Covid has truly created the Global Village, where Velocity is the new currency.

  • There are companies that are using Covid as an excuse for failure.

  • There are companies crying for government life preservers to save them.

  • While others have accepted the situation and focus on innovate or die.

Never has it been more important for Leaders to be “IN” their business constantly adjusting to change. your “Gift of Time” cannot be sacrificed only to research, investigation and sourcing when your people really need to see your leadership. The big sacrifice to your organization is when you divert either your attention or those of your team doing research or implementing a new process just with the objective of survive.

Granted many organizations including the government offer over-arching suggestions and guidelines but when it comes time for the tires to hit the pavement you are left to your own interpretation. So ultimately you will need to define a new process but do you 1) just implement to resolve a situation no matter the cost or 2) observe and adjust while enhancing visual management.

All change has a cost consequence whether it be positive or negative and negative just will make you non-competitive. It does matter what kind of situation you are attempting to innovate within ultimately the market (your customer) will be final judge if you are providing value.

It becomes crucial that you keep honing your skills to view every process with “eyes for waste” and “eyes for flow” and any change should be a positive impact to both.

I am not going to dwell on the importance of workplace organization … but do focus on using the principals of 5S not just for organization but to “Clean to Inspect” … so if your team is disinfecting surfaces for example, they are in essence cleaning…so what do you want them to be inspecting while doing the task?

In many cases the solution you seek is readily used within other industry sectors … no need to re-engineer for your application just replicate … reducing your “Lost Opportunity Costs” that would have been spent on research, sourcing and development when you can have someone supply you with a solution and you remain “IN” your business as a leader leading the implementation.

Look for Cadence in your process so you can identify the proper level of staffing to perform the functions you want … you need to find that balance of not have excess staff doing nothing or not enough staff that are rushed and not performing the tasks adequately.

The velocity of how you implement change is your new currency of survival or even potentially the ability to thrive. Do not squander your non-renewable “Gift of Time” towards Lost Opportunity Costs where others can contribute as a skilled resource while you determine to increase value for your customer.

Ultimately you are looking to improve and create smooth flows …

But how do we make value “flow” smoothly?

Typically a process consists of at least seven flows. These include:

  1. The flow of raw material … which can be information within an admin process.

  2. The flow of in-process moves and ques.

  3. The flow of finished goods or services.

  4. The flow of operators.

  5. The flow of machines and within machines.

  6. The flow of information that support the flow of the raw material.

  7. The flow of engineering.

We must first observe each of these flows to gain full understanding. In our observation, we take notes and sketch out the seven flows as we see them. It is very important to sketch out the seven flows regardless of our artistic skills.

Pick a spot, create you imaginary circle, stand in the circle and just observe at minimum for 60 minutes (all day if you can). Do not deviate or move unless you witness an unsafe condition … ineffective and inefficient processes that you observe have been that way for a long time … so don’t jump to solution!

To help us think more of flow, here are just a few things to look for while in gemba: Raw Material, WIP and Finished Goods Flow What is the standard work? What are the locations and distances? What are the container types and sizes? What are the packaging materials and what do we do with them? Are there any machine cycle times? How is the transfer of material accomplished? What are the conveyors, carts, forklifts being used? Attempt to convert content into time … what increment of time is being moved and at what frequency … could be a huge opportunity to reduce lot sizes and schedule regular delivery routes [check out our video “Convert Content Into Time” to get a practical explanation] Operator Flow What is the standard work and operator’s cycle time (determine pace of the line, slowest to fastest)? What are the operator’s body movements … arms, hands, head, eyes, legs and feet? Observe the “go-gets” of operators getting things to do their tasks. A skilled operator within a well-designed work area will appear to be “dancing” with minimal foot movement … everything they need within arm’s reach. Machine Flow What is the machine cycle time? What are the set-up requirements? What is the machine process and is it right-sized only for what is required? Are there unused features in the machine? What steps are required to operate the machine? What are the requirements of properly maintaining the machines? Are the machines purchased or built in-house? Observe the machine wastes (collection, disposal, size and shape, recycle coolant, etc.) are they in properly sized containers that reflect the cadence of disposal times … remember we only want to highlight when the process goes awry. Information Flow Observe the transfer of information. What information is needed? What is the path of information? What are the decisions made by the operator? How many decisions are made by the team member? What does the operator do when a problem occurs or if he or she has a question? How does information of problems get passed on? Who responds to the operator’s needs? What information is on production control boards, production schedules, kanbans, manufacturing plans, etc.?

The real secret cancer of information flow is to determine what percentage of time that your operator has sufficient information to perform the task without seeking clarification, verification or additional information. Engineering Flow What are the process controls and quality checks? Are there “go/no-go” gauges? Observe any hanedashi devices (the mechanisms to automatically eject a part from the machine to free up the operator to only load the machine). What kind of poke-yoke or error proofing has been engineered into the process. What is the escalation process and protocol should an error occur … does the spirit of Jidoka exist within the culture? Can you think of other items in observing the seven flows? In each of the seven flows, observe the stops, the hesitations, the delays, the re-dos. We should also consider all seven flows working in harmony to improve total flow. From these detailed observations of the seven flows and our gained understanding of the process, we will see how to make value flow smoothly.

Enhance your ROI constantly. Now that we truly live in a global community where your next customer and competitor is merely a mouse-click away not only is “value added velocity” your competitive currency, your processes need to be constantly reviewed and optimized so that it highlights …

Value that the customer is willing to pay for!

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