requires a mix of experience and attention to detail, taking into account the current state and potential or likely changes in the environment.
How Do Momentum and Feedback Factor into Lean Management?
The Lean Manager is a student of the game. S/he understands physics and systems theory – recognizing that the conservation of momentum and the feedback control loop are two of the most important laws in management.
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Four Challenges of Managing in a Lean Environment, Part 1
If we have an overarching goal as an organization, wouldn’t it be ‘habitual excellence’? How do we adopt that habit? Since the success of every project, every initiative, every department-wide goal depends upon executive support, it follows that excellence itself depends on management. If we want to create an excellent Lean organization, we have to manage that way – there must be a corollary to Lean operations. We must manage a Lean environment using Lean principles.
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DENVER (April 6, 2012) – WillowTree Advisors (WTA), a business and change management consulting firm, has been awarded a Colorado statewide Lean Six Sigma master services agreement for a series of projects to introduce and manage business-efficiency methodology to achieve improvement of business processes within Colorado State government.
The State of Colorado’s Lean Initiative is based on the fundamental idea that the State can develop a sustainable Lean culture. The purpose of this program is to generate a high level of acceptance for implementation of Lean business efficiency principles as well as identify opportunities to implement Lean principles, plan and host Lean events and identify waste and inefficiencies to create savings.
Governor Hickenlooper: “We understand that government is not a business. Still, we need to apply best practices from successful companies where they make sense. That is why we initiated the LEAN program in almost every state agency, where employee teams are now actively identifying waste and inefficiency to create savings.”
“I am extremely proud that WillowTree Advisors has been recognized as a provider of Lean Six Sigma services for the State of Colorado. WillowTree Advisors is headquartered in Denver and it makes us very proud to work for the state to help improve our government. ” said Kathryn Douglass, WillowTree Advisor managing partner. “We strongly support Governor Hickenlooper’s Lean initiative and are excited to help the agencies improve and enhance the services they provide to the public.”
Douglass launched WillowTree Advisors in 2009 and has 25 years of program management, executive leadership, technology and business operations experience. Her team’s value proposition rests on the delivery of big firm results on a cost effective and flexible platform.
From Process Metrics to Process Management
We discussed in an earlier post the importance of closing the loop in your methodology – process feedback is the only way to ensure that the gains made in your improvement initiative last beyond implementation or ‘go live’. The management function of monitoring and controlling a new process doesn’t necessarily mean supervision, though. On my first tour in the navy, the ship’s Plan of the Day carried the banner, “Eternal vigilance is the price of safety.” Eternal vigilance doesn’t have to be the price of process excellence or even process control.
How do we ensure that our processes remain ‘in control’ or that our new way of performing functions delivers the designed results? Don’t we need a supervisor to watch the operators to ensure they’re complying? (And a manager to ensure the supervisor is checking the operators?) This is the norm in some organizations. I’ve worked for those whom I call ‘nano-managers’, where productivity and effectiveness suffer as management layers and inspections proliferate. Clearly, the proxy for direct inspection is performance measures – capturing metrics without increasing headcount or sacrificing productivity.
Input, Process, Output Metrics
Assuming we can capture metrics from the process, what should we be looking for? Chances are, you’re already dealing with reams of reports, each filled with periodic numbers which you are ‘managing’. You may also have a balanced scorecard that your organization has developed. Great start! For management, financial numbers usually suffice. For operations insight, however, you need an additional perspective. If you think of the boundaries of the project you’re working on, there are inputs to it and outputs from it, with some value-creating function in between. We need to look at all three of these phases.
WillowTree Advisors Provider of Business Transformation Services
Employing Lean and Six Sigma techniques, WillowTree offers a way to rapidly assess any back office operation (e.g. IT, HR, F&A, procurement, customer service and sales) and identify improvements that will make the organization more effective and efficient.
“If your organization is feeling sluggish, needs to get rid of redundant processes or has disengaged employees, it’s time to make a change,” said Kathryn Douglass, WillowTree Advisor managing partner. “All businesses need to take a look at their operations on a regular basis to determine if improvements need to be made, technologies need to be updated and organizations and delivery models reviewed and adjusted.”
