Just do it!

Unlocking the value in your operation starts with action. The best organizations don’t get held up waiting for I.T. solutions or new equipment or new superstar managers. They know that continuous improvement comes from action. Action on the shop floor or where ever the value is added.

They don’t let “great” get in the way of “good enough” and they realize a step in the right direction today is worth far more than waiting until tomorrow to take a step.

The key, as with all continuous improvement, is the value of learning. Taking action immediately initiates learning and learning promotes improvement.

There are two powerful emotions that prevent organizations from taking action; anticipation of future solutions and fear of not considering all outcomes.

Anticipation of future solutions

A bakery was working on the flow of product from the mixers to the shipping docks. They had a mixed product line that included donuts, cookies, and small cakes. For years they had relied on a database program that helped create schedules for the mixers, ovens, packaging equipment, and shipping. The data base created lists that often didn’t match the reality on the floor and product was often lost and always late to shipping.

One solution was to create a screen shot of every order as it was mixed and hang it on a wall in front of the ovens in line with other orders according to the sequence they need to be baked. Likewise, there would be another wall after the ovens with the sequence in which the products needed packed and shipped.
The screen prints were clumsy and had to be written on with markers to read from a distance, but the idea was tested and did allow for resequencing as things happened. Most importantly, the process displayed the plan to everyone so everyone could contribute.

The manager of the department quickly shot down the idea. It looks good, he said, but we have a new software program coming in a few months that will fix all of this and we don’t want to have duplicate systems.

Fear of Not Considering all Outcomes

Unfortunately, the idea was already at risk as one of the supervisors of the packing area pointed out that occasionally an order can get split up before the ovens and one sheet of paper couldn’t be in two places. He also noted that often times, the product goes on hold to be tested by quality before it packs and what if someone followed the board and packed it anyway.

Oh, and finally, he noted, what if a sheet falls off the wall and gets lost? What would happen to the order?

Help your organization gain the benefits of learning by putting a process into practices right away, with what is available, and start testing now regardless of what the future will bring or what could possibly happen.

Sometimes the best advice is, “Just do It!”

Learn more in Patrick’s book, “Facilitating Effective Change,” available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He is also the founder of UTV Advisors, a business consulting firm based in Pittsburgh, PA.

Patrick Putorti

Patrick Putorti

Patrick Putorti

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