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R.E.S.P.E.C.T…find out what it means…

Improve your business (Part 4)

Over the past few months we have provided a series of newsletters introducing the business philosophy called Lean Thinking.  We have discussed “Value” as a concept from a customer or consumer perspective and concluded the most simplistic way to create Value for our organisations was to eliminate waste.

Here we wanted everyone to find “TIM WOODS,” our acronym for the different forms of waste and to get him to take up residence elsewhere.  If we were to lump these concepts together they easily fit under the umbrella of Continuous Improvement.

Making small improvements every day is fundamental to business success and I urge you to be looking for improvements that save 5 to 10 secs here and there as over the year and over the entire organisation they accumulate to significant savings.  Remember if you do make improvements lock them in through work standardisation as otherwise the gains you made will be lost.

The other key pillar in any Lean organisation is Respect for People and this is what I would like to focus on for the remainder of this newsletter.  Respect for People isn’t just about being polite and courteous.  These are important but it is not the essence of respect for people.

Respect for People is about employing the entire person, not just their hands and feet, so when problems arise as they always do, it’s about respecting the team member to truly solve the problem, get to the root cause and eliminate the problem for ever, lifting the organisations overall performance.  The problem solving approach truly demonstrates respect for people because it reveals to the team member that you respect their knowledge and understanding of their work, they are the expert and they can identify problems.  The team member also demonstrates respect for people by acknowledging they cannot solve the problem by themselves and need assistance from leaders and others.  Simply saying I trust my team to solve problems and they need to get on with it doesn’t demonstrate true respect for people because there is no working together to identify the root cause and eliminate problems, taking the organisation’s performance to a different level.

Wherever possible have a documented and standardised approach to work.  This requirement is not just for manufacturing or process industries but equally applicable to offices, service and health sectors.  Significant variations and problems result because these sectors do not have standardised work.  When problems do arise, it allows the leader to challenge the team member, what is the problem with the way the work is being done now?  This gets the team member to start thinking more broadly and perhaps prevent the joining dots that are not connected.  It may require the team member to go back to the workplace and collect more data, so decisions are based on facts not suspicion or intuition, again improving the problem solving approach.  When it comes to developing the solution again the leader and team member can explore different options and set up performance measures so that once the solution has been implemented, data can be used to ensure the root cause has been found and eliminated.  If not, then the problem solving activity continues until the solution has been identified and solutions are translated into standardised work.  In this way the work becomes more satisfying as we are solving problems by using a method which is understood where everybody’s contributions are respected.

If you need any assistance with your problem solving skills so you can truly demonstrate Respect for People for your team then please get in touch on 1300 116 400 as the Business Advisors at Workplace Partners are experts in Lean and would relish the opportunity to work with you and your business.

If you want any help then please contact us on 1300 116 400 or [email protected]

Article by Grant Winter

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