Core Belief: Management 2021
Ability to learn and apply the knowledge to improve performance is the key to performance excellence in every facet of our lives. So, the core belief of Management 2021 is:
1) Stable State Maintenance
2) Small Step Improvements
3) Significant Performance Jump
These shall be pursued with customers-first and humanity-first strategy. It brings out the infinite capabilities of the people. To enable it all people shall be good problem solvers. A good problem solver must understand and practice the science of improvement - PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act). Practicing PDCA is not a default people habit, it’s a learned skill. Learning skill needs practice along with the knowledge of what to practice and how to practice.
Stable state maintenance of performance level, entails careful monitoring of the required outcomes. Any drop in performance must trigger root cause analysis and prioritized action plan to control or eliminate the root causes. Maintaining stability involves training and discipline. It also needs the ability of process standardization, process compliance and problem solving skills. The measure of process performance shall be aligned with the organization’s “True North.” Which gets translated into indicators at the macro level, and further cascaded down to functional level, work cells and to individuals. This is to make people aware of priorities and challenges of the company and its relationship to their work. Small step improvements shall be attempted after processes become stable. Stability first and then capability shall be the universal principle. Improvements and maintenance shall be process focused, which stimulates improvements and stability. Process focus also helps to have a system view which brings focus on discipline, time management, skill development, participation, morale and communication.
Everyone in the organization, at all levels, and all the time must be striving to maintain the process stability they are involved with. Having achieved the stability they must raise the performance levels using the PDCA cycle. Small improvements multiplied by a large number of people doing it actually amounts to a large improvement. Management is responsible for creating, introducing, and supporting systems for maintenance and improvement. Work and improvements are actually not two different things, as these are made out to be.
"Work, learn and improve through the work being done." - John Y Shook
Many of the problems are cross-functional, therefore requiring a cross-functional team to break interdepartmental communication barriers. Cross-functional goals must get priority over departmental or functional goals. Cross functional management and significant performance jump are both primarily management driven. It involves improvements in layouts, processes, work methods, machines, facilities, systems and procedures. Best-designed layout can always be improved significantly to reduce motion and transportation waste. Inventory can always be reduced significantly by maintaining flow of products as per the customer pull. Mistake proofing, self-diagnostic mechanisms, auto-stop and start mechanisms, automations, robotizations can always be incorporated to improve quality and productivity and reduce cost. Emerging and maturing technology like artificial intelligence, machine learning, fifth generation communication technology, digitization, and combination of online and offline work can always be harnessed to improve productivity, quality and efficiency to the desired levels.
Lets look at an example of improvement with focus on customer and humanity, where the experience for both the customer and the employee who was responding to the customer were improved significantly:
"Once we introduced lean into the fulfillment center, we then extend it to the customer service centers. One interesting thing we did was value-mapping. We understood that in some cases, from calls with the customer, the associate in the customer service center would have to hit the enter button 29 times in order to find the necessary information to respond to the customer question. So, of course, there was a lot of muda (Waste) time here. So, we rethink all of the customer service systems from the customer’s perspective. What kind of question would come? And we brought this waste, the 29 clicks down, the first time we did a kaizen, to 8 clicks."
- Marc Onetto - former SVP of Operations and Customer Service at Amazon
Offering interesting and improved quality products and services are another important cross-functional team activities to delight customers. It involves capturing customer-requirements, developing quality tables to relate requirements to design specifications, and communicating to all concerned for offering improved products and services to the customers, penetrating the existing markets more and expanding to the new markets. New product and service launches encounter many post launch problems, causing very high level of customer dissatisfaction. So, reduction in post launch problems can be very rewarding for an organization.
Problem is anything that inconveniences people in the downstream processes as well as ultimate customers. The point of problem occurrence and point of problem experience are normally different. So, management must create an environment where everyone is sensitive to the inconveniences they cause to the other people, and problems are looked at as an opportunity for improvement. The problem must not be hidden out of fear. The management must drive out fear from the minds of people. Management success lies in nurturing people's habit of surfacing out problems.
"We must stay true to our beliefs – that sustainable change doesn’t happen instantly and through individual heroic actions alone, but instead through collective efforts to countermeasure problems on a continuing basis." -James P Womack