Using Continuous Improvement to Keep GoingMark Cichonski, Executive Director of Tactegra Government Services Project Management, Process Readiness, Digital Transformation, Staff Augmentation, Operational Excellence, SDVOSB
As the world slowly re-emerges from quarantine, we are left with many questions and problems.
How should we handle a predominately remote workforce? How can I keep my employees safe? How can I sell my products and services? How can I keep my clients delighted?
Many companies are taking the opportunity to develop ways to work in the “new normal” and reset many aspects of their business.
Using the tools and techniques of lean six sigma, we can build on our current organizations and come out ahead, even after COVID.
Let’s start from a strategic perspective. Many organizations will be tempted to try and fix everything at once. Instead of doing that, you can utilize a process like Hoshin Planning. In a nutshell, you can pick 3-5 strategies, things like making your organization more resilient or making your employees healthier and safer. Then you can establish 3-5 tactics to support each of those strategies and then establish metrics to measure the progress against those tactics. Use policy deployment to push the tactics down a level, they become that groups strategies, and continue to do that until you get to the individual performance plan level. The goal here is to prioritize and focus, not just play whack a mole.
If you don’t want to do full scale Hoshin or Policy Deployment, you could just do a Failure Mode Effects Analysis for your business. You will identify risks and their impacts and then your mitigation plans will become your action plan for the year.
Another technique would be to do a value stream map and understand where the wastes in your organization are especially as the process has probably been effected by the pandemic. You can then decide where your gaps are and your gap closure plan to reduce waste will become your roadmap to improvement.
If you have prioritized your issues, of course the traditional six sigma approach, DMAIC, is also a great way to fix those problems and do it in a data driven way. During this pandemic, their have been many claims made without supporting data. There have also been many cases of selective interpretation of data. Using a framework like DMAIC makes things a little more structured. Define your problems/gaps that you want to close and what metrics you will use to show real progress. Establish baselines, and the associated capability of your measurement systems. Use your statistical toolbox to isolate root cause. Make your improvements and then most importantly validate those improves are statistically significant. Then use your control tools to make sure there is no backsliding and proper controls are put in place to monitor for the future.
Now is time when our continuous improvement specialists can be put to work to leverage their knowledge of process and data to truly drive meaningful business results to keep our employees safe and healthy and make our organizations thrive!