Tag Archives: studying work

Study Your Work & The Work of Others to Promote Internal Change

Continuing to analyze the concept that “knowledge” is one of the most powerful change agents, today’s focus is on what is arguably the most important source of that knowledge — your own value stream, which includes your organization’s work as well as the work of others.

What is going on in technology? What methods are others trying out? How is it working for them? How could it work for you?

In most organizations, there is a knowledge barrier that holds the waste in place: the people who know the work best are seldom in a position to know the big picture so when they see waste, they
often assume there must be a reason for it. And if they know of better ways of doing something, they often lack the influence to make any significant changes. Similarly,  those with the broader perspective and the influence do not really understand how the work as it is done today well enough to arrive at the ‘Eureka!’ moment.

One of the fundamentals of the Lean approach is that you must “go to the work.” Don’t just talk about the results or listen to people talk about the work — go to the work (a.k.a. Gemba).

Look at the work, and learn from the people who do it every day. Without this knowledge, little can be substantially improved, and effective “change” will be difficult or impossible to implement.

Decision-Making & Working on the Right Things

puzzle_pieces_custom_14020Continuing the decision-making theme from our previous post, which shared a method for predicting the success (or failure) for continuous improvement projects, it’s important to realize that we all make many seemingly-simple decisions each day that have a significant impact on our level of success!

Every day, at various times, we all make important decisions about what we’ll work on; and, as Bill Conway always said, “The most important business decision people make every day, is deciding what to work on….”

On a regular basis, Bill also reminded us that half of continuous improvement involves working on the right things!

Successful organizations constantly analyze work and re-engineer work processes so that they can evaluate the work being performed —what we work on — and its value. What adds value today may not add value tomorrow: customer requirements, technologies, and methods are perpetually changing.

We should all do the same thing… that is, make careful, fact-based decisions about what we’ll work on.

In addition, and as frequently expressed by those who engage in a work-and-time analysis exercise, many of us might also be surprised about what we “really” work on each day versus what we “think” we work on!

Ten Continuous Improvement Tools

citoolsWhen involved in continuous improvement, there are a number of useful and necessary tools that one might use.

Ultimately, persistent problems cannot be solved by repeatedly using the same knowledge and insights; solutions require the innovative use of multiple problem-solving tools to examine current reality from a variety of different angles. Here are 10 tools you might consider using:

  1. Pareto Charts to explore ideas about possible causes
  2. Process Mapping to spot and quantify the waste and trace it to the primary cause
  3. Cause and Effect Diagramming to stretch beyond initial ideas about possible root causes
  4. Histograms to provide new insights into the dynamics of process performance
  5. Run Charts to understand current process performance and distinguish between random variation and special causes
  6. Scatter Diagrams to clarify the importance of possible causal factors on results measurements
  7. Affinity Diagrams to find breakthrough ideas and natural relationships among the data
  8. Priority Matrices to consider alternatives and identify the right things to work on
  9. Interrelationship Digraphs to visually demonstrate the relationship among factors—causal factors (drivers) vs. symptoms so that you get the most leverage on interventions
  10. A dependable method of analyzing the data as outlined in recent posts