CI 101

Do you believe in these lean misconceptions?

Do not makes these mistakes, learn about lean misconceptions

Like many other things in life, continuous improvement is often misunderstood. During my lean journey, the following are the most common ones that I have encountered.

CI is not a department store, you don’t get to pick and choose what you think you need. CI is a system, the only way to achieve big and consistent results is by using all its parts. CI is a business management system designed to provide customer value with fewer resources. It is made up of a group of principles, best practices, and tools. 

The heart of the system is the people, and you show respect by developing them. These motivated and engaged teams participate in the improvement process and create value. You cannot focus on the tools while ignoring the people’s part.

The second misconception is the idea of delegating the implementation. CI thinking is opposite to traditional management, for a successful implementation the company culture has to change. This change only happens if it is coming from top to bottom. Top leaders need to learn and practice CI every day, everywhere, just like the rest of the team. They show commitment by supporting and actively participating in the transformation.

Another mistake is believing that CI is a cost reduction tool. Do not start this journey without a clear purpose. Why do you want to do it? If the answer is cost reduction, think again. Go and see, ask why, and show respect will lead you to achieve cost goals. But that cannot be the purpose. Instead, think about changing lives or creating value.

The biggest misconception is believing that CI is only for manufacturing companies. Continuous improvement, Best Business Practices, Danaher Business System and Lean Manufacturing are different names for a way to conduct business. The foundation for all of them is the Toyota Production System (TPS). The name Lean Manufacturing shifts your attention to manufacturing, and TPS makes people focus on cars. I prefer to use continuous improvement or Best Business Practices. Those are general terms with no reference to any industry.

Now you know what not to expect from continuous improvement. If you haven’t yet, read my post What is Continuous Improvement and Why you Need it? You will see why you need it in your business.

Waste

Are your customers paying for the inefficiencies of your business?

As a customer, I am not willing to pay more than necessary. When I needed to paint the house, I compared service costs and customer reviews between service providers. Around 61% of internet users research a product online before making a purchase. These days is easier than ever to compare prices, which is why price strategy is so important. Most business owners use cost-plus pricing. This strategy sets the service price, adding a mark-up to the cost. 

This formula implies that higher costs translate into higher prices. If your service price is higher than your competitors and the service is not much better, you are at risk of losing customers. There is a simple and effective solution to reduce operating expenses. What you need to do is to find waste and eliminate it.

Waste is any activity that does not add value from the customer’s perspective. For example, Company A paints with brushes and rollers while Company B paints with paint sprayers. To finish the job on-time, Company A needs more painters because their process is slower. Are you willing to pay more because their process time is longer?

There are eight types of waste: transportation, inventory, motion, waiting, over-production, over-processing, defects, and underutilization of people. Our friends from Company A have quite some waste in their business. The following are examples of each type.

  • Transportation: moving paint cans in and out storage
  • Inventory: keep enough brushes and rollers for 6-month service
  • Motion: walking back and forth to the truck looking for the right size brush.
  • Waiting: Waiting for the materials truck or instructions
  • Over-production: Painting the fence when it wasn’t part of the request
  • Over-processing: Paint the same wall five times
  • Defects: Use the wrong color paint
  • Underutilization of people: the new guy is wasting paint because he does not have training

One way to identify what areas of your business need change is by identifying waste. You can highlight the waste on the process on your process map and use the information to design a new process.

Do not make your customers pay for your inefficiencies. If you want to improve profits by controlling costs, it is important to learn how to identify waste.

This article was originally posted by Jina Rivera in Organization and Efficiency Solutions.

CI 101, Customer Satisfaction

What are your business goals?

One of your goals as a successful business owner is to deliver high-quality products to the customer at the lowest cost. The goal of lean or continuous improvement is to provide the customer with the highest quality, at the lowest cost, in a shorter time. It sounds to me that both goals are the same, what do you think?  

Continuous improvement achieves the goal by continuously eliminating waste, and you need to learn what it is and eliminate it. Waste is any activity that the customer is not willing to pay. They don’t have problems paying for activities that transform materials into finished goods or processed information. We call those activities value-added.  

The customer does not pay for the cost of fixing errors, waiting time, or excess inventory. These activities are non-value-added or waste, and the target of continuous improvement is to eliminate them.

Waste has seven categories: transportation, inventory, motion, waiting, over-production, over-processing, and defects. There is another category added later, which is underutilization of people’s talents.

  • Transportation is an essential part of operations, but it does not act any value from the customer perspective. The goal of CI is to minimize transportation to the minimum necessary.
  • Inventory of raw materials is also a necessary evil, but you do not want to have excess inventory. Excess inventory is at risk of being damaged or become obsolete.  
  • Any motion of a person’s body that is not related to adding value is waste. Poor ergonomic designs make people move their bodies more than necessary causing safety and productivity issues. 
  • Waiting for materials, for approvals, for a phone call, or for shared equipment to become available are all examples of waste.  
  • Over-production is when we make too much because we are producing ahead of the real demand. Over-production creates more waste in the form of inventory, motion, waiting, and others.
  • Over-processing is doing more than what the customer requires. A common example of this is when you receive items in a box that is three times the appropriate size.
  • defect is when we make a mistake, or produce defective items. Fix defective products comprise time, material, and other resources.  
  • Underutilization of people’s talents is not letting people work at their full capacity. Examples of this are lack of training, not trusting in their capacity to improve processes and siloed thinking.

You can highlight the waste on the process while drawing your process map. Make sure that you eliminate or minimize waste while designing the new process. Your strategy to increase profitability is to eliminate waste.

What are your business goals? Is one of them to deliver a high quality product at a low cost? Are you targeting to increase your business profitability? Do you want to grow your business? If you answer yes to any of the last three questions, then continuous improvement is the business strategy you are looking for. Contact me, and we will work together to improve your business processes from the customer perspective.