The WillowTree Advisors team addresses business needs, eliminates waste and creates swift business value and change. They help organizations lead a successful transformation by linking refreshed activities to the business strategy, transforming approaches for customized environment, and developing an overall approach to managing change in the workplace.
“The application of Lean techniques to business processes can save time, reduce waste and eliminate costs – while improving customer and employee satisfaction,” said Douglass.
"Lean" seems to be everywhere. What started as Western manufacturers emulating Toyota's unique production methods has now been implemented in every industry from healthcare to the public sector. There is Lean Accounting, Lean Sigma, Lean Service – I’ve even seen ‘Value-Based Lean Six Sigma (VBLSS) teams – now there’s a mouthful! The tools springing from this "methodology" are point-effective. By that I mean that the tools are effective at solving a single problem, but unless the underlying philosophy is embraced, the result will be limited to that issue, that point.
What's missing is a Lean Mindset. We run around the operation as hammers, seeing nails everywhere. Instead, we need to give voice to our inner engineer, and our inner leadership guru. Engineers stake their careers on analyzing problems and designing solutions, and the leadership gurus facilitate change in an organization. If we, as operators, supervisors, managers, and executives have a common approach to our work and our work environment, we think not of 'change', but 'improvement'. We also think of improvement as global - if my job gets easier, but my internal customer's or supplier's job gets harder, it may or may not be the right move, depending on the overall cycle time, transparency, and quality.
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Six Sigma and Lean Training: For Manufacturing and Beyond
Lean and Six Sigma are two efficiency techniques that came to prominence because of the positive impact they can have on a business’ manufacturing process. This leads some business leaders in non-manufacturing industries to question the applicability of Lean and Six Sigma methods for their specific business. However, management teams who overlook the positive potential of Lean Six Sigma training may be costing their companies time and money. This article will explore the importance of these techniques and how they might already apply to the needs of your business.
Lean approaches call on business leaders to closely analyze their company’s processes and attempt to cut out any unnecessary steps or movements. Some of the common results of this process include a reduction in inventory or quicker turnaround times. Regardless of what product or service you are selling, issues of waste and inventory do have a distinct impact on your bottom line. Lean Training will show you how to map out your workflows, identify waste, and initiative improvements.
Six Sigma is also a method of analysis designed to promote efficiency. These approaches are rooted in statistics and allow for an unbiased and logical look at the production activities of your business. Because of this statistical focus, Six Sigma most commonly offers up results that are performance-based and focused on reducing your costs. Effective Lean Six Sigma training will help you identify and use the best techniques for calculating different measures of efficiency that apply beyond the manufacturing industry.
WillowTree Advisors Approved Provider of Lean Consulting Services to the Federal Government
DENVER (October 28, 2011) – Next month WillowTree Advisors (WTA), a business and change management consulting firm, will begin providing business transformation and Lean consulting services to the Federal Government with recent approval from the General Services Administration (GSA) under the MOBIS Schedule, SIN 874.1, contract number GS-10F-0002Y.
Today’s economic and political pressures have pushed governments to do more with less. Lean Government methodology enables agencies and public entities to do more with the resources they have and provide better services to their stakeholders and constituents.
“The application of Lean techniques to business processes can save time, reduce waste and eliminate costs – while improving customer and employee satisfaction,” said Kathryn Douglass, WillowTree Advisor managing partner. “This opportunity is an excellent way for the Federal Government to optimize its operations and focus on the customers and stakeholders it is serving.”
WillowTree is pleased to announce its new partnership with Interfacing Technologies, a BPM solutions provider. Following an evaluation of other leading BPM software, WillowTree selected Interfacing's Enterprise Process Center®(EPC) as the enabling technology for a client project in the Environmental Services industry. "We were very selective when we evaluated these tools because any software that we leave with a client creates a direct tie-back to our firm," explains Kathryn Douglass, Managing Partner at WillowTree. "We chose the EPC because, not only does it meet the client requirements, but we felt that it represents us well and will serve as a positive reminder of the engagement."