Yes, I know you are not producing gold in your SME, but you could be leaving gold, figuratively speaking, on the production floor.
So how do you as business owner ensure that you harvest these gold nuggets?
In the past week I had the privilege of spending some time with Bert Visser a senior Partner at both CoThink and NexStepp, (www.cothink.com). Visser works with large and small supply chain companies and believes that every manufacturing business needs 4 essential building blocks to unlock these gold nuggets.
The content of these blocks may however vary by business and are determined by the company's individual requirements, operating objectives and risk appetite.
1. Reliability – fit for purpose
The question is: Are your processes and systems designed and implemented to the degree of reliability you require? For example, in a production plant, where it is a customer requirement that stringent food safety quality standards are met, are the practices controlled by reliable systems and are the outcomes verified to the extent required? Continuously? Think the latest Listeria Enterprise issue and the fatal consequences of such failure.
2. Innovation - a core value
Are the real issues on the shop floor addressed and resolved? Does it lead to sustainable answers in different and new ways of organizing? Is your process fostering out-of-the-box positive opportunity thinking? Remember, if not resolved it will consume your time every day!
3. Ownership - at all levels
Is the business organization alert and aware of things that happen? Is communication free and open or guarded and reserved? Is there a victor mentality and are the people working as a team connected to one another? Is Ownership, accountability and being responsible visible? Are dysfunctional patterns and below the line behaviour addressed?
4. Knowledge - firing on 16 cylinders
Are we truly unlocking the full knowledge and thinking capacity of all the people in the organisation? How is knowledge shared and how is it applied in finding new solution for wicked problems? Are you ignoring the shop floor operator at your peril? Engage the hearts and minds of your people!
So how do I apply this in my SME you may ask?
Operational excellence is the disciplined execution that comes from knowing what to do, consistently over time and delivering consistent results, through people, technology and process.
The 4 blocks as highlighted by Visser talk to the framework, mindset and thinking needed to produce the required outcomes of operational excellence consistently in a business. For business excellence we also need our teams to produce consistent results, because they can and want to. We must give them the technology, tools and data/info to produce the expected outcomes.
Some of the gold nuggets can be panned through a focused drive to reduce waste and to improve business excellence. According to Taiicho Ohno from Toyota the 7 Deadly Production Wastes that we must declare war on are:
- Over production – strive for smaller batches ideally a batch size of 1
- Transportation and handling – eliminate product movement & optimise your process flow
- The waste from waiting - focus on just in time production processes or kanban
- Dead and excessive stock – reduce inventory and eliminate the obstacles
- Waste from useless motion - eliminate resources used to move products between work stations
- Producing scrap and defects – TQC and route cause analyses
- Unnecessary Processing – eliminate processing the customer won't pay for
Which of these have you identified as low hanging fruit and can you eliminate steps in your production process? Start with the low hanging fruit and work your way up. One thing is for sure, you and your staff will learn a lot and you will enjoy the journey whilst putting money in the bank!
Looking forward to hearing from you!