Why Doing a Lot of Improvements in your Company Might Work Against You!

Why Doing a Lot of Improvements in your Company Might Work Against You!

Because i have been doing a lot of improvements for companies the past couple of decades, I thought it was time to clarify some misunderstandings about doing too many improvements in your company

And also share some tips what to do instead.

These are the most common misunderstandings regarding having a large network. I get you out of the illusion right away:

Doing a lot of improvements does NOT mean that you save money.
Doing a lot of improvements does NOT mean that employees are more concerned about your business.
Doing a lot of improvements does NOT mean that your customers are served better.
Doing a lot of improvements does NOT mean that you are innovating.
Doing a lot of improvements does NOT mean that your people understand the problem and find a good solution for it (but a temporal one!)
Allocating improvements to departments does NOT mean that you will actually solve it
Before I dive into the reasons why and share a few tips, we need to take a step back.

At the foundation of these misunderstandings there is usually the desire to reach a certain goal. These are the most important ones:

Acquiring more customers
Decrease costs
Improve employees involvement
The reasoning is: the more projects i do, the faster or easier I can reach my goal of a good company.

The first fallacy or misinterpretation is in the sentence “the more projects i do”.

Because it isn’t about how many projects you do, but to tackle those projects that have the biggest financial return and the number customers are increasing!

I call that the scalability factor of the improvement projects.

It boils down to the fact that before a you decide you will start a project, these three conditions need to be sufficiently fulfilled:

Customer increase: will this improvement project help my customers with time or quality savings, so this will lead to attract more customers?
Overall investment: will this project bring me more money than i put into it?
Culture: does this project create trust within the population of employees and will they trust that you treat others with respect and will not harm their reputation? Will i follow up this project or discard this and end up with a worse culture than before? How will i embed this solution?
In most improvements projects these three factors are not taken into account.

The consequence is that even if you start a project not many results follow. Much to the disappointment of the employees and yourself…

Let’s look at the misunderstandings one by one.

Misunderstanding 1: “The more projects i do, the more gain i will have.”
This is probably the most widespread misunderstanding because it is contra-intuitive.

In fact the more projects you do you’ll lead the focus of the company away and do more so called improvement than you will have losses. Temporarily solutions can come into place, people will behave within their comfort zone to perform projects, project leaders will be happy because of the project complexity and more time and effort is wasted into so-called improvements. Because most of the solution methods will learn to focus on the root causes and drive people into details without seeing the bigger picture. Resulting in small improvement and a lot of time spent.

In different words the reason is:

1. when people are rolling out a mechanism in stead of really understanding what the problem is

2. as soon as it doing projects become a goal and not the end result.

Misunderstanding 2: “The more project i do mean that employees are more concerned about your business.”
This misunderstanding is linked to the previous one.

Unfortunately, people are not motivated by something exterior and being obliged doesn’t help at all! Helping to find improvements to work with less people is a though approach. Unless you can prove that more customers will follow, which is almost not the case.

Misunderstanding 3: “The more projects i do the better customers are served.”
There are a bunch of people who consider Lean a new version doing improvements because everybody else does it. SO i must be missing out. If a project is succesfull, it usually is an decrease of costs and not a gain for customers. Some projects don’t bring any improvement at all but fake improvement because the real decrease of people is not considered.

Misunderstanding 4: “It is not because i do improvements i innovate!”
What is often overlooked as well, that taking a project improvement lacks the possibility of innovation because the question is not deeply enough examined.

Most people and companies don’t give this enough thought and are consequently often disappointed in the results of their improvement strategy.

Even so, many projects are happy to have found one solution that can be implemented. A small solution is easier to find that one that impacts the whole.

Misunderstanding 5: “Allocating projects to departments will bring good solutions and speed!”
As mentioned in formed misunderstanding. Many departments will try to find a solution they can tackle inside their department, thus creating a local solution. You might be quicker though, but for how long?

10 Tips What To Do Instead

When you have read all misunderstandings, you might wonder if it is worth the effort to start with improvements after all.

My answer is: absolutely!

The power learning to understand and improve can help you tremendously in achieving your goals, learn from others.

If you take these 10 tips into account, you will dramatically increase the chance of that happening:

Reflect on who you have learned in a project and look for a fit with another one, calculate every project with money gained!
Try to analyze deeper how something works (do not use 5WH of fishbone) but more elegant function models and RCA+ that are elements from TRIZ.
First make an overview of how many resources you put in what process (people and material). A process can be abbreviated by a verb. For instance : transport (parts) is a function, however the manner you transport can be by conveyor, fork trucks, all types of carts, hoisting equipment. All these technologies have a single function eg to transport. Why do you have so many?
Think of value in your projects first? What will be the benefit for the customer? How can i get data from the customer about my product ? Can this data generate a new business model?
Analyze how many mistakes do the process deliver? Which process gives you the most scrap?
Understand throughput. How long does it take for an order to pass the company? How many virtual orders are waiting to be processed? Is you company matched to the demands from outside?
Does every customer want the same? How can i gain time time for customers and transformed specific information?
How can i connect the solutions to a broader understanding of my company?
What technology can scale up this production process? What am i missing inside the company? Data? Time? and how can i measure this , besides guessing for it.
Many of the old ways of thinking can be replaced with a industry 4.0 solution that will scale up
So don’t take the internal improvements of its maximum, you can gain more with increase of revenue than decreasing costs. Look for the “right” project to tackle in stead of a much as possible.

Don’t immitate, innovate!
On 20th of January 2021, Valeri Souchkov (TRIZ master) and i will offer a free webinar to exploit these possibilities.

#i40 #triz #iotdevices #innovation

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