Organizational Opportunities from the Frontline Story 21: Building Accountability into the Process | Operational Excellence Quick Hits
Quick Hits share weekly tips and techniques on topics related to Operational Excellence. This week’s theme relates to contributors to organizational beliefs. We hope you enjoy the information presented!
In today’s session, we’re going to continue the series on organizational opportunities, stories, and lessons learned from the front lines. The story for today is about a distribution company that had been experiencing flat sales for several years. They wanted to improve their on-time delivery, shorten lead times, and enhance inventory turns. However, they had many employees who were busy but not productive. Additionally, there was a lack of clarity regarding daily goals and a lack of accountability in certain areas. The company needed a cultural transformation to address these challenges.
To initiate the culture change, it was essential to address productivity improvement and build accountability into the process. Responsibility and accountability were defined to differentiate their meanings. Responsibility refers to being answerable for something within one’s control or management, while accountability implies being responsible and answerable for one’s actions. Accountability cannot be shared, whereas responsibility can be shared among individuals.
The concept of the management window was introduced as the time between taking action and understanding its effect. The goal was to minimize this window by implementing immediate corrective actions after each process. Accountability was built into the process by assigning one employee to work in each department at a time, preventing constant switching between tasks. Instead of receiving a list of weekly orders, the employee was given one order at a time, along with a commitment on when it would be completed. This reduced the management window from a week to a mere two hours, allowing for real-time monitoring and timely corrective actions.
By focusing on one department and incorporating accountability and visual management techniques, such as hour-by-hour charts, the company witnessed a significant increase in productivity. The management window was further reduced, allowing for immediate response to disruptions and keeping the process on schedule.
Understanding the normal condition of the process was crucial for identifying abnormal conditions. Visual management, including visual aids and clear communication without verbal interactions, played a vital role in achieving this. Good visual management enabled anyone to enter the area and comprehend the normal condition without needing to ask questions. Abnormal conditions could be immediately recognized, leading to prompt corrective action.
In summary, the distribution company successfully transformed its culture by prioritizing productivity improvement, establishing accountability, and implementing visual management techniques. These changes resulted in improved productivity, shorter lead times, and enhanced organizational performance.