Why Lean is a thing of the past

I was reading a discussion board today where a Lean champion stated that in order to really benefit from Lean, you need to wait at least two years, and that the best results come in years two through five.

Is there any other statement needed to show why Lean is a dinosaur? Who has two years to wait to see if it’s working? And that two year period doesn’t even include the time spent training the organization on how to be Lean.

The most successful organizations should be making behaviour changes that show almost immediate results. Of course, the results will magnify over time, but there should still be some short term wins to show that the right decision was made. If there aren’t, then a quick course correction may be in order.

The problem with any methodology is that is takes too much time to learn, to implement, and to gain any sustainable result. Changing your organizational mindset to focus on excellence, not perfection, can be more quickly implemented and yield more dramatic results.

Resource productivity – what does that even mean?

I recently read an article from McKinsey mentioning that manufacturing organizations need to focus on resource productivity in order to be successful. They need to think lean, and all of that other stuff that we always hear about. That is a very tactical way of thinking and only applies to the manufacturing processes themselves. Of course manufacturers need to maximize the outcomes they produce through manufacturing, but the organizations themselves need to think differently.

They need to look at the market and their customers and determine what needs are not being met. They need to look at any additional services they can offer that would be of value to customers. They need to change the mindset of the organization to focus on operational excellence at all levels of the organization. They need to empower front line people to not only improve the current way they operate, but also suggest new ways of operating to increase profit.

The limitation with most manufacturing organizations is that they often only try to do what they are currently doing, only more efficiently. They look at manufacturing metrics, but not necessarily financial ones. Many don’t look at what else they could be doing. They still use the same approaches and methodologies they have been using for 30 years and wonder why they are struggling.

The question manufacturing organizations should be asking themselves is, “What opportunity am I not currently taking advantage of and how do we maximize outcomes from that opportunity?”

Hiring the right external adviser

I’ve been asked a lot recently why organizations should look to outside advisers to help them get the results they are looking for. Here’s some reasons why:

  • Accelerating results. A good adviser can help your organization achieve your goals faster and more effectively because they are focused solely on helping you achieve those results. They don’t have another “day job” they are responsible for.
  • Creating clear accountability. When you invest in bringing in an outside adviser, you are taking on clear accountability for the success or failure of the initiative because you want to get a strong return on your investment in that adviser.
  • Achieving sustainable results. A strong adviser will help your organization develop the skills it requires to achieve sustainable results, not become dependent on the adviser.
  • Reinforcing key behaviour. You adviser helps reinforce the right behaviour within your organization, that aligns with the outcomes you are trying to achieve, by providing real-time feedback and support.
  • Having a lack of technical expertise (or to put it more positively, having a neutral view). The right adviser focuses on the outcomes to be achieved and ensuring the key stakeholders have a voice in achieving those outcomes. They rely on the right people in the organization to provide industry and technical expertise.

If you are not receiving this kind of support from your current advisers, then you have hired the wrong ones.

The four levels of adopting best practices

One of the greatest opportunities organizations have to increase performance and profit is to improve their adoption of new ideas. If you can maximize the impact of your ideas, then you will be able to achieve better results. There are four levels of adoption you need to master in order to maximize results from your own internal best practices:

  • Level 1 – One department. This should be the easiest result to achieve, ensuring that the best practices are replicated across the department where the idea was generated.
  • Level 2 – Across multiple departments. At this level, you are able to successfully implement these best practices across multiple departments across the organization and are seeing results from those best practices.
  • Level 3 – Across the organization. At this level, you are able to replicate the best practices across the entire organization.
  • Level 4 – External appeal. At this level, you are able to commercialize those best practices and sell them to others.

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Organizations that make it to Level 3, share these common traits:

  • They have common criteria to determine the ideas and practices that will have the greatest impact.
  • They formally manage the idea process.
  • They encourage productive failure and reward behaviours, not just victories.
  • They are able to articulate the value and impact of their best practices.
  • They aggressively break down silos to share best practices.

At what level is your organization?

