July Business Tip: Going Lean
A lean program actively manages operational efficiency, which causes a chain reaction of business benefits. Efficiency promotes safety, saves time, controls costs, and ensures quality. Quality translates into high customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is directly connected to revenues. Safety is implicit in turnover cost management. And, of course, revenues and cost control are the components of profit margin. So, the operational and financial benefits of implementing lean practices throughout all business units are pervasive, including in administrative offices, sales, forecasting, and others in which lean policies are too often not recognized as applicable. A lean policy extends far beyond dictating periodic clean-outs. It’s a way of doing business—every day. There are multiple excellent models for lean operations. ISO provides guidelines. Universities teach “5S” structures in business courses (sort, systematize, shine, standardize, and sustain). The various versions of lean programs have key principles in common.
Whether it’s called systematizing or just straightening up, getting organized cannot be overestimated. It really is the first fundamental for a quality operation. Some talented business managers imagine themselves as intellectually exempt from need to operate in an organized environment. Such attitudes fail to inspire confidence of customers, guests, inspectors, supervisors, and subordinates in the professionalism of the organization and have a generally corrosive effect on a positive business atmosphere. Further, until one has functioned in a well-ordered system, he/she cannot meaningfully predict how much improved his/her personal performance would be over time.
Remove obstacles that inhibit the smoothest flow of movement as employees conduct processes, whether in manufacturing production or office processes. Rearrange machinery and furniture that cause unnecessary steps. Archive unused paper files. Eliminate or reorganize electronic files that cause employees to search drives excessively. Implement inventory control methods so that new stock is purchased only when the supply level of a particular item drops to a specified level. Revise workflow processes to cut unnecessary peripheral distractions or tasks. Arrange schedules so that work of like-types or along the same routes is performed by the same employee, where practical. Reducing minutes and seconds wasted by all employees daily adds up to a staggering amount of time savings that can be used to increase productivity.
Establish self-monitoring systems. Hold all employees accountable for maintaining their piece of the lean program. Support this policy with routine assessments by management. Inspections may seem extreme to employees who are unfamiliar with lean systems. However, when a lean program is structured under a simple ABC structure, as above, most employees can be successfully helped to understand the necessity of managing operational efficiency and will grow to appreciate the significance of the professional benefits of working in a lean environment.
Think about how these processes can make an impact on your organization going lean. When you ready to learn how to implement these strategies in your business contact us for your Business Assessment Review.
Thom Torode is a NJ based Executive & Business Coach.
He has owned over 5 different businesses and is currently the Managing Director for Sunrise Business Advisors. Thom’s expertise includes working with those business owners who have getting them unstuck and back in growth mode. Additionally Thom works with both franchisees and franchisors in helping them develop their leadership. Thom is also Director Consultant with BNI. When not helping business owners and their teams create the business and lives they want and need, he can be found following his kids activities.