At Progress Consulting, our mission is to help organizations X•L•R•8•Progress™ – to see their optimal future more clearly …and realize it more quickly and easily™.
Dr. W. Edwards Deming, the Quality expert most credited with achieving Japan’s post-war economic turnaround, referred to complexity as “unnecessary cost”.
Just think of the last time you experienced disruptions to your work, unproductive or unnecessary meetings or hassles in trying to get your work done. All of this comes at great cost. It costs money. It costs you customers and funders. It costs your organization in terms of the loss of valuable employees.
How do you find opportunities to streamline your organization? There are three primary entry points to consider.
First, poor results, that are revealed in financial statements and management reports. The problem is that those reports reveal the existence of inefficiency, but not the cause. Serious errors are made by looking for causal factors in “snapshot” financial statements and reports. Once the poor result is identified, move away from the reports and start studying the processes that generate those results. The cause of the problem and the identification of the solution await you in a deeper understanding of your own processes.
Second, cumbersome systems such as those with frequent error correction, loop backs to previous steps, stacks of work sitting “in process” or processes that are often associated with workplace hassle and poor morale.
Third, frequent errors in quality, reliability, timing or cost control.
Using these three entry points, develop a list of the processes that need to be improved. Then prioritize them and focus on a small and manageable number of processes to fix. Why? Because solving the major culprits could begin a chain reaction that makes many problems disappear.
We were invited into an organization that identified 22 process problems. To address them, they created 22 process improvement teams. They were investing huge resources and process improvement. Unfortunately, nothing much was improving.
We worked with them to prioritize their 22 problems and convince them to address only 3 of them. For each of those three issues, we rigorously led teams in root cause analysis to get to the root cause of each of those 3 problems.
Root cause analysis has several benefits. First, by addressing root cause, you resolve the problem “once and for all”. Second, many symptoms share a common root cause. By eliminating the root cause, you eliminate the many symptoms it creates. In this case, the root cause of those three problems generated many of the 22 problems that were trying so hard to solve. Deming, a statistician by training, claimed that any organization with dozens or hundreds of problems probably only suffers from half a dozen root causes. Imagine the leverage in finding in eliminating 5 or 6 root causes.
In effect, the combination of prioritization via root cause analysis streamlines your streamlining!
The results of streamlining should be more loyal customers, happier employees and the significant increase in your organization’s return on its costs.
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