Archive for November, 2009

Whose Decision is it Anyway?

November 18, 2009 by Brad

It is way too easy to say that because I’m the boss, I decide. That is a very autocratic approach, and your company will only be as good as the dictator at the top making those decisions, and there has never been a dictator that gets it right all the time.

The opposite view might be that you require consensus with all those involved before a decision can be made. In my experience, very rarely will everyone agree unless the decision has no consequences or you have a team of suck-ups. Have you ever heard the saying, “if two people in a company always come to the same conclusion, one of them is not necessary”. Not making a decision because everyone is not at consensus can be paralyzing to a company. Being unable to decide is a decision also, which can have disastrous consequences

Setpoint is unique in that our culture promotes ideas and debate regardless of who is on the other side of that debate. Pretty much everyone at Setpoint feels comfortable enough to tell me when they think I’m up in the night, and that happens all the way up and down the organization.

I have worked in other places where there were taboo subjects that you could not talk about in front of certain executives or owners. That has an unbelievable stifling effect on ideas and choices that come forward and can be considered. The worst part is that those executives never engage their organizations brains and get the benefit from those that are working closest to the challenges.

Creating the right environment for deciding:

  • You must create an environment where ideas can flow freely, with no repercussions
  • Make sure it fits into the strategic direction of the company
  • If you are surrounded by smart people and they are telling you not to go the direction you are thinking, maybe you should stop and listen to them because you might not have the best idea
  • At the end of the day what you and everyone in your organization should want is the decision that best fits for the direction you are heading
  • Very rarely will you have perfect information and data to make your decision, nor will the same checklist work for all circumstances
  • In my career it has been more important to recognize when you are off-course rather than holding off deciding until you have all the data you need to make a decision
  • If you do not give credit to those contributing the idea, it’s not hard to know who will decide in the future, it will be you because no one else will put their ideas forward
  • Have milestones where you check the validity of the decision to see if it is on- track or if modifications need to be made

Good luck in creating an environment where good decisions can be made.

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Sustain – the Fifth “S” of the 5 S System

November 12, 2009 by Ken

After the first four S’s from the Toyota Production Systems improvement process have been implemented, the most important work begins.  If you have gone to all the work of setting up the system you must sustain or even improve on it to keep the system working properly.  Things change and you need to be flexible.  If something is not working the way you would like change it and keep changing it until you are satisfied. 

For instance, you should be able to tell at a glance if all the tools are in they place or if your hardware is running low, you may have to walk around and check some key spots each night to make sure the system is being used properly.

We are all very quick to form habits and by repeating these steps over and over it will be no time at all and your employees will be telling you when parts are low or things are not where they belong.

The 5 S System may seem like a lot of work at first and it is, but the benefits far out weigh your initial investment.

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Standardize- The Fourth “S” of the 5 S System

November 5, 2009 by Malorie

Now that the first three 5S’s (Sort, Straighten, and Shine) have been implemented, the next step is to concentrate on standardizing best practices in your work environment, also known as the Japanese term Seiketsu. This involves creating a consistent approach for carrying out tasks and procedures amongst all employees and departments. Orderliness is the core of standardization.

If the first three steps have been followed correctly then standardization should fall right into place with the help of all involved.  Standardization receives the most success when everyone knows their role and rules of their area and therefore can be involved in the development of these standardized rules because they are valuable for the information they deal with on a day to day basis. In the end, everyone should know exactly what their job responsibilities are and they should know exactly how to perform as well.

This process works very well at Setpoint because we work in a very fast paced and schedule driven environment where we usually can’t afford to lose a day when someone has an unforeseen absence. Therefore by following the 5 S system there is usually someone able to step in and pick up right where the last person left off without having to ask a thousand questions and wasting time looking for parts or tools.

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