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Process Improvement--Are You Proactive or Reactive?

June 18, 2012
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Accountability, awareness and training are the grounds on which to lay the foundation to proactive functioning. These will reduce the problems to a greater extent, but in order to eliminate them, organizations need to have continuous improvement programs and incentives to be placed on the identification and implementation of them.

How is your business model structured? Is continuous improvement part of the system and is it incorporated to help be more efficient? Every production manager has the same story. Day after day time is spent putting off fires. These fires are still the same, some may be the design change or machine failure or yet another. A change or error is all it would take to create these fires and time is just spent fixing them. If this job description fits your profile, then read along.

I am not going to give advice on being telepathic, nor offer a vision of issues that may arise. But I will definitely ask you to look at the nature of your issues and problems. Are these problems signifying a pattern? In everyday life, so much effort is placed to resolving issues, while most of them can be easily eliminated. Simple checklists, work instructions, notice boards, and problem solving vision boards are ideal for use. What is required is the attitude.

In this climate, it’s not a good idea to raise red flags. Sometimes issues arise and solving them gives you the reputation of a problem solver and productive member of team. But if the problems are repetitive, they can cost you your job.

Getting involved and setting procedures is very important. On numerous occasions there are production issues which arise because of design errors. Instead of having a ground to score points, it’s important to acknowledge this as a big issue and to tackle it with great caution.

Is the communication gap a hiccup? How can you better that? How can you better assist inter team dependencies and create a harmonious work environment?

In most places where people run into such issues, they have to stop for someone to come and help sort it out, since their hands are tied due to lack of authority to make a decision.

Processes exist and procedures are guidelines to help navigate these situations and should be used heavily. Recently I came across a big manufacturer having quality problems. A thorough investigation revealed that the company’s design team and manufacturing department have not been communicating in organized fashion. There were out-of-date designs used to manufacture parts with changes written on them. It was evident that someone made a change but hadn’t decided on which version of design to use. Neither the operator nor the supervisor went to ask for new drawings. It is the responsibility of the project manager to communicate these changes in the specific projects. In manufacturing environment, the culture of communication is very important.

Accountability, awareness, and training are the grounds on which to lay the foundation to proactive functioning. These will reduce the problems to a greater extent, but in order to eliminate them, organizations need to have continuous improvement programs and incentives to be placed on identification and implementation of them.

A system that works at greater efficiency will continue to do for some time, but eventually deviations will start to creep up. A system needs to be monitored and continuous effort needs to be applied to keep functioning at same level of efficiency. This will involve a lot of proactive working on each process. Only then the results are visible and reduce reactive measures to a greater extent.
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