How many people do you know drive a car or ride a bicycle while looking in their rearview mirror? I hope not many! Those who do would be horrible accident prone; they surely would learn quickly that they need to focus on were their going, instead of where they have been. Leadership should manage their value streams in much the same way. Those who focus on the outputs of their processes are often faced with the fallout from failed outcomes; they become experts at ‘firefighting.” There is lots of excitement caused by these people; they become, and they are, our operational heroes. Unfortunately, BPO customers engage outsourcing companies to improve their processes, reduce costs, and eliminate the annoying variation that is the antitheses of a well managed, and stable process. Unlike the careless driver who is not looking where they are going, the manager who uses Lean Management Techniques, and the highly successful Lean Model Office developed by Capgemini, focuses an organizations attention on the inputs and the processes before the expected outputs are produced; in essence, they focus on prevention of problems, and mistakes. They manage “the flow,” they understand what normal should be, and they know when something abnormal is produced by the value Stream. By managing the inputs and the processes, outputs become stabile, they become predictable; and with stability and predictability, comes higher customer satisfaction, less employee stress, and higher margins. This sounds easy…it isn’t. Shifting a management team’s emphasis to preventing fires, when there is a conflagration that is about to engulf you, is difficult to say the least.
Below are some straight forward and effective ways to get ahead of the problems…and start preventing them:
1. Start every day with Tier One/Stand Up meeting which is designed to discuss what happened yesterday, and what the priorities are for the team today 2. Standardize the prioritization of work, how do you determine what is important, what is first, second, etc. 3. Level the workload among staff, this means you must prioritize “your staff’s work; know what has been completed, and what still needs to be done…determining what gets done when… 4. Make it visible; “it” refers to what has been completed; what needs to be completed, what is plan? Use Visual Controls to monitor the work! 5. Remember…Plan, Do, Check, Adjust (PDCA)…develop your daily plan first, execute it, check that it is done, and adjust the plan as required to get the work done.
For many line managers these basic concepts are major shifts in the way they manage their day to day operations. Managers and staff will often see this as micro-management...this is not micro-management; it is simply managing a process to ensure that what is supposed to happen, actually does happen.