Wholesale & Distribution International 2018 - Volume 5, Issue 1 - 7
join in - in fact, you can do it alone if necessary during your day-to-day.
WHERE TO START
How do we know where to aim this new
lens? Earlier, we mentioned the "Seven
Wastes" - this is a list of ways that companies lose value, which drives up prices
and slows things down. The classic list
includes waiting, inventory, downtime,
over-processing, movement (in place),
travel (from place to place) and, worst of
all, over-production. We add an eighth
waste: skills/talents. Very often, we aren't
getting anywhere close to the potential
out of our people, so this is a big one. If you
place "skills" before "downtime" in that
list, you get the acronym "WISDOM TO"
- this can help you remember them later.
Look around you, right now, and apply that list of wastes to what you see. If
you're reading this on a train or plane,
you'll see lots of travel. Could some of
those people have used video-conferencing instead of flying? Perhaps you can
see a paper form that is harder to complete than the New York Times crossword
puzzle, an example of over-processing.
Maybe your company is just waiting
around for a delivery.
This kind of solution may be out of reach
for some companies - perhaps they lack
the budget or the decision rights to make a
big-ticket purchase with a long-term commitment. With this in mind, we'd like to
outline one of the simplest, quickest and
most profound shifts you can make in pursuit of simplicity and improved functioning: the adoption of the kaizen mindset.
If you have been exposed to lean manufacturing, you will have heard this term
before. As with many lean terms, it's a
Japanese word, one that roughly translates to "improvement."
Usually, companies use kaizen to refer to a focused "improvement blitz"
conducted over several days with participants drawn from various departments
and disciplines. Team members roam
around, trying to remove waste from a
process, sometimes armed with financial data and perhaps a list of the "Seven
Wastes" to guide them.
But at its most fundamental, kaizen is
really a mindset and a way of looking at
the world in which small changes, implemented every day, add up to big differences down the line. You don't have to
be in management to use this mindset, as
anyone can encourage their colleagues to
If you feel inspired to make an improvement, we recommend you start with
something small that doesn't depend on
other people for success - perhaps that
annoying form. Could it be printed double-sided with instructions on the back
or, if you're feeling a bit more ambitious,
perhaps eliminated altogether? A good
question to ask here is "if we pretended
for a moment that it was possible, how
might we bring that about?"
When considering an improvement
opportunity, here are some other questions you might ask: "What would this
look like if it were simple?" "What simple
and quick action step would make a small
difference here?" "Is there something
simple and quick that would make a big
difference?" These questions are helpful,
given that projects always look simpler
before we start them. We also recommend that you keep asking, "How can I
get most of the benefits with less effort?"
You'll notice that we're offering you
questions here, rather than a bunch of
answers. The core of the kaizen mindset
is a questioning attitude - it's looking at
the world and asking, "Does it have to be
that way? Is it worth our time to find a
better way? What could we try now?"
If you're in any sort of leadership position, we invite you to encourage this questioning attitude in your people. Yes, you'll
hear some goofy questions and get some
wacky improvement suggestions. But if
you're patient, eventually you may also
hear some simple, economical improvement ideas that reduce the friction in your
processes, saving you time and money. q
Tony Donofrio, principal and head of Argo
Consulting's supply chain practice, has more
than 30 years of supply chain experience.
He has a reputation for taking on tough
challenges, creating growth opportunities
and outperforming the competition. Stephen
Francis, senior consultant, co-created the
Argo Integrated Management System (AIMS).
He develops and implements tools that drive
deep and rapid change for Argo's clients.
Volume 5, Issue 1 www.wdimagazine.com