1st Building Block of a Continuous Improvement Culture | Operational Excellence Quick Hits
Quick Hits share weekly tips and techniques on topics related to Operational Excellence. This week’s theme relates to Operational Excellence Operating Structure Part 8: Workforce Capability and Flexibility . We hope you enjoy the information presented!
Speaker 1: (00:05)
In the last session, we talked about the continuous improvement culture. The second pillar of operational excellence. The first building block of that pillar is creating a workforce that’s capable and flexible. So when we talk about capability, what does that mean? So the capable workforce means that people performing the work can produce high quality and what is needed for the next step in the process. So they need to be effective producing high quality and of course working safely. So if we understand our process flow and we understand what steps in the process are required to convert the work from what the customer wants and to the final product or service, we can define those steps and making sure the workforce is capable of satisfying those needs. Of course, we know every process has variation. So what does capable mean? Capable means that the people can do the work within side, the acceptable variation for the process.
Speaker 1: (01:16)
We need to define what is acceptable variation and make sure that the workforce can produce within that acceptable variation then the workforce is capable. Once we get the capability, then we need to build the flexibility. So the flexibility means we can move resources to other areas when we have capacity constraints and the people that we move into those areas can immediately be productive. So that first building block is focused on that workforce capability and flexibility. Again, at this point in the process, you should start to see orders going up because we have the stable and capable of delivery system in place. The workforce capability and flexibility will help you maintain a stable and capable delivery system while sales is going up.
Speaker 1: (02:14)
When we start to implement synchronous flow, we’re going to expose hidden capacity. So in order to take full advantage of the hidden capacity, there needs to be a process in place to understand when and what resources can be utilized in other areas, so that’s creating that flexibility. Elimination of busy work can increase capacity of a resource by a minimum of 25%. So if we can increase the capability of the process, we’re going to expose that capacity. So the employee skills matrix is a tool that helps support the concept of transferable capacity. So we can transfer capacity from one area to another based on changes in mix or changes in customer demand. When we look to improve overall productivity, the objective is to produce more with the resources that you have not to add more resources. Two, improving productivity means eliminating busy work, which means exposing hidden capacity. Don’t focus on reducing value-added time. Focus on that busy work that’s consuming capacity, but not creating value for the next step in the process. Focus on reducing, eliminating, simplifying, integrating those non-value added activities. Change the mindset from working harder to working smarter.
Speaker 1: (03:31)
So it’s not the goal to keep everybody busy all the time. The goal is to transform the value-added as fast as possible through the system by creating flow. So use the Socratic Method to achieve buy-in and change behaviors. Very difficult behavioral change or cultural change to go from everybody’s busy all the time to let’s make sure people are productive, and if you’re not busy, then that’s great. Then there’s other activities you can help, or if you can go help in another area, that’s even better. Be great problem solvers and drive to the root cause. So if we free up that capacity, most companies I work with don’t have the capacity to do effective problem solving. So if we free up that capacity, now we can focus on doing effective problem solving and reducing problems even more. The more problems we reduce, the more capacity that exposes. The more problems we can solve with that capacity. So it’s a positive cycle. So when we get that positive cycle going of solving problems, opening up capacity, more time to solve more problems, opening up more capacity, then we can grow the company with the resources we have as sales continues to increase.