In today’s highly competitive business environment, driving operational excellence and using it as a strategic advantage continues to gain traction. Top performing companies all over the world are aggressively pursuing improvements that lead to higher levels of customer service and innovation while improving productivity, cash flow and the latent capacity of the organization. To enable these improvements to come about, and more importantly sustain, executive attitudes and behaviors must adapt. Continuous improvement, lean, lean-six sigma or any other business improvement philosophy must transcend the entire organization. If the prevailing attitude that is something that those “manufacturing or operations people” do, the return on investment and effectiveness of the system will be significantly reduced. It is true that many leaders, especially outside of operations, fail to understand the scope or level of change needed to truly improve performance and create real competitive advantage.
Key to this improvement is creating a daily culture of improvement that strives for perfection. Perfection is defined as zero quality losses or defects, zero unplanned downtime, zero delivery failures and 100% employee engagement. This is an example of “true north” metrics.
Closing the performance gap between your current state and your industry leading performance future state can mean millions to your top and bottom-line and equally important will create a daily culture of improvement that sustains the gains. There are many good models for establishing this daily culture of improvement and pursuit of operational excellence including Own the Gap (Bryan Crowell), Toyota Kata (Mike Rother) and Managing for Daily Improvement (David Mann).
Jeffery Liker, author of the popular Toyota Way books, presented the following lean leadership model for driving the principles:
As in all lean transformations, the improvement needs to start with key leaders-the top executives. This becomes a personal transformation first before a business transformation can happen. Key leaders must commit to the model and learn by doing.
A similar model for creating a team-based daily improvement culture is presented by Mike Martyn and Bryan Crowell in the Shingo Prize winning book, “Own the Gap”. The overall model is presented below:
The Own the Gap model is founded on the idea that “improving the work is the work”. Based on this concept a team based daily kaizen culture is created through the following attributes:
• Clear strategy deployment
• Good visual management
• Daily improvement
• Standard follow-up processes
The outer ring contains the key supporting mechanisms that drive the model and process.
Note: Bryan Crowell will be presenting this model on May 25 and May 26th in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
So where do you start? Our methodology begins with a clear understanding of the current state, identifying the key barriers to growth and the opportunities for improvement. There needs to be a good understanding of people, process, physical environment, process and performance management systems that impact your business and ability to serve customers. Sequencing improvements at the business unit or facility level by working with local teams and co-presenting a self-funding plan allows for senior leadership buy-in and support. A continuous improvement roadmap is built that relies on getting quick wins and building momentum for the for the overall improvement process.