Miller’s Monday Morning Message

Andrew MillerMiller’s Monday Morning Message
presented by ACM Consulting Inc.

Andrew Miller on operational excellence, strategy, life balance and everything in between

Toronto – December 22, 2014
As you know, ’tis the season to be jolly. But it is also the season to reflect on the past year. What worked? What didn’t?
As others scramble to reflect on the past year and fix what went wrong, you need to be focusing on the year ahead. Here are three questions to think about to help you jump start 2015:
  • What specific new value can I offer to existing customers?
  • What is the best way to deliver that value?
  • How else can I make the first quarter of 2015 our most successful ever?

While many use the holiday season as a time to slow down, business doesn’t stop. Companies are still making products. Charities are still raising money. Professional firms are still offering services.

While it is a great opportunity to spend time with family and recharge our batteries. The holiday season is also a great time to determine how you will achieve some immediate success in 2015. You want to lay a solid foundation for achieving tremendous results.

What will you do to maximize results in early 2015?

I want to wish you and your families a happy and healthy holiday season!

Listen to my podcast on why Operational Excellence needs to be redefined.
Follow me on Twitter @AndrewMillerACM
Register for my free event to dramatically increasing your profits and improve your performance.

To request an interview or more information, please contact:

 
Andrew Miller
416-480-1336
© Andrew Miller. All rights reserved. 2014.

Miller’s Monday Morning Message

Andrew MillerMiller’s Monday Morning Message
presented by ACM Consulting Inc.

Andrew Miller on operational excellence, strategy, life balance and everything in between

Toronto – October 27, 2014
Many parents around the world spend many Saturday and Sunday mornings in hockey rinks. This week we received an email from my son’s house league convener with very strict rules about the arena parking lot. The email directed us to use only one opening to enter the parking lot and the other opening to exit. At the time, these seemed like some arbitrary rules that were being issued.
 
However, as I was leaving the parking lot this morning (out the assigned exit), a woman pulled into the parking lot through the exit opening, cutting off everyone trying to leave the parking lot. Chaos ensued. Horns blared. And the woman had to reverse out of the lot onto a busy street, endangering herself and others. I guess she never got the email.
 
Some rules are made for good reason, and others are made without any expected improvement to outcomes. In this case, the rule was made to ensure the safety of the children walking through the parking lot and to ensure a quick and orderly exit from the parking lot.
 
How many of your organization’s procedures improve outcomes, and how many create unnecessary frustration and additional work with no improved result?
To request an interview or more information, please contact:
 
Andrew Miller
416-480-1336

Follow me on Twitter @AndrewMillerACM
© Andrew Miller. All rights reserved. 2014.

Miller’s Monday Morning Message

Andrew MillerMiller’s Monday Morning Message
presented by ACM Consulting Inc.

Andrew Miller on operational excellence, strategy, life balance and everything in between

Toronto – April 7, 2014
I often get asked by clients and colleagues, “If you were running my organization, what changes would you make?” So here are some immediate things I would do if I took over an organization tomorrow:
  1. Eliminate annual employee performance reviews and replace them with more regular reviews, thus making my managers must more accountable to manage.
  2. Refuse to go to any meeting where we weren’t discussing something that would have a significant impact on the results of the organization.
  3. Ensure I spent at least 50% of everyday meeting with customers, suppliers, and business partners.
  4. Eliminate most of the metrics that are currently being used and only use ones that clearly show we are progressing towards our future state.
  5. Eliminate strategy retreats and time-consuming planning meetings and focus the organization on implementation and execution.
  6. Create a separate innovation team and implement a process for managing innovation to ensure we measure the possible impact of new ideas and then integrate them into the way we operate.

Most organizations aren’t doing a lot of the things I mentioned above, even though implementing them would improve their performance and results. So why isn’t it happening?

To request an interview or more information, please contact:
 
Andrew Miller
416-480-1336
 
Follow me on Twitter @AndrewMillerACM
© Andrew Miller. All rights reserved. 2014.