I recently helped a company who was struggling with inventory management. The General Manager had a white board full of problems, each representing a hole, and she didn’t know how to fill those holes. She kept trying different processes, but each attempt led to a new leak in the pipeline. Employees were becoming confused and frustrated because it seemed that things kept changing.
Does this sound familiar? Sadly, this is how most businesses handle process management.
This trial-and-error approach to fixing a problem is something I see all the time. It is what I call a “Frankenstein” process. This activity consists of holding parts of a process together with temporary fixes (Band-Aids) that really only stop the heaviest bleeding. Eventually, all the bandages fall off and I get a phone call to help.
What do I do in regards to process management that is so different than what management has already done? A few things.
First, I’m objective. I see situations from the outside and can ask the questions that those internally can’t or won’t. For example, if a company is having space constraints and the owner has his yacht parked in the warehouse that would better be used as a production floor, I can point that out without fear of losing my job.
Second, I’m specialized. Those working in their respective fields are knowledgeable about their job. Whether that’s operations, HR, sales, or whatever. My specialty and training is in Lean process management. I have unique skills, training and tools that help me hone in on the specific task at hand. This means that I am focused on solving any issues of inefficiency.
Third, I have the time. Just as these workers have skills in their own area of expertise, they also have the bulk of their working hours full with, well, work. As a consultant and Lean Sensei, I am able to devote specific hours to work on solving a problem at a deeper level. I don’t look for areas to smack on a fix, but rather I do diagnostics for the underlying cause of the problem symptom.
A doctor would never do a surgery without knowing what they were going in for, but in business I see this happen very often. I slow things down and get to the root. From there, we build a process with buy-in so it sticks, build feedback loops to ensure they are working, and put in place strategies for continuous improvement to prevent the process from coming out of remission.
If you are ready to tackle the Frankensteins in your business, we can help. As a lean sensei and lean management consultant, we provide a complete review and analysis of the business processes that create efficiency and profitability, and the barriers to them. If you are ready for true process management, let’s talk.
Contact me today to learn more. Together, we will create a continuous improvement culture and healthier bottom line.