Competing April 2006

Paying Attention

Whatever you pay most attention to, most likely, will improve.

Let’s talk about what you can control, each minute, hour, day, week. I am referring to those outcomes you and your team can effect. Perhaps outcomes such as:

  • shipments
  • billable projects completed or billable milestones
  • on-time delivery/fulfillment rates
  • balanced, paced work flow
  • balanced and controlled inventories (raw material, work-in-process or finished goods)
  • internal lead-time
  • rework/scrap/defects
  • machine uptime

…….I am certain you could add to this list.

My experience tells me that the attention is best leveraged by shared measures. I have also found that a clearly communicated measure that is shared with employees in a timely manner has a positive effect on team work and functions as a competitive scoreboard.

So why do so few companies post effective measures? I get many differing answers but I believe most are based in fear of imperfection. If you are waiting for the perfect measure you will likely have a very long wait because I don’t believe it exists. Continuous improvement or Kaizen does not imply that we start with perfect and improve it, continuous improvement implies we start with a plan developed from the collective thinking of people doing the job, then implement using Dr. Deming’s “plan-do-check-act” cycle. Communication is critical to the success of all continuous improvement programs. Develop the plan, then make a list of those you need to support it (when in doubt expand the list) then careful communicate the plan. Remember, it’s not what you say, it’s what your audience hears. Make sure the message is clear…….what is the objective?, why is it important?, what is the process to measure and how do you do it?, how will you know it is working correctly? how will you know when it is not working correctly? and what will you do when it’s not working correctly?

Why wait? Scoreboards get our attention. Make sure the measures are fair, within your teams control and obtainable (you will make mistakes, consider mistakes as an opportunity to communicate to your team).

Leave a Comment

  • (will not be